2010 Town Hall with President Barker (Part 1)

Uploaded by ClemsonUniversity on 30.11.2010

Drew Parks: Good evening, and welcome to the second annual student media sponsored town
hall with president barker. My name is Drew Parks, and I am the general manager of Clemson
television. Joining me are Zach Musgrave who is up in the booth. He is the general manager
of 88.1 WSBF FM Clemson. Brittany Bundrick, who is the editor in chief of the TAPS yearbook;
Stephanie Burns, who is the editor in chief of The Tiger newspaper, and Wes Watt, who
is the editor in chief of the Tiger Town Observer; as well as Sarah Johnson, the editor elect
of Semantics.
First, I need to take a couple moments to take care of a few housekeeping things. I
would love to ask that you all silence or turn off your phones and any other noisemaking
devices, any laptop sounds, anything like that. Umm, and also, I want to let everyone
know that this town hall is being aired live by 88.1 WSBF, and recorded by Clemson television.
So when you ask a question, please speak into the mic so that everyone can hear you, and
everyone knows what you are saying. Also, if you have not already, please sign the guest
registry or swipe your card when you leave. Itís right there at the entrance, just so
we can get a head count and figure out how many people we had show up.
Also, the faculty and staff members here have come to, are very gracious in offering their
time and knowledge to answer any of your questions. So please, any questions that you ask, we
would love for you to be as respectful as you can. And with that said, we would love
to thank President Barker and the many staff and faculty members who have agreed to open
up the Administration to questions. And now I would love to welcome President Barker on
stage. He will have a few opening comments, and then we will open the floor to questions.
President Barker: Drew, thank you very much. I am grateful to all of you for coming tonight.
I have a chance to meet with students on a pretty regular basis, in all sorts of different
forms. I have advisory groups, students, Ryan is one of those. I also teach a class each
year, so I have sort of informal discussions with them constantly. And there are all sorts
of occasions in which I have students in the office for various, various things, but
This town hall meeting format, to me is a much more direct and much more effective way
to be able to communicate with you in more of a conversation form. And I am grateful
for that opportunity.
I had a couple stories I wanted to tell you before we started. I will make a few comments
and then the rest of the time will be for your questions. I do not know if any of you
are aware of this: last night, we got a knock on the door of the Presidentís home. (An
awful lot of interesting stories start out that way, by the way.) and there was a male
and a female student (is there some place I can stand that that wonít happen? Right
there?) at the door, with this beautiful collie dog that had a collar with a name tag on it,
and so on. And they were kind enough to stop and say, ìIs this one of your dogs?î And
we said, no, we had never seen that dog before.
But we called the name on the collar, which was a veterinary clinic here in town, but
nobody was there late last night, so we werenít able to make the connection to see if we could
find the dogís owner. So the best we could do was , since we had plenty of dog food for
our dogs, give them a couple daysí supply of dog food. They left with the collie, and
they all seemed happy. But I didnít know if anybody had gotten any word about what
had happened with the dog last night.
Anyway, I just thought you would be interested in that. {laughter!}
The other thing I wanted to tell you is a story about the season that we are getting
ready to enter into as we approach Thanksgiving and Christmas. And this is a story about a
train. When I was a child growing up, I lived in Kingsport, Tennessee, which is about three
hours and a half from here. And there was this tradition that started in that town during
the Second World War of a thing called a Santa Train. And it was a train that would go up
into the coal mining fields in Kentucky and drop off presents at each small town along
the way, on its way into my hometown of Kingsport. And then Santa was on the train, so when I
was about eight or nine years old, Santa came on the train. I didnít know anything about
sleds or reindeer. I thought Santa Claus came on the train. And then there was a Christmas
And along the way, in these really impoverished, rural areas of Kentucky where the coal mines
were, and down into Virginia, this train would stop at each, maybe every eight, ten miles
on average, where these little towns were. And everybody in the town would come out,
and Santa would be there handing out gifts to the children and so forth. And over the
years, this Santa train had become a bigger and a bigger deal. And we got invited to be
on the Santa train this past weekend.
And so we got a chance to be there handing out gifts. And sometimes it is done from the
train, but in certain stops, Marcia and I were given the responsibility of going out
and handing out gifts. And there are probably at each stop, maybe, I guess the average may
have been 300 people, I suppose, and there were ten or twelve stops along the way. So
you encountered an awful lot of, an awful lot of people.
And the experience for me was, besides being nostalgic about growing up and Christmas season
and so forth, but I was reminded of how lucky all of us are. There was, I bet I did not
meet one student who was going to college, or one person that had ever gone to college.
And what I was reminded of was how, what a difference it makes to look in the eyes of
a Clemson student, and to look in the eyes of someone else. Those people that we saw,
there was, they were happy. On the outside, they were getting these little stuffed animals
and so on, and in some cases candy and some other things. But behind their eyes, there
was this kind of hollow sense, just not the same joy that I see when I talk to you or
I talk to my colleagues here.
I tell you that story just simply to remind all of us how lucky we are, how very fortunate
all of us are to be in Clemson, to be surrounded by bright, talented, energetic, determined,
successful people, and to remind all of us to make sure, especially in this season, that
we donít forget others, that we are mindful of the needs of others. And I am not going
to forget that experience this past week, and I just wanted to share it with you and
remind all of us, as we talk about things that are important to us, and then think about
people I saw this weekend, and what was important to them, which was maybe that stuffed animal
was the only thing that child was going to get for Christmas at all.
And I donít know whether in some cases, the parents we gave things to will go back and
wrap those gifts up and that will be what will be under the tree at Christmas, if they
have a tree. So, with that being said, I do not mean to make you sad, I am just trying
to put all of this in context for us to all remember.
I have three messages I want to give you, and then I want to answer your questions.
The first message is that Clemson is a very strong institution. We are among the best
public universities in the country, because we have some of the best students in the United
States. There is no doubt in my mind about your academic qualifications. The numbers
tell us that. But we are also in a community that is one that is concerned about other
people, about each other, that is a true sense of community, and we are blessed to be a place
that has a true sense of place. And you can feel it walking around this campus. I could
feel it as you were walking up to this building tonight. Even with the energy that you are
all expending getting things done so you can go home in the next day or two (I hope you
are going to wait that long! You are not leaving tonight, are you? I hope! )
And we are, I want to give you some examples of how to illustrate how strong an institution
that we are, and some success that you have had. There is a competition called the National
Quiz Bowl. That competition brings the students who qualify from their institutions to go
to a single place, answer questions in a kind of a quiz format, and compete against each
other. There were four of our students: two freshmen and two sophomores from Dorman High
School in Spartanburg, around Spartanburg (isnít that where Dorman is? Any of you all
from Dorman High School?) who had been a part of something similar in high school that competes
against each other. And so they got together and said, ìHey, thereís this college level
competition. Letís enter it.î Well, they were preparing to enter this competition,
and they realized they had to have a faculty sponsor, not to help them, but to sign the
form so they could be official. So they got that faculty sponsor, entered this competition,
and these are the teams that they have beat in that competition:
Stanford, Princeton, Harvard, Cornell, Rice, Michigan, among others. They wound up with
a 13 and 2 record, and came in second to Brown University. Gives you an idea of your classmates
and number one how competitive they are (we like competition here, donít we, at Clemson?
We will make anything into a contact sport, even Frisbee, I have noticed.) And the other
thing that you should be aware of is that four of your classmates have won Goldwater
Fellowships. Thatís for graduate study. The most any school can win is four. Clemson won
four. Princeton won three. It gives you an idea, and these are pretty much targeted science
and engineering students, so it gives you an idea of how successful you and your classmates
TAPS won for the fifth straight year ìBest College Yearbookî title, and finally, a good
indicator, we are trying to track how our graduates compare in this recession to job
offers that they have, and our students are getting job offers at twice the national rate.
That gives you some idea about how strong we are as an institution. I could stand here
a long time and tell you other examples, but that to me is a pretty good illustration of
the quality of the, and the success of the institution.
Second point I want to make is that we are changing to meet changing times. There are
an awful lot of challenges financially that your families are facing, that youíre facing,
and that your school, Clemson, is facing. And I thought I might illustrate that just
briefly with this flip chart. And show you this. In the year 2000 (I just picked that
because it was the start of the millennium, and actually when I started serving as President
), and I am comparing this to the year 2010. And this is about budgets. In 2000, this was
the order of the four major categories of our budget, and what order they ranked in.
At the top of the list in 2000 was state support.
And that accounted for about 40% of our budget in the year 2000. And second place was research
Next place was private giving
And third, (no, thatís not right. Hang on. I want to make sure I am correct in thisÖ
Third was tuition. And fourth was private support. Interesting in itself, right? These
were the way these ranked in 2000. This year, this is shifted. State support has gone to
the bottom of the list
and it is now 11% of our budget. At the top of the list is tuition. Second place remains
And private giving ranks third.
That is a changing environment. And if we could put the year 2020 out here, we are trying
to imagine what that list will look like then, because we canít accommodate some of the
things that we need to be doing if we donít do a pretty good job of predicting what this
is going to turn into, how this is going to change. With this combined support makes the
difference between the quality of your education. Can we build buildings? Can we afford to build
buildings? Can we hire new faculty? Can we keep classes small? Can we ensure that the
quality of the education you are receiving will enable you to get to the graduate school
want to get to or to the job you want to get to. This is critically important. And this
environment is changing dramatically.
Now back when I was a student in the ìdark agesî, the amount of state support was about
70% when I was a student here. There is a dangerous trend going on, as you see here.
One of your questions for me ought to be, ìWhy is tuition high?î Does this answer
the question?
This change and this change begins to illustrate why those two things, or not exactly why they
are, but this has an effect on tuition, dramatically, as you can see.
So change is on us. We are currently in a discussion with each of the departments led
by our provost, Dori Helms, who is here, I think. Hi. And going to meetings with each
department to ask them, what are they doing in your department, what are you doing in
your department to deal with these changes? What do you want to invest in? INvest in?
And if you donít invest in things as a university, you are in trouble. You canít keep a dynamic,
responsive institution unless you invest. But to get the money to do that, itís not
going to be coming from state support, and the most likely place itís going to come
from is what you already have. So what are you going to stop doing, what are you going
to DIvest in, in order to have the funds to invest? And are there new sources of revenue
that can also contribute to that investment category? You follow me? Yes/no? I know you
do, Kay. I am looking for some indication. Okay?
The third point I want to make is that we listen here. A year ago, we had the same meeting
and we learned several things. One is that weíve got some work to do on parking and
transit, as you might imagine, and we are still at work on that case. We also learned
that Clemson was overcrowded. And we had admitted that year 400 more freshmen than what we had
normally done, and we recognize that that overcrowding condition that we are experiencing
had to be addressed. This freshman class is 400 fewer than that class.
It gives you an idea of how important quality is to us. If weíd wanted to solve this budget
problem, we could probably have admitted more students. But thatís not the route we took.
We admitted fewer students, back to where we had been two years before, three years
before, four years before that. We also learned that we had some ratty (I think the word was
ìrattyî) furniture in the library. And CCIT and the library got together and said, we
need to do something, not just about the furniture, but about the environment in the library.
When you come in the library now, on the left, on the entry floor, the learning commons thatís
there, have you noticed that there are some changes there? There is a lot more technology,
you can plug into. Itís a much better place to do group work, facilitate group work and
group projects. All of that is a result of the critique that we got here last year, and
the efforts of Jim Bottum and Kay Wall and others to make that new learning commons happen.
Now I cannot promise anything that you ask for of Santa Claus that weíre going to be
able to respond to all those, but I can promise that youíll listen.
So I hope you will be eager to make whatever points you want to make about what youíd
like to see about Clemson. I could frame it by asking you the question, ìWhat would you
NOT want to change about Clemson?î because we are going through some changes, right?
And, ìWhat would you want to change about Clemson?î Itís as important to know what
NOT to change as it is important to know what TO change.
With that preamble, Iíd be happy to take any questions that you have.
I think you are supposed to come to the microphones. I have never been on radio and television
at the same time before. Drew?
Male Speaker: Um, well, since you are just talking about the budget, and now that we
know who our next governor is going to be, are you working with her and the legislature
to figure out how we can maybe increase our funding and maybe um not, because I remember,
what, two years ago, Mark Sanford was talking against the federal stimulus, and we were
kind of in limbo as to whether we were going to receive funds from that, and I wonder if
you are speaking with Nikki Haley on trying to make sure that that doesnít happen again,
and maybe get more support from the state.
President Barker: Thatís obviously a good question, and Brian, I am going to ask you
to speak about the meeting that Governor Sanford had about higher education, if you would,
in a minute. But let me set the framework for this. Drew, if I wait until the governor
is already selected, I am waiting too late. So during the campaign, I and several members
of the Board of Trustees met with both Nikki Haley and, as the Republican candidate, and
also with the Democratic candidate in our election. And the first thing that I reminded
both of them was, ìYou have a Clemson degree, and I can revoke it at any moment.î {laughter!}
So I thought that was pretty good leverage to be able to do that.
And the second thing I asked them was some specific questions about what they had said
during, what they were running on, their platform for higher education. I do not see this trend
turning around with whoever had been elected governor, with their different approaches
that will be taken. One that will be very, very conservative, which is what the state
elected, uh, and another that was a little less so, but the actual response that we got
from now governor elect Haley was that it was more of a ìwait and seeî attitude about
this. It was, there was not a commitment made by her. She is proud of her Clemson degree
and her Clemson experience. She understands, I think, the role that a school like Clemson
plays in economic development, the job creation work that weíve done around the state (CU-ICAR,
Restoration Institute, Advanced Materials). Those are things that I think she inherently
understands. The question remains right now, will we see significant changes in how Governor
Sanford approached this, and how Governor Haley will approach it. Itís too early to
tell. The transition team is now being crafted. The chairman of our Board of Trustees also
chairs that transition team: David Wilkins, former Speaker of the House, former ambassador
to Canada. But itís really too early to tell.
I donít expect a complete turnaround from that approach from what weíve had for the
past eight years, but I think the subtle changes that might be there could be helpful to us,
but when we talk about planning our future, it canít ebb and flow for ten years on what,
who the governor is and what he or she might think. Weíve got to assume that state support
is going to continue to go down. I will fight for every penny in Columbia. I was there last
week, meeting with the Senate Finance Committee chairman. I had lunch today with the Ways
and Means Committee chairman, and the agenda was, ìWhat do you see coming up? How can
we move some of Clemsonís priorities forward?î Got a good hearing on both those, but those
are relationships that I have developed over the last ten years, and they have proved to
be important, but thereís a lot more work to be done. And thereís, we know we are going
to lose $17 million at least when the stimulus funds roll out in July. Weíve been planning
on that happening. Thatís why this planning work that weíve been doing with the departments
becomes so critical, as we move forward.
Brian, why donít you say a word about the Governor Sanfordís summit on higher education?
Male Speaker: the Governor invited everyÖin the state to come down to Columbia, to participate
in what he called a discussion about the role of higher education in South Carolina. And
really our message was that Clemson is focused on quality, and making sure that we have the
best education possible, available to all students now and in the future. And making
sure that we maintain the focus that higher education is a priority for the state. Coming
up in February, weíre going to hold the rally for all students, you guys will all be invited,
to come to Columbia and we will make a statement for higher education, so they can hear it
from President Barker all they want, but I think until we as students go down there and
tell them firsthand how important it is to us, they may not get the message. So more
information to come in the future, but we know that thatís important. We want to return
the focus to higher education in the future.
President Barker: last week and today, I learned that there is a strong likelihood that there
will be caps on tuition, which may think, may say great, right? You may say terrific.
Thatís a cap on quality. Because you see what role tuition is now playing in the whole
scheme of things, and the idea of having out of state caps on enrollment. Those are two
things that are politically powerful right now, and two things that could damage Clemson
dramatically. And so we will be working to try to get those messages across, but I see
every indication that those will be two of our big challenges. The others will be transparency,
and we are putting a web page together which will go live in January that will have every
expenditure Clemson makes, down to the penny, and the source of it, on this web page, so
anybody that wants to know anything about Clemsonís expenses will be able to go there.
Weíll be the first state agency to do that, certainly the first university. Cathy, is
it the first state agency?
Female Speaker: I donít know about thatÖ
President Barker: Brett, do you know?
Female Speaker: I know there are several who are working on pilot programs, but I am not
President Barker: well, we will have that up and running in January, so the whole issue
of transparency is not an issue with Clemson. What is an issue with Clemson is the bureaucracy
of state government. It costs us money, therefore it costs you money to be able to get things
approved through this incredibly complex bureaucracy thatís been built in Columbia. Weíre asking
for that to be streamlined, because being able to do so would save us a great deal of
funds, and weíre working hard in that regard and we got very close last year to getting
some of those approvals, and we hope to have that next year.
Other questions?
You have to come to the microphone.
Male Speaker: Umm, as a Clemson student I have found it increasingly difficult to pursue
interdisciplinary studies, and sort of cross departmental lines, because of the rigid,
set curriculums, or because departments donít want you crossing over and mixing, they want
you to stay to a certain pathway. I was wondering if it would be possible to, in the future,
adjust this system to allow more interdisciplinary studies and allow you to cross those departmental
lines, as opposed to being set in such a rigid curriculum and not being able to sort of expand,
if youíre interested, without taking on double majors and double minors like I have to do.
So would it be possible to sort of adjust that system, and if so, how would you go about
adjusting it to, so that you can still get your classes that you need for your degree,
but allow more interdisciplinary study?
President Barker: I think thatís a sign that we are maturing as a university, and that
we are getting broader and broader students. Itís really hard, we are finding, for our
freshmen these days to settle on a major, or a minor. They are interested in a lot of
things. And, you know, I was so dumb I just wanted to be an architect, and just got into
an architecture curriculum and marched straight through it. But I think we are going to find
this more and more happening, and I may ask the provost if she would like to say a word
about our rethinking of general education and how that might influence the flexibility
that we might be able to offer in the future curricula. The thing that you may not know,
do you think the President establishes the curriculum for the university? Or the provost,
or the Board of Trustees? Faculty do. Faculty are empowered to establish the curriculum
for their department. That means changes in that become a little more complicated than
if there was one person doing it, because, but our provost has had great success in freeing
up some of those curricular matters, and our plans for the future would show even more
flexibility. So weíre on the same wavelength. We want that not to contract but to expand,
and have the ability to cross departmental lines, to offer degrees. Because the categories
that we have in engineering and architecture and some of our other majors were established
in the 14th century. The world doesnít operate that way any more. It is the territory between
the disciplines where the problem solvers are coming from. Not from deep within the
core of one area or another area. It is the ability, instead of thinking vertically in
those silos, if you will, of curriculum, it is people that can move horizontally. Those
are the people who are going to be more marketable and they are going to be more successful because
of that skill at tying things together.
An example of that is the curriculum thatís part of CU-ICAR in Greenville, the masterís
and Ph.D. Each person who comes there already has a certain degree of success in the vertical.
In the horizontal, at being able to link the various engineering disciplines together,
is what has made that program so successful. And in two or three years now, we have how
many graduate students in each of those? 44 at the masterís level,
so you are seeing incredible response in a short period of time, to say to people, if
you want to do graduate work, which is normally deep and narrow, but you want to have it more
horizontal, then weíre getting those kind of responses and getting great students. So
I think thatís a sort of predictor of what curriculum may look like in the future. Dori,
do you want to speak to that? You need to come up in the microphone.
Provost Helms: One of the things that Iíd like you all to know is that 30 hours in your
curriculum is dedicated to what we call general education. And that is required by our Southern
Association of Colleges and Schools, which accredits the University. In that, there are
only two courses which are actually required. The rest of the hours, so six hours are required
out of the 30; the rest of the hours are up to the departments and to the faculty to decide
whatís going to be in that curriculum. I put together, along with Student Government,
a committee of five students out of each college to begin to look at and to give me input into
what you would like to see in general education. Iíve already heard the remark about can we,
can we loosen this up so that we can have ways to broaden our curriculum rather than
having double degrees and triple degrees that we now have. I think thatís going to play
into however we reinvent general education.
Creative inquiry: I donít know how many of you were in Creative Inquiry teams. We started
that several years ago to broaden the ability of students to get together and work on a
project, coming from many different disciplines, as a way to address the fact that, exactly
what President Barker said, your solutions to todayís problems do not come from one
single discipline. They come from your ability to work in teams, work together, and bring
all your knowledge from many disciplines together.
So weíre looking at general education, hopefully putting some engagement hours in there, which
means your internships, your time that you spend doing those types of activities will
actually count, rather than riding above the curriculum, and being able to broaden the
curriculum to look at ways in which students can reach out into other disciplines is part
of this. I would invite any of you who have ideas about what youíd like to see in general
education to just email me. Itís very easy: drhelms@clemson.edu. And Iíd be happy to
hear from any of you. We will be putting out a survey and soliciting advice from all students.
And then weíll get the students together with the faculty. But I want to hear from
the students first, and hear what you have to say about your experiences and what youíd
like to see. And then we will take those opinions to the faculty and say, ìThis is what the
students are saying. What do you have to say about it?î So, look forward to that. It will
take a year, probably, to make that machine work and to get all those things through the
process of approvals, etc. So let me hear from you if you have some ideas. You are right
on target.
President Barker: Let me say too, to change the curriculum, to get the change done Doriís
talking about, would take some time. Whenever you entered as a freshman, thatís the contract
that you have with the University to take those classes to get that degree. So you are
going to be helping your students who follow you more than you are immediately. But donít
let that discourage you. If this is the right thing to do, people ahead of you made some
good decisions, too, to free up more than, we would not have the ICAR curriculum if we
hadnít gotten that critique early on. So itís one of those things I think that youíd
be investing in and leaving a legacy as part of your time at Clemson.
The Creative Inquiry process is the, the direct result of that is a team that worked with
Kay and Jim Bottum on the Learning Commons. Is that right? That was a team that led that
effort. So itís a real problem-solving opportunity. If you havenít been a part of those teams,
please do. You will see a full menu of those that you can find from the home page of the
University. And pick one, you can stay with that group as long as you want. In some cases
it goes on three semesters. And itís a great way to prepare yourself for the world youíre
about to enter. And I believe that on your resume and in your material that you send
for either graduate work or for employment, youíre going to have an advantage over people
who have not had that experience. Because believe me, those employers are looking for
people who can either lead teams or be a part of teams, and who are problem solvers and
know how to do it, and have produced results. So youíd have the results of the team that
you worked on to be able to show them what you could do.
Yes maíam, you had a question.
Female Speaker: President Barker, I am here tonight with members of the womenís swim
team, and we are here tonight representing both current and past members of the Clemson
Swim Team, and we have several questions and comments regarding the future of the program,
but most importantly, we would like a specific answer as to why the decision was made to
cut the program in two years.
President Barker: All of us at the institution, including Athletics, are in this process of
looking at what to divest in order to invest. And that means some hard, some hard decisions
about what we can be particularly successful in, and what we think we canít be successful
in. So the decision that was made by the Athletic Department, as difficult as it was, was we
are not going to have the facilities or the resources to be able to have a nationally
competitive swim team. And so we had to decide whether or not we would continue that program
or not. And the decision was made, as the first, in many cases, we have had decisions
since then, but as the first decision that said, we cannot continue this program and
be nationally competitive the way we think Clemson expects to be. That decision was made,
and it was done so that all the students who had scholarships kept them, as long as they
stayed at Clemson, and that the program would not be phased out immediately, but would be
phased out over a two year period.
It basically had to do with how competitive we could be, and how competitive we could
be in some other sports going forward.
You may have a follow-up question. If you do, I would be glad to answer.
Female Speaker: Weíve been given that answer before, and we were wondering why the decision
for swimming. We have better records than other teams out there that have been kept.
And we also offered to provide the funding for our pool, to build it, which in turn would
benefit the University, because given that South Carolina has so few 50 meter pools to
begin with, it would bring in revenue from USA Swimming meets. And personally, in regards
to our pool situation, weíve produced national champions, Olympic gold medalists, multiple
ACC finalists and record holders, with the pool we have now. I know I grew up personally
swimming in a pool with a barbed wire fence that often had broken glass on the bottom,
and there were assault, theft, and rape that occurred while we were in training, and I
was still able to go on to Olympic trials. So with all of this, with us offering to pay
for the pool, and offering to basically fund ourselves, when we are in fact one of the
cheaper programs to be funded, I know I personally do not oversee the budget and know what money
is distributed to what, but we only fly to a meet every three years, and other than that,
all of ours are local within diving distances, or driving distances. And there are teams
which fly every other week to compete, and with all of these factors, why is the team
still being phased out?
President Barker: Let me, let me make sure I add some other things to what I said, and
then I will get straight to your question. There isnít a better academic group than
the swim team, student athletes. They personify, your personify what it means to be a student
athlete. Being a part of a community is a thing that swimmers enjoy as much as anyone.
Nobody works harder, nobody is a team that Iím more proud of, in terms of their integration
into the University, their success at the University. This decision, though, had to
do with whether we had a tradition in being able to produce the swimmers and the swim
team overall at the level that we thought Clemson would demand that we do.
There are some individuals that have been very successful, thatís correct. But the
team itself was not, and it, the investment that it would take to make that happen, you
canít have a second-rate facility (especially the one you described) ñ the difference between
the West Zone as a facility, and what we had for swimming, we want all of our facilities
to be up to that level. And it cannot be done at a one-time investment with a pool and not
have the scholarship funds to continue to support that. So the cost of the swim team
is not just travel and itís not just facilities. It has mostly to do with scholarships, and
being able to have enough of those scholarships, and the kind of facilities that it would take
to sell a student athlete to come here instead of going to Auburn. So itís that kind of
investment that we did not think we could make going forward, and the only sane thing
to do as far as, and fair thing to do as far as students, was to tell them that, give them
an opportunity to go to another place to swim, or if they stayed at Clemson to honor their
scholarship. A lot of programs have been eliminated, other schools, swimming being some of them,
that they did not honor those scholarships, but Clemson chose to do that.
And it broke my heart that we had to do that.
Female Speaker: Hi. I was just, I was just going to say, my brother actually is going
to Auburn to swim as a freshman, just signed two weeks ago. And he actually came here,
because I swim here as well, to, to just visit with the team and just kind of have fun, and
just kind of see what Clemson was like as an unofficial trip. And he actually considered
to come to Clemson, and enjoyed the experience, he enjoyed, actually he enjoyed the facility.
I as well come from a small facility, we have one 25 meter competition pool. And I as well
made it to a national level meet, and to here. Umm, and I would just like to extend that,
and just continue to further ask the question, of course he canít choose here any more,
and he had to choose, he had four options, Auburn and Clemson being one of them, and
Clemson was eliminated. So I just wanted to ask that question.
President Barker: I guess, I guess I am not quite sure what the question is in your statement.
What could we do to help attract student athletes like your brother to come, or the fact that
we did not have the option for him to come? So we missed out on the chance for him to
come here?
Female Speaker: Right. I was just going to ask the question, how Auburn compares to here,
because we do have many different things to offer, and facility, as a student athlete,
as myself, and a national and Olympic trial qualifier such as my brother, facility is
not everything, and I could also ask the question of how is Clemson going to replace the community
service hours and the GPA† that the, if we are going to be a Top 20 University, how
we are planning to accommodate, because student athletes have a decent chunk of the GPA, and
itís an important aspect of how we are going to adjust to that.
President Barker: (no audio) Ö highest grade point average. And because there are a lot
of swimmers, that elevates the overall University GPA. And the actual sports GPA as well. Weíll
have to pick, if we start any new sports in the future, they are going to have to be as
good student athletes as what you all have been. Thatís the only answer I have for you,
and weíre going to have to continue to track students who are not student athletes to help
the University move forward. The student community service hours, you all, nobody has been more
active than you all have been in that regard, either. So that really did not factor into
the decision. It really had to do with whether we could be nationally competitive in swimming,
and offer those scholarships. And the decision was that we could not do that. We could not,
even though it meant these kind of losses, we also felt like we owe it to future student
athletes to be able to have the best: facilities, scholarship offers, all of that.
Female Speaker: I have a question in regard to where the information that the athletic
department told us they had was coming from. We were told it would cost $20 million to
build the pool. We were told we werenít recruiting good enough athletes, things of this sort.
And we came back with new information after doing our research that said we need $2 to
$3 million to build the type of pool that we need. We have recruited top 25 classes
for the past three years. So why are we being told that these new things canít be considered,
and that we arenít recruiting, when the facts showed that we are recruiting top 25 classes?
President Barker: The ability to recruit student athletes has a great deal to do with facilities,
as you know, as I have made a point about that. I do not believe you could build a pool
that would be a championship attraction to make a difference between a student coming
here and somewhere else for $2 million. And that did not factor in the equipment that
would be involved and the maintenance that would be involved in such a facility.
As far as the quality of student athletes who are coming here, because youíve never,
because weíve never had at Clemson the tradition of swimming at the very highest level, ACC
championships, national championships, thatís something that we have to overcome every time
we recruit a class. And that combination of things led to us say that thatís not something
we should continue going forward as a sport that we have at the University.
Female Speaker: Hello. I am also a member of the swim team, and
President Barker: This is my last swimming question.
Female Speaker: {laughter!} This is actually just a recommendation. The way in which we
were told, I know, was the last day of finals, when basically our entire team wasnít here.
And it was just kind of, very just hurtful that we were told in a meeting, really, really
late at night, when everyone wasnít together, and just the way it was presented I guess,
I just felt was not the correct fashion of doing that. And I was just hoping that you
will see that, and that it did hurt a lot of us, all these girls were in tears, were
very hurt of it. And maybe in the future, if you are deciding to change a program or
cut a program, that you can consider doing it in like a more formal way, or you telling
us or the athletic director telling us. Just not having our coaches in tears in front of
us telling us when thereís only five people left to tell, and not the entire team together.
Female Speaker: One thing on that same point. We know that this isnít the best way to do
this. This isnít the best way to address the problem. It should be done in a more private
manner. But we had to resort to this because we have asked numerous times for meetings.
I wasnít here when the program was cut. I came back the next week. Iíve been here since
then, and I have not yet had an administrator from the athletic department or yourself sit
down and answer my questions. So we feel as a team we deserve answers, and we havenít
been given that opportunity, though we have asked that many times.
President Barker: I think this is fine to be able to ask questions. Thatís what this
forum is about. And I will take the criticism about how it was announced. I think thatís
a fair critique. But let me explain why that happened the way it did. Iím not sure there
is a great time to be able to make to tell bad news. But I do know that if we had waited
any longer and we had made some commitments to student athletes who were about ready to
sign to come to Clemson in this round, which would have happened in the summer, that that
wouldnít have been fair, either. So I donít know that there is an ideal time. I was insistent
that the word came to you before you left school. And I think, I think that, that delay
in actually making that happen, when most students had gone home after exams, was not
a good thing. But Iím trying to figure out when would have been an ideal time to do that.
And do you have a thought about that?
Female Speaker: Sorry, yeah, I was just going to ask, if you would follow up on that and
make sure that it does happenÖ For other programs and just other changes that are made
at the University.
President Barker: We have announced some combinations of a couple of departments, not in sports
but in academics, and weíre doing that same critique: when is the right time to be able
to announce that, to be able to have people be able to respond? Thatís the way Clemson
should do it, and we are struggling, trying to find exactly how that process should work.
But I hear what you say: the sooner the better.
Female Speaker: As a current freshman on the swim team, I committed to Clemson exactly
one week before we found out, and I would just like to know why. I know you said that
thereís not a good time to break bad news, but why the decision was to wait that late,
because that eliminated a lot of opportunities for me, because I had waited to sign, because
I had waited it out for Clemson. By that point, I basically, my options for this year were
slim to none.
President Barker: And are you sad that you came?
Female Speaker: Umm, itís bittersweet, I am going to be honest. I love everything about
Clemson, but at the same time, everything reminds me that, in the blink of an eye, this
can all be over for me.
President Barker: I understand. I think you committed early to come to Clemson?
Female Speaker: No. Spring is late to be committed.
President Barker: She was late committing?
Female Speaker: I was extremely late.
President Barker: The, the concept was to tell people so that we would have a minimum
of this kind of thing happening. That was what the timing had to do. When would have
been the right time? Please tell me when that would have been.
Female Speaker: The earliest signing is in November. The other signing is in February
or March. The other was, if it were presented to, none of the alumni were informed about
this decision until after we found out. Whereas if the alumni would have been informed immediately
after the decision was made, there were plans to fundraise, for donations to be made and
whatever money raised to fund the pool, to endow the scholarships, but all that has been
rejected, and not even considered. And if alumni were given the chance to try and save
and protest this decision, it might not have happened, but the decision was black and white,
it was, we had no program, the next day, two years phased out, no opportunities to save.
President Barker: So youíre suggesting it should have been early fall?
Female Speaker: Yeah, and open the possibilities up. If it were a money issue, at least informing
people who would have loved to save the program. Research has been done that aside from the
football team, IPTAY donations, the most amount of money comes from the swim team.
President Barker: I looked at all those numbers, and thatís not right, but that, I think your
point is well made about the timing, and how that would have affected early signing period.
If we had wanted to do a fundraiser for swimming, we would not have done it this way, and we
would not have made a threat. And we have had ongoing fundraising efforts with swimming.
So we had been successful in attracting the funds for the new scoreboard thatís about,
I guess itís been four or five years ago, to do that. But in terms of the overall success
of fundraising for swimming, itís not in the position you describe.
Other questions? Other questions? About other subjects?