For the better part of the past decade, he’s been known as “The General” around the Clayton State University campus.
Originally director of Academic Advisement for the Clayton State School of Business, and a visiting assistant professor, Brigadier General (Ret.) Robert L. “Steve” Stephens, has been a fixture at Clayton State since the fall of 2002. Although he’s now better known as the University’s vice president of external relations, he’s even better known as “The General,” in recognition of his 30 plus years in the United States Army. And, it’s those 30 years, roughly from 1962 to 1992, that Stephens has written about in his new book, “When in Charge, Take Charge,” now available in the Clayton State University Bookstore.
“This book chronicles 30 years, nine months, and 21 days of the successes and challenges of a military family from commissioning to retirement,” says Stephens, who adds that he wrote the book for his grandchildren. “Military life is not easy, yet we did it and made it fun most of the time. Family separations were really tough for me, but even worst were the constant moves from one station to another. In all, we moved more than 30 times. Olivia and I were married about 60 days before I was commissioned… she served our country every day that I did.”
Stephens was appointed executive assistant to the president at Clayton State in April 2005, with duties including serving as the University’s Affirmative Action Officer and handling special projects and assignments for the Office of the President. Since September 2006, he served as interim vice president of External Relations, with his appointment as vice president effective on Nov. 1, 2008. He is responsible for Clayton State’s Development, Alumni Relations, Image and Communications, and University Relations functions.
Now a long-time resident of Clayton County, Stephens was born in Welch, W.V. He majored in English and Social Studies at West Virginia State College (WVSC), a historically black college in Charleston. While attending WVSC (now West Virginia State University), he served in the Reserve Officers Training Corps, playing a role in leading the largest Corps of Cadets in the history of WVSC.
His ROTC service led to more than 30 years of service in the United States Army. He received the U.S. Army Distinguished Service Medal, the Defense Superior Service Medal, the Army Legion of Merit, the Bronze Star with “V” device and two oak leaf clusters, the Purple Heart, the Combat Infantryman’s Badge, the Special Forces Tab, the Master Parachutist Badge and other various honors before retiring as a Brigadier General in 1993. His last posting in the army was to direct President Bill Clinton’s first inauguration... certainly an event that needed someone to take charge. While in the military, he graduated from the United States Army Command and General Staff College and the National War College.
In his civilian educational career, he earned a Bachelor of Science in Education from WVSC in 1962, and a Master of Science degree in Education from Alfred University. His other postgraduate studies include attendance at the John F. Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University and the Terry Stanford Institute of Public Policy at Duke University. He is also a graduate of the Center for Creative Leadership in Colorado Springs.
His civilian accomplishments include; Who’s Who in American Colleges and Universities, Who’s Who in America, The African American Hall of Fame, the Council of State Governments’ Toll Fellowship Program and twice being named a Distinguished West Virginian.