Joe ’61 and Marie Wilson of North Augusta collected sand from Omaha Beach on 9/11/2014.
On a Clemson Gameday, alumni Caitlin Costa ’09, Kat DeVilbiss ’08 and Kelli Resler ’10 travel to D.C. and visit the National WWII Memorial.
Tony Price ’82 and sister Ragenia Price Thompson ’99, Piney Lake, Colorado elevation 9,350 ft. – 9,910 ft.
Submit your own Travelers photo and story.
The technical knowledge I gained in my first undergraduate degree in chemical engineering at Clemson, combined with more human-centered history and English literature classes there, has enabled me to take on a wide variety of challenges in managing human and technical systems. Currently this is as senior proctor of the University of Oxford, a post that dates back to the 1100s.
Two colleges elect proctors each year, and a third elects an assessor. We uphold the University’s statutes and regulations, attend key committees, oversee all examinations, attend official university ceremonies and investigate student complaints and discipline. (But we can no longer hang students for misconduct!) The proctors and assessor are visible because we wear subfusc (academic dress) every day, as well a velvet-sleeved gown, ermine stole and hard-shell mortarboard on official occasions such as degree days (graduations, held in Latin) or the Queen’s Garden Party.
After my year as senior proctor, I will return to my “normal” life, where I am an associate professor of operations management at Oxford’s Said Business School, and a fellow and tutor in management studies at Merton College, which is celebrating the 750th anniversary of its founding this year.
Yandle named Honorary Alumnus
Bruce Yandle, dean emeritus of the College of Business and Behavioral Science and Alumni Distinguished Professor Emeritus of economics, was named an Honorary Alumnus in May by the Alumni Association.
“I join the ranks of my favorite people: my former students and others who came to Clemson,” he said. “Having the opportunity — the privilege — of being in the classroom at Clemson is the high point in my professional life.”
An economics professor from 1969 until his retirement in 2000, Yandle returned as dean of CBBS from 2004 to 2007. Honorary alumni are selected by the Alumni Council for outstanding service, lifelong devotion and loyalty to the University or the Alumni Association.
Clemson Day at the Statehouse
Clemson boards, alumni, students and supporters turned Columbia orange May 13. Events included an update on current legislation and the impact of state funding on Clemson, as well as the impact Clemson has on the state of South Carolina. Attendees heard an update on the state of Clemson from President Clements, then walked over to the statehouse where the Smith-Lever Act (which authorized the Cooperative Extension Service) was read and the Lever family was recognized. The Senate and House both declared May 13, 2014, as Clemson Day in South Carolina.
At the evening social, Trustee David Wilkins and President Clements addressed the group and thanked them for making “a significant statement” with their attendance.
Alumni Association names new board members
The Alumni Association board of directors elected five new members who took office July 1:
JOSH BELL ’08 of Charleston is executive director of Teach for America-South Carolina. He has been a member of the Clemson Alumni National Council (as student government representative), the Alumni Association Council and the committee to restructure the alumni board and council. At Clemson, he was student body president, Sigma Nu fraternity president and treasurer, vice president of Blue Key Honor Society and Tiger Brotherhood.
MARY KATHRYN DEMPSEY ’08 (not pictured) of Charleston is a fundraising consultant for Blackbaud. She is a former president of the Clemson Young Alumni Council and helped establish the inaugural Roaring 10 award in 2012. At Clemson, she was the Student Alumni Council vice president, secretary of the Blue Key Honor Society and a member of the Mortar Board Order of Athena.
MARK DERRICK ’91 of Gaithersburg, Md., is the regional director, government and transportation sector, at Xerox. As a founding member of the D.C./Baltimore regional campaign, Derrick helped raise $15.3 million for Clemson. He also has hosted the annual Crab Feast of the Clemson Club of Baltimore and Washington, D.C., and served as a member of the Clemson Alumni Council since 2008.
SANDY EDGE ’72 (president-elect) of Clemson is a retired Air Force colonel and director of the College of Business and Behavioral Science Advising Center. He has served as president of both the Clemson Rotary Club and the Clemson Corps and as a member of the Clemson Alumni Council. As a student, Edge was a member of the Air Force ROTC, Arnold Air Society and Alpha Zeta Honorary Society.
BUD HICKLIN III ’85 of Clemson is a radiologist at Mountainview Medical Imaging. He has been president and vice president of the Oconee County Medical Association, a member of the Society of Nuclear Medicine and a member of the Clemson Alumni National Council. At Clemson, he was a member of the Clemson Escort Service and Tiger Brotherhood.
RON TAYLOR ’65 of Midland, Mich., is the former director of marketing and sales for Dow Chemical, where he spearheaded an initiative to raise funds from employees and retirees to benefit students and faculty in the Clemson College of Engineering and Science. He created two endowments: the Dow Chemical Engineering Alumni Endowment, which has surpassed $250,000 in value, and the Dow Chemical Alumni Endowment, which is approaching $100,000 in value. As a student, he was inducted into Tau Beta Pi, an engineering honor society.
With 23 members, the board of directors is the governing body for the Alumni Association. Primary responsibilities include general oversight of the programs and initiatives of the association, financial audit and review, creation of governing policies and strategic planning.
Call for nominations
We need your help in selecting outstanding alumni for the Alumni Association board of directors. We’re looking for candidates with exceptional judgment, a strong work ethic, leadership qualities and the vision to advance the goals and objectives of the Alumni Association. Deadline for nominations is Dec. 1. To nominate a candidate, go to cualumni.clemson.edu/boardnominations.
D.C./Baltimore Club Holds Six Degrees of Clemson event
High above the Washington, D.C., skyline with stunning views of the Washington Monument, Capitol Dome and Ellipse, members of the Clemson Club of Baltimore and Washington, D.C., enjoyed mingling at Six Degrees of Clemson, the professional networking series designed by the club to bring alumni, parents and students together. Held in the spring and fall each year, the series promotes opportunities for guests to meet with top-level industry leaders, network with fellow Tigers and strengthen their skill sets for navigating the professional world.
Hosted by Stephen Burch ’06 at his PricewaterhouseCoopers LLC office in downtown D.C., the May event highlighted four alumni: Brian Sykes ’99, Michael Newman ’78, Stephen Burch ’06 and Angie Howard ’69; and two parents: Glenn Roland and Gregg Blanchard. According to Elizabeth Jackson ’06, the “Six Degrees of Clemson” refers to the degrees of the six speakers as well as the “small world” feel in D.C. when fellow Tigers gather.
More than 30 members of the club’s regional board of directors also met in May for their spring meeting, hosted by Stephen ’06 and Kristin David ’06 Burch. IPTAY CEO Davis Babb highlighted current athletic initiatives and funding opportunities to shape the future of Clemson athletics. Board members John Lynn ’85 and Todd Ray ’90 shared their vision for a brand-new Clemson/ D.C. Internship and Housing Opportunities Program, a two-part initiative with an immediate focus on matching alumni and parents with students seeking internships and a long-term goal of establishing a central building in D.C. to serve as Clemson’s hub for intern housing, classroom and event space.
Visit clemsonclub.org to learn about D.C. and Baltimore regional events.
Tigers celebrate Reunion Weekend
The Class of 1964 celebrated their 50th anniversary reunion, and 64 members of the class were inducted as Golden Tigers during Reunion Weekend in May. The class also presented a gift of $1.046 million to the University, bringing the total of gifts by class members over the last 50 years to almost $16 million.
The reunion gift will be divided between an endowment for scholarships and support for the Class of 1956 Academic Success Center. According to Class of 1964 Golden Anniversary Project committee chair Walter Cox, “The Class of 1964 wanted to make a difference in student lives.”
During the weekend, reunion guests heard Professor Jerry Reel speak about life in 1964 and enjoyed entertainment by the Jungaleers. Individual classes gathered for reunion dinners Friday night.
Two members of the Class of 1939, Ralph Boys (standing) and Tee Senn (pictured at right), were presented with Diamond Tiger medallions by Alumni Association president Ann Hunter.
Students choose Madray as Alumni Master Teacher
Students chose accounting senior lecturer J. Russell Madray ’86, M ’88 as this year’s Alumni Master Teacher for outstanding undergraduate classroom instruction. The annual award is presented to a faculty member nominated by the student body and selected by the Student Alumni Council.
In addition to teaching intermediate accounting, Madray is president of The Madray Group Inc. and is scholar-in-residence at Elliott Davis in Greenville.
Clemson Crew alumni celebrate 25 years
Past and present members of the Clemson University Rowing Association (CURA) gathered April 5 at the boathouse on Hartwell Lake for the annual Clemson Sprints Regatta, at which the organization hosted 30 other junior and collegiate clubs. It was an especially momentous event for the club as it celebrated the 25-year anniversary of the club’s establishment in 1989. More than 60 members of the CURA’s Alumni Association (CURAA) were in attendance, traveling from as far as Oklahoma, Colorado and California. Nine members of the 1992 team, some who had not rowed since graduating, even hopped back into one of their original boats for a race and earned a gold medal in their heat, proving they still have what it takes to row with the best. Gathering downtown afterward, it was time for fun, drinks and swapping stories of Clemson Crew.
Williams receives Modern-Day Technology Leader Award
Willie J. “W.J.” Williams Jr. ’04 (COMPSC) of Alexandria, Va., received the Modern-Day Technology Leader Award at the 28th Annual Black Engineer of the Year Awards STEM Global Competitiveness Conference. The conference recognizes successful black inventors, technical innovators, gifted scientists, budding engineers, and high-level managers and executives. He’s a senior lead software engineer for BAE Systems, a defense, security and aerospace company and supplier to the U.S. Department of Defense. Williams is pictured receiving the award from Robin N. Coger, dean of the College of Engineering at North Carolina A&T State University, and Kendall T. Harris, dean of engineering at Prairie View A&M University.
THE GENESIS OF THE APPAREL COMPANY OOBE, strange as it may seem, was an infomercial for the Psychic Friends Network, hosted by Dionne Warwick.
Students at Clemson, Tom Merritt and Mike Pereyo were hanging out at the lake with their soon-to-be spouses Allyison Clark ’92 and Melissa Magee ’92. Merritt was cooking steaks, and they were halfway listening to a Psychic Friends infomercial when someone started talking about having an out-of- body experience, an “oobe.”
That caught their attention. “We had come to faith a couple of years earlier,” says Merritt. “Spiritual things were a big deal to us.”
It started a conversation about a different kind of “oobe”: an out-of- Bible experience. “That’s been our ultimate experience since we came to Clemson,” says Pereyo.
They coined the word and began using it, and their friends picked it up as well. An “oobe” day for Merritt and Pereyo was the kind of day you’d have if you were going to skip class (not that they would recommend that) and go to Whitewater Falls. Or if you played ball at Fike and were hitting every shot. The kind of day that makes you feel like you’re doing what you were born to do.
“It was our ultimate-day experience,” says Pereyo, “and Tom just wore that word out.”
HEADS OR TAILS?
Fast forward several years. Both were married and working, Merritt as a high school counselor and coach in Easley with two small children, Pereyo in a corporate job in Charlotte with a baby on the way.
Merritt can’t help but laugh when he recalls the one particular phone call on April 29, 1994, that served as their future-company’s first springboard.
Pereyo had called to say, “We’re incorporated. You owe me half of $300.” “Awesome. What’s our corporate name?”
“I just put OOBE.”
“Are you in or are you out?” “I’m in.”
“What do we do?”
“I have no idea. That’s why I called you.”
That phone call led to months of meetings at a Waffle House halfway between Charlotte and Easley, where they begin to imagine what OOBE would look like, crafting a business plan for what they saw as their niche: a segment of the outdoor industry that had to do with apparel. After a year, they handed in their resignations on the same day and moved into their first office: a rundown auto body shop in Easley that rented for $50 a month.
They bought two desks and a FAX machine, had two OOBE bags made along with their first T-shirt samples and caps. “For the first several months,” says Pereyo, “while samples were being made, we called every outdoor store within driving distance several times a week, asking them if they carried OOBE.”
When the samples were done, they packed the car and started driving. When they’d introduce themselves as being from OOBE, the response was, “Oh, folks have been calling for that. Come on in.”
Merritt ticks off the names of those outdoor specialty shops that were early adopters: Sunrift Adventures, Halfmoon Outfitters, Highcountry, Outdoor Experience. “They took a chance on us,” he says. “They are such a part of our story.”
As the business began to grow, they realized they needed to divide responsibilities. They swear it’s a true story: “We flipped a coin,” says Pereyo. “Heads, you’re in charge of sales, marketing, business development. Tails is design, sourcing, all of that. The way it landed, it’s still that today. It’s really worked.”
“Mike,” says Merritt, “went into management.”
COMING BACK TO TIGERTOWN
That approach is no more conventional than the way they raised enough capital to move forward. When they were selling out of their cars to outdoor stores, Merritt began stopping by dive shops and selling scuba diving-themed shirts. It seemed to be a successful ploy, so they created “Dive Jive, the company that wants to go under,” with a series of shirts and hats sporting phrases like “Zero Visibility,” Deep= High and “Deep Thinker.” They went to the Jockey Lot in Anderson, bought tanks, a velvet Elvis, plywood and lava lamps, then drove to New Orleans and set up a booth at an international dive show.
The result? “We wrote 6 figures worth of orders,” says Pereyo, “and that gave us the capital to get OOBE off the ground.”
Sitting in the auto body shop, handwriting invoices on carbon paper, Merritt and Pereyo realized they needed help to move their company to the next level. They drove to Clemson’s Small Business Development Center with their yellow legal pad to meet with Becky Hobart (now Van Evera). When she asked to see their financials and their balance sheet, they handed her the yellow legal pad.“They were a super dynamic couple of guys,” she says. “My job entailed taking them and tying them to the ground so they could get from where they were to where they wanted to be.”
At that point, says Pereyo, the BSDC “wrapped their arms around us and helped us put together a strong financial model.”
“You can’t get very far in our story,” says Merritt, “without coming back to Tigertown.” Pereyo concurs. “Clemson engaged in the OOBE story and has pretty deep roots in there for the past 20 years.”
Not long after, Van Evera and Clemson successfully nominated the pair as Young Entrepreneurs of the Year. But they’ve never been able to take themselves seriously for too long. They got up to receive the award, and the first thing out of Merritt’s mouth was, “Who came in second? Or were we the only ones?”
The award paved the way for their first loan from the Small Business Administration, which enabled them to get over a bump in the road and on their way.
IT TAKES A VILLAGE
The corporate offices of OOBE that overlook the Reedy River in Greenville are a far cry from the Easley body shop. But beginnings are important, and Pereyo and Merritt make a point of remembering theirs. The window from that first office is framed and on the wall of the 105-B conference room, a gift last year from their current OOBE family. The name of the room refers to 105-B Hollow Oaks Lane, the address of the body shop.
They have no sales force, no business development staff. That money and energy, according to Pereyo, goes into the service strategy instead: treating people well and exceeding their expectations. They want to have partners, not customers, who will become storytellers and ambassadors on their behalf. “Our customers are our sales staff if we treat them well,” he says.
It’s a philosophy that sounds like it reflects a small business with four or five employees, not one that outfits the employees of companies like Chick-fil-A, Krispy Kreme and Race Trac and has three offshore offices.
But it’s a philosophy that fits Pereyo and Merritt, who have run a business together for 20 years with the kind of love, respect and trust that most people reserve for their spouses. “If you really want to make a relationship work,” says Merritt, “it’s got to be about the other person at some point. If it’s always about you, that gets old in a hurry, in a marriage or a business partnership. It’s never been about what can I maximize personally, but what we want to do next, and what does God want us to do.”
They’ve known each other long enough and worked together enough that they finish each other’s sentences. Which is somewhat the secret of their success. They have a firm understanding that no decision goes forward that they don’t both feel good about.
“We’ve always been on the same trajectory,” says Pereyo. “We want to honor God; God doesn’t honor greed or selfish ambition. For us, it’s more about people than a product.”
They dote on OOBE like an only child. “It feels like parenting in some ways,” says Merritt. It’s something we desperately want to grow up and do well without it becoming an idol.”
And now, with OOBE’s growth, there’s a village raising that child. “There are people here taking care of OOBE in ways we are not capable of doing. As a parent who birthed the company, that’s one of the coolest things in the world — to see other people love the company and want to do right by it. There might be something here other than just schlepping clothes.”
AN OOBE APPROACH TO BUSINESS
Ten years ago, Merritt and Pereyo took OOBE in a new direction, positioning themselves “as a strategic branded apparel company specifically looking to provide the world’s best brands with large-scale uniform services.”
That leap, like most things in their company, comes with a story filled with self-deprecating humor. They had worked with Chick-fil-A in smaller ways, providing clothing for special events, when they found out the company had issued an RFP for uniforms.
Pereyo called the corporate office and spoke with the vice president handling the RFP. The questions came like quickly:
Have you every shipped to 100,000 employees before?
Do you have a customer service department?
Do you have a warehouse?
Can you pass financial due diligence?
Is this contract bigger than your whole company?
The answer to all of those, except the last one, was no. The question that followed was this: “Then why should we include you in the RFP?”
Pereyo’s response? “Because we’re NOT a uniform company. We’re a strategic branded company.”
“We changed the battlefield,” says Merritt. “We clearly focused on their team members, providing them a better product, leveraging performance fabrics, helping the team members feel better about themselves so they could provide better service.” That answer resonated with Chick-fil-A.
Chick-fil-A was followed by a number of other companies and organizations: a wall at the Greenville office sports logos of their clients including YMCA, BMW, Race Trac, Herschend Family Entertainment, among others. They’re deliberate about which companies they pitch: “We want to align ourselves with companies that value the same things we value,” says Merritt.
In the midst of this shift, something seemed to click for OOBE. Pereyo sees it as an OOBE moment of a sort, where the owners and the company shifted from a focus on themselves and building their brand to focusing on others. “When we put others first, and put ourselves behind them, we were able to move forward and help propel these great companies. That’s when we found success. That’s servant leadership. That’s where God allowed us to succeed — not when it was all about us.”
There are other organizations that might not be on the wall, but who have been beneficiaries of OOBE’s commitment to give back. They outfitted all the teachers in Greenville, Pickens and Anderson counties with branded shirts. And they recently provided the Clemson student tour guides with branded apparel that the guides say makes them feel more professional. “At this stage of life,” says Merritt, “we have to be focused about what we give our time and energy. Family and church are really important to us. But Clemson has won a place in our hearts as well.”
FAITH, FAMILY AND FRIENDSHIP
OOBE hit its 20th year recently, and it was an emotional milestone. Neither Pereyo nor Merritt can (or wants to) imagine what it would be like to have gone it alone these past 20 years.
In the company celebration, Merritt told the staff that it was their relationship and the support of their wives that kept them pushing the ball up the hill all these years.
Pereyo calls Merritt a truth teller, one of the few people who will unabashedly speak the truth to him. “He gets to speak whether I like to hear it or not. It creates friction, but I come around to ‘Yeah, you’re right.’ Few people, except Melissa, know me better.”
Merritt characterizes Pereyo as an encourager in his life. “For me, it’s been a massive blessing to have a partner. If he was down, I was up. If I was down, he was up.”As they talk and tell stories, it’s clear that faith, family and friendship (plus humor) are all intertwined in their lives and in the story of OOBE, and there’s really no way to separate them.
More and more often, they’re asked to share the story of their company and their personal partnership. Recently, they were invited to speak to the Clemson Alumni group in Atlanta. On the ride down, they were talking about the upcoming presentation.
Pereyo looked over at Merritt and said, “Tom, do you know the common denominator of every mistake we’ve made with OOBE? It’s us!”
Tigers turn South Florida Clemson Orange
Tigers from all over the country converged on South Florida for the Orange Bowl. And the South Florida Clemson Club was in the midst of all the activity — organizing, helping, hosting and welcoming alumni and friends.
Showing that it’s possible to work together in the midst of a heated competition, Clemson and Ohio State alums teamed up to fight hunger, packing boxes of food for “Feeding South Florida.”
More than 100 alumni and friends were in South Beach Thursday night at the Clevelander, where the landscape was purple and orange, and a Tiger Paw was projected on the side of the building and in the hotel’s swimming pool. At Bokamper’s in Fort Lauderdale, more than 75 joined up to celebrate the Tigers and meet up with old and new friends.
The morning of the Orange Bowl began with an alumni brunch at the Fontainebleau Miami Beach with more than 300 in attendance. James Clements addressed the Clemson Family for the first time as University president. He thanked the Barkers for their many contributions to Clemson and shared the significance behind Clemson’s rise in the national rankings.
More than 2,000 Clemson Family members gathered at the One Clemson tailgate inside the Sun Life Stadium prior to the game. The Clemson band, cheerleaders and the Tiger made appearances, and President Clements welcomed guests as they prepared to cheer the Tigers on to a 40-35 victory over the Ohio State Buckeyes.
Two student bloggers, Savannah Mozingo and De Anne Anthony, traveled to South Florida to capture and share the excitement of Orange Bowl week on their blog, TigressTales. Access their blog and hear President Clements’ remarks at clemson.edu/clemsonworld/orangebowl.
Clemson in the Lowcountry
More than 300 people gathered for dinner and a meeting where Nick Rigas, director of the SCE&G Energy Innovation Center and executive director of the Clemson Restoration Institute, spoke at the University’s Wind Turbine Drivetrain Testing Facility in North Charleston. The meeting attendance on Jan. 23 doubled the Clemson in the Lowcountry Club’s normal attendance rate. Eddie Gordon is president of the club.
Greenville Club presents Blue Chips and Bluegrass
More than 350 turned out for the Greenville Club’s Blue Chips and Bluegrass event, a recruiting recap and oyster roast held Feb. 7 at the Crescent in downtown Greenville. Club president Rick Ammons and club member and event organizer Chris McCameron presented IPTAY with a $2,500 check for the Glenn Brackin Memorial Scholarship. The event featured Mickey Plyler from 104.9 Talk Sports, who spoke about recruiting, and The Drovers Old Time Medicine Show entertained the crowd with bluegrass music.
Aiken County Club wraps it up
The Aiken County Club held their Recruiting Wrap-Up event Feb. 6 at the Aiken Municipal Building, where more than 50 people heard Larry Williams from Tigerillustrated.com speak about recruiting. Tripp Bryan serves as Aiken County club president, and Bryan Young is vice president.
Become a Clemson Volunteer!
Want to get more involved at Clemson? Looking for a place to share your experience and love for Clemson? Go to clemson.edu/alumni and click on “Volunteer Opportunity Guide” to learn how you can get involved
Seketa named honorary alumnus
The Alumni Association has named retired assistant athletic director John Seketa as an honorary alumnus in recognition of his hard work and devotion to Clemson and the Alumni Association. Over the past 28 years, Seketa served as game manager during home football games, coordinating all game-day activities for Clemson athletics, Tiger Band, the University administration and several student groups.
He also was executive director of the Tiger Letterwinners Association, where he expanded football reunion activities and Athletic Hall of Fame ceremonies, significantly increasing attendance. In 2004, Seketa received the ACC Basketball Officials Association Fred Bakarat Award for outstanding service and dedication to the ACC and its basketball officials.
“John has played a significant role in enhancing all our Olympic sports by generating marketing plans and concepts that promote opportunities for our fans,” said Bill D’Andrea, executive senior associate director for IPTAY external affairs. “His contributions in this area have made a profound impact on our coaches’ ability to recruit.”
Seketa also played a crucial role in making Military Appreciation Day a celebrated campus tradition. Two years ago, ACC administrators invited Seketa to share his expertise in Clemson’s military recognition, resulting in similar observances of Military Appreciation Day at every ACC institution.
“There is no question that John Seketa’s leadership has established Clemson as the best in the nation with regard to our Military Appreciation Day,” said D’Andrea.
Seketa continues to serve the University as a member of Tiger Brotherhood and the Clemson Corps Scroll of Honor Committee.
The Alumni Association wants to ensure we have accurate contact information for all alumni so that we can keep everyone informed about all things Clemson, all the time. And to do that, we need your help.
Simply go to clemson.edu/alumni and click the “Update Your Information” button. Then post on your social media outlets that you updated your contact information with Clemson, and use the hashtag #TigerRollCall in your post.
A monthly drawing will take place during May, June and July for everyone who submits an update. Additionally, each person who shares on social media using the hashtag #TigerRollCall will receive an additional entry (maximum two entries per person). At the end of the campaign, a final drawing will take place with a grand prize of two Alumni box seats to the Clemson vs. North Carolina football game on Sept. 27.
Young Alumni recognize this year’s Roaring Ten
This fall, the Young Alumni recognized ten young alumni who have made an impact in business, leadership, community, educational and/or philanthropic endeavors, while exemplifying Clemson’s core values of honesty, integrity and respect. Meet this year’s Roaring Ten.
President of the Nashville Area Clemson Club, Benjamin Thomas Miskelly works with his church as a youth leader, with “Rebuilding Together Nashville” on the board of directors and as a Clemson representative with the ACC/SEC Leadership Council. He is an urban planner and graphic designer with the Metropolitan Nashville Planning Department.
Brianna A. Woodsby is a student in Clemson’s MBA program. President of the Spartanburg Clemson Club, she is active in Junior League of Spartanburg and is an IPTAY representative. International trade manager with AFL, she is chair of the advisory board for Wofford’s Kappa Delta chapter and active in Spartanburg Young Professionals and the United Way Young Leaders Society.
The youngest human resource director in the history of Milliken & Company and the youngest chair of the Spartanburg County Republican Party, Joseph Nicholas “Nic” Lane serves on the Student Affairs Advisory Board and works closely with the Michelin Career Center, offering advice on how to make students competitive in today’s professional environment. He also is on the board of the Blood Connection.
Michael Blake Berry was named 2011 Teacher of the Year at Pendleton High School and selected by the S.C. Association of Agricultural Educators as the Outstanding Young Teacher. He is president of the S.C. Association of Agricultural Educators and president of the historic Pendleton Farmers Society.
Odessa Sirman Armstrong serves on the College of Agriculture, Forestry and Life Sciences Alumni Board and stays engaged with the Clemson Black Alumni Committee. She is a member of the Emerging Leaders Development Program in Washington, D.C.
An attorney with the Cranford Law Firm, Shaun W. Cranford has served as president of the Columbia Clemson Club, where he led their first Clemson Day at the Statehouse. He also is a leader in the club’s efforts to raise funds for a $25,000 scholarship endowment.
President of the MBA Alumni Society, Stephen Epps III is a member of IPTAY, Alumni Council, Greenville Luncheon Planning Committee and Greenville Young Alumni. Active with PULSE, a leadership development program for young professionals, he was recognized as volunteer of the month for July 2013.
Tanner James Smith (not pictured) was the first basketball player in Clemson history and only player in the ACC for 2012 to combine +10 points, +5 rebounds, and +4 assists per game for a season. He currently plays in the MHP RIESEN professional basketball team in Germany. He is founder of “Tanner’s Totes,” a nonprofit established to help teens cope with long-term hospital care.
Former president of Clemson’s Young Alumni and an active member of the Richmond Clemson Club, Victoria Watson Longshore serves on her church’s hospitality committee and volunteers with the Virginia Special Olympics.
William R. Cathcart Jr. received the 2010 Distinguished Leadership Medal for Journalistic Excellence by the U.S. Business Institute. He has worked as managing editor of the Charleston Mercury and as media adviser and speechwriter for the president of the Republic of Georgia, where he also advocates for the region’s cystic fibrosis patients.
Pictured (clockwise from left): Cathcart, Miskelly, Epps, Cranford, Berry, Lane, Woodsby, Armstrong, Longshore.
Ables named Volunteer of the Year
During Homecoming weekend, the Alumni Association honored Sonya Ables ’79 (center) as the 2013 Volunteer of the Year, the highest recognition and greatest expression of appreciation extended to an individual by the Alumni Association staff for outstanding service and volunteerism. A member of the Alumni Association board of directors and an IPTAY life member, Ables has served as president of the Women’s Council, where she created the annual Bring Your Daughter to Clemson program, which allows girls ages 6 to 18 to learn about academics, campus life and student activities. She also has been an at-large member of the Clemson Alumni Council and a member of the Alumni National Council. She is pictured with Wil Brasington, senior director of the Alumni Association, and Alumni Association president Ann Hunter.
A NEW TRADITION: Guarding of the Rings
You probably know about the Ring Ceremony, which was begun in 2000 and provides a memorable way for seniors to receive their Clemson rings. Held twice a year, the ceremony includes a lesson on the history, heritage and symbolism of the Clemson class ring from University historian Jerry Reel. You might not know what happens the 24 hours before that event.
Preceding the ceremony, the rings are displayed in Memorial Park near the Scroll of Honor. Members of Clemson Corps stand guard over the rings throughout the day (and the night) before the ceremony and then process, carrying the rings to Littlejohn Coliseum for the ceremony.
If you’ve lost your ring, never purchased one or you’d like to honor your son or daughter with a ring for their graduation, go online to clemson.edu/ring. There’s also a line of related jewelry available.
CLUB HIGHLIGHT: Arizona Club colors the desert orange
Tracey Hulsebos ’88 and her husband Tom knew there were Clemson people in Arizona and decided to find a way to bring them together. They utilized social media to find fellow Tigers and hosted several events that brought Clemson fans out of the Southwest woodwork, which led to the creation of the Arizona Clemson Club (AzCC) – one of 73 official Clemson Clubs around the nation.
The AzCC, spearheaded by Hulsebos, Sammie Holmes ’07 and Terry Mullane (Clemson parent), brings Tigers across Arizona together to renew their Clemson Family ties, to provide networking opportunities and also to improve the quality of life for surrounding communities.
The strength of Tiger loyalty is palpable among the members of the AzCC. According to Jan Matthews, it’s “like having a piece of Howard’s Rock right here.” Charles “Trey” Ballard ’11 also experienced the benefits of the Arizona Clemson Family stating, “The [AzCC] University bond helped me to bridge a networking gap and secure a quality job in tough economic times.”
The AzCC plans a variety of events throughout the year. Last summer, the club met for a send-off party for new students Jackie Dunham and Dylan Kennard. Dunham’s parents expressed tremendous comfort and excitement in joining the Clemson Family, knowing their daughter was going to be on the other side of the country.
The AzCC has several events planned for the upcoming year including food drives and a Military Appreciation Day celebration. No matter what the AzCC does, be assured it will reflect “One Clemson” and provide a comforting reminder that even the desert bleeds orange.
— Contributed by Margaret Smith ’09
There are clubs across the country to provide you with ties to the Clemson Family. Go to clemson.edu/alumni to find a club near you.
EXPLORE THE WORLD WITH CLEMSON ALUMNI AND FRIENDS
Clemson Alumni Association is your ticket to the world’s cultures, sights and sounds. We handle the arrangements and work with high-quality providers so that you can relax, explore and immerse yourself in dream destinations.
We offer special trips providing unequaled access, educational value and Clemson experts to enrich your experience. Upcoming trips include Normandy, the Greek Isles, Oxford, Europe and Alaska. Contact Randy Boatwright at email@example.com.
Orlando Club sets new communication standard
If you live in the Orlando area, you’ve probably noticed the amazing job that the Orlando Clemson Club does with their email blasts. The club president, Matt Alexander ’09, works hard to capture and engage local alumni by pulling in photos of their events in every email blast.
More than 250 Tigers attend the ’Cuse at the Blue Tusk
Members of the New York/Tri-State and New England Clemson clubs gathered with representatives of IPTAY, the Alumni Association and Clemson Fund on Friday, Oct. 4, at the Blue Tusk in Syracuse, New York to celebrate Clemson in Syracuse.
Clemson Alumni flag flies at all ESPN GameDays
If you were watching ESPN this fall, you may have seen the Clemson alumni flag crop up at some odd locations. The Alumni Association reached out to alumni in areas that hosted ESPN College GameDay and provided them with a Clemson Alumni flag to wave during the show. Pictured here are David Pawlowski ‘01 and Tara Young at the Northwestern game.
WHEELER NAMED HONORARY ALUMNUS
The Alumni Association has named entomologist Alfred G. Wheeler Jr. an honorary Clemson alumnus. Wheeler, pictured here with Alumni Association President Ann Hunter, retired to Clemson as an adjunct member of the entomology program after 25 years with the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture. In his 17 years at Clemson, he published more than 115 research papers, served on 16 graduate student advisory committees, mentored several Creative Inquiry undergraduate research projects, volunteered to coordinate the entomology seminar series for six years and worked as editor of South Carolina Biota for more than a decade. Wheeler also established a $100,000 endowment to support research expeditions for entomology graduate students.
Honorary alumni are selected by the honors and awards committee for outstanding service, lifelong devotion and loyalty to the University or the Alumni Association. To see past honorary alumni or to view the award guidelines, go to clemson.edu/alumni and click on “Honorary Alumnus.”
Fourteen years ago, James Barker approached the podium for his inaugural address. Unlike many new presidents, he already had a fairly comprehensive understanding of the institution. After all, “president” was just the most recent of his Clemson monikers. Student, alumnus, faculty member, dean, parent — he had already experienced the University from all of those perspectives.
As he reflected with those in attendance on “The Idea of Clemson,” it was from a very well-informed perch. In an address that was forward-looking and optimistic and challenging, he examined nine qualities — of being inclusive, academically challenging, visionary, indomitable, bold and innovative, distinctive, sensitive to the needs of others, focused on the value of the individual and based on family — that he said described the “wonderful, powerful, noble idea called Clemson.”
“The most important ideas,” he said, “have a physical manifestation. The idea of Clemson surrounds you today in the ‘sense of place’ and ‘sense of community’ you can see and feel on this campus.” He went on to say, “To all gathered here today, I say that with everything I am, I believe in the idea called Clemson. But Clemson is still a work in progress.”
And the charge that Jim Barker accepted at his inauguration was “to ensure that the idea of Clemson will be stronger at the end of my service than it is now at the beginning.” In what is known now as characteristic Barker, he stated his strong conviction that “the only way to fulfill this responsibility is to find the way for each of you to join me in this effort.”
With that statement, and the one that followed, he launched the idea of “One Clemson.”
“I am convinced,” Barker said, “that there is no university in America stronger than Clemson when we are ‘one Clemson.’ … If we unite around the idea of Clemson, we have a future beyond our highest aspirations.”
After referencing the legacy and destiny of the University, President James Barker finished by simply saying, “Let’s get started.”
And get started he did. In the next few pages, alumni, faculty, staff, students and friends share their reflections on the ways in which Jim Barker’s presidency advanced what he called “The Idea of Clemson.”
In my humble opinion, James Barker and R.C. Edwards were the best presidents to have served Clemson in any time or season, but especially this was the case when it came to their steadfast leadership surrounding issues of race relations.
Dr. Edwards’ leadership during Harvey Gantt’s 1963 enrollment is well documented and widely known. What many may not know, however, is the quiet, dignified and determined way that President Barker built on President Edwards’ legacy to garner Clemson the coveted reputation as one of the nation’s premier institutions for tackling very complex and vexing issues surrounding diversity in higher education.
Three such initiatives that he led include:
• The visionary Call Me MISTER program: No one really knew what to do about the chronic black male teacher crisis until this program unfolded. It is the national model.
• The National Best Practices Conference in the Achievement of Students of Color: Poor retention of all students had been one of higher education’s ugly secrets for many years.
This challenge was most acute among black students. After more than a decade, this annual gathering has become the gold standard for identifying solutions to this persistent problem. President Barker has participated in every minute of every session. He thus created an indelible impression about Clemson on the minds of the thousands of leaders from across the nation.
• Black faculty recruitment: With the appointment of Dr. Juan Gilbert as chair of Human-Centered Computing and later as the first Presidential Endowed Chair, President Barker has done what many in higher education, industry and government thought to be impossible. Recruiting and retaining black faculty is intensely competitive in all disciplines, but especially in science, technology and mathematics. In short order, Clemson now has the largest concentration of black computer science faculty and Ph.D students in the nation. This could not have happened without President Barker’s leadership.
These accomplishments have truly been game changers in terms of how Clemson is perceived across the nation and around the world. President Barker’s singular ability to do the right thing while institutionalizing positive outcomes will hold Clemson in good stead for decades to come.
— Frank L. Matthews ’71
Co-Founder, Cox Matthews and Associates
Publisher, Diverse Issues in Higher Education
During most of President Jim Barker’s tenure as president of Clemson, I served as the director of the National Scholars Program, which was inaugurated by President Barker in 2000. “To be a national university,” he said at the time, “we must have a national-caliber scholarship program, and this is it.”
For me, the National Scholars Program symbolizes Clemson’s extraordinary academic and intellectual growth during Jim Barker’s presidency. To create the program called for extraordinary vision and for enormous faith in Clemson’s students, staff and faculty. To sustain it required a continuing commitment to providing the resources necessary to recruit, educate and challenge some of our very best students. Finally, to establish the program as a vital and integral part of Clemson’s culture required President and Mrs. Barker’s personal involvement and support. Jim and Marcia have been at nearly every important National Scholars event. They have entertained every group of National Scholars freshmen at their home. And they have made it clear to everyone at Clemson that the National Scholars Program — and the Calhoun Honors College as well — are both key symbols and very real products of Clemson’s commitment to academic excellence.
— William Lasser
Alumni Distinguished Professor of Political Science
Director, Calhoun Honors College
I believe that President Barker’s commitment to elevate the academic standards of Clemson, to lead with transparency and to be accessible to the entire Clemson family, especially to students, is second to none. Although I did not attend Clemson, I have worked here for 41 years, and it has been so rewarding during President Barker’s tenure to watch the University develop from an excellent regional university to one that is highly ranked nationally and well-respected. All Clemson alumni, and past and present faculty and staff, are proud that a degree from Clemson means much more now than in the past.
In addition to being a masterful architect of so many academic innovations and accomplishments, President Barker’s handprint is obvious in the improvements on the facility and the landscaping that have occurred during his tenure as president.
I will always be grateful to President Barker for the wonderful support that he has given the arts programs at Clemson, for no university can be considered great without having a strong program in the arts. He and Clemson’s gracious first lady attended performances at the Brooks Center as often as their schedules would allow. President and Mrs. Barker leave huge shoes to fill.
— Mickey Harder
Director, Brooks Center for the Performing Arts
“Do you wish to be great?” St. Augustine once asked. “Think first about the foundations of humility. The higher your structure is to be, the deeper must be its foundations.”
Fourteen years ago, Jim Barker set out to build a better university. He had a vision that Clemson could be a nationally recognized public institution. The fact that President Barker’s lofty vision for Clemson has been realized is certainly commendable by itself. But the most compelling part of the story is not about the obvious success President Barker has achieved, but rather how he went about achieving it. He met the challenge posed by St. Augustine to the faithful so many centuries ago — he stayed grounded in humility — built a foundation on it — even as Clemson soared.
History is replete with examples of powerful leaders who are larger than life, whose force of personality makes them irresistible to watch; leaders who are at their best and most dynamic when the spotlight shines the brightest on them. Few of us equate power, much less success, to those who turn the spotlight away from themselves. And yet, that is exactly how President Barker has achieved such remarkable success as one of the longest-serving college presidents in the U.S. He is always ready to lead and always reluctant to take credit. His humility encouraged and enabled other talented people to work on Clemson’s behalf — all headed in the same direction, all following his lead.
He and Marcia were always exceedingly gracious, greeting students, parents and staff as warmly as they did visiting dignitaries and VIPs. They represented Clemson globally and championed the University in prestigious venues. But he and Marcia were just as content — probably more so — opening their home at night to students who simply needed some support. He was comfortable walking the campus and cheering at games. He wanted Clemson to succeed on his watch, not because of his own personal investment or aggrandizement, but because when he went off to college as a young man, he went to Clemson. He wanted to give back better than he had received.
Today the University stands taller than ever, nationally recognized for its academics and athletics. It’s in the top tier of public schools — just as Jim Barker envisioned more than a dozen years ago when he began building a lasting foundation.
For Barker, it was always about Clemson rising tall, about generations of students crediting CU for providing a springboard to countless opportunities. It was never about his own legacy. Yet, history will undoubtedly record President Jim Barker’s rich contributions to Clemson, accolades the man himself is too humble to accept.
— David Wilkins
Chair, Clemson University Board of Trustees
I have been privileged in my teaching career at Clemson University to have had James F. Barker as a student in my classes for three of his early semesters (one B, two A’s).
Few people have known that Jim Barker came to Clemson on a partial athletic scholarship. He was a pole-vaulter from Kingsport, Tennessee. Like his reticence to talk about his ability to draw, he seemed less inclined to review his brief career as a vaulter.
During his early years as a student in the school of architecture, he had an assignment, possibly in design or to test his creative inclinations. He visited my office and asked if I would take a look at his project. To me, Jim always had been a serious student. Naturally, I was flattered by his request. He unveiled plans and drawings for a city to be constructed in the area where South Carolina, Georgia and North Carolina boundaries are contiguous. The overall concept was a layout of a series of concentric circles, in which each circle some function or activity — habitation, religion, education, civic government, business, medical, etc., would be planned. I was amazed at his vision.
Jim Barker’s vision has carried over to the planning and development of the Clemson University campus, which now impresses students, visitors and local residents.
I have always taken pride in and have admiration for my former student from Kingsport, Tennessee.
— Col. Ben Skardon ’38
Professor Emeritus of English
As I reflect on the presidency of Jim Barker, I am so very proud of the accomplishments that Clemson has achieved over the course of Jim’s administration. Under Jim’s leadership, Clemson has risen to become a top-25 public university. Jim aspires to see Clemson improve because he wants to see Clemson students have an opportunity to receive the best education possible.
Jim Barker is a man of integrity. He is a great visionary and great strategic planner. He leads with a core passion to put the students and their success first. Most importantly, this “down to earth” man loves Clemson University! Marcia Barker has been an incredible leader as well and a fantastic ambassador for Clemson. She leads with a very special style and grace, and she has made Clemson a much better university.
Clemson has been blessed by the Barkers!
— Harvey B. Gantt
Principal, Gantt Huberman Architects
I have always admired Jim Barker as the essence of a true Clemson man. He proved my long-held belief that architects, because of their unique education and training, could go out into the world and do much more than design buildings. Jim and I have often reminisced on a speech I gave at the College of Architecture years ago. I spoke on the theme of how some of us student architects could one day leave Clemson to serve as leaders in society … because we were being trained to analyze problems, examine alternatives, choose a way forward, and execute a solution with conviction. In other words, we were trained to be leaders, in our design firms, in civic life, in politics, in business, and even to lead a great university … like Clemson. Jim was in that audience when I spoke, and says he was inspired. Wow!!! And he has gone on to build a great record as one of Clemson’s finest presidents and a great leader in education for South Carolina.
— E. Smyth McKissick III
Clemson University Trustee
Jim Barker is well-known for his intense interest and caring spirit for the well-being of Clemson students. What is not so well-known is his unique ability to manifest that same level of interest for campus organizations that are not an integral part of the University’s core mission of teaching and research.
I witnessed this during the past two years as IPTAY went through a reorganization. Early in the process we sought guidance from President Barker. He maintained a high level of interest in IPTAY , and never failed to avail himself to us. As the IPTAY Board moved through our changes, we recognized that the new landscape of college athletics suggested more involvement of college presidents. President Barker was aware of this new trend, and embraced our idea to have him become an active member of the IPTAY Board.
Jim never hesitated to help IPTAY through these changing times and was fully engaged and supportive during my term as president. I saw firsthand why the Clemson Family has so completely embraced
— Charles Dalton
President, IPTAY Board of Directors
Jim Barker is one of the finest individuals I know, and I’m incredibly appreciative of what he’s meant to me both personally and professionally during my time as ACC commissioner.
As I look back over his tenure as president of Clemson University, it’s important to note that his fingerprints are all over the many monumental milestones that have happened within the ACC . From the league’s expansion in 2003, through the latest expansions and the grant of media rights, Jim has been instrumental in strategically positioning the Atlantic Coast Conference for the long term.
There’s no question that Jim is one of the most well-respected presidents, not only in the ACC but also across the NCAA landscape. As an educator and leader, he is insightful, thoughtful and brings tremendous wisdom.
Jim has become one of my most trusted advisers, and I’m thankful for the friendship we’ve developed over the years.
I wish Jim, Marcia and the entire Barker family nothing but health and happiness in the years ahead.
— John Swofford
I first met my architecture classmate, the future president James F. Barker, on Riggs Field in August of 1965. Riggs served as the track at that time, and Jim was practicing his event, the pole vault. My first Clemson roommate was the other freshman vaulter, and he was excited to introduce me to his teammate since, he surmised, we had so much in common as architecture majors. Little did he know that this thoughtful introduction would lead to a lifetime of collegiality marked by true friendship.
As we approached the field from the south stands, Jim picked up his pole, took a deep breath and ran at full speed toward the box, the bar and the pit. Jim planted the pole perfectly in the box, leaned back with all his strength and swung his body skyward into a handstand with amazing grace. Then, the pole shattered. The sound was like a rifle’s blast echoing off Holtzendorff and the Barracks. All motion stopped and all eyes turned to the vaulting pit. Seeming unfazed by the disruption, Jim continued the backward flow of his body, executed a perfect back flip and landed on his feet in the pit. Still holding a four-foot piece of the offending instrument, he strode out to greet his teammate and his classmate with a broad smile as if to ask: “How’d you like that?”
Occasionally I will retell this story as I introduce President Barker and I like to add: “and he’s been landing on his feet ever since.”
— John Jacques ’70, AIA, CAF Director
Professor Emeritus of Architecture
From my perspective, the most significant contribution made by Jim Barker during my tenure as vice president for research and economic development was to articulate the “Top Twenty” Vision, and hold us accountable for it. The vision was compelling, succinct, memorable and measurable. It galvanized our thinking about Clemson University as a distinctive, national research university, guided our strategic planning and drove our implementation. The quarterly “Report Card” measured our progress.
For me, the second most important concept by Jim was to challenge us to develop a “Town/Gown” relationship with the City of Greenville.
These two bold ideas set in motion the deliberations and strategies which culminated in CU-ICAR and the other innovation campuses. As we worked on developing the practical implications of public/private partnerships that were aligned with the University’s core academic missions of teaching and research, and fostered economic development for South Carolina, Jim was personally engaged in these discussions. As the physical campus of CU-ICAR was designed and built, he brought his architectural background to the design charrettes. It was a personal privilege for me to tour the CGEC with Jim, and have him give me a passionate description of the sight lines and the architectural highlights of the building.
Finally, from a personal perspective, I could not have asked for a more supportive and encouraging president than Jim Barker. Recognizing the very high risks associated with such a bold idea as CU-ICAR , he consistently was the “champion” with our Board of Trustees, our state legislators and the Greenville community. I consider it a great honor and privilege to have spent the last nine years of my professional career serving under President James F. Barker.
— Christian E.G. Przirembel
Vice President Emeritus for Research and Economic Development
It would be easy to rhapsodize about Jim Barker’s intelligence, his dedication and his humaneness. But anyone who has been near Clemson University in the last dozen years knows about all that.
So I add this comment: Throughout his presidency, Jim taught a course called “The President’s Seminar.” It met on Tuesday afternoons each spring and included about 15 students from several different disciplines. And it included six or eight faculty who, along with the president, made presentations and joined discussions. I was lucky enough to get in on it, and I count it as one of the best experiences of my 38 years at Clemson. As I look back on that seminar, I realize that, except for his Tiger Paw cuff links and ties, Jim did not appear to be president of anything. He was just a part of the general fray. Maybe he was so good with the students because he had been a Clemson student himself; maybe he was so good with the faculty because he had been on the faculty — and was still on the faculty. Whatever the cause, he was one of us, and we loved it.
— Bill Koon
Professor Emeritus of English
“One Clemson” was more than a motto to President Jim Barker. He truly wanted the academic and athletic communities to merge and achieve a unified pride in Clemson University. That’s where Solid Orange came from — speaking to our traditions and how we conduct ourselves to understand our part in making the University strong. He worked hard to create an environment of unity when so many campuses across the country experience disunity.
He not only talked about supporting athletics, but as a former student-athlete, he is competitive. He and Marcia would attend many, many sporting events; they welcomed student-athletes regularly into the President’s Home, and knew most of our coaches and staff by name. You could count on seeing their Labs, Macs and Mookie, at rowing meets. In addition to an already full schedule with campus responsibilities, he chose to be involved with the NCAA at the national level.
He entered his tenure with extremely high athletic goals, targeting national success especially for football and men’s basketball. We’re all proud that under President Barker’s leadership, Clemson football has returned to the Top 10, won three divisional championships and the first outright conference championship in 20 years.
While men’s basketball at Clemson had historically struggled, President Barker’s support enabled our program to enjoy some unparalleled success and continuing progress — specifically, four consecutive NCAA tournament appearances, a first in Clemson history.
Certainly, Clemson enjoyed success and significant progress in other sports as well, but I find it fitting that as a track letterman, his final spring as president included Brianna Rollins’ thrilling individual national championship at the NCAA Outdoor Championships and our men’s and women’s track programs again competing at the highest level.
What’s refreshing about the athletic success is that it was accomplished with President Barker’s high academic expectations as well. While Clemson’s student-athlete academic performance has been strong in the past, it became measurably stronger in all sports the past decade.
Jim Barker gave our athletic program his support, his vision and his energy. He gave us “One Clemson.”
— Terry Don Phillips
Former Clemson Athletics Director
Jim Barker’s passion for being a president who was devoted to public service became evident within his first 100 days in office. He took teams of his administrative group on two trips across South Carolina to meet the people who love Clemson dearly but rarely get to the main campus. He continued that enthusiasm for engaging with the public throughout his time as president.
He extended that commitment to public service when the University embarked on the creation of “new” enterprise campuses in locations across the state. His brand of economic development was to take the University to where the action was located. This idea has led to one of the country’s most relevant and successful university technology-based economic development strategies. Jim’s unique ability to engage with the state’s citizens has allowed Clemson University to maintain a strong sense of reality as we do our daily work.
— John Kelly
Vice President for Economic Development
In early May 2006 a senior, Travis Rada, realized he was an hour short of graduating. Travis’ mother, Janet, was very ill with cancer, and he had lost track of his hours since he had been trying to spend as much time with his mom as possible. Travis took the course during Maymester to complete his requirements to graduate in August. But the doctors had told Janet that she probably wouldn’t be alive in August. Through all of Janet’s cancer treatments, her one goal had been to see Travis graduate from Clemson, and Patrick, her youngest son, graduate from T.L. Hanna High School, both that May.
With the help of registrar Stan Smith, President Barker presented Travis with a certificate of completion on June 1, 2006. The ceremony took place in the President’s Office with Travis’ parents, brother and grandparents present, Travis in his cap and gown and President Barker in his academic regalia. Less than six weeks later, I attended the memorial service for Janet Rada. Front and center of all the pictures that were placed on the table to honor Janet’s memory was the photograph of President Barker and Travis in their academic regalia and Travis’ proud family members.
— Sandy McKinney
Executive Assistant to the President
President Barker’s accomplishments at Clemson will leave a lasting impact on the future of the University. His consistent involvement with the student body has been a major factor in producing the “Clemson Experience” that is so often discussed. Students have been reflecting on their favorite memories with him, including times when he passed out lollipops at the Homecoming floats, opened his home for trick-or-treating on Halloween, allowed students to walk his dogs, did pushups as the Tiger mascot during a football game and helped with freshman move-in.
President Barker’s desire to make Clemson the best it can be, while preserving the rich heritage and traditions that make the Clemson experience so unique, is remarkable. Clemson’s success in the past decade is largely due to his leadership and unwavering values He will always be remembered as one of Clemson’s most outstanding and respected presidents, and I am blessed to have had the opportunity to work with him during these last few months of his presidency.
— Kayley Seawright
President, Undergraduate Student Body
As I reflect over the past 14 years of Jim Barker’s tenure as president of Clemson University, two words, in particular, come to mind — Clemson Family. President Barker really does understand the meaning of these two words because he was reared in the family that is so proud to call him one of our own.
He possesses a deep sense of caring and placing the Clemson Family and, in particular, the current Clemson students first. His unwavering resolve has helped Clemson remain a “high seminary of learning” just as Clemson’s founder, Thomas Green Clemson, so eloquently stated in his Will. We are so proud and fortunate to have been able to call Clemson’s 14th president one of our own.
— Ann W. Hunter ’80, ’82
President, Clemson Alumni Association
Jim Barker has been the only president I have known since I came to Clemson in 2003. He has set the bar very high for future presidents and has certainly brought Clemson to a higher level academically, athletically — in all areas.
He is a class man who has been a joy to work with. I will be forever indebted to him for supporting my hire as head coach in 2008. He has treated me with respect in every way since I have been here.
What I will remember most about Jim Barker is his genuine love for Clemson.
— Dabo Swinney
Clemson Head Football Coach
Cappy and Sweet, you’re our favorite Tigers! Thank you for teaching us cadence count, that orange and purple are the best colors, and for letting us hitch rides at the First Friday Parades. We’ve loved our many adventures in the President’s House, like counting tigers and camping out in our tiger tent in the living room. We’re saving chairs for you at the tailgate. We love you!
Madeline and Eliza Barker
We would just like to thank you both for introducing us to so many friendly students over the years. You are so right when you say Clemson students are the best! We sure are going to miss our morning walks on campus with you guys.
Mookie and Macs
P.S. We really are SO SORRY for chasing after that skunk we found in front of the P & A Building one morning. We had no idea he would spray us and that it would take a week full of baths to get us clean!
President Barker was never just a figurehead — he was an active participant in every Clemson student’s experience. Few university presidents have improved their school’s academics so remarkably, and even fewer have earned the genuine love and respect of its students.
At the Clemson vs. Furman game this past year, the crowd bellowed, as usual, in coordination with the Tiger’s pushups. After a fairly long count, the Tiger unexpectedly stood up, threw off his headpiece and revealed an impassioned President Barker. Upon recognizing him, the stadium’s roar soared because we all knew that he shared our love, devotion and pride for Clemson.
At my ring ceremony, President Barker showed his unyielding devotion to Clemson students once again. I had always heard that there is something sacred about a Clemson ring ceremony; after 90 hard-earned hours we would walk with our fellow classmates to receive that famous and celebrated Clemson ring. Unfortunately, we knew that President Barker had recently received emergency surgery and assumed he would not be able to present our rings. However, as he had throughout my entire Clemson experience, he proved that Clemson students were his first priority. As he presented me with my ring, he leaned over and said, “We’re proud of you,” and I, along with the rest of the students receiving their rings April 8, 2013, knew that he truly was.
— Ashton Lee
Senior, Clemson University
When I think of the Barkers’ tenure at Clemson, I am struck by their family approach. They always would speak at orientation programs and offer their home, their dogs and even themselves to anyone feeling a little homesick. I believe Clemson is such a happy place because you do not feel like you’re at an institution. There is a constant feel of home, no matter where your other home may be. I truly feel the Barkers were at the center of this warm, caring atmosphere.
On a personal note, they arrived for move-in day for my daughter Libby, and then a couple of years later for my daughter Hannah. President Barker gave them each a signed miniature Clemson banner and told them to keep it with them till graduation for luck. Right from day one it was a personal, magnetic approach that made our whole family feel like we were home. The Barkers’ genuine love of the place was transparent and infectious, and thankfully will continue to live at Clemson.
— Bart Proctor
Parent of Libby ’13 and Hannah (sophomore)