New S.C. State success

James E. Clark, the new president of South Carolina State University.


One year ago, Gov. Nikki Haley and the state Legislature asked seven individuals from around the state to become the new Board of Trustees for South Carolina State University, an important higher education resource that was facing several serious challenges. I was honored to be invited to be one of those appointees and to serve as chair.

The accreditation board, the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on College, had put S.C. State on probation twice, leaving the institution in real jeopardy of losing its accreditation. And S.C. State’s financial condition was in shambles.

Now, one year later, S.C. State has balanced the budget, exceeded enrollment goals, increased alumni giving and faculty grants, and — most importantly — restored the university’s accreditation.

This was a collaborative effort. Interim President Dr. W. Franklin Evans and the entire S.C. State family contributed significantly to its success.

Having put his future on hold for a year, as he addressed the needs of S.C. State, Dr. Evans has resigned as interim president to have the time to pursue his personal and professional goals. We are grateful for his service and wish him every future success.

As its president, S.C. State needs a proven leader who can make certain that we fulfill the commitments we made in securing accreditation and strengthening further S.C. State’s financial condition. We have been very fortunate in finding that person, James E. Clark.

A resident of Columbia, James Clark knows how to build and lead teams to success. He has had an outstanding career in business, a long-time involvement with higher education in South Carolina, and a close association with S.C. State. His distinguished business career includes being vice president of a $1-billion division of AT&T which he converted from a money-losing division into the most profitable division in AT&T’s computer business.

A graduate of M.I.T. and the M.I.T. Sloan School of Management, Clark also worked with General Electric, Gillette and Exxon International.

His commitment to higher education and, specifically, S.C. State is equally impressive, having served on the Benedict College Board of Trustees for 18 years. He has been chair of the University of South Carolina Research Foundation for three terms. And he has been a remarkably valuable member of the S.C. State board during this past year.

I know that James Clark is committed to strengthening the learning opportunities of every S.C. State student, whether it’s in the classroom or through practical real-world experiences. And he is committed to working collaboratively with S.C. State’s outstanding faculty, staff and alumni. After all, team building is one of this leader’s greatest strengths.

James Clark did not seek the job of president. But it became increasingly clear to our board that we had in our midst the ideal individual to lead S.C. State at this critical time. We elected him unanimously and with great enthusiasm as the 12th president of S.C. State University.

James Clark is a person of strength, accomplishment, and integrity. He has already hit the ground running. He has great clarity on what needs to be done and how to do it. And he is committed to an open, collaborative process that is grounded in trust and a passion for S.C. State.

S.C. State has come a long way in just one year.

With James Clark’s leadership and the engagement of the entire S.C. State family, an even brighter future lies ahead.

Charles S. Way Jr., a Charleston businessman, is chairman of the Board of Trustees for South Carolina State University.