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Military career begins, ends on same stage: Jimmy Mullinax ’94

 

April 29, 2016 - Jimmy Mullinax Professor of Military Leadership Lieutenant Colonel - Retirement Ceremony in Honor of LTC Jimmy Mulling, US Army Held in Tillman Hall auditorium

April 29, 2016 – Jimmy Mullinax Professor of Military Leadership Lieutenant Colonel – Retirement Ceremony in Honor of LTC Jimmy Mulling, US Army Held in Tillman Hall auditorium

An extraordinary U.S. Army career came to an end this spring as Lt. Col. Jimmy Mullinax, commander of Clemson University’s Reserve Officers’ Training Corps, retired on the same stage where he was commissioned 21 years earlier.

Army officers do not get to choose their assignments, so getting orders to come back to Clemson was a highly unusual but serendipitous twist in Mullinax’s career.

“How do you get to go back to your alma mater?” he asked during his retirement ceremony. “I only have one answer for that: God brought me back here. Because it wasn’t my doing, and it couldn’t have been the Army because it made no sense. It was orchestrated for me to come back, and I’m blessed to be here.”

Retired Col. Eric Schwartz, who was assistant professor of military science for Clemson’s ROTC in the early 90s, returned to help retire the young officer he had mentored more than two decades before and recalled the instantly recognizable potential of the young cadet he knew. “I wanted to tell stories about little Jimmy Mullinax when he was a cadet in the Army ROTC program, and I was his instructor. I wanted to tell you stories about Jimmy getting lost in the woods, or showing up late for physical training, or losing his weapon, or [being] afraid to rappel of a cliff — but I got nothing,” said Schwartz. “From the moment he stepped out on the parade fields of Clemson he was a beautiful young man to serve with. Everything about him represented what we believed were the core values of being a good soldier, a good leader and a good American.”

Mullinax graduated from Clemson in 1994 with a bachelor’s degree in industrial management and was commissioned as a second lieutenant into the quartermaster branch (supply and logistics support), detailed to the Air Defense Artillery Branch. He earned a Master of Military Studies from the Air University, Maxwell Air Force Base, Ala. He went on to hold numerous positions of leadership in quartermaster and logistic elements, including two tours of duty in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom, culminating in an assignment to Fort Knox, Kentucky, prior to returning to Clemson.

Mullinax said it was a blessing to return to Clemson in a military capacity, because the school has such a rich military history and goes out of its way to support its ROTC program. He returned to the theme of being blessed throughout his remarks, emphasizing a point made at many Army retirements; he only got through the last 21 years because of his faith and his family. He noted that he and his wife, Angie, moved their family to nine different duty stations together over the course of his career.

He closed by addressing all the people who had taken the time to be there for this seminal moment in his life. “I started this saying I was blessed. I hope you can truly see why I’m blessed. It’s not about me. It’s about you and what you’ve done in my life. You’ve given me the best life I could ever dream of. Continue to support our military men and women.”

A shore thing: Sarah Strickland ’12

 

Sarah Strickland8Teamwork and adaptability learned at Clemson served Sarah Strickland well abroad and back home. Critical skills such as communication and resourcefulness have helped Strickland from every job as a nurse in the ICU step-down unit, to working on a ship in Madagascar, to now working in an emergency room.

But it was working abroad that brought all the lessons from Clemson to the forefront. Knowing she was wrapping up the first few years of her career in Clemson, Lexington native Sarah Strickland began looking for adventures in nursing. She found one in Mercy Ships, an international faith-based organization with a mission to increase health care throughout the world. Since 1978, Mercy Ships has delivered services to more than 2.54 million people.

From November 2015 to February 2016, Strickland lived on Africa Mercy which was docked in Madagascar, and worked alongside surgeons in facial tumor removal and cleft lip and palate reconstruction. The ship, which began service in 2007, offers an 82-bed ward.

Strickland learned about the mission opportunity from one of her co-workers who lived in Africa for a while. And after multiple short-term mission trips as a high school student, Strickland wasn’t afraid of tackling a challenge overseas. “I prayed about it for a few weeks and ended up applying at the end of the summer,” she said.

The timing meant she wouldn’t be on an early 2015 trip, but would be considered for an early 2016 team. But life in South Carolina didn’t prep Strickland for everything. “I’d never done much with pediatrics or facial patients,” said Strickland. “And most conditions would have been treated long before they got to the point we were seeing. I worked in the ICU (Intensive Care Unit) and a step-down unit, but for the most part, working in Madagascar was completely different from anything I had ever done, which was the situation for most of my co-workers, so it was a learning curve for everybody.”

What Clemson and her training had prepped her for was being adaptable. “Clemson definitely teaches you how to think critically. When we were over there we didn’t have access to as many resources as we have over here. … We had to rely on a lot more of our judgment. Clemson just also really encourages a teamwork approach to nursing. Over there I really experienced the need to rely on my co-workers as teammates even more so than working here.”

Clemson tiger paw temporary tattoos, stickers and flags also helped Strickland bring one of her loves to her patients. “There was 14-year-old kid who had a tumor. The day he had it removed was the day of the National Championship game. So I put [tiger paws] on a bunch of the kids, including him. The first time he got to look at the back of his head without the tumor, he had a tiger paw on his cheek.”

“Seeing the look on his face when he got to see that just reminded me [Clemson] is what brought me here, and it just all came together,” she said.”

Landmarks & Legends: Marking History

Landmarks Legends-Sign InstallationThree new historical markers at Clemson are tangible reminders of the University’s full history — a history not as idyllic as the well-manicured lawn of Bowman field and the picture-perfect walk by the library.

In April, University officials, trustees and guests broke ground for three double-sided markers: One at the intersection of South Palmetto Boulevard and Fernow Street Extension to commemorate a site where slave quarters stood on the plantation owned by John C. Calhoun and later by University founder Thomas Green Clemson; the second near Calhoun Bottoms farmland to commemorate the role of Native Americans and African-Americans in the development of the Fort Hill Plantation lands; the third near Woodland Cemetery to mark the burial sites of the family of John C. Calhoun, enslaved people and state-leased prisoners who died during their confinement at Clemson.

“The story of Clemson University’s founding is one of great vision, commitment and perseverance,” said President James P. Clements at the event. “However, it is also a story with some uncomfortable history. And, although we cannot change our history, we can acknowledge it and learn from it, and that is what great universities do.”

Landmarks - Fort Hill property wp2The markers are one way Clemson is working to give a more accurate public accounting of its history to acknowledge connections to slavery, segregation or other practices and viewpoints inconsistent with current institutional values.

During the event, Clements praised the work of Rhondda Thomas, associate professor of English, whose research on African-Americans who lived and labored at Clemson prior to desegregation spurred interest in the markers.

One of those stories is about Sharper and Caroline Brown, whose daughter Matilda was born into slavery but lived most of her life as a free woman. Matilda Brown’s granddaughter, Eva Hester Martin, 90, of Greenville, was a guest at the groundbreaking ceremony for the historical markers.

It’s a story Thomas pieced together from personal recollections backed up by photos, newspaper clippings, church and census records, and other documentation. The youngest of 10 children, Martin earned a degree in chemistry from S.C. State University, enjoyed a successful career as a medical technician in Chicago and Los Angeles, and raised four children.

“Our archives are a wonderful resource, and census records are a great help,” Thomas said. “For the convict laborers, however, the pardon records provide the strongest evidence of the men and boys who labored at Clemson, as the documentation specifies when they were released from Clemson College. But in some cases the records are incomplete or missing.”

Thomas hopes the University’s efforts to tell these stories will encourage more family members to come forward with information, photos, family Bibles or other materials that can confirm an ancestor’s connection to the University’s early years.

If you have information for Thomas’ research, email her at rhonddt@clemson.edu.

Clements_019Read more about the history of these markers in The View From Sikes.

 

Miller gift establishes endowed chair in medical physics

President Clements with Sheila and Waenard Miller, M.D. The Millers received a platter crafted of wood from a tree that once stood on Clemson’s campus.

President Clements with Sheila and Waenard Miller, M.D. The Millers received a platter crafted of wood from a tree that once stood on Clemson’s campus.

Cardiologist Waenard L. Miller ’69 has spent his career on the cutting edge of medicine, raising the level of care for patients higher and higher. Now the gift that he and his wife, Sheila, of Frisco, Texas, have given will ensure that future Clemson graduates can do the same. The two have donated $2 million to Clemson to establish the Dr. Waenard L. Miller, Jr. ’69 and Sheila M. Miller Endowed Chair in Medical Physics.

“My vision of the medical physics program is a multidisciplinary collaborative endeavor associated with excellence in research, exponential growth in innovation and outstanding educational opportunities for students,” Miller said.

Miller earned his physics degree from Clemson in 1969. He received his medical degree from the Medical University of South Carolina and completed his internal medicine residency and a fellowship in cardiology at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical School. He also holds master’s degrees in nuclear physics, biology and medical management.

The Millers met when they were in high school in Greenville. Sheila’s father, Bernyrd C. McLawhorn, was a Greenville physician with degrees in physics and medicine.

“We had a common language in physics, but I was equally inspired by his knowledge of medicine and his commitment to his patients,” Miller said. “My father-in-law was clearly the role model for my eventual choice of medicine as my vocation.”

Sheila fondly remembers the friendship between her father and her future husband. “When I was dating Waenard, I knew I had to get to the door immediately, because if I didn’t get there right away, the two of them would go off in a corner and start talking about black holes, and we’d be late for wherever we were going,” she said.

Miller, in Air Force ROTC at Clemson, was commissioned as a second lieutenant upon graduation and sent to graduate school in nuclear physics. He then served at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in the foreign technology division as a physicist and later transferred to the Aerospace Medical Research Laboratory. There he became intrigued with the combined concept of physics and biology.

Miller began practicing medicine near Dallas in 1983 and co-founded the Legacy Heart Center (LHC) in 1995. Under his leadership, LHC became renowned for leading-edge cardiovascular care. Texas Monthly magazine named him a “Texas Super Doctor” for eight consecutive years. President Clements described Miller as one of the University’s most accomplished alumni.

“Waenard and Sheila already have established a significant legacy. We are so honored that they have decided to partner with Clemson to enhance their legacy even further,” Clements said. “This wonderful gift will allow us to expand our internationally acclaimed biomedical research program and help meet the demand for medical physicists in the health care industry.”

The endowed position will be a joint appointment in Clemson’s departments of physics and astronomy and bioengineering. While collaborating with medical partners of Clemson University, the research conducted by the endowed chair holder will be at the interface of science and engineering with clinical translation as the outcome.

Mark Leising, former chair of the physics and astronomy department and interim dean of the College of Science, said,  “Dr. and Mrs. Miller’s gift will invigorate our medical physics education and research programs. Bringing more physicists and physical science techniques to medicine will continue to improve patient care and fill an important need of our state.”

Martine LaBerge, chair of Clemson’s bioengineering department, noted that medical physics research is at the forefront of patient care. “With this generous gift,” she said, “Clemson University will continue to lead the field of medical diagnostics and will make a significant impact in basic and applied research to improve patient outcomes.”

The Millers’ gift is a part of the successful $1 billion Will to Lead for Clemson campaign.

Tigers celebrate Reunion Weekend

Golden Tiger_087More than 370 alumni and friends attended the Golder Tiger Reunion in June, where more than 60 members of the Class of ’66 celebrated their 50th anniversary weekend by being inducted as Golden Tigers. Two members of the Class of ’41 were inducted as Platinum Tigers.

During the induction ceremony, guests heard University historian Jerry Reel speak about Clemson history and life in 1966. Attendees heard an update on University construction projects and the college reorganization, as well as a presentation about the James C. Kennedy Waterfowl and Wetlands Conservation Center. They also toured the Watt Family Innovation Center, athletics facilities and the historic Fort Hill mansion and Hanover House.

 

 

Ginn family honors legacy of father, grandfather

Army ROTC Cadet Matthew Grajewski salutes Wilbur Ginn Jr. after presenting a hand-crafted bowl made from the wood of Clemson trees in appreciation for the Ginn family’s gift. Also pictured are Alice Ginn, Will Ginn III and Dotty Ginn.

Army ROTC Cadet Matthew Grajewski salutes Wilbur Ginn Jr. after presenting a hand-crafted bowl made from the wood of Clemson trees in appreciation for the Ginn family’s gift. Also pictured are Alice Ginn, Will Ginn III and Dotty Ginn.

 

 

A family with three generations of Clemson alumni has given $1 million to establish the Wilbur N. Ginn Sr. Class of 1911 Unrestricted Endowment in Electrical Engineering; the Captain Wilbur N. Ginn Jr., Class of 1941 Unrestricted Endowment in Mechanical Engineering; the Wilbur N. Ginn III, Class of 1969, Unrestricted Endowment for the Humanities in the College of Architecture, Arts and Humanities; and the Wilbur N. Ginn Family Unrestricted Endowment for the Clemson University Libraries.

Retired Navy Captain Wilbur N. Ginn Jr. and his wife Dorothy of Greenville, along with their son, Wilbur N. Ginn III, and his wife Alice of Florence, made the gift for the Wilbur N. Ginn Family Endowment, established to honor the legacy of their father and grandfather, Wilbur N. Ginn Sr.

The Ginn family’s connection to Clemson goes back more than 100 years. Ginn Sr. graduated in 1911 in electrical engineering and was the second charter member of IPTAY. Ginn Jr. graduated in 1941 in mechanical engineering, and Ginn III graduated in 1969 as an English major.

Ginn Jr. and his wife see the endowment as a gift to all the citizens of South Carolina. “Somewhere along the way I decided that the people of South Carolina paid for my education,” he said. “The amount of money my mother and father paid to Clemson was miniscule compared to what the taxpayers paid. So, I feel I owe the people of South Carolina.”

“I am so grateful for the visionary generosity of the Ginn family,” said President Clements. “The unrestricted nature of their wonderful gift makes it even more important, because that allows for the funds to be used where they are needed the most in each area.”

“I’m overseeing the library and humanities piece,” Ginn III explained, “and Dad is overseeing the engineering pieces. The library is so important to everyone. It is the hub of the other three gifts.” Ginn Jr. said he hopes integrating the library in the gift will promote the learning of writing and communicating among the other disciplines. He realized the importance of communication in his positions in the Navy Reserve Officers Program and regular Navy.

Both Ginn Jr. and Ginn III were ROTC cadets at Clemson; Ginn Jr. served as a Navy Reserve engineering duty officer during World War II, then converted to regular Navy, where his career culminated with his service as head of the Navy’s Shipyard Modernization Program in 1966. He received the Legion of Merit in 1970. Ginn III was commissioned into the U.S. Army upon graduating. After his military service, he had a successful career in banking as the executive director for two large medical groups and as a health care consultant. After 45 years of wearing a suit and tie every day, he decided to spend five years as a barista to avoid boredom in his retirement life. Now, he looks forward to being involved at Clemson.

“Having been able to come to Clemson, get back on the campus and see all that’s going on, and then being asked to be on a Humanities Advancement Board, it reenergized my interest in being involved in the University any way I can,” he said.

Ginn Jr. hopes the money will take some financial burden from students and faculty alike. “The grants from this endowment could enable the schools to accomplish some of the most important extras for students and programs. The three of us — my father, my son and I — are the end of this family. May what we have done inspire some future graduates to also give back.”

Gambles are a safe bet: Jason ’00 and Hesha Nesbitt ’00, M ’01 Gamble

 

Gamble_012Ensuring the health, safety and well being of others via the roads you drive or the buildings you enter isn’t just a day job for Jason and Hesha Nesbitt Gamble, but a desire they’ve each pursued since teenagers. The couple are stand-out licensed professional engineers who found their route to Clemson by way of high school internships, which also set into motion a path to each other.

As an exam development engineer for National Council of Examiners for Engineering and Surveying (NCEES) in Seneca, Jason is one of only five people in the country commissioned with managing the creation of 25 national licensing exams that examinees take to become licensed in 17 different engineering disciplines. Jason is tasked with managing four of those 25 exams. Hesha serves as county engineer for Greenville where she oversees 77 employees as well as the engineering and maintenance of all county roads, approximately 1,760 miles serving 450,000 residents.

“We take that job very seriously,” said Hesha. “If there’s a problem, we need to fix it. Greenville is my community so of course I want the best for my community.”

“I’ve never had a job that didn’t affect people in some way,” chimed in Jason. “What I do now at NCEES affects the future of the profession and affects what (engineering) is going to be for the next generation.”

Even beyond technical skills, the pair says honing soft skills like communication and public speaking prepares their teams to execute a project efficiently. “You can be the smartest person in the room, but if you can’t effectively communicate or explain something, you’re not going to be successful,” said Jason. “It’s about knowing how to interact with people. I’ve worked with Ph.D.’s to someone with only a third-grade education, but we all had to work together in order to get a job done.”

Those so-called “soft skills” were picked up in Clemson classrooms, where the two met each other through study groups for upper-level undergraduate courses. The couple praise their time at Clemson for making them effective engineers today. They especially credit the PEER program for many of their successes.

“We bring engineers and experts from all over the country to do a job, and to be able to relate to each of them individually and not just professionally, just to be able to hold a conversation, Clemson was where I learned to do that,” said Jason. “I have no doubt it makes me better at my job to be able to relate to people and just work with them regardless of where they’re from.” Jason and Hesha, despite their busy careers, find the time to be “All In” raising their five-year-old son, Justus.