CLEMSON — Improving the quality of South Carolina schools and increasing college readiness among high school students statewide are the goals of a newly created, independent school at Clemson University.

The Eugene T. Moore School of Education was established as a standalone school to be led by a founding dean, who will be recruited through a national search. The restructuring of the former College of Health, Education and Human Development was approved by the university’s board of trustees Friday. 

President James F. Barker said the restructuring would give the Moore School the autonomy and visibility needed to attract the kind of dean he described as a “visionary and nationally recognized thought-leader and change agent.

“There is no state more in need of an infusion of new thinking about education than South Carolina. And there is no university better positioned to play a leadership role than Clemson,” Barker said. “As a land-grant university, we have a specific mission to meet the needs of the state where we are located. We were founded to improve the prosperity of South Carolina, and prosperity begins with education.”

Doris Helms, provost and vice president for academic affairs, said the school would continue to focus on providing the state with great teachers, counselors and principals while increasing attention to helping under-performing schools, enhancing collaboration with units inside and outside the university, and increasing research funding. A search for a founding dean will begin immediately. The provost said the school’s faculty has endorsed the action.

A number of capital improvement projects also were approved at the meeting, including final approval for a major student housing and mixed-use development at the east gateway to campus on a site formerly known as Douthit Hills.

In addition to previously announced plans for housing “Bridge to Clemson” students, upperclassmen and graduate students, the development now includes a new Class of 1944 Visitors Center as well as a major power, water and sewer system upgrade to support the Douthit Hills project, meet future growth and provide much-needed redundancy and greater reliability for the existing campus utility systems.

Brett Dalton, vice president for finance and operations, said the university had been forced to cancel classes twice over the past year because of water or power system failures. The additions bring the project total to $212 million.

“It makes sense to bundle these projects for the greatest efficiency and cost-effectiveness,” Barker said. He said the development will meet quality standards expected for the “front door to campus,” with ample green space, a pedestrian-friendly environment and high energy-efficiency standards.

Barker said the Tri-County Technical College administration and board also have endorsed moving Bridge to Clemson students to campus to provide a more academically enriched environment to increase retention. The facilities also create the potential to grow the Bridge program, which will provide access to more South Carolina students.

Other capital project votes included:

  • concept approvals for an advanced powertrain lab at CU-ICAR and a new building for the College of Business and Behavioral Science;
  • final approvals for the Zucker Family Graduate Education Center at the Clemson University Restoration Institute in North Charleston, the Watt Family Innovation Center on campus and the Douthit Hills project; and
  • approval of three bond resolutions required to fund the Douthit Hills project.

In other business, the board approved a name change for the Automotive Safety Research Institute to the Institute for Global Road Safety and Security.

The trustees also heard in an admissions update of increases in undergraduate and graduate applications and a report on attracting and retaining top faculty.