As the Clemson Tiger mascot paraded around the State House promoting the state’s second-biggest college last week, Clemson president James Barker told a S.C. Senate panel that his university needs independence from state oversight for big construction projects and land purchases.
Regulatory reviews add six to 18 months to projects at a time when Clemson needs to be more nimble in winning more private partnerships and donations to offset dwindling state tax dollars, Barker said.
“We have to move at their pace,” Barker told senators.
A bill before the Legislature that would create a so-called enterprise division to oversee Clemson’s construction work and land purchases is the school’s most important legislation during his 14 years leading the university, Barker said.
Public universities now must win approval for major projects in two sets of reviews from three state boards – the S.C. Commission on Higher Education, legislative Joint Bond Review Committee and S.C. Budget and Control Board.
Barker said Clemson has not lost a project because of the delays caused by those reviews, but some donors have left projects. Clemson had no estimate of its additional costs due to state regulation.