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Bill Lee Atchley Records

Identifier: Series-0020

Scope and Content

These records of the President consist of correspondence, reports, newspaper clippings, and budgets that President Atchley transferred to the University Archives from the Presidents House at the end of his administration in July 1985. The records concern matters which received his personal attention and include the Athletic Department, the College of Engineering, the Fire Department, the President’s Council, and the Strom Thurmond Institute. There is considerable material related to investigations as well some material related to the budget, program development and the Board of Trustees. Correspondents include Horace Fleming, R.W. Robinson, and members of the Board of Trustees

There is an inventory to this series.


  • 1974 - 1985
  • 1982 - 1984



Part of this series with files about University personnel and students is restricted in compliance with state and federal law.

Biographical Note

Bill Lee Atchley was born 16 February 1932, in Cape Girardeau, Missouri to William Cecil and Mary Bicket Atchley. He was both president of the student body and captain of the football team at Central High School in his home town. After a brief career as a pitcher for the New York Giants, 1951-1952, and a brief stint in the U. S. Army, 1952-1954, Atchley embarked on a career in civil engineering. He earned the bachelor and master of science degrees from the University of Missouri at Rolla in 1957, and 1959, respectively, and the doctorate from Texas A&M University in 1965. Atchley 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 as Dean of the College of Engineering.

In 1978, Atchley interviewed for the presidency of Clemson University; was selected in February 1979, and inaugurated in April 1980. Atchley brought about a number of changes such as encouraging faculty and students in the University’s governance; the reorganization of University administration; the renovation of Tillman Hall; the upgrading of computer facilities; and the 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. The conflict between the Trustees and President Atchley culminated in his resignation on 1 March 1985.

After leaving Clemson University, Atchley served as President of the National Science Center for Communications and Electronics Education Foundation. In July 1987 he assumed the presidency of the University of the Pacific in Stockton, California and served there until his retirement in 1995. In retirement, Dr. Atchley returned to South Carolina, living with his wife Pat Limbaugh Atchley at Murrells Inlet. He died of a heart attack on February 18, 2000 while attending a rally for John McCain.

Information for this biographical sketch is from Clemson University Archives Series 19 and 38 and “The Outsider: Bill Lee Atchley, 1979-1985” by William F. Steirer in Tradition: A History of the Presidency of Clemson University.


2.25 Cubic Feet (5 boxes)

Language of Materials



This series consists of records of the President that President Atchley transferred to the University Archives at the end of his administration in July 1985.


Transferred by Bill Lee Atchley, accession 85-69


Michael Kohl, Head, Special Collections, 1986 revised 2005.

The finding aid was entered into Archivists' Toolkit by Kristi Roberts in July 2010.

Bill Lee Atchley Records
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Repository Details

Part of the Clemson University Libraries Special Collections and Archives Repository

230 Kappa St.
Clemson SC 29634 U.S.A. US