CLEMSON — Marcia Barker, former first lady of Clemson University, received the Abernathy/Cox One Clemson Award at Thursday’s annual Joint University/City meeting.
“It would be hard to find an individual who has been more dedicated to both the university and the community than today’s recipient of the Abernathy-Cox Award,” said Steve Robbins, chairman of the Joint City/University advisory board, who presented the award.
Named for late Clemson Mayor Larry Abernathy and the late Clemson President Emeritus Walter T. Cox, the award is given annually by the Joint City/University Advisory Board to an organization and/or an individual who made major contributions to Clemson University and the community.
Robbins noted that Marcia Barker served many organizations, including America Reads, Friends of the Lee Gallery, Fort Hill Presbyterian Church, the Clemson Child Development Center, the Clemson University Woman’s Club and numerous university organizations. She also directed the Fort Hill Presbyterian kindergarten.
During her 14 years in the president’s home, she was hostess to nearly 94,000 guests at 789 events, which helped raise millions in private support, recruit outstanding students and make new friends for Clemson University and the city, Robbins said.
University President James P. Clements and Mayor J.C. Cook spoke at the meeting, which was hosted by the Clemson Area Chamber of Commerce and attended by more than 200 people.
Clements said his top three priorities for the weeks and months ahead are to:
— Recruit outstanding leaders for the positions of provost, vice president for research, vice president for economic development and several deans.
— Maintain Clemson’s undergraduate excellence. “Students are knocking down the door to get in,” he said, noting that more than 20,000 applied for fall semester, a 12 percent increase from last year.
— Make progress on facilities improvement plans, which include new or renovated student housing and support facilities and several athletics projects that recently were endorsed by the board of trustees.
He closed by talking about the close relationship between the university and city, whose town-gown relations have been ranked No. 1 nationally five years in a row by The Princeton Review.
“I plan to work hard to continue that legacy,” he said.