Gabe and Christina Hollingsworth spent two weeks in London and Paris celebrating their first wedding anniversary. This photo shows them on London’s Millennium Footbridge with St. Paul’s Cathedral in the background.
Audrey Stevens went to Peru with her friend Suzannah Feldman. It is her last hurrah before starting her medical residency. This picture is at the top of Huayna Picchu. Looking down at Machu Picchu.
Jordan and Kaitlyn Fiedler showing their Tiger Pride while skiing at Sunshine Mountain in Banff Canada.
Clemson students will work with cutting-edge design equipment, software and tools for years to come, thanks to Esko, a global supplier of integrated solutions for the packaging, labels, sign and display industries.
The company has given Clemson’s Sonoco Institute of Packaging Design and Graphics equipment, maintenance and software valued at $26,703,750 over a five-year period.
“Esko has been a great partner with the Sonoco Institute for nearly a decade, and this latest gift will be instrumental in Clemson’s ongoing efforts to remain at the leading edge of research into packaging technologies,” said President Clements. “Esko’s equipment and software allow our packaging design students to leave Clemson proficient in industry-standard tools and technologies.” The Sonoco Institute is the only university program in the country with a multidisciplinary approach to packaging as a core competency.
Esko has been a partner of the institute since 2008, and the curriculum is built around the company’s equipment and software. “Esko values the Clemson relationship largely because of the amount of value the printing and packaging industry places on Clemson as a resource for talent and innovation,” said Larry Moore, Esko’s vice president of partner programs in North America.
The partnership has greatly benefited Clemson students and consequently the manufacturing industry, said Chip Tonkin, director of the Sonoco Institute and Clemson’s graphic communications department chair. “Our Esko relationship is a world-class example of an industry-academic partnership that leverages real-world tools and relevant challenges to engage and inspire our students in ways that feed the talent pipeline that our entire manufacturing industry desperately needs,” said Tonkin.
As global brand leader and vice president for The Ritz-Carlton and St. Regis Hotels & Resorts, Lisa Holladay says her job isn’t to sell you a room, but to provide guests an experience. “The ‘Why?’ we exist as a company isn’t to sell hotel rooms or to sell beds, but it’s to create memories,” she said.
Landing at the Ritz-Carlton from Clemson wasn’t a straight line for Holladay. As an education major, Holladay had plans of entering the classroom. Even though she loved teaching high school seniors, student teaching revealed she didn’t want to move into the classroom. Next was graduate school at Georgetown University to pursue an English degree, but a study abroad program in England revealed to Holladay that she loved travel. Her path eventually led to a public relations firm in Washington, D.C., then to a non-profit. A half dozen jobs later she was in San Francisco and found her niche with Mercedes-Benz.
“I grew up there,” she said about staying with the company for over a decade. “I loved it. I knew I wanted to be passionate about something, but I didn’t know what it was. That’s when I went to work for Mercedes-Benz and did everything from PR to marketing to advertising.”
Her last move with Mercedes took her to New Jersey and New York where she was national manager for experiential marketing for Mercedes-Benz USA, and where she finally found her “Why?” — her love of brand management.
“My job is to make people fall so in love with our brands that they are loyal beyond reason,” she said.
When the opportunity came open from Marriott to interview for the Ritz-Carlton, Holladay said she studied like there was no tomorrow.
“It’s travel, food, wine, spa, luxury … I really, really wanted that job and thought, ‘They’re never going to hire me because I have no hospitality background,’” she said.
Being an outsider was her “in.” “They wanted to extend the brand as more than just a hotel company,” she said.
Now as a global brand leader for luxury brands, Holladay wants to have guests explore the city and the hotels, while providing relevant, contemporary luxury that aligns with core brand values.
“There’s a reason my two longest career stints have been with brands that have heritage,” she said. “I should have known when I was at Clemson that I was a brand person because even then I was enamored with the Tiger paw on everything, the football team running down the hill and the story of Clemson.”
— Julia Sellers
Over the past five years, James and Anna Hodan moved five times, purchased a home, became landlords and adopted two dogs. Clearly familiar with change, the couple didn’t hesitate to shift their careers when opportunities opened up, and they enrolled in Clemson’s accelerated nursing program.
As the health care industry continues to fluctuate, many professionals are pivoting their career paths to better suit new demands. James and Anna are two of these professionals. While they found success in their respective careers in prosthetics and health care marketing, they wanted to play more direct roles in patient care and remove themselves from the administrative duties that have increased in recent years. Anna enrolled in the accelerated nursing program in August 2014; James followed suit in August 2015.
“The prosthetics field is transitioning away from patient care to require practitioners to spend a majority of their time on insurance paperwork,” James said. “This is not where I feel my strengths lie. Nursing allows me to get back to what I know best, which is focusing on providing excellent patient care.”
Anna is similarly familiar with the administrative side of health care, yet finds it an asset in her nursing career. “I feel that because of my background [in administration], I have an appreciation for what the administrative staff has to go through in order to ensure the department runs smoothly and efficiently,” she said.
With close ties to local hospitals and a rigorous curriculum that combines classroom experience with hands-on clinical work, James and Anna felt that Clemson’s nursing program was the perfect spot for them. Clemson’s program allows professionals like James and Anna to divert their career path to nursing, a facet of health care that is grounded in hands-on patient interaction. Clemson’s reputation as one of 35 programs recognized by the National League for Nursing as a Center of Excellence in Nursing Education helped solidify the decision.
When Anna graduated in 2015, she began work as an emergency room nurse at Spartanburg Regional Hospital. After graduation in December 2016, James took a job at Pardee Hospital in Hendersonville, N.C., in the ICU.
For Anna, a new mindset was the best takeaway. “The professors and the program challenge you to think beyond the classroom. Now that I am working in a fast-paced, high-stakes environment, I value the ability to think critically to help my patients.” After two years of intensely scheduled lives and graduation, the Hodans are excited to settle into their new normal.
— Courtney Meola ’17
In 1963, when Harvey Gantt entered Clemson, he was the first African-American student to do so. Twenty-five years later, the Clemson Black Alumni Council established a scholarship to honor him and to recruit and retain African-American students, with special preference to South Carolina residents and entering freshmen. In February, Harvey and Lucinda Gantt were on campus for a reception to recognize the Harvey B. Gantt Scholars. Senior management major Tre Worthy thanked Gantt for his inspiring leadership. The Gantt Scholars gave Gantt a framed photo of him receiving his diploma in 1965 with the inscription of “Because of you, we can.”
December and January were fun-filled months for all Clemson fans, but for alumni from Florida and Arizona, there was even more excitement as they welcomed alumni and fans from all over the country. The Florida Clemson Clubs, IPTAY and the Alumni Association joined together to host a welcome event for more than 600 members of the Clemson Family at Ferg’s Depot in Orlando the night before the ACC Championship game.
The next morning, Tigers from all over the country volunteered to make a difference in the local community and beyond by volunteering for a “Clean the World” event in Orlando. Volunteers sorted soap and personal hygiene products that would be distributed to homeless shelters nationwide and developing countries in an effort to prevent hygiene-related deaths.
Later in the day, more than 1,500 gathered at the alumni tailgate outside of the stadium before heading in to cheer on the Tigers over Virginia Tech.
For the Fiesta Bowl in Glendale, Arizona, the Arizona Clemson Club, IPTAY and the Clemson Alumni Association hosted a pre-game gathering in Glendale’s Westgate Entertainment District for more than 1,200 Clemson alumni and fans who were gearing up to cheer on the Tigers against Ohio State.
While in Arizona, 75 Clemson family members volunteered alongside Ohio State alumni and fans at St. Mary’s Food Bank as a service project to help make a difference in Arizona during the Fiesta Bowl festivities.
Volunteering in the community continued on through the national championship weekend. While in Tampa, the Clemson Alumni Association, Tampa Clemson Club and alumni, friends and fans from all over the country began the weekend by volunteering at Matthew 25 Saturday Hot Meal. At First Presbyterian Church of Tampa, more than 30 members of the Clemson family served hot meals provided by Metropolitan Ministries to the hungry and the homeless. Volunteers also worked in the Home Depot Clothing Closet distributing clothing items to those in need.
In addition to the service event, the Clemson Alumni Association hosted a pre-game tailgate for 2,600 fans outside Raymond James Stadium, in preparation for cheering the Tigers on to victory as 2016 National Champions.
Every year, the Clemson Alumni Association recognizes outstanding alumni whose personal lives, professional achievements, community service and loyalty to Clemson exemplify the objectives of the University. The Distinguished Service Award is the highest honor bestowed upon a former student, and it recognizes those whose devotion to Clemson has increased the value of the University for future generations and whose lives have expressed, through service to community, profession and the public, the finest Clemson traditions.
This year’s honorees have been recognized by their peers professionally for impressive achievements. They have contributed to their communities both publicly and privately, serving on boards and volunteering without expectation of reward or recognition. They have stayed connected with Clemson, giving back in time, talent and resources to benefit current and future students.
These five men reflect those characteristics that define Clemson. They are visionary, bold, competitive, determined and proud. They value family, tradition and loyalty. And they love orange. Here they are, this year’s Distinguished Service Award honorees.
Richard M. Davies ’86
Richard M. Davies grew up in Durban, a coastal city in South Africa, playing soccer and rugby, and briefly competed as a professional cricket player in England. His family moved to the United States in 1982. After making a phone call to Danny Ford, Davies joined Clemson as a kicker for the football team. He played Clemson football from 1982 to 1985, and graduated with a bachelor’s degree in business administration in 1986. A third-generation commercial property developer, Davies began his career in banking and loans before joining his father’s development business. Davies then founded and is now CEO of Pavilion Development Company, a real estate development firm based in Charlotte, N.C.
Davies is a member of the Trevillian Cabinet for the College of Business and served as vice-chair on the executive committee of the Will to Lead capital campaign. Davies served on the athletic director’s advisory council and football committee under Terry Don Phillips. He is also president of the All-In Team Foundation founded by Dabo and Kathleen Swinney. He has supported the Tiger Golf Gathering and the new Larry B. Penley Jr. Golf Facility and hosts an annual PGA Championship dinner for Clemson leaders and Charlotte-area alumni.
Davies has served on the board of the Novant Foundation-Presbyterian Medical Center since 2009. He was named to the Forest Hill Church Council of Elders and is the past chair of the church’s finance and risk management committee and governance committee. He is a past chair of the Mecklenburg County board of advisers for Easter Seals, past member of the board of trustees of Charlotte Latin School, and past member of the board of Habitat for Humanity of Charlotte. Davies is currently a member of the board of directors for the Guy Harvey Ocean Research Foundation. Davies founded the Sbonelo Scholarship Foundation that awards scholarships to economically disadvantaged students in South Africa to attend top boarding schools.
John W. Kelly Jr. ’77
Born and raised in the Upstate, John W. Kelly Jr. followed his father’s footsteps to Clemson, where he was involved in Phi Gamma Delta (FIJI), Phi Kappa Phi Honor Society and the horticulture club while working on his job with a landscape company. Kelly graduated with a bachelor’s degree in horticulture in 1977, then received a fellowship to attend Ohio State University for his master’s degree and Ph.D. in horticulture.
Kelly began his career in 1982 as an assistant professor at Texas A&M University. Three years later he returned to Clemson, rising from professor to chair of the horticulture department as well as director of the Clemson Botanical Garden. He helped the garden become the official South Carolina Botanical Garden and developed its Wren House and geology museum. In 1997, he was named vice president for Public Service and Agriculture (PSA) and, in 2010, became vice president for economic development.
Kelly led initiatives to create, build and fund some of Clemson and PSA’s most extensive projects. He spearheaded and then directed the Clemson University Restoration Institute (CURI). He then led a team to secure the largest competitive renewable energy grant in U.S. Department of Energy history at the time, which along with public and private grants, built the SCE&G Energy Innovation Center at CURI. During his tenure, he helped obtain several of the largest gifts in Clemson’s history.
Kelly served on Clemson’s Board of Trustees’ University land and capital assets stewardship committee; the president’s administrative council, cabinet and implementation teams; and assisted in outlining Clemson’s clean energy strategy. One of three mission vice presidents, he helped lead the development of two 10-year strategic plans. Kelly secured funding for several endowed chairs and helped form academic partnerships between Clemson and other state schools. He has also hosted many alumni events.
In 2014, Kelly became the seventh president of Florida Atlantic University, which he has led up the rankings to become the top performing university in the state in 2016, according to state accountability rankings. Nationally, he served on the boards of the administrative heads section of the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities and the American Distance Education Consortium.
Ronald D. Lee ’76
Ronald Lee was born and raised in Aiken. His father, a former Marine, had gone to Clemson, and Lee always knew it was where he wanted to attend college. At Clemson, Lee was a member of several science clubs, played intramural sports, worked at Harcombe Dining Hall and never missed a Clemson home football or basketball game. Lee graduated with honors in microbiology in 1976, then earned a master’s degree in environmental science and engineering at UNC-Chapel Hill. After several years as an engineer, he enrolled in dental school, earning a Doctor of Dental Medicine from the Medical University of South Carolina (MUSC) in 1988. He served as class president all four years at MUSC, where he earned three prestigious awards for scholarship and leadership. Having practiced dentistry in Aiken for 28 years, Lee was named a Fellow of the Academy of General Dentistry, a title given to only 7 percent of practicing dentists nationwide.
Lee is active in the Aiken County Clemson Club and, as a member of the Clemson Board of Visitors, he has hosted new student receptions in Aiken. In 2010, the S.C. General Assembly elected Lee to the Clemson Board of Trustees, where he serves on the committees for educational policy, finance and facilities, and student affairs. He served on the presidential search committee that recommended James Clements, and he currently is serving his sixth year as trustee liaison to Clemson’s Board of Visitors.
For 45 years, Lee has been an active member, past deacon and volunteer at Millbrook Baptist Church and has served as a medical missionary to Honduras. He has served on the board of Dollars for Scholars, a college scholarship program for local students. In 2015, he was named one of six trustees for the Sage Valley Golf Club Foundation, which hosts the world’s premier international junior golf tournament.
Perry Sprawls Jr. ’56, M ’61, Ph.D. ’68
Born on a farm in Barnwell County that had been in his family since 1812, Perry Sprawls Jr. grew up working in agriculture and learning the new technology of electricity. These dual interests led to Clemson, where Sprawls paid for college with money saved from raising 4-H cows and working at the campus YMCA. He was active in cadet duties, the Baptist Student Union and the YMCA council and cabinet.
Sprawls earned a bachelor’s degree in industrial physics in 1956 and was commissioned a second lieutenant in the Army Signal Corps. After serving and working at Bell Labs, he returned to Clemson for the new nuclear science program, earning a master’s degree in 1961 and then earning Clemson’s first doctorate in bioengineering in 1968.
Sprawls found the opportunity to apply nuclear physics to medicine as a professor in the radiology department at Emory University. After 45 years, he retired in 2005 and became a distinguished professor emeritus. His career in medical physics includes serving as director of Medical Physics in Radiology at Emory; co-director of the College of Medical Physics at the International Centre for Theoretical Physics in Trieste, Italy; director for Medical Imaging Continuing Education for the American Association of Physics in Medicine; and co-editor of Medical Physics International.
His passion for expanding medical education on a global basis led to establishing the Sprawls Educational Foundation, which provides textbooks, online resources and collaborative teaching methods to improve global medical education. He led the establishment of the Emory University-Xi’an Cooperative Program in Radiology in China. Sprawls has taught in 14 countries and had post-graduate students working in more than 70 countries.
Sprawls helped the class of 1956 select the Class of 1956 Academic Success Center as their 50-year anniversary project. The center opened in 2012 and contains a suite of rooms dedicated to his parents, Neva and Perry Sprawls Sr.
Sprawls has served as a deacon and leader in the Baptist church and on the board of directors for the Asheville Lyric Opera. With an ongoing interest in preserving rural South Carolina history and heritage, one of his current projects is hosting the Barnwell County Virtual Museum.
James H. Stovall ’51
Honored as a “native son” by the Elberton, Georgia, Chamber of Commerce, James H. Stovall has always been a servant leader. At Clemson, Stovall joined the Baptist Student Union council, YMCA cabinet, Blue Key and the student chapter of the American Society of Civil Engineers. He was president of Tiger Brotherhood. He graduated with a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering in 1951.
After serving as a first lieutenant in the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in Korea and Fort Benning, Georgia, Stovall worked for Lockheed Air, then earned a master’s degree from Georgia Institute of Technology in environmental engineering. His distinguished career included positions at International Paper, J.E. Sirrine, Sirrine Environmental Consultants and Waste Management. He retired as senior vice president of Rust Environment and Infrastructure Inc. Stovall has earned numerous awards as a pioneer of air pollution control and environmental engineering, including being named a Fellow of the Technical Association of the Pulp and Paper Industry.
Stovall supports the Samuel J. Cadden Chapel and has served on the Golden Tiger Reunion Class’ finance committee. An avid supporter of Clemson’s military traditions, Stovall joined the Clemson Corps; was on the committee that created Military Heritage Plaza; chaired the committee responsible for Basketball Military Appreciation Day; has organized the ROTC Seniors’ Recognition Dinner; and contributes to a scholarship for Army and Air Force ROTC.
Stovall was a Boy Scout troop leader and district commissioner for Upstate South Carolina. He volunteered at the Greenville Salvation Army for many years, including as chairman of the advisory board and capital campaign leader. Stovall is a lifetime trustee at Anderson University, where he has served as chairman of the board of trustees, vice chairman of the presidential search committee, and a member of the committees that built Anderson University’s Thrift Library and student center. Additionally, Stovall has led dozens of church mission trips, served as a deacon in several Baptist churches, and served on the executive committee of the S.C. Baptist Convention.
Growing up the third of four boys, hand-me-downs were a natural part of life for James Comfort. “We just never really went out shopping too often,” he said. “There were always plenty of clothes around.”
Comfort said finding clothes got really difficult just out of college when he had to start looking for professional clothing. Big and tall stores offered the length he liked, but the 2X and up sizing didn’t fit his athletic frame. “There wasn’t just a ‘tall’ store,” he said.
But a few years ago when the 6-foot-5-inch tall and lean Comfort found a shirt that fit — really fit — with long sleeves and a slim torso, he wanted more. He set out to bring that fit to fellow tall men so they wouldn’t be left looking like they were wading in a pool of fabric two sizes too wide. After working his day job at an IT consulting firm out of Philadelphia, Comfort would come home and work on designs. Leveraging what he knew of business and his background working part-time in a T-shirt shop in college, Comfort was able to use the overseas market to his advantage.
After finding the high quality fabrics he loved through shows in New York, Comfort used an overseas producer to make his designs become an inventory of polos and laid-back plaids so men had options for work and play.
“One of the ‘un-successes’ came during one of the first productions,” Comfort said about the trial and error of doing production in China. “They changed out the collar type on me, and it wasn’t the quality I’d set out to provide.” Comfort used friends and family to try his product and get the word out, even shipping product to family in Germany to sell at markets frequented by soldiers. Comfort’s shirts were also placed in a store in his hometown of Morris, Illinois, this past winter.
“Fortunately it’s not too big yet,” said Comfort of his mostly online sales model. “It’s manageable, I want to make sure that I do it slowly so I’m able to adapt and grow as needed.”
Currently bins throughout his home and basement are filled with product, and he spends his evenings filling orders from his dining room table. “It’s a good feeling when you get something you really like,” he said.
— Julia Sellers