Clemson president Barker to step down, return to teaching

Jim Barker (Source:
Jim Barker (Source:

COLUMBIA, SC (AP/WIS) - Clemson President Jim Barker will return to being an architecture professor after 14 years leading school.

Barker announced in a video message to students Tuesday that he will stay on as president until trustees pick his replacement, and then will return to teaching. The 65-year-old Barker had emergency heart surgery in January to bypass five blockages, but he says he is in good health and feels like it is the right time to hand off leadership of the university to someone else.

The 1970 Clemson graduate was named president in 1999.

Barker served for four years on the NCAA Division I Board of Directors, three of them as Chair, and has also chaired the Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS).

Barker received the Order of the Palmetto, South Carolina's highest civilian honor, in 2004 from Governor Mark Sanford.

During his presidency he remained committed to the classroom. Each spring, he was part of a team that taught an undergraduate course exploring "a sense of place" in architecture, literature and history.

Barker also backed Clemson's International Center for Automotive Research and a new project to test wind turbines on the South Carolina coast.

Copyright 2013 WIS. All rights reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.