E&G Budget Request

January 16, 2014

Remarks by Dr. James P. Clements, President, Clemson University

2014 E&G Budget Presentation

SC House Ways & Means Committee – January 14, 2014


Chairman Limehouse, Representative Skelton, Representative Smith, Representative Bales and Mrs. Littlefield:  Good afternoon.

Thank you for the opportunity to be here today representing the faculty, staff and students of Clemson University.

I would like to start by recognizing the members of the Board of Trustees and the Board of Visitors who are here today — Board Chairman David Wilkins, Trustee Joe Swann, Trustee Nicky McCarter, Trustee Patty McAbee, and Board of Visitor member Hank Owen.

You’ll have to bear with me since I have only been on the job for two weeks!  However, I have been studying Clemson for a very long time. In fact, I frequently used Clemson as a model at other institutions where I’ve served. So I’m thrilled to have the opportunity to be here  – and — I look forward to getting to know each of you.

To begin, I would like to tell you just a little bit about myself. I was a first-generation college student, the youngest of 4 siblings.

I grew up in a very modest home and we didn’t have a lot when I was growing up.  But I was taught at a very early age that education is the path to a better life. Between me and my 3 older siblings, we now have 11 college degrees.

So, to me, this job is about providing opportunities for others, just as I was given an opportunity to further my education.

Dr. Skelton — like you, I am a faculty member at heart. I love to teach, I love to do research and I love involving undergraduate students in my research. My background is in computer science, information technology, and project management.

I’m a data guy and I believe in accountability. I believe that it is important to set goals and to achieve them.

I’d now like to continue a tradition of Jim Barker’s, and to introduce our under-graduate Student Government President, Ms. Kayley Seawright.

Kayley is a mechanical engineering major from Anderson, South Carolina and, believe me, Clemson students could not have a more energetic, more positive or more effective advocate.

I have seen Kayley in action and she is a star.  I’d like to invite her to say a few words on behalf of the students at the university.

[ NOTE: Seawright’s remarks are can be found at the bottom of this post. ]

Thank you, Kayley.  I am very thankful for your service to Clemson University.  If you represent the future, we are in great shape.

II.   State of Clemson University

I would like to continue with a few brief comments on the State of Clemson University.

I can tell you that Clemson is very strong.  We have achieved our highest national ranking ever – #21 among all national public universities, according to U.S. News and World Report. That guidebook also shows that, among public universities, we rank # 19 in the quality of students and # 4 in alumni support.

US News also ranks the nation’s most efficient universities. This is a calculation that weighs academic quality against financial resources. In other words, which schools do the most with their resources? Clemson ranks #7 in the country on that list.  And again, this is a calculation that includes both cost and quality.

In December, we were named to Kiplinger’s list of best values in public higher education. And, we were also ranked #7 in the country by the Wall Street Journal for return on investment for tuition paid.

Quality, value, efficiency and return on investment – that is a very powerful combination.

As we begin 2014, it is appropriate to look back and recognize how much has already been accomplished this academic year:

  • We dedicated world-class facilities for energy systems research and testing at the Clemson University Restoration Institute in North Charleston.  And, Mr. Limehouse, I want to thank you for taking time out of your busy schedule to be present for that important event.
  • We also opened a permanent home for our business programs in downtown Greenville. This will help us meet the growing demand for graduate and professional education in the Upstate.
  • And we’ve crossed the $700 million dollar mark in the Will to Lead capital campaign, which is providing more scholarships, faculty support and resources for programs and facilities.

So I think it is fair to say that Clemson has enormous positive momentum and we need to keep moving forward.

I have the privilege of serving in several national leadership positions with the Association of Public and Land-Grant Universities, along with the American Council on Education.

In those roles, I have the opportunity to interact with many university and government leaders from other states. I can tell you, without hesitation or hype, that Clemson is highly regarded nationally. Clemson is well-known for our strategic planning and for our commitment to quality and accountability.

The State of South Carolina also has a strong national reputation for game-changing legislative initiatives in support of higher education, including: …

  • the LIFE and Palmetto scholarship programs
  • endowed chairs, and
  • the Research Infrastructure Act.

These programs have played a key role in Clemson’s success.

III.    State Funding Priorities

Before I share our state funding requests for next year, let me start by thanking you for the resources you provided this year.

We deeply appreciate your commitment of:

  • $3 million in recurring funds for faculty and operations at the Center for Energy Systems at CURI
  • $1 million in non-recurring funds for student engagement programs – specifically on-campus internships, and
  • funds for deferred maintenance.

This support will have a long-term, positive impact.

Our top priority for the coming year is to continue to implement our strategic plan – the 2020 Road Map. For the past few years, our legislative requests have supported the goals of that plan.

First, we request $3 million to support a Center for Manufacturing Innovation at the Clemson University International Center for Automotive Research in Greenville.

This multi-disciplinary center will bring together faculty, industry, government scientists and undergraduate and graduate students — to meet two goals:

  • One — to develop and enhance technologies in advanced manufacturing and
  • Two — to provide the workforce needed for this vital economic sector.

Manufacturing is essential to the economic health of South Carolina — and — the nation as a whole. We need to sustain and grow our strong manufacturing sector through research, education and collaboration.

Second, we request $1 million in recurring funds to expand our nationally recognized Internal Internship program. 

This initiative helps students develop the skills that will make them more successful and marketable after graduation. Because of the $1 million dollars in one-time funds we received this year, we exceeded our participation goal by 26 percent.

We ask for recurring resources to sustain and enhance the program – because it is working! 100% of participants say the experience helped them learn essential job skills — such as critical thinking, organization and ethical judgment. And a recent survey of graduating seniors showed that students who held internships were 13% more likely to have a job at graduation.

Third, we request $1.5 million dollars for Focus on Student Success — a program aimed at increasing 4 year graduation rates.

Mr. Smith, I know this is a topic that is important to you.  I think you will notice in the information that you requested that Clemson is ranked 1st in the State in both 4 and 6 year graduation rates.  But we can certainly improve.

These funds will support advising, mentoring, additional support services for first generation college students, more course offerings, and better utilization of the summer semester.

Shortening the path to graduation will save money for families while still giving students time to participate in internships, study abroad and other programs that help prepare them for the workforce.

We also have 2 capital requests for one-time funds:

  • First — $25 million dollars for a new building for the College of Business and Behavioral Science – which accounts for many of our most in-demand academic programs.  This request is for partial funding for a new facility that will replace a 75-year-old building – at a lower cost and with less disruption than a renovation.
  • Second – we request $15 million to replace the most vulnerable sections of our aging electrical distribution system. The utility system was built in the late 1950’s through the mid-1960’s and is well beyond its expected lifespan.

As we have done in the past couple of years — any dollars received for deferred maintenance will go to addressing critical infrastructure needs.

IV. Additional Collaborative Funding Requests

While the Endowed Chairs program has not received new funding recently, I ask that this Subcommittee give consideration to the importance of this program to the future of the research universities in the State. Having recently been on the outside looking in, I can tell you this legislation is some of the most forward thinking legislation in the country.

I also want to support the Commission on Higher Education’s request for funds related to affordability initiatives.  As you have heard, affordability is at the forefront of issues that we must address.

I want to endorse the concept of funding institutions based on accountability metrics. We must work together to determine a stable funding source for higher education that rewards institutions for results, such as:

  • results in graduation rates –
  • in job placement for our students, and
  • in support of economic development in our State.

IV.   Closing

Let me end by saying that the state of Clemson University is sound and the future is bright.  Please know how excited and honored I am to be Clemson’s 15th President.

I look forward to working with you and with my colleagues in higher education to provide even more opportunities for our young people and for our State.

Thank you for your attention and your service to South Carolina. I will now be happy to answer questions.


[ REMARKS by Kayley Seawright, President, Clemson University Undergraduate Student Government ]

Good afternoon! My name is Kayley Seawright. I am a senior Mechanical Engineering major Anderson, South Carolina. I have had the honor and privilege of serving this year as Clemson’s Undergraduate Student Body President. Thank you for allowing me the time to share my thoughts, and the thoughts of my peers, on higher education in South Carolina.

First and foremost, thank you for the many state-sponsored scholarships that are provided. I am a Palmetto Fellows recipient and it has allowed me to receive a quality education at Clemson University and is a large reason why I am standing before you today. Six years ago when I began exploring my options for college, I thought I wanted to go out of state. At first, my top choice was Duke University, but I decided to stay in-state because of the value that Clemson offered me as an in-state student. Growing up in an area where not many students had the opportunity to go to college, I witnessed the hope that these scholarships provided to students who deserved the chance to continue their education and later work in the state of South Carolina. I do encourage you and challenge you to consider the rising cost of higher education as you plan for funding options in the future.

Clemson is unique in the opportunities the University strives to provide outside of the classroom because employers value those experiences that cannot be found only in lectures. Clemson has been innovative by creating these unique experiences outside the classroom with programs such as Creative Inquiry, co-ops, internships, and experiences working with our Social Media Listening Center, Mock Hospital, and Mock Stock Exchange Room. The majority of our students do some sort of internship or co-op for a company off campus. Because of Clemson’s somewhat isolated location, many students have to drive long distances for these job opportunities or rent apartments at the location. I know people who have driven up to an hour and half each way to work for a semester. That’s why you will see that we are trying to expand our on-campus internship and co-op programs. This would create more opportunities for those students who might be limited by having to drive to another city. Thank you the Subcommittee and the overall House for approving $1million for the Student Opportunity Program that is funding these internal internship programs. Based on the Governor’s Executive Budget recommendation released yesterday, these monies would be provided on recurring funding basis. I hear of numerous students every semester who are looking for jobs on-campus and this is the perfect opportunity to provide for those students and many others!

I have been blessed to have had the opportunity to participate in research, a creative inquiry, and also several on-campus jobs. They have been experiences I’ve treasured because after graduation, it’s not likely that I will be able to have these opportunities again. I worked with a creative inquiry group to model and simulate actual buildings on campus and test their energy efficiencies. The following semester, we expanded upon the creative inquiry and researched general changes that could be made for larger buildings to improve the energy efficiency. We applied concepts of heat transfer, thermodynamics, mechanics of materials, and structural statics to determine improvements. What made the project so fascinating and distinctive was the fact that it was testing actual buildings on campus that I sit in almost every day! Now that I am in my senior design class, my group is partnered with a company, Parker Hannifin, to design an automatic solution to a tube filler problem they are having. These are experiences that will likely help me get a job in just a few months!

The past three and a half years as an undergraduate at Clemson have been the most rewarding years of my life! We continue to rise as a top-ranked nationally recognized university thanks to the leadership both on campus and within the state. Clemson provides exceptional student life and educational experiences for its students thanks to the wonderful community of faculty, staff, administrators and alumni who work and strive to create real value for students, the community, and for the State of South Carolina. All of these individuals would never have the opportunity to do so without the facilities and infrastructure to support them. We are working to provide both gratifying programs and state-of-the-art facilities. Clemson’s commitment to operating efficiently and “building to compete” whether that be in research facilities or improvements to on-campus housing, is a significant part of the undergraduate experience. Clemson University’s 2020 Plan provides a roadmap for the future priorities for the University.  Each element of the plan are important to students.  I do want to highlight specifically how important the “build to compete” component is to Clemson’s competitiveness for students in the future.  This part of the plan recognizes the need for Clemson University to invest significant resources in facilities that allow Clemson to stay on the cutting edge in research and upgrade housing opportunities for our students. My peers and I are so grateful for all this body has provided to Clemson for over one hundred years now. It’s my hope that this body continues to provide Clemson with everything it needs to continue to develop and create exceptional value for everyone.

In conclusion, I would like to deliver a message from our students to you all. Thank you for listening to us, and thank you for making higher education a priority in South Carolina. Your investment in us is pivotal to the future of both our great state and our nation.



Clemson University's 15th president, James P. Clements