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Tucker for President -- of Clemson

Posted: May 1, 2013 3:07 p.m.
Updated: May 3, 2013 5:00 a.m.

Clemson University is looking for a new president, and I’m interested in the job.

James F. Barker, the current president, has announced his intention to retire and return to the classroom as a professor, so there’s an opening for a plum job.

Being the head of a major university is a heck of a gig. There are lots of perks other than a high salary.

You get a big house surrounded by oak trees, smack in the middle of campus, which is a good thing until some over-served student knocks on your door at midnight to tell you why he should have gotten an A in Psychology 101 rather than the D he actually received.

Everybody calls you “Doctor” when you’re the president of a university. I was never much of a student, but there are lots of places you can go online now and get an easy doctorate degree, so I don’t think that will be a problem.

Some presidents like to accumulate doctorates. There’s a nifty little deal they do with each other: “You come speak at my college’s graduation, and we’ll give you another honorary doctorate. Then next year I’ll come speak at your school and you can give me one.” Not bad.

You get great seats at football games and you don’t even have to pay for them. You’ll never find the president of Clemson sitting up in the nosebleed section at Death Valley, up there where the bugs fly around under those massive lights. You get your own box right on the 50-yard-line, and you can invite your friends to come watch the game with you.

And if there’s something you want to know about the team -- whether any trick plays are planned for next Saturday, or how recruiting is going -- you can just pick up the phone and ask the head coach. Even a busy guy like Dabo Swinney takes calls from the university president.

When you’re top dog at a college, you get to wear a robe and take part in those academic processions they have at graduation and on other special occasions. Those things have always looked like fun to me -- a bunch of people with different colored robes on, and those odd-looking hats they call mortarboards.

While you have your robe on, you get to march around while they play “Pomp And Circumstance,” which is a neat song by any measure.

You don’t have to buy much food if you’re a college president, either, because you’re always getting invited somewhere for dinner. You have to brush up on your conversational skills though, because everyone at the table is going to be listening to what you have to say.

If you like to travel, then being president of a university is a really good deal. Academic people love to have conventions, except they call them “conferences” instead of conventions because that sounds more like they’re working.

And you’ll never find a “conference” taking place in Pittsburgh or Dubuque or Newark. Nah, they choose places like Palm Springs and Scottsdale and Amelia Island. I guess the scenery helps them think.

Oh, there are drawbacks, I’m sure. Alumni are always telling you how things were back in the good old days when they were in school, and some of the big donors are probably eager to tell you how the university should really be run.

But those things would be a small price to pay for all the perks. Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to make sure my robe is pressed and my mortarboard is all set in case the search committee comes calling.


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