Clemson University President Jim Barker told students in an email Thursday that he would be having triple bypass heart surgery Friday.
“During a medical check-up this week, I became aware of a situation that will require immediate attention,” he said. “Tomorrow morning, I will have triple bypass surgery at Greenville Memorial Hospital in order to treat blockages that were discovered during a heart catheterization today. This will require a hospital stay of five to seven days with visitation limited to family, and I anticipate a medical leave for recovery.”
Clemson trustees had a conference call Friday morning in closed session for about 25 minutes. They then went into open session and unanimously voted that University Provost Dori Helms will take over the duties of the president until Barker is able to return to work. She is not being named interim president.
All current trustees took part in the conference call, which included a moment of prayer for Barker.
Barker, 65, said he is confident in a full recovery because he is being treated by Clemson doctors and nurses, is in overall good health and will enjoy the support of the administrative team at the university as he heals.
“The Board of Trustees has been notified and has pledged their full support as well,” Barker said.
Additional information will be shared with students as Barker learns more from his doctors, he said.
Before being named president in 1999, Barker was a Clemson alumnus, an architecture professor and a dean at the university. His major contributions include efforts, with some successes and setbacks, to have the university named as one of the Top 20 universities in the country according to U.S. News. He has also helped lead a major fundraising push, begun quietly in 2006 and announced to the public in 2010, which had raised more than $600 million as of July, at which time the goal became $1 billion.
Barker has a wife, two sons, a daughter-in-law and two granddaughters.