Bill Lee Atchley

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Bill Lee Atchley (February 16, 1932-February 18, 2000) was the 11th President of Clemson University. He was born and grew up in Cape Girardeau, Missouri. His parents were William Cecil and Mary Bicket Atchley.

After a brief career as a pitcher for the New York Giants, 1951-1952, and abrief stint in the U. S. Army, 1952-1954, Atchley embarked on a career in civil engineering. He received Bachelor and Master's degrees in Science from University of Missouri-Rolla, in 1957 and 1959, respectively, and a Doctorate of Civil Engineering from Texas A&M University in 1965. He returned to the University of Missouri to teach civil engineering and later serve as Associate Dean of the College of Engineering. In 1975 he went to West Virginia University to assume the position of Dean of the College of Engineering.

In 1978, Atchley interviewed for the presidency of Clemson University, and was selected in February 1979. He was inaugurated on April 18, 1980, serving as president from 1979-1985. During his tenure at Clemson he introduced the "Challenge to Greatness" campaign which raised $89 million for Clemson's 1989 centennial. He brought about a number of changes such as the integration of faculty and students into decision making; the reorganization othe University administration; the renovation of Tillman Hall; the upgrading of computer facilities; and creation of the Calhoun Honors College.

His attempt to reorganize the athletic department after an investigation by the National Collegiate Athletic Association in 1982 was met with opposition within the department, from athletic supporters, and from the Board of Trustees. When a sports scandal broke in the fall of 1984, Atchley was not informed for over a month of allegations of coaches supplying drugs to athletes. "Rather than allow him to investigate fully, Clemson's Board of Trustees demanded his resignation," reported Murray Sperber in his book "College Sports Inc. - The Athletic Department vs. the University" (Henry Holt and Company, New York, 1990, ISBN 0-8050-1445-4.) Atchley tendered his resignation on March 1, 1985. In an interview with Sperber on June 10, 1988, Atchley stated "When academics take a backseat to athletics, you have a problem. You no longer have an institution where people with integrity want to teach, or where people with common sense and good values want to send their children to learn." ("College Sports, Inc.", Page 353.)

After leaving Clemson, Atchley moved to McLean, Virginia, and served as President of the National Science Center for Communications and Electronics Foundation. He later served as President of the University of the Pacific from July 1987 to 1995, and Interim President of Southeast Missouri State University in 1995-1996, where he had attended before transferring to UM-Rolla.

After retiring from the University of the Pacific June 30, 1995, Atchley was ready to rest. However, after much convincing from the Board of Regents and even a phone call from Gov. Mel Carnahan, Atchley agreed to serve as Southeast's interim president on the condition that he not be considered a candidate for president.

He retired to South Carolina, and passed away on February 18, 2000 [1].


Preceded by: Robert Cook Edwards Presidents of Clemson Succeeded by: Walter Thompson Cox