Life of former Converse University’s President celebrated, remembered by so many

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SPARTANBURG, S.C. (WSPA) – A teacher, dreamer, scholar, mentor and friend. That’s how Converse University’s former President, Dr. Jeffrey Barker is being celebrated and remembered.

Walking the sidewalks of Converse University, it’s hard to find someone who hasn’t heard of Dr. Jeffrey Barker.

“He was really great at getting you to think in different ways but he didn’t influence your thoughts in any way,” said Converse University Student, Meagan Waters.

Meagan Waters and Haley Nitz never had him as a professor but told 7 News, that didn’t matter. They got to know him from walking around campus. They said he made everyone feel welcomed.

“He was never afraid to say or start a conversation with anybody and just a really kind, humble and thoughtful human being,” Converse University Student, Haley Nitz told us.

That’s especially the case for the people pouring into Twichell Auditorium on Converse University’s campus.

“Jeff had confidence in me and that’s why I see him as a mentor,” said Dr. David Church with Spartanburg Regional.

From one of Spartanburg’s top medical directors, to the new interim president, Dr. Barker is being celebrated as a man who believed in people when they didn’t believe in themselves.

That’s especially the case for Dr. Boone Hopkins. Dr. Barker was his close mentor and dear friend.

“I feel like he’s sitting on my shoulder and guiding me through so many of these steps. His good words, his good council and wisdom over the years, it feels like it’s always there for me,” said Converse University Interim President, Dr. Boone Hopkins.

Dr. Barker wore a lot of different hats during his time at Converse University, from professor and provost to most recently, president. But in each of those roles, Dr. Hopkins told us, he made students the top priority.

A memorial fund has been created to celebrate Dr. Barker’s life and legacy. Donations will be applied to a project that will be announced at a later date.

Dr. Barker was 63 years old when he passed away after his bicycle crashed in Spartanburg. He was wearing a helmet when it happened. He served as the 11th president at Converse University.

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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