South Carolina State University’s trustees have named a new president of a school they believe is back on track after its probation ended this month.
Trustees on Wednesday elected one of their own Vice Chairman James Clark to take over for interim president W. Franklin Evans. Clark is a retired vice president at AT&T who was among those appointed to the board last year after state legislators dissolved its predecessor during serious financial troubles. Since then, the state’s only public historically-black college has stopped operating at a loss and the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools ended its probation on June 15.
Board chairman Charles Way said his fellow trustees chose Clark to avoid a long, expensive national search. “James Clark did not seek the job of president,” Way said in a statement. “But it became increasingly clear to our board that we had in our midst the ideal individual to lead SC State at this critical time. This was a decision made unanimously and with great enthusiasm.”
However, some alumni at the school were unhappy with the sudden announcement. Others believed interim president Franklin Evans should have been kept in office as a permanent leader. Evans resigned before the meeting.
Clark tried to ease concerns towards the end of Wednesday’s meeting. “I want you to show me the problems,” he told a group of students at the meeting. “And I guarantee you that I will begin working on those problems within the next few days. But… if I am not doing that, I want you to reach out to these (reporters present) and tell them that.”
The businessman served on the Benedict College Board of Trustees for 18 years and he has been chair of the University of South Carolina Research Foundation for three terms. He is an alumnus of MIT who also worked at General Electric, Gillette and Exxon International. Clark resigned his seat on the board shortly before the vote.