CLEMSON — After nearly 40 years of distinguished service to Clemson University – half as vice president of student affairs – Almeda Jacks will retire from the University effective Oct. 31. Clemson Associate Vice President and Dean of Students Chris Miller has been named interim vice president for student affairs and dean of students.
Jacks, who earned three degrees from Clemson, including a doctorate in educational leadership, is a nationally recognized leader among higher education student affairs professionals who leaves behind a legacy of innovation on behalf of generations of students. In addition to being a staunch advocate for student wellness and success, Jacks has had significant fundraising success on behalf of the University, notably through her engagement with parents of Clemson students.
“Almeda is an outstanding leader who has been the consummate ambassador for Clemson throughout her career,” said Clemson President Jim Clements. “She has worked tirelessly to help create a student experience at Clemson that is second to none, and we are going to miss her counsel and passion for this university.
“At the same time, we are fortunate to have a capable, student-focused leader such as Chris Miller to step into this important role. I’m looking forward to working with Chris and the rest of the student affairs leadership team as we continue to support our students in every way possible.”
Jacks, a South Carolina native who earned her bachelor’s degree from Clemson in 1974, a master’s degree in 1975 and doctorate in 2009 is completing her second stint as a vice president at Clemson. She returned to the university in December 2014 after a five-year absence during which she served as a student affairs executive for Manhattanville College in Purchase, NY, and as a higher education executive search consultant for Keeling & Associates in Massachusetts.
Prior to leaving Clemson in 2009, Jacks served for 14 years as vice president for student affairs and also was instrumental in the creation of the Clemson Bridge transfer program in partnership with Tri-County Technical College. That program, which began in 2006, currently provides 900 students a year with the opportunity to transfer to Clemson as sophomores following successful completion of one year of work at Tri-County, during which time students live on the Clemson campus.
Jacks began her full-time Clemson career as a program coordinator in the division of housing immediately upon earning her master’s degree and held a number of roles of increasing responsibility until being named vice president for student affairs in 1992. In that role, she served as a member of the leadership team under four Clemson presidents.
Jacks has made town and gown relationships a high priority throughout her career, working closely with the community. She was instrumental in working with the city to help create the Catbus transit system that serves the university and surrounding communities today.
“I may be retiring, but Clemson will always hold a special place in my heart,” Jacks said. “I have had the good fortune to spend my career working in a field that is both challenging and extremely rewarding, and I am looking forward to watching my friends and colleagues in student affairs to continue to serve our students with distinction. I know the University and our students are in great hands with Chris and the other members of the leadership team.”
Miller, who joined Clemson in his current role in 2015, brings more than a decade of experience as vice president or vice chancellor for student affairs. Prior to joining Clemson, Miller served as vice president for student affairs at Marquette University in Milwaukee from 2008-2015. He also held leadership roles in student affairs at University of Illinois – Springfield, Arizona State University and South Dakota State University.
Miller earned two bachelor’s degrees from the University of North Carolina – Chapel Hill, and his master’s and doctorate degrees from Arizona State. He also earned a law degree from Campbell University in North Carolina. His son is a junior in the College of Business at Clemson.
“I am indebted to Almeda for her leadership during my time at Clemson and am honored to be given this opportunity to build on the wonderful work she has done,” Miller said. “We are fortunate to support some of the finest students in the country at a university that truly puts students first, and I am excited to have a chance to lead our outstanding team of professionals.”
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