SPARTANBURG CO., SC (WSPA) – Converse University’s president has died following a bicycle crash along Meadowbrook Road Wednesday evening in Spartanburg County.
The Spartanburg County Coroner’s Office identified the victim as 63-year-old Jeffrey Harrison Barker, of Spartanburg.
According to the South Carolina Highway Patrol, the crash happened on Meadowbrook Road near Cherry Hill Road around 6:15pm.
Troopers said the bike rider was headed northbound when the bike ran off the road and crashed.
Barker was wearing a helmet at the time of the crash.
Converse University officials said Jeffrey Barker was the president before the fatal bicycle crash.
“He was a dear friend and trusted mentor for me, he often believed in me before I believed in myself,” said Interim President at Converse University, Dr. Boone Hopkins.
Hopkins told 7 News, he was a genuinely good man who loved physical activities like riding his bicycle.
Dr. Barker became Converse’s 11th President on July 6, 2021, to lead the university during the 2021-2022 academic year while a search for Converse’s next President is conducted, according to school officials. Dr. Barker most recently served as Converse’s Provost.
He is being remembered by students, staff and faculty at the university as a strong leader and great teacher.
“I just saw him a couple weeks ago and had that conversation, I’m really excited for the new semester and his face lit up and he was so excited for the new endevours we’re taking on,” said Converse Student, Allana Farmer.
Converse is providing support and resources for those in the campus community. For Converse students, the Wellness Center is open Tuesday – Thursday from 9 a.m. – 4 p.m. for counseling services for students.
Editor’s Note: The age of Dr. Baker has been corrected to reflect his true age.