TU provost on way to presidency

On Towson faculty since 1989, Clements named to take helm at W. Va. University

March 07, 2009|By Stephen Kiehl | Stephen Kiehl,stephen.kiehl@baltsun.com

The provost of Towson University, James P. Clements, was named the president of West Virginia University yesterday.

Clements, 44, has been the chief academic officer at Towson since 2007 and a faculty member since 1989. The grandson of a coal-miner, he was selected unanimously by West Virginia's board of governors yesterday afternoon. He was introduced as the new president at a news conference at the university's Morgantown campus.

"He is an accomplished and bright educational leader, and besides that, he's just a good guy," said Carolyn Long, chairwoman of the university's board of governors. "I know he shares the board's vision for us to be a growing academic and research institution, and excellence will be the only thing that we accept."

He will start June 30 and earn $450,000 a year. Clements beat out the president of the City College of New York, Gregory H. Williams, for the West Virginia job. He said he had been recruited by other universities but only considered West Virginia because it felt like the "perfect fit." Still, after 20 years at Towson, he said leaving was difficult.

"It would take a place so special and so super to pull me away from that great university, and I'm thrilled that this is the university," he said in Morgantown.

Clements was raised in Arlington, Va., and was the first in his family to graduate from college. He started at Towson as a visiting assistant professor and rose to head the department of computer and information sciences. As provost, he worked on recruiting more minorities to the campus and increasing sponsored research.

Clements was successful in negotiating relationships with outside institutions, said Towson President Robert Caret, noting partnerships with Baltimore Hebrew University, Harford Community College and the National Security Agency. He expects to name an interim provost.

"We just wished we could hold onto him a little longer," Caret said. "As a friend, I'm elated. But as president, I'm depressed."

West Virginia University is the state's flagship university. It has about 22,000 undergraduates and 7,000 graduate students.

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