Clemson appoints Nikki Haley to Board of Trustees

The former South Carolina governor and U.S. Ambassador to the U.N., is now one of 13 trustees charged with helping set university policy.

Haley says she is "excited and honored to serve on the board" of her alma mater.

Clemson University announced on Oct. 12 that former South Carolina governor and U.S. Ambassador Nikki Haley has been appointed to its Board of Trustees, effective immediately.

Haley shared the university’s Twitter announcement with enthusiasm, writing, “I’m excited and honored to serve on the board of the school I love so much. Go Tigers!” Her appointment is for a lifetime, based on a system dictated in the will of Thomas G. Clemson, which allows seven of the Board members to serve indefinite terms and appoint their successors. The other six are chosen by the state legislature. 

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Haley’s relationship with Clemson spans several decades. She earned her bachelor’s degree in accounting from the university in 1994. In 2018, Haley delivered a commencement address at Clemson, in which she credited the school with putting her on the path to the business world, which then led her into politics. As Haley noted in her speech, she met her husband at Clemson, and their daughter followed in their footsteps by attending Clemson, too. The university conferred an honorary doctorate of humanities 

David Randall, Director of Research at the National Association of Scholars, says that Haley’s appointment stands out due to her political affiliation. He told Campus Reform, “It is perfectly ordinary to see eminent politicians to see eminent senior politicians serve in university governance. It is unfortunately rare for universities to seek Republican politicians, or for those politicians, when selected, to seek seriously to apply conservative principles to university governance.” Randall cites Mitch Daniels, president of Purdue University and former governor of Indiana, as “a model of how Republican politicians should approach the task of university governance.”

According to Randall, Haley will have her work cut out for her as a trustee. He said, “We urge her to work ensure that Clemson University dedicates itself to proper education, and to remove from the university administration every advocate and practitioner of Critical Race Theory, social justice ideology, and similar anti-American radical ideologies that transform education from the disengaged search for truth into the radical activist struggle for power.”

Haley, along with twelve other trustees, is charged with an important oversight and advisory role at the university. Though the university president and senior leaders handle the “day-to-day operations” of the school, according to Clemson’s website, “The board is responsible for setting policy and approving budgets and expenditures.” 

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Haley is replacing David H. Wilkins, a former U.S. ambassador to Canada and former state legislator who is retiring after serving on the board since 2007. Haley is the sole member of the Board best known for her work in government; the other dozen trustees built their careers in law, real estate, nonprofits, and business. Though she no longer holds public office, Haley has remained active in the political sphere through her organization, Stand for America, which she founded to push for public policy reforms.

Clemson’s leaders voiced their support for Haley. Kim Wilkerson, Chair of the Board of Trustees, praised Haley’s “love of country, leadership skills, commitment to education, and passion for Clemson University” in the press release announcing her appointment. Jim Clements, president of Clemson University, tweeted, “I look forward to working with [Haley] to move Clemson forward.”

Follow the author of this article on Twitter: @AngelaLMorabito