Clemson University President James Barker may have thought he was “putting out a fire” earlier this week, but his response to a recent report showing massive bureaucratic growth in the school’s top administrative offices has only fanned the flames of discontent in Tigertown, S.C.

First published on FITS three days ago, this explosive report shows that Clemson’s top three administrative offices have increased their personnel budgets by a combined 77% over the past three years, with the President’s office doubling its staff over that time period.

You can read our exclusive coverage of the report by clicking here (and the report itself is available here).

Hours after our story was first published, President Barker responded with an e-mail blast to state lawmakers and the entire Clemson campus in which he referred to the report “incomplete and misleading” but did not refute any of the data it presented.

Barker’s e-mail attributed the growth in his office staff to “reorganization,” but did not specifically explain similar growth figures in the Office of the Provost and Office of University Advancement.

Barker’s e-mail also failed to address how the daughter of the University’s second highest-ranking board member received back-to-back, double-digit salary increases in 2007 and 2008.

Needless to say, Barker’s explanations failed to mollify numerous faculty members and lower-level employees who have not benefited from the same salary inflation, to say nothing of Clemson parents who have been forced to pay tuition rates that are more than twice 2001 levels.

In fact, it appears Barker’s attempt at damage control has spawned more criticism – and another, more detailed report.

Just this afternoon, an e-mail including this new report was provided to FITS and several other South Carolina news outlets.

In it, many of the individual salary increases and personnel decisions that have helped feed the massive growth in upper management at Clemson are meticulously documented.

Entitled “Is Clemson the Enron of Higher Education?,” the report is addressed to the Clemson Board of Trustees and showcases how nearly a dozen of Clemson’s top executives (and their assistants) have received huge individual salary increases over the past five years.

Here are just a few of the individual salary increases over that time period (all figures are 2004-08 comparisons) …

Lobbyist Angie Liedinger: 80% salary increase ($101,200 to $181,800.00)

Provost Doris Helms: 61% salary increase ($168,000 to $270,389.00)

Communications VP Cathy Sams: 57% salary increase ($100,049 to $156,806)

Research & Economic Development VP Chris Przirembel: 49% salary increase ($163,648 to $243,828)

Public Service Activities VP John Kelly: 49% salary increase ($162,680 to $242,732)

Other executives and their assistants received similarly outlandish salary increases, which the new report documents in detail along with several other questionable personnel decisions made by Clemson’s top brass.

For example, the new dean of Clemson’s business school – hired in 2007 – is payed $358,550 a year according to the report, which is 58% higher than the salary he received at UNC-Charlotte.

Also, the report claims that Clemson’s new Chief Financial Officer was promoted to his position and given a 56% pay raise over the past two years despite the fact he is allegedly not a CPA and has no prior experience as a Chief Financial Officer.

Unlike the initial administrative salary review, this latest report is anonymous – although FITS  has discovered that its numbers correspond with the latest figures available on a public state salary database.

One source familiar with its findings says it was authored by a current Clemson faculty member.

Scrutiny of Clemson’s financial management came to a head last Spring when it was alleged that the school had been keeping an undisclosed $140 million slush fund hidden from state lawmakers.

President Barker has also been accused of misrepresenting Clemson’s budget, specifically claiming that the school is operating “at 1995 levels” when it comes to state appropriations.

That may be accurate, but it ignores the fact that Clemson’s total budget has increased from $346 million to $621 million over the past 13 years – including the current year’s $38 million reduction in state funds.


Is Clemson the Enron of Higher Education? (full report)