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Developing leaders by nurturing intellect, courage and service

Ten exceptional students walked across the stage at Commencement this year, sporting medallions hanging on orange ribbons identifying them as Chapman Scholars. They were selected as freshmen for their leadership potential and offered the opportunity to be a part of the Thomas F. Chapman Leadership Scholars Program, designed to enrich their academic preparation beyond the classroom and curriculum. The three-year program also supports the college’s mission to develop leadership abilities in its students.

The program is based, in part, on a leadership theme developed by former Equifax CEO and board chair Thomas F. Chapman ’65 that uses the analogy of The Wizard of Oz characters — the scarecrow, lion and tin man — to communicate the traits of leadership. Chapman characterized
the 10 graduating scholars as “very, very special. This is a culmination of three years of getting to know these young people, watching them grow, develop, learn and hopefully position themselves down the road to make the world a better place.”

A reception was held prior to graduation honoring the Chapman Scholars and recognizing Thomas Chapman’s generosity.

Alumni survey: You spoke, and we listened.

Alumni pie charts numbersEvery three to four years, we survey alumni to gauge how we’re doing as an alumni association. We look to see how you feel about the University — about choosing to attend, your experience as a student and as an alumnus — and what impacts your current opinion of Clemson. We also want to discover what you need from us and how we can better serve you.

We use this information as we plan for the future, as we decide which programs need to change and how can better serve you, the alumni of Clemson.

This year, we sent out more than 65,000 surveys, and 3,782 of you responded. Here is just a snapshot of the survey results.

SATISFACTION INDEX: 91%

The “Satisfaction Index” is calculated by averaging responses to these four questions, with the result being expressed as a percentage.

• How would you rate your decision to attend Clemson?
• How often do you promote Clemson to others?
• Which of the following best describes your experiences as an alumnus/a?
• Which of the following best describes your overall current opinion of Clemson?

While the national average is 80 percent, Clemson’s number has moved up from 89 percent in 2012.

When asked what impacts their overall current opinion of the University, alumni ranked these items highest:

• Value and respect for degree
• History/tradition
• Accomplishments of students
• Providing scholarships
• Campus aesthetics (e.g., buildings, grounds, etc.)

Modes of communication

Alumni rated email, Clemson World magazine and the Echo (electronic newsletter) as the three most important communication methods. Younger alumni feel that we’re not using email as effectively as possible. We also need to improve in the areas of invitations to University and alumni activities, and to communicate more effectively about services and benefits of being an alumnus.

The importance of alumni involvement

When asked, “How important is it for you and alumni in general to do the following and how well does Clemson do at supporting alumni in doing them?” alumni ranked four areas of alumni involvement as “very important.” The top two were serving as ambassadors by promoting Clemson to others and identifying job opportunities for graduates. In both of those areas, we need to provide more support for alumni. Third ranked was recruiting students, and fourth was providing financial support for Clemson (e.g., donations). Alumni feel Clemson supports them well in those roles.

Alumni Services needs

Alumni rated the following services as most needed:

• Networking
• Career search strategies
• Career planning, mapping and goal setting

Not surprisingly, all three were ranked higher by younger alumni.

We’re moving forward.

Thank you for letting us know what you think. We have already begun planning in the areas you’ve told us need improvement, and we’ll communicate with you about the process and ask for feedback.

 

Students from two cultures find common ground, understanding

Editor’s note: Jess Collins ’14 currently is serving as a Fulbright English teaching assistant in Niš, Serbia. She wrote this article for us about a recent experience with Clemson students studying abroad in Serbia. 

InTheseHills_StudyAbroad-NisJanuary of 2016 marked the first semester-long Clemson study abroad trip to Belgrade, Serbia. Seven students from Clemson spent three and a half months studying at the University of Belgrade. As an alumna of the summer 2012 Balkan study abroad program and a current Fulbright ETA in Niš, Serbia (about three hours south of Belgrade), I was thrilled for the opportunity to initiate an academic exchange between my alma mater and students at the University of Niš. A grant from the U.S. Embassy in Serbia funded the exchange.

The first meeting between the students took place in Belgrade, and the task was for each Serbian student to write on the American perspective and vice versa, with the papers to be presented a few weeks later in Niš. The students were eager to meet, and together they chose topics of LGBT rights, women’s rights, sex education, millennial mentality, cultural-specific traditions, religion and nationalism/racism.

Serbian student Petar Milenkovic´ enjoyed both the interchange of ideas and the experience of sharing his own culture: “I found out how different problems that are existent in Serbia, in a greater degree, are tackled in America,” he said. “I also had the joy of being a teacher. I believe I brought my American partner some insight into our society and its problems, and that I gave her something to think about during her stay here.”

A few weeks later the Clemson students went to visit the Niš students. We were joined by U.S. Embassy staff and professors from the faculty. Students gave their presentations, which were followed by lively discussions on the presented topics. The Clemson students then had the opportunity to share coffee and kafana, a traditional Serbian dinner, with the Niš students, deepening their relationships through discussions about the two cultures.

“It was an amazing experience getting to meet such a smart group of like-minded individuals and building friendships that I am confident will last long into the future,” said Clemson student Ryan Bartley. “We were able to use each other as sounding boards to create a mutual understanding of each other’s perspectives and paradigms.”

Serbian student Milan Krstic´ offered a similar response: “The experience with the Clemson students was refreshing, both intellectually and when spending some free time we had together. The students were very keen to participate in the project and strove to learn about Serbian culture, and even the language. I’ve enjoyed hearing their comments about the politics in Serbia, given the fact they are ‘outside observers’ and political science majors.”

“For the students, both ours and Serbian, it was a great experience to try to understand each other’s culture,” said Vladimir Matic, one of the Clemson professors in charge of the program. “It is something that helped them open up their minds, and it will influence the rest of their lives. Our students came back enriched. Study Abroad exposes students to new experiences and different cultures. They understand better the world, but maybe more importantly themselves and what they want to do in their lives.”

Clemson’s political science department has an ongoing study abroad program in Serbia and the Balkans.
For more information, contact Jeff Peake at jpeake@clemson.edu.

Kosovo native visits Clemson for the first time to receive doctoral hood

IntheseHills_BalidemajA doctoral hood is a highly coveted garment in academia, so much so that one student was willing to travel nearly 5,000 miles to obtain the hood she had worked toward for years. Kosovo-native Albina Balidemaj’s visit to Clemson in May to attend her doctoral hooding ceremony also happened to be the first time she ever set foot on campus.

Balidemaj’s time in Clemson was short; she left for Kosovo the morning after the hooding ceremony so she could be back in time for the commencement ceremony at the Rochester Institute of Technology campus in Kosovo where she now works as manager for academic affairs. She said she was happy to finally see Clemson in person. “The final plans for the trip happened so fast I had coworkers who didn’t even know I left,” Balidemaj said. “I hope to spend more time in Clemson in the future; the campus is bigger than I expected, and it is so beautiful.”

This was not Balidemaj’s first trip to the United States. Her family came to the U.S. in 1999 as refugees fleeing the armed conflict between the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia and the Kosovo Liberation Army. Balidemaj attended the University of Minnesota Twin Cities to earn an undergraduate degree in clinical psychology. She returned to Kosovo in 2006 with the World Health Organization (WHO) to work with cognitively challenged children from the Roma community and ended up staying in her home country.

“When I returned to Kosovo the country was still transitioning and building back up,” Balidemaj said. “I decided to stay because of the work WHO and other local NGOs (nongovernmental organizations) were doing in the community.”

Balidemaj was attracted to the Ph.D. program in International Family and Community Studies at Clemson because of the program’s partnership in Albania with Marin Barleti University. After looking into the program online, Balidemaj met with Jim McDonell, director of the Institute on Family and Neighborhood Life.

The program, its faculty and the tools it would afford her were reason enough for Balidemaj to pursue her doctorate through the program’s distance-learning blended format. Balidemaj’s doctoral hooding represents not only Clemson’s first doctoral degree to a student from Kosovo, but also the program’s first graduate to have a university appointment there.

“My background was in clinical psychology, but I wanted to be able to do more general research in the Balkans,” Balidemaj said. “The education I received at Clemson will allow me to focus on community interventions and affect public policy.”

Balidemaj’s dissertation was titled “Acculturation, ethnic identity and psychological well-being of Albanian-Americans in the United States,” and as such became a highly personal research experience for her. She explored how well refugees between the ages of 25 and 35 adapted to a new culture.

Mark Small, director of the graduate program at the Institute on Family and Neighborhood Life, was Balidemaj’s major professor during her time in the program. He said Balidemaj, like other students who participated in the program from outside of the U.S., helped to enrich the experience for all students in the program by providing a first-hand account from a country undergoing democratic change.

“[Albina’s] curiosity and unique perspective made her a class favorite among professors,” Small said. “Her research was personal, a natural fit for our doctoral program and relevant to family and community transformation.”

Business meets cultural impact: Kerry Murphy ’91, M ’92

 

Kerry Murphy_020aWith a $6.3 million economic impact on the Greenville community, Artisphere is the annual arts and culture fair that’s served as a signature event since 2005. As executive director, D.C.-area native Kerry Murphy is the face behind making sure the event goes smoothly. “I have a real passion for Greenville,” she said. “Working for Artisphere makes me feel ensconced in the community.”

Last year the arts and culture event received a record 1,090 applications for 135 booths. The event also boasts being one of Top 20 events for the Southeastern Tourism Society 2016, one of 2015’s Best Art Fairs as voted by artfaircalendar.com and one of 2016’s Top 10 Fine Art Shows according to Art Fair Sourcebook.

Murphy said her undergraduate and MBA work at Clemson, as well as the network she’s made over the past 20 years, have allowed her to bring a balanced perspective to the event. She always works to maintain classic favorites people expect, but she also wants to be on the edge of trends and broadening Greenville’s acceptance of new artists and mediums.

“I just have such a sense of pride. To be able to contribute to [the art scene] and know what our team does has an impact just means a tremendous amount,” she said.

Murphy said although she’s structured and methodical, she wants the event to reflect the lively, energetic and colorful personalities of not only herself and her team, but also the vibe of Greenville. “I love attention to detail. You’ll find lots of little things in Artisphere that from a user perspective can have a big impact,” she said.

Even though the event is only in May, Greenville visitors can create a “mini-Artisphere” experience just by taking a trip through downtown, Murphy said. “Just visit a local restaurant or take a walk through the open studios in the fall,” she said. “There is a good mix of stuff for every level of interest.”

Murphy was lured to the upstate after she saw a glossy Clemson brochure a friend had during their senior year of high school. “I went to the career center and looked it up — I want to say ‘Googled’ it, but I’m not even sure what we did before Google,” laughed Murphy. “I kind of always knew I wanted to go away to college. … When I saw Tillman [Hall] and Bowman [Field] I knew immediately this is where I was going to go. It had a warmth about it.”

As a member of the Student Alumni Council, she saw first-hand how influential a Clemson network could be even though she hadn’t settled on a career path. “We were celebrating the 100th anniversary [of the University] and traveling to different clubs, and I went to Florence. That experience is where I had the ‘a-ha’ moment about the power of the alumni network. People who didn’t know me were offering to assist me. Just their willingness to help you out because of a shared affection for an alma mater was just powerful.” Murphy makes sure to pay that forward through her work in Artisphere and as a sorority adviser.

“Nonprofit work can be very rewarding. I would, as a tip, suggest to students an internship. It was more rare when I was a student, but start internships as soon as freshman year,” she said. “Interns at a nonprofit really become part of the team, and working as an intern means you get to know the board of directors and make connections even before you’re out of school.”

McMillan named Alumni Master Teacher

Kerri-McMillan-with-students

Students chose Kerri D. McMillan as the 2016 Alumni Master Teacher. McMillan is a senior lecturer in the finance department of the College of Business and teaches courses in investment analysis, risk management, insurance and personal finance to 150 upper-level undergraduates each semester. The award for outstanding undergraduate classroom instruction is presented each spring to a faculty member nominated by the student body and selected by the Student Alumni Council.

“I am so honored to be the recipient of this award. I was still so excited Monday night, I could hardly sleep,” said McMillan. “I especially enjoyed hearing what my students had to say about me. I truly love my field of finance and teaching our Clemson students. When I pull into Sirrine Hall parking lot, I count my blessings. I love every day I am in the classroom.”

Alumni Master Teacher Award co-chair Parkwood Griffith said McMillan’s penchant for instilling passion in her students where it might not have been before and showing them the real-world applications for what they learn in her class helped set her nomination apart. “Students felt like she encouraged and prepared them about finance in the real world,” said Griffith.

McMillan received a bachelor’s degree in marketing from Southeastern Louisiana University and an MBA from the University of South Carolina. Before coming to Clemson, she spent a decade as a portfolio manager and securities analyst for an investment management company in Greenville.

Gantt scholars and donors recognized

Forever-Gantt Scholars1

The 2015-2016 class of Gantt Scholars

Members of this year’s class of Gantt Scholars were recognized this spring at a reception that featured remarks by Jim Bostic ’69, Ph.D. ’72, the first African-American to receive a Ph.D. from Clemson, and Lee Gill, the University’s new chief diversity officer.

The Clemson Black Alumni Council established the Harvey B. Gantt Scholarship Endowment Fund in 1988 to honor Gantt and to recruit and retain African-American students, with special preference to South Carolina residents and entering freshmen.

In his remarks, President Clements said that Harvey Gantt’s admission to the University was a major milestone in Clemson’s transformation from an all-male, all-white military college to a civilian co-educational desegregated public university. “I applaud him for his persistence and his incredible resolve many years ago to fight the battle to attend Clemson,” said Clement. “As a result, Clemson is better and stronger today.”

Donors establish endowment for out-of-state engineering students

Matt Doyle

Matt Doyle

Matt Doyle, a 2016 engineering graduate from Guilford, Connecticut, never dreamed of attending an out-of-state school. However, not long after he decided to apply to Clemson, Matt was notified that he had been awarded a significant amount of financial aid. Thanks to many generous donors like Chuck and Sue Fish, Matt no longer viewed Clemson as just a Southern university where people wear lots of orange. It was now his future.

Chuck Fish graduated from Clemson in 1982 with a bachelor of science in electrical engineering, and in 2012, he and his wife, Sue, made a commitment to establish an endowed fund, ultimately to leave their legacy and provide College of Engineering, Computing and Applied Science students from out of state with a wonderful college experience. This commitment originated with the Chuck ’82 and Sue Fish Annual Engineering Scholarship, which they have funded over a four-year period.

Prior to establishing the scholarship, Chuck reconnected with one of his classmates, Doug Gray ’82, who serves as a development officer for the College of Engineering, Computing and Applied Science. “Because he was in development and in engineering, we talked about doing a scholarship. He was the one who really helped us put it together,” said Chuck. “It’s been great having someone Chuck’s known since college be a part of this with us,” said Sue.

The couple has had the privilege of seeing the impact their commitment has made on students, including Matt Doyle. “He is a wonderful young man, and he was so grateful in having this because the scholarship we did was an engineering scholarship for a student who was out of state,” said Chuck. The couple and Matt have met many times and developed a friendship, ultimately making the scholarship even more meaningful.

Chuck and Sue Fish_008

Chuck and Sue Fish

Chuck and Sue’s financial support has made it more affordable for Matt to attend school in South Carolina than in his home state of Connecticut. “Without support like they’ve given me, I don’t think I’d be here. I don’t know where I would be in terms of financials. College is a big undertaking,” said Matt.

“One of the coolest things was that Matt’s mother wrote us a letter. It was the most beautiful letter thanking us for our financial support of her son. It really meant a lot when she wrote us to let us know how much it meant to their family,” said Sue.

Matt admits he has grown a lot in his technical abilities as a civil engineering major and a member of the American Society of Civil Engineers. “I’ve also grown in my relationships with other people including friends, teachers and, through internships, with other professionals. Overall, I feel really well prepared with moving on into the real world,” he said. And moving on, he is. He has accepted a job in Raleigh, N.C., as a general contractor with one of the nation’s largest construction firms, Brasfield & Gorrie, where he interned during the summer of 2015.

NSF awards research fellowships to Clemson students

April 12, 2016 - CES students, Allison Jansto, Emily Thompson, Jennifer Wilson, Michelle Greenough, and Catherine McGough. They have won National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowships.

CES students, Allison Jansto, Emily Thompson, Jennifer Wilson, Michelle Greenough, and Catherine McGough. They have won National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowships.

Seven Clemson students have received graduate research fellowships from the National Science Foundation, and five others received honorable mention awards in the national competition. The NSF offers three-year graduate research fellowships to students in science, engineering, mathematics, technology and some social sciences. Each year, college seniors and early graduate students are invited to apply. Out of 17,000 applicants nationwide, 2,000 students won the prestigious awards.

These Clemson students received graduate research fellowships:

• Ryan Borem of Easley is a U. S. Army combat veteran and Ph.D. student in bioengineering. His research focuses on the development of a tissue engineering scaffold to assist in the repair and regeneration of intervertebral discs in people suffering from back pain.

• Michelle Greenough of Davis, Calif., is a Ph.D. student in materials science and engineering. She plans to develop a multilayer ceramic membrane to separate and then capture carbon dioxide gas. The aim of her research is to help reduce carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere.

• Nora Harris of Rock Hill is a senior industrial engineering student. Her research will investigate how to encourage increased sustainability in the design process of buildings and infrastructure. She will begin a master’s program in civil engineering at Virginia Tech in the fall.

• Allison Jansto of Harmony, Pa., is a graduate student in chemical engineering. Her research focuses on investigating the relationship between the nanostructure, mechanical properties and performance of functional materials with a goal of better understanding the transport and mechanical properties of materials used in fuel cells and batteries.

• Catherine McGough of Charleston, W.Va., is a graduate student in engineering and science education. Her research goal is to identify how undergraduate engineering students’ future goals and motivations relate to how they solve problems in class. These findings will allow instructors to improve and personalize problem-solving instruction.

• Emily Thompson of Rochester, N.Y., is a senior physics major. Her research deals with particle physics. She is pursuing graduate work at the University of Bonn in Germany.

• Jennifer Wilson of Charlotte, N.C., is a senior majoring in plant and environmental science. Her research proposal focused on understanding how plants detect and respond to attack by fungal pathogens. Next year, she will begin pursuing a Ph.D. in plant pathology at Cornell University. Her future research will focus on the transmission of plant viruses by aphids.