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Magnolia Clemson Club supports Call Me MISTER

MagnoliaClubThe Magnolia Clemson Club has partnered with the Call Me MISTER® program at Jackson State University, supporting the program and serving as ambassadors for Clemson.

Lifelong-MagnoliaClubCall Me MISTER® is a nationally acclaimed program started at Clemson to increase the number of African-American male teachers in South Carolina’s public elementary school classrooms. In 2012, the University partnered with the W.K. Kellogg Foundation and Jackson State University to broaden the program to Mississippi, and an additional gift of $1.3 million from the Kellogg Foundation in 2014 supported the program’s continued success. This effort by the Magnolia Club, supported by a grant from the Alumni Association, is another joint effort of the two universities.

Since both Clemson and Jackson State have Tiger mascots, the group coined themselves “Tigers United.” Events have included a viewing party for the Boston College game last fall where alumni and Jackson State MISTERS gathered to watch the game, eat barbecue and celebrate the partnership.

This spring, the group sponsored a service project to beautify the schools in the Jackson area where Jackson State MISTERS work. Plans for the fall include a conference focusing on career development and effective leadership practices.

 

My Clemson: Cambridge Gamble ’17

 

cambridge gamble2

Since forever, I’ve wanted to be a teacher. But my mom always told me I was going to be a lawyer. Coming to Clemson has meant figuring out that we were both right. Meanwhile, I’ve been able to make the most of my time in a place that truly had everything I was looking for in a college: small campus, great variety of courses, amazing athletics, beautiful campus and a big-family atmosphere.

I came here through the Call Me MISTER® program, majoring in elementary education, but I’ve also been able to pursue a history minor. That’s meant taking some of the political science courses that will serve me well when I go to law school in four or five years — after I’ve had an opportunity to teach and serve in an elementary school setting.

My freshman year, I took part in the Clemson Cup public speaking competition. My topic addressed the transition we were facing between a retiring president and a new one. I won, and that was an amazing opportunity that I will never, ever forget.

For one thing, I was the first freshman to ever win. Also, earning the Cup gave me the chance to speak at Clemson’s commencement, which was incredible, in no small part because it showed me how far I’ve come with my public speaking: When I was in high school, I took part in a Future Business Leaders of America speaking competition. The first year I competed, I came in last place. The second year I was determined to improve, and I won, which allowed me to represent the entire state of South Carolina and place 27th nationally.

I’m sure my public speaking skills will come in handy as an attorney. In the meantime, I’m enjoying every second of college life, whether it’s giving campus tours, cheering on my Tigers as a member of Central Spirit, serving as an Orientation ambassador or just hanging out on Campus Beach on a Friday night.

Call Me MISTER


CMM-graduation3

Listen to the MISTERs sing “One MISTER”:

Providing positive role models in classrooms and communities

TEACHING ELEMENTARY SCHOOL was not the future that Daniel Spencer ’09 envisioned as a high school senior in Swansea, South Carolina. With two brothers having dropped out of high school (one of whom served prison time) and parents who didn’t go to college, postsecondary education wasn’t even on his radar — even though he was in the top 10 percent of his graduating class.

Daniel Spencer_042correctFortunately, he decided at the last minute to apply to Coastal Carolina University and chose elementary education as his major.

“I didn’t have a clue,” Spencer said. “I thought, ‘Well, I passed elementary school. I should be able to teach it!’”

When Spencer’s English professor learned about his major, he told him about Call Me MISTER®, a program started at Clemson to encourage and place African-American male teachers in South Carolina’s public elementary school classrooms. He advised Spencer to transfer to Clemson to be a part of the program. The rest, he says, is history.

“From the first day, Call Me MISTER changed what I thought would be easy into a lifetime challenge of working with people and shaping the lives of youth,” Spencer said.

MEETING THE CHALLENGE

This was a challenge observed 15 years ago by Clemson University as well as Benedict College, Claflin University and Morris College, three historically black institutions in the state.

“We found that there were more black men in jail than were sleeping in the dormitories of the colleges in our state,” said Roy Jones, Call Me MISTER director and a faculty member at Clemson’s Eugene T. Moore School of Education. “There were more black men in prisons than were teaching in our state, especially in elementary education. That we saw as a problem.”

And, Jones added, in a state that is one-third African-American and where young black males were being expelled, referred to discipline and dropping out of school at higher rates than any gender or ethnic group, fewer than one percent of the state’s teaching workforce were African-American males.

Leaders at the four institutions saw a connection between those figures. They determined that if you could increase the number of African-American males in the classroom, perhaps there would be more avenues for understanding and tackling the challenges that confront young black boys during their formative years.

“We got together and said, ‘We can do something about this,’” Jones said.

And Call Me MISTER was born.

Clemson — along with Benedict, Claflin and Morris — started Call Me MISTER (Mentors Instructing Students Toward Effective Role Models) in 2000. Clemson provided fundraising and program support, while the remaining three colleges carried out the program on their campuses.

Housed in the Eugene T. Moore School of Education at Clemson, Call Me MISTER combines teacher education with co-curricular programs such as retreats, seminars, academic support, mentoring, a summer institute, internships and volunteer opportunities. Participants, known as MISTERs, also live and study together as cohorts and receive tuition assistance through loan forgiveness programs as well as help with job placement.

Since its inception, the program has grown to 19 colleges/universities in South Carolina, including Clemson and Coastal Carolina. That number also includes several two-year community and technical colleges, a move made to provide greater opportunity and access to the program.

As a result of these efforts, there has been a 75 percent increase in the number of African-American males teaching in South Carolina’s public elementary schools. Of the 150 students who have completed the Call Me MISTER program in the Palmetto State, 100 percent of them remain in the education field.

Understanding that the issue is not South Carolina’s alone — that nationally, the number of male teachers is at a 40-year low, and that African-American males comprise less than 2 percent of the teaching workforce — Call Me MISTER has expanded to include 13 colleges in Florida, Kentucky, Pennsylvania, Virginia, Mississippi, Georgia and the District of Columbia. Including graduates and current students, approximately 425 participants are in the program nationwide.

IT’S ALL ABOUT RELATIONSHIPS

CMM-summer1Since the program’s inception, Call Me MISTER leaders have found that its purpose is being fulfilled: more African-American males are entering elementary classrooms and more African-American children — especially boys — are seeing them as positive role models.

“There’s no doubt about what it means for so many kids to see an African-American male in a position of authority where he is also nurturing, where he is also loving and where he is also mentoring,” said Winston Holton, who leads Clemson’s Call Me MISTER cohort. “Our MISTERs are filling an important void.”

But the program is doing something more — it is exacting a powerful personal influence that transcends race, gender and socioeconomics.

“I believe that Call Me MISTER is making up the difference between what’s not happening in our homes, schools and communities and what needs to happen — and that is the fostering of healthy relationships,” Holton said.

“We don’t have healthy relationships across too many lines,” Holton continued. “You see this playing out every day in schools and playgrounds across South Carolina — and in teacher’s lounges, in businesses, in families, in neighborhoods, everywhere.”

From day one, Call Me MISTER encourages — even requires — its students to pursue healthy relationships, Holton said. Through an intentional yet organic process, MISTERs learn to understand and articulate their life stories and hear each other’s stories with empathy and understanding — and this skill makes all the difference when they enter the classroom and community as teachers.

“The result is that MISTERs have the capacity to empathize with their students, parents, fellow teachers and community members just as they, themselves, have experienced empathy,” Holton said. “They are able to see through the differences, even the maladies, and really see another’s humanity. That’s how learning happens and how students, schools and communities are elevated.”

“It’s all about relationships,” Holton summarized.

I CAN MAKE A DIFFERENCE

Countless young people have been influenced by their relationships with Daniel Spencer, including his niece and nephew, the children of his formerly incarcerated brother.

“I was trying to help raise them, and I realized through Call Me MISTER that I wasn’t teaching them; I was just telling them what to do,” Spencer said. “Listening to the MISTERs and learning from them taught me that I can do things differently — and that I can make a difference.”

 

Spencer’s niece and nephew, now ages 15 and 16, live with him in Seneca — happily adjusted and involved in school and community activities.

Spencer is also making a difference in his classroom at Blue Ridge Elementary, a Title 1 school with a high percentage of children from low-income families. He meets with each child individually and sets goals for the year, based not only on test scores but also the child’s own aspirations. And he holds them accountable to those goals, meeting with them throughout the year.

“I get to know all the kids and strive to meet everyone where they are,” Spencer said. “But I’ve gotten past the ‘I’m here for them to like me’ thing because at the end of the day, I know that they are going to love me — because they respect me, and they know I believe in them.”

What results from this exchange of respect, caring and expectation is academic progress. “The kids are exceeding their own expectations, which translates into authentic learning,” Spencer said.

SPIRIT OF HOPE FOR CHANGE

It is clear that authentic learning is needed for South Carolina’s children. The Palmetto State ranks 43rd in education, according to the 2014 Kids Count Profile, with 72 percent of South Carolina’s fourth graders lacking proficiency in reading, and 69 percent of eighth graders identified as below proficiency in math. Twenty-eight percent of high school students aren’t graduating on time, if at all.

The same report ranks South Carolina 44th in economic well-being and child health — both factors that affect children’s performance in school.

The statistics grow more dire in underserved schools and communities, where employment and other opportunities have increasingly diminished, says Roy Jones.

With these factors in mind, Jones and his colleagues focus on recruiting MISTERs from underserved areas and encouraging them to return to their communities or others with similar challenges.

“Call Me MISTER teachers are at the cutting edge of a new crusade — to ensure quality education in underserved areas by creating a pool of talented teachers who are fiercely loyal to their schools and communities,” Jones said. “Such teachers embody the spirit of hope for change.”

I WANT TO SEE THESE KIDS GROW UP

CMM-Spencerclass1“Fiercely loyal” could be used to describe Daniel Spencer. Since he started his career at Blue Ridge, he has been offered many opportunities to teach in other school districts, but he is dedicated to remaining at the school and in the community where he has served as a volunteer since his days as a Clemson student.

“The first kids I mentored when they were in the fourth grade are now in the 11th grade,” he said. “I want to see these kids grow up.”

In addition to teaching, Spencer coaches high school basketball and middle school football in Seneca, attends his students’ extracurricular activities, holds free basketball clinics and workouts at Blue Ridge during the summer, and takes students to events such as Clemson’s spring football scrimmage, which many of them have never attended even though they live less than 10 miles away. When he greets former students or players in the grocery store or at school events, they avoid him if their grades aren’t up to par, because they know he’ll ask. “I love being there and talking to the kids because the more they see positive people and consistently have positive people talking to them, the better they are going to do,” he said.

THE INTANGIBLE ‘MORE’

What is it about Call Me MISTER that inspires such dedication and selflessness? If you talk to anyone associated with the program, you’ll find that it’s because it’s more than a program — it’s a lifestyle, a way of being.

The intangible “more” begins with the name of the program. The brainchild of Call Me MISTER founding director Tom Parks, the name is not only an acronym but also a tribute to a famous line by Virgil Tibbs (played by Sidney Poitier) in the 1967 movie “In the Heat of the Night.”

While investigating a murder investigation in a small Mississippi town, Tibbs, an African-American detective from Philadelphia, is asked by the racist sheriff what people in his hometown police force call him. With dignity and assertiveness, Tibbs responds, “They call me ‘Mister Tibbs!’”

It is a line that inspires, even demands, respect.

Respect is a cornerstone of Call Me MISTER, one that is seen as MISTERs receive the program’s signature black blazer upon graduation — and in the way MISTERs refer to each other as “Mister” in formal Call Me MISTER settings.

“Ultimately, our hope is for each MISTER to be self-assured and know himself, and to appreciate and understand the value of building relationships across traditional lines,” Holton said.

Other Call Me MISTER foundational concepts include ambassadorship, stewardship, personal growth and teacher efficacy. “And all of these things together pour into the most important tenet, servant-leadership,” which Holton describes as “living for more than yourself.”

Perhaps no one embodies servant-leadership more than Jeff Davis, former field director for Call Me MISTER, current assistant athletic director of football player relations, and 2001 recipient of Oprah Winfrey’s Use Your Life award.

All MISTERs continue to be challenged each time they recite the vision statement Davis penned, which includes the line, “A title is only important if one’s character and integrity dictate its use.”

The single MISTER who rises to that challenge most valiantly receives the Jeff Davis Spirit Award, one of the most coveted honors bestowed annually upon a MISTER.

According to Clemson junior Michael Miller, a MISTER from Orangeburg and 2014 recipient of the Jeff Davis Spirit Award, servant-leadership has been the key to his Call Me MISTER education.

“My viewpoint about education has changed from ‘What can I tell you or dictate to you?’ to ‘What can I do for you?’” he said.

“I want to be an educator rather than a teacher,” he continued. “A teacher delivers content, and that is important. The word ‘educator’ comes from the Latin word educe, which means to draw from within. That’s what I try to do with my students — to pull out what is already within them. Call Me MISTER has taught me how to do that.”

Melanie Kieve is the public information director for the College of Health, Education, and Human Development and the Eugene T. Moore School of Education.

To learn more about Call Me MISTER director Roy Jones, click here.

Erwins’ continuing investment benefits students

Students will benefit from scholarships, additional experienced faculty and new state-of-the-art classroom space thanks to the continuing investment of Joe Erwin ’79 and his wife, Gretchen.

The co-founders of Greenville-based advertising and marketing firm Erwin Penland gave two new gifts totaling $1.08 million to benefit the University’s Erwin Center for the Study of Advertising and Communication, $800,000 to further the center’s programming and $208,000 to establish the Eugene and Valerie Getchell Scholarship Endowment. Named for Gretchen Erwin’s parents, the endowment allows Clemson to offer two need-based scholarships each year to students studying in the Erwin Center, beginning this year.

The gifts are part of Clemson’s Will to Lead campaign. The Erwin Center was created in December 2012 when the Erwins gave a lead gift of $1.05 million.

Call Me MISTER receives $1.3 million

William Buster, director of the Kellogg Foundation’s Mississippi and New Orleans programs

William Buster, director of the Kellogg Foundation’s Mississippi and New Orleans programs

Clemson’s Call Me MISTER program has received $1.3 million from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation of Battle Creek, Mich., to collaborate with Jackson State University to increase the number of African-American male teachers in Mississippi K-8 classrooms. The three organizations gathered on campus to commemorate the collaboration and grant.

Clemson established the now nationally recognized Call Me MISTER program in 2000 to increase the number of African-American males teaching in South Carolina K-12 schools. MISTER stands for Mentors Instructing Students Toward Effective Role Models. After more than a decade, there is a 75 percent increase in the number of African-American male teachers in South Carolina’s public elementary schools.

The program has expanded to 17 colleges in South Carolina. Nearly 100 students are enrolled in the program in six additional states: Florida, Kentucky, Pennsylvania, Virginia, Mississippi and Georgia.

“The demonstrated success of the Call Me MISTER collaborative model in South Carolina, which has resulted in a significant increase in African-American male teachers in our state, provided confidence that the same result was possible in Mississippi,” Roy Jones, director of Call Me MISTER said. “We simply exported our nearly 15 years of successful experience in recruiting, retaining and developing pre-service teachers to Jackson State, which has a long tradition and history in producing African-American educators.”

Chi Zeta celebrates 40 years, endows scholarship

This spring, the alumni brothers of the Chi Zeta Chapter of Omega Psi Phi fraternity returned to Clemson to celebrate the chapter’s anniversary. Forty years ago, a group of students chartered the first black Greek-lettered organization on campus. Since then, 122 brothers have been initiated, and more than 90 of those returned for the reunion.

Chi Zeta took a leadership role during the 50th anniversary of the ending of segregation at Clemson. The “50 for 50” campaign was designed to celebrate 50 years of integration at Clemson by creating 50 diversity endowments, with a goal of fully funding the endowments within five years. Chi Zeta saw this as an opportunity to create its own endowment to provide financial support for deserving undergraduate students now and for years to come. Chi Zeta met its commitment within four months and awarded the first scholarship in the fall of 2013.

To mark its 40th anniversary as a campus organization, the alumni brothers of Chi Zeta raised another $25,000, which doubles the endowment to $50,000. With these additional donations, the brothers of Chi Zeta, in conjunction with Mrs. Veronica Clinkscales and the Clinkscales family, were able to establish the Dr. William C. Clinkscales Sr. ’74 Diversity Scholarship Endowment honoring her late husband, one of the founding brothers of the fraternity.

 

Freeman Hall expanding

Freeman Hall expanding

Freeman Hall renderingFreeman Hall is expanding to make room for rapid growth in the industrial engineering department. The $10-million addition will include new offices, conference rooms and a 108-seat auditorium, and will include additional room for a fast-growing online Master of Engineering in industrial engineering with an emphasis on supply chain and logistics that has been supported by Fluor Corporation. The program now has about 120 students and is expected to grow to 160. Growth in the industrial engineering department underscores the power of philanthropy and the importance of Clemson’s long partnership with Fluor. Fluor contributed $1.5 million in 2013 to create the Fluor-Clemson International Capital Projects Supply Chain Partnership to help with the online program’s expansion.

 

 

One Clemson event supports scholarships

ONE CLEMSON MAINC.J. Spiller ’09 was one of the more than two dozen legendary Clemson athletes who were in attendance at the One Clemson Main Event, held in April at the ONE Building in downtown Greenville to support athletic and academic scholarships. Auctioned items included a personal “C.J. Spiller Experience” at a Buffalo Bills game and golf with PGA Tour players Charles Warren and Ben Martin. Proceeds benefit the One Clemson scholarship initiative, a part of the Will to Lead campaign.

Circle of Gratitude

Friends and family honor Mayberry’s memory

At the Clemson-Boston College football game, friends and teammates of former Clemson football player Robert P. “Bob” Mayberry Jr. announced that $1 million and 74 dollars has been raised to establish an endowment to honor Mayberry’s memory and values. The endowment will award partial scholarships to football trainers and/or managers.

Mark Richardson ’83, a member of the committee that initiated the effort, said that the scholarship was a fitting tribute. “We are confident it would have been Bob’s dream to honor those who work hard day in and day out with no expectation of recognition beyond that which accrues to the whole team.” The fundraising committee also includes Jubal Early, Steve Horvath, Steve Luquire, Robert P. Mayberry Sr. and Kendall Alley ’83, M ’85.

Mayberry started on the 1981 National Championship team. Following graduation in 1983, he joined his father in the automobile business, married and raised a family, and seized every opportunity to demonstrate his passions for Clemson and for helping others. He died in 2012 after a battle with cancer.

Pledges and gifts in support of the Robert P. “Bob” Mayberry Jr. ’83 Endowed Memorial Grant-in-Aid may be addressed to the Clemson University Foundation and mailed to Connie Sexton, IPTAY Major Gifts, P.O. Box 1529, Clemson, S.C. 29633.

Barker Scholars update

More than $2.8 million has been donated to the Barker Scholars Endowment, established to honor President Barker and his wife, Marcia. The endowment will support need-based scholarships for undergraduates. More than 2,000 contributed to the fund, with more than 80 founding partners who contributed more than $25,000 each.

Donations may still be made online, by check or by gifts of appreciated stock. Make checks payable to Clemson Fund, P.O. Box 1889, Clemson, S.C. 29633, and indicate “Barker Scholars.”

Fort Hill Club looks to the long term

Since 2006, the Fort Hill Clemson Club has funded annual scholarships for students through the money raised from their annual Recruiting Wrap Up. But this year, they decided a change was in order.

The event has more than tripled in attendance to 700 and increased more than 1,000 percent in sponsorships to $21,000. Held the day after recruiting ends, it includes chats with the coaches and players, barbecue and getting the inside scoop on the season to come.

Jerry Handegan and Eric Breazel

Jerry Handegan and Eric Breazel

This year, club leadership took a look at their profits and their goals. “There were always two schools of thought,” says former club president Jerry Handegan. “Do we give immediate money now, or do we create an endowment? People wanted to do scholarships. So we just gave our $10,000 annually for that.”

According to Eric Breazel, also a past president of the club, “As the event got more and more successful, we began to ask the question, ‘Should we think more long term?’ What pushed us over the edge was a chat with the financial aid and admissions staff, and hearing their perspective on the benefits of endowment — being able to attract students and offer them four-year scholarships. It was a no brainer.”

The club is actually doing both for now, giving an annual scholarship until the endowment reaches a high enough level to support more scholarships. The club invites scholarship recipients to the event each year, and according to Breazel, that makes the day even more special. “Obviously, folks come to see Dabo and the recruits. But while we’re welcoming new student-athletes we’re also celebrating new academic scholarships as well.”

And their message to other groups? “I would strongly like to encourage other groups or individuals to take a second or third look at making a gift that will make an impact for generations to come, not just for one year,” says Breazel. “Clemson’s still young and has centuries to go. An endowment can make a significant difference.”

To learn more about how you can make an impact on the future of Clemson, visit clemson.edu/giving, call 864-656-5896 or email cufund-L@clemson.edu.

Call Me Mister

Wells Fargo supports Call Me MISTER®, Emerging Scholars

Call Me MISTER and Emerging Scholars have in common their goal of improving educational opportunities for underrepresented populations. They also have in common the support of Wells Fargo, which donated $500,000 last fall to support the programs. Call Me MISTER seeks to place more African-American males in elementary school classrooms as teachers. Emerging Scholars’ mission is to increase the number of college graduates from economically disadvantaged areas and first-generation families. Since 2006, Wells Fargo has given $1.71 million to support the two programs.

Butch and Joy Ferree

Butch and Joy Ferree

Ferrees create trust for scholarships, experiential learning

Maurice “Butch” Ferree ’65, M ’67 and his wife, Joy, have created a charitable remainder trust valued at more than $1 million to benefit students in the College of Agriculture, Forestry and Life Sciences.

Half of the money will establish the Dr. Maurice E. “Butch” Ferree and Joy Culver Ferree Scholarship Endowment to provide scholarships for students in the college. The other half will create an endowment to provide experiential learning opportunities for students.

“We just both love Clemson,” said Butch. “I don’t have anything but good memories of being a student here. Looking back, most of my professors were tough as nails, but they loved their students. They were making men out of boys — that stuck with me. That experience was so valuable for me.”

“Clemson is a place I have loved all my life,” said Joy. “We want to see it continue to grow, and we wanted to help deserving students complete their education here.”


New leaves honor great generosity

The grounds of Fort Hill are home to three new bronze oak leaves sporting the signatures
of the new members of the Fort Hill Legacy Society, whose bequests or testamentary trusts were realized at $1 million or more.

Ethelyn Berry Smith dedicated her life to education. She taught several years in Kershaw County, and continued her devotion to education by establishing the Harry Graves Berry Bioengineering Endowment to honor her brother, a member of the Class of ’41.

Tragedy struck Ernest and Virginia Carroll when their only son, Ernest Jr., was killed in action in June 1944 during the invasion of Normandy, while Ernest Sr. was serving in the Pacific theater. The Carrolls created the Ernest Hill Carroll Jr. Endowed Scholarship Fund at Clemson, where he had attended before enlisting in the Army.

Porter H. and Sara L. Adams have long been tied to Clemson. Porter graduated in 1940, and their son Porter Jr. graduated in 1964. After 26 years of service in the U.S. Air Force, Porter Sr. taught both high school and college, then established the Porter Adams Family Endowed Unrestricted Scholarship.


As part of the inaugural Week of Gratitude held on campus in October, the Student Alumni Council presented a $75,000  check to benefit the Student Alumni Council Scholarship Endowment Fund and the Student Memorial Chapel.

As part of the inaugural Week of Gratitude held on campus in October, the Student Alumni Council presented a $75,000 check to benefit the Student Alumni Council Scholarship Endowment Fund and the Student Memorial Chapel.

The Idea of Clemson

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 Matthews


— 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


— 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

— 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


— 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.


Ben Skardon


— 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 Gantt


— 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.


Smyth McKissick


— 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
the Barkers.


Charles Dalton


— 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

— John Swofford
ACC Commissioner

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


— 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.


Chris Prizembel


— 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


— 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


— 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


— 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


— 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.


Kayle Seawright


— 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 Hunter


— 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


— 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!
Love,
Madeline and Eliza Barker
Granddaughters

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.
Love,
Mookie and Macs
Barker pups-in-residence

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


— 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)