CLEMSON — In their first meeting of the academic year, Clemson University trustees Friday heard a progress report on the school’s new ClemsonForward strategic plan, got a positive snapshot of this year’s outstanding freshman class and acted to establish some new academic programs.

In his report to the board, President James P. Clements highlighted characteristics of the newest members of the Clemson student body.

“We have a very strong freshman class this year, with more than 3,600 freshmen and an average SAT of 1243,” he said. “Fifty-seven percent of freshmen were in the top 10 percent of their high school class, a record high for Clemson. Sixty-two percent of freshmen are in-state students.”

The incoming class of new graduate students at Clemson is 10 percent larger than last year.

Reporting on the new ClemsonForward strategic plan, Clements said the overarching goal is that in 10 years, Clemson will perennially rank year after year among the nation’s top 20 public universities and as a Carnegie Tier 1 research institution.

“This plan builds on traditional strengths in such areas as the undergraduate experience, outreach and athletics and increases focus on research, graduate education, inclusive excellence and workplace quality,” he said.

The first year, the plan will focus on investments to stabilize operating budgets, streamline processes and policies and provide a solid footing for academic programs.

Some of the first funding priorities include:

  • investments in campus security infrastructure, staffing and equipment;
  • additional faculty positions for academic departments that have experienced significant enrollment growth;
  • capital priorities, preventive maintenance and information technology infrastructure;
  • student recruitment of under-represented and economically disadvantaged high school students in South Carolina; and
  • finalizing strategies for economic development and innovation campuses.

“We started this year with a new academic organizational structure to provide each academic program with the best environment for success, and new facilities will help us be successful in implementing ClemsonForward,” Clements said.

The trustees approved a new nanomaterials institute and a new center for research in writing and literacy, both of which will provide higher visibility for some current research programs and boost the university’s ability to compete for federal grants.

The board also approved two new programs: a joint Ph.D. in biomedical data sciences and informatics with the Medical University of South Carolina and a Master of Science in biomedical data sciences and informatics.

An additional location at the University Center in Greenville was approved for the master’s and doctorate in applied health services research and evaluation, and an additional location in Greenwood for the doctorate program in genetics.

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