Converse University Mourns the Death of President Jeffrey H. Barker
A campus-wide memorial service to celebrate Dr. Barker’s life and legacy took place on Friday, August 27, 2021 at 1:00 pm in Twichell Auditorium in the Zimmerli Performance Center on the Converse University campus in Spartanburg, South Carolina
Dear Converse Community,
We are deeply saddened to learn of the death of Converse’s 11th President, Jeffrey H. Barker. Dr. Barker suddenly and tragically was taken away from us last evening, July 21, 2021, in a fatal bicycle crash in Spartanburg. As we mourn this loss together, we also send our love and heartfelt condolences to Dr. Barker’s wife Jan, and their son Sam.
This news is difficult to process and affects many members of our campus community. For those who wish to be near others to grieve and process together, we will be gathering this morning, July 22 in Wilson Lobby at 1 pm to remember Dr. Barker and support each other. Our tower bell in Wilson will ring 20 times to remember Dr. Barker’s 20 years of service. We will also be planning a campuswide memorial service to honor his life and legacy and will announce those plans soon.
Anyone in need of support is encouraged to use university resources. The Wellness Center is open Tuesday – Thursday 9 am – 4 pm for counseling services for students. Appointments can be made by calling 864.596.9258. For after-hours emergencies today, you may reach the Residential Life on-call staff at 864.621.7114. Employees may seek counseling through the Employee Assistance Program (EAP).
The Converse Board of Trustees held an emergency executive session early this morning and appointed Dr. Boone Hopkins as the Interim President of Converse, effective immediately. Dr. Lienne Medford will serve as Interim Provost. Additional appointments for the resulting open leadership roles will be announced in the near future.
For today and tomorrow, we are pausing our day-to-day activities. While we will tend to that which is critical, we are giving ourselves the space to mourn our President, colleague, friend, and devoted supporter of our beloved Converse. Students who are in Summer sessions currently, please work directly with your faculty regarding class sessions and assignments that may be impacted by this announcement.
“He loved Converse, and his love for us brought him out of his planned retirement to serve us as President.”
In lieu of flowers, the Jeffrey H. Barker Memorial Fund has been set up to celebrate the life and legacy of Dr. Barker. Donations will be applied to a project to be named at a later date. Those who wish to give may do so here (select the Jeffrey H. Barker Memorial Fund in the drop-down menu).
Dr. Barker most recently served as Converse’s Provost and as President had planned to draw from his more than 20 years of experience at Converse to oversee the transition that would position the university to attract exceptional students from all over the United States and internationally.
Dr. Barker’s commitment to the students and faculty of Converse is evident through his long list of accomplishments that have had our Converse community and its advancement and well-being at their center. He loved Converse, and his love for us brought him out of his planned retirement to serve us as President. Because of our love for him, we feel his loss personally and deeply, and we will greatly miss him.