CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- After nearly five years as president of West Virginia University, Jim Clements announced Monday that he's leaving WVU for Clemson University.
During a press conference at Clemson on Monday, which was streamed live on the university's website, Clements called the South Carolina school "one of the greatest land-grant research universities in the country."
"Clemson truly is a gem in higher education. It really is," Clements said. "I want to thank the board of trustees and search committee for believing in me and my family ... I can't wait to work with the students -- that's why we do what we do. I know the students here are top-notch. We recruit the best."
Clements' starting salary at Clemson will be $775,000, the same as his current salary at WVU, according to Clemson University's media relations department. When he started at WVU in 2009, Clements received an annual salary of $450,000.
He was chosen from a pool of 83 candidates and will officially start in January, Clemson said.
Beth Clements, the WVU president's wife, has family members who live near Clemson.
Clements succeeds James Barker, who announced his retirement in April after serving 14 years as Clemson president. Barker's salary as president was $471,213, according to Clemson officials.
After Monday's announcement, Clements wrote an open letter to the WVU community, saying when he was first called about the job, he "simply responded that I love WVU, the students, faculty and staff and the community."
"I wasn't looking to leave WVU ... however, after much thought, reflection and prayer, Beth and I decided that this is an opportunity that we couldn't pass up," Clements says in the letter. "When my family arrived at WVU we didn't realize how much we would fall in love with the state and the university. Beth and I knew that it would be very difficult for any university to convince us to leave WVU. However, Clemson is a university that is very special to our family."
WVU Board of Governors Chairman James W. Dailey II said WVU will soon announce plans for an interim president and will conduct a nationwide search for Clements' replacement.
The search for a new president could take "between a month and as many as six to eight months" depending on the number of candidates, Dailey said.
"With the national exposure that not only Mr. Clements had, but the university has, this will be really good for us. I would suspect we'll get some pretty exciting candidates from this search because of the foundation Clements has laid and the direction the university is going," Dailey said.