In an exclusive interview with South Carolina Radio Network recently, Clemson University President James Barker talked about how the school has been surviving extreme budget cuts, and even has plans to grow.Barker says any school can deal with budget cuts up to a point by becoming more efficient, but he says Clemson has passed that point with a recent cut of 40 million dollars.
The cost of tuition has increased dramatically in recent years, as it has at many universities. But Barker says 20,000 students still sent in applications, because of what the school has to offer. Instate students(65 percent of the student body) pay $10,000. Out-of-state students pay $19,000.
And Barker sends a big thanks to state lawmakers for supporting the Life Scholarship program. He says the Life Scholarship has not only meant a lot to students and to the quality of the school’s student body, it has kept the best students in the state. Barker says not too many years ago, only 16 percent of South Carolina students with top S.A.T.scores decided to attend in-state schools.
Barker says now that has changed to 50 percent. “Many people think we have gotten the increase in quality we’ve gotten by attracting more out-of-state students. That’s not the case. We still have a 35 percent out-of-state ratio. The reason we’ve gotten better is because more in-state students want to come to Clemson and the reason they do, partially, is because of what we’ve done, but also because the Life Scholarship is a way to keep the best and brightest in the state.”
Barker says while the U.S.C. graduate business program has a focus on international business, Clemson has the Center for Entrepreneurship. He says the school has plans to locate a business school in downtown Greenville, where students can learn among successful businesses, just as Clemson architectural students go to Italy for a period to study their trade. “We would like our business school to have a stronger presence in Greenville, especially our business graduate school. I mean an M.B.A. centered along Main Street and the lessons learned from the entrepreneurs that operate right there in the heart of that enterprise is a tremendous environment for the study of business first hand, the kind of business operations Greenville has to offer.”
Barker says investing even more in a knowledge-based economy will help the state to fair well during economic slumps. He says knowledge-based investment is one of the most important factors which influence per-capita income, which Barker says is still lower than it should be in South Carolina, and is lower than that of surrounding states.
He says one of the reason’s for the school’s success is its location. “With Greenville we’re blessed to be near an environment that’s so entrepreneurial, so civic minded, that has a history of transforming its downtown from something that people stayed away from to a major attraction. New parks have been built. The quality of life there is a major part of recruiting new faculty members to come to Greenville.”
Barker says the university is proud of C.U. I-CAR, the new automotive research facility. He says the operation has generated 500 new jobs, each with an average salary of $77,000.