Clemson University presents highest honor to former president, businessman
CLEMSON — Clemson University is recognizing two alumni — President Emeritus James Barker and businessman James E. Bostic Jr . — with its highest public honor, the Clemson Medallion.
The Medallion is presented to individuals who have rendered notable and significant service and support to Clemson University and who exemplify the dedication and foresight of university founder Thomas Green Clemson.
Barker, a Kingsport, Tennessee, native, had already filled virtually every possible role at Clemson — student, athlete, alumnus, fan, parent, professor and dean — when he was named the institution’s 14th president. He retired after 14 years as president and returned to the faculty in the School of Architecture, where he still teaches.
“In every phase of my life, Clemson has served me. I have tried to repay this debt by serving Clemson. However, receiving the Clemson Medallion reminds me that I will never adequately thank Clemson for all she has done for me,” Barker said. “I’m honored to join my classmate and friend, Jim Bostic, in this special recognition.”
Bennettsville native Bostic began his leadership for Clemson when he was a student and it has continued with his service on the university’s board of trustees, its Foundation board of directors and the Alumni Association’s’ board of directors. He also has been president of and on the board of directors for the Athletics Division’s IPTAY organization and received the Alumni Association’s Distinguished Service Award.
“I am pleased to receive the Clemson Medallion,” he said. “I will continue to help and support Clemson University and will work to help more South Carolinians receive the outstanding educational programs and services provided by this land-grant institution. This is our responsibility.”
James F. Barker
During Barker’s 14-year presidency, Clemson rose steadily in national rankings, and a goal he established was achieved in 2014 when the Clemson was ranked 20th among all national public universities. The university launched the successful The Will to Lead capital campaign, constructed or renovated 1.4 million square feet of space, saw a double-digit increase in graduation rates and had record growth in undergraduate and graduate applications.
Barker also held numerous national higher education leadership positions, including chair of the NCAA Division 1 board of directors, president of the Association of Collegiate Schools of Architecture, chair of the Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACSCOC), and chair of the ACC Council of Presidents.
Barker has been awarded the Order of the Palmetto, the James. T. Rogers Meritorious Service Award from SACSCOC, the Council for the Advancement and Support of Education District III Chief Executive Leadership Award, and induction into the Boys and Girl Clubs of America Hall of Fame. Clemson’s Rutland Institute for Ethics named its annual Ethics in Action award for him. He is a fellow of the American Institute of Architects.
Barker graduated from Clemson in 1970 and earned his master of architecture and urban design degree from Washington University at St. Louis. He and his wife, Marcia, have two sons and a daughter-in-law, all of whom attended Clemson; and three grandchildren. Their youngest son, Britt, is continuing studies in psychology; Jacob earned a master’s from Clemson in 2004 and is a marketing strategist at the university; and Jacob’s wife, Rita Bolt Barker, graduated in 2001. She was the first woman elected president of the Clemson student body and is currently a practicing attorney in Greenville.
In presenting the Medallion to his predecessor, President James P. Clements said, “All of us who love Clemson will always be indebted to Jim Barker for his visionary leadership and service. It is an honor to present this well-deserved award to him.”
James E. Bostic, Jr.
During his student years at Clemson, Bostic was a member of Blue Key Honor Society, Army ROTC, Tiger Brotherhood, Phi Kappa Phi Honorary Fraternity, Phi Psi Honorary Textile Fraternity and the Graduate School Council. Bostic’s leadership for Clemson began as a residence hall assistant when he was in graduate school.
Bostic has been a longtime supporter and leader for Clemson — as co-chairman of the Gantt Scholars fundraising initiative, a member of The Will to Lead capital campaign executive committee and an adviser to university administrators on many diversity initiatives.
His philanthropic support of the university has helped fund the Edith H. and James E. Bostic Presidential Scholarship, part of the Harvey B. Gantt Scholars program for diversity scholarships; the Dr. James. E. Bostic Presidential Scholarship in the College of Engineering and Science; the James. E. Bostic Endowed Leadership Program for Resident Assistants; the President’s Leadership Circle; and the Barker Scholars Endowment.
After serving as a White House Fellow in 1972-73, Bostic joined the U.S. Department of Agriculture as deputy assistant secretary of agriculture until 1977. He joined Georgia-Pacific Corporation in 1985 after almost 10 years with Riegel Textile Corporation. At Georgia-Pacific, he held positions of increasing responsibility in the divisions for consumer products, paper distribution and communication papers before being named chief environmental officer and head of governmental affairs and communications in 1995. Bostic was promoted to executive vice president in 2000 and retired in 2005.
He joined Coleman Lew and Associates in Charlotte, North Carolina, as a partner in 2006, where he conducted searches for a variety of public, private, nonprofit and international company clients.
Bostic was a member of the President’s Commission on White House Fellowships for 25 years; the S.C. Commission on Higher Education, including chairmanship for five years; and the State of Georgia Board of Education for nine years. He served on the Progress Energy Inc. board of directors for 10 years and on the Tuskegee University board of trustees for 14 years. Bostic was awarded the Order of the Palmetto in 1983. Today, he serves as a trustee for Wofford College and on the ACT Inc. board of directors.
Bostic’s wife, Edith Howard, earned her M.Ed. degree from Clemson. Their son, James E. III, earned a bachelor degree from Clemson and a master’s degree from Johns Hopkins University. Their second son, Scott Howard, graduated from West Point and will receive a Master of Divinity at Wesley Theological Seminary, Washington, D.C., in May.
“Dr. Bostic is one of our most outstanding and engaged alumni,” said President James P. Clements. “He has volunteered his time and talents as a leader for the university, and he continues to lead by assisting us in our efforts to improve diversity and inclusion. I am extremely proud to honor him with this award.”