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Clemson Memorial Stadium

“Put about 10,000 seats behind the YMCA. That’s all you’ll ever need.”

Those were the words of Coach Jess Neely as he left for Rice after the 1939 season. Fortunately, Clemson didn’t follow his advice.

In 1941, the S.C. General Assembly authorized the issuance of $100,000 in bonds to build a stadium. The project was a mid-1900s version of a Creative Inquiry project: Civil engineering students did the preliminary surveying, Professor H.E. “Pop” Glenn and Carl Lee, a 1908 engineering alumnus, provided the design and construction drawings, and players cleared the hill- sides. Coach Frank Howard and returning football players laid the sod in the summer of 1941. Legend has it that Howard put a plug of tobacco into each corner of the stadium as the concrete was poured.

When all was said and done, it seated about 20,000 fans in 26 rows. The University’s trustees named it Memorial Stadium, commemorating all of the alumni, faculty and staff who had died in service to the country.

The first game of the season in 1942 was against Presbyterian College, as it had been since 1930, and Clemson rolled over them 32-13. PC head coach Lonnie MacMillan is credited with providing the stadium its nickname in 1951 after being defeated 53-6.

“It’s like going into Death Valley,” he said.

The name stuck and gained even more traction with the addition of Howard’s Rock in 1966, presented to Coach Frank Howard by an alumnus after a trip to California’s Death Valley. It was at the 1967 game against Wake Forest when rubbing The Rock became a tradition. Legend has it that Coach Howard challenged the team by saying, “If you’re going to give me 110 percent, you can rub that rock. If you’re not, keep your filthy hands off it.”

Another 17,500 seats were added in 1958 (overseen by Professor Glenn), and in 1957, the first Tigerama was held. In 1960, dressing rooms, restrooms and additional concession stands were added along with 6,000 more seats.

Had the original plans for Hartwell Lake gone forward, Memorial Stadium would have been flooded up to the 26th row. Lengthy negotiations and the addition of dikes ensured the stadium’s survival.

More seats have been added over the years, with current capacity at more than 80,000. And just this summer, Yahoo Sports ranked Clemson as having the most exciting entrance in college football, referencing its designation by sportscaster Brent Musburger as “the most exciting 25 seconds in college football.”

Going Above and Abroad

The benefits of studying abroad

Many people say that travel is the only thing money can buy that makes a person richer. While my empty pockets might not support this statement, I definitely agree after spending this past semester studying architecture in Italy and traveling to 10 other countries along the way.

That being said, studying abroad gave me much more than I bargained for. It gave me new eyes, a new way of seeing things. I left the states for the first time in my life back in January with what I thought was an open mind and a clear grip on the world in which we live. I couldn’t have been more blind. I had no idea just how big and wide and deep the world could be. I thought I was big and important, yet we as individuals are so small in comparison to the world around us.

Study Abroad3Traveling abroad was like hitting a “reset” button. Every new place pushed me out of my comfort zone. In day-to-day life it’s easy to fall into the routine of just getting by, but upon being forced out of my comfort zone, I could feel life pushing me closer and closer toward the role for which I was created. The opportunity to truly see — and not just look — presents itself in these moments. Therefore, travel, exploration and experiencing are necessary elements for human growth. Such experiences create new questions while answering old ones at the same time. Not only do we develop our own selves, we also contribute to the world when we take our new ways of seeing to our own homes and beyond.

Whether it was during the required independent travel or while visiting the beautiful Italian cities on a Tuesday field studies class, studying abroad brought many opportunities to encounter other cultures. Eating fresh focaccia and pesto pasta for lunch in Italy, discussing prices over tea in the Turkish market, being blessed by the Pope in Rome, visiting the La Sagrada Família in Barcelona, and every other adventure made this past semester diverse and rich in experiences.

Feeling fulfilled was easy when every day brought something new. Then something profound hit me. Whether in South Carolina or Italy, living is living. This might sound like an obvious point, but I remember when I first realized this while abroad. Traveling to new places is only learning new ways of living. It’s so easy to think of traveling as a vacation where we can relax and impose our own lifestyle on the places that we are visiting. In reality, it is us experiencing new cultures, peeking into the everyday lives of our own brothers and sisters.

Study Abroad2This past semester clearly taught me that experiencing is necessary for any education, but especially for an education in architecture. Seeing the Acropolis or the Coliseum was grander than any lesson, and visiting the ruins of Pompeii gave a glimpse into history better than any textbook ever could. In studying architecture, one encounters much history, art, culture and an understanding of the way people live. Every piece of effective and historic architecture truly belongs to its own place, and studying them brought insight to those new places.

Study Abroad1Besides giving new eyes with each experience, studying abroad granted me a newfound sense of independence. It reinforced the skills gained when I walked out of my parents’ arms and made my first steps onto Clemson’s campus as a freshman three short years ago. I remember my high school self being just as intimidated by college as I was by any European form of public transportation in January. Living in a new place allowed me to live in the moment more, relying on my own devices. Without independence, one couldn’t survive a few days, much less a whole semester in a foreign country.

I learned this quickly when a group of us decided to go skiing in the Alps. After skiing across the border from Italy into Switzerland, I somehow got separated from my friends. I frantically searched around and began to panic. Where were my friends? Why did I lose them? How would I get home? I knew I had two options: cry or keep skiing. Maybe I did a little of both, but in the end I decided to keep skiing. As I made my way through the snowy mountains, I had this moment of self-empowerment where I threw up my ski poles and let a loud “WOOOHOOOO” escape from the inner depths of my emotions. No doubt the people around me thought I had lost it, and maybe I had, but it was in that moment that I felt completely independent. If I could do this — what I had thought to be impossible only moments earlier — what else could I accomplish in my life?

To say that this past semester was the best of my entire educational career is an understatement. These experiences will stay with me forever, and I am immensely grateful for the opportunities Clemson has given me. Studying abroad brought new eyes, new perspectives, independence and a realization of what’s important. Then again, these opportunities are there for the taking every day no matter where we are; we just have to remember to take them.

It’s safe to say that studying abroad was more than a good investment, and even with my empty pockets, I feel richer than ever.

Kathleen Peek is a senior architecture major from Baton Rouge, Louisiana.

Lifelong Tigers

Yandle named Honorary Alumnus

 

Bruce Yandle, dean emeritus of the College of Business and Behavioral Science and Alumni Distinguished Professor Emeritus of economics, was named an Honorary Alumnus in May by the Alumni Association.

Bruce Yandle, dean emeritus of the College of Business and Behavioral Science and Alumni Distinguished Professor Emeritus of economics, was named an Honorary Alumnus in May by the Alumni Association.

Bruce Yandle, dean emeritus of the College of Business and Behavioral Science and Alumni Distinguished Professor Emeritus of economics, was named an Honorary Alumnus in May by the Alumni Association.

“I join the ranks of my favorite people: my former students and others who came to Clemson,” he said. “Having the opportunity — the privilege — of being in the classroom at Clemson is the high point in my professional life.”

An economics professor from 1969 until his retirement in 2000, Yandle returned as dean of CBBS from 2004 to 2007. Honorary alumni are selected by the Alumni Council for outstanding service, lifelong devotion and loyalty to the University or the Alumni Association.

Clemson Day at the Statehouse

Clemson Day at StatehouseClemson at the State HouseClemson boards, alumni, students and supporters turned Columbia orange May 13. Events included an update on current legislation and the impact of state funding on Clemson, as well as the impact Clemson has on the state of South Carolina. Attendees heard an update on the state of Clemson from President Clements, then walked over to the statehouse where the Smith-Lever Act (which authorized the Cooperative Extension Service) was read and the Lever family was recognized. The Senate and House both declared May 13, 2014, as Clemson Day in South Carolina.

At the evening social, Trustee David Wilkins and President Clements addressed the group and thanked them for making “a significant statement” with their attendance.

Alumni Association names new board members

Pictured, front: Sandy Edge, Ron Taylor. Back: Josh Bell, Bud Hicklin, Mark Derrick.

Pictured, front: Sandy Edge, Ron Taylor. Back: Josh Bell, Bud Hicklin, Mark Derrick.

The Alumni Association board of directors elected five new members who took office July 1:

JOSH BELL ’08 of Charleston is executive director of Teach for America-South Carolina. He has been a member of the Clemson Alumni National Council (as student government representative), the Alumni Association Council and the committee to restructure the alumni board and council. At Clemson, he was student body president, Sigma Nu fraternity president and treasurer, vice president of Blue Key Honor Society and Tiger Brotherhood.

MARY KATHRYN DEMPSEY ’08 (not pictured) of Charleston is a fundraising consultant for Blackbaud. She is a former president of the Clemson Young Alumni Council and helped establish the inaugural Roaring 10 award in 2012. At Clemson, she was the Student Alumni Council vice president, secretary of the Blue Key Honor Society and a member of the Mortar Board Order of Athena.

MARK DERRICK ’91 of Gaithersburg, Md., is the regional director, government and transportation sector, at Xerox. As a founding member of the D.C./Baltimore regional campaign, Derrick helped raise $15.3 million for Clemson. He also has hosted the annual Crab Feast of the Clemson Club of Baltimore and Washington, D.C., and served as a member of the Clemson Alumni Council since 2008.

SANDY EDGE ’72 (president-elect) of Clemson is a retired Air Force colonel and director of the College of Business and Behavioral Science Advising Center. He has served as president of both the Clemson Rotary Club and the Clemson Corps and as a member of the Clemson Alumni Council. As a student, Edge was a member of the Air Force ROTC, Arnold Air Society and Alpha Zeta Honorary Society.

BUD HICKLIN III ’85 of Clemson is a radiologist at Mountainview Medical Imaging. He has been president and vice president of the Oconee County Medical Association, a member of the Society of Nuclear Medicine and a member of the Clemson Alumni National Council. At Clemson, he was a member of the Clemson Escort Service and Tiger Brotherhood.

RON TAYLOR ’65 of Midland, Mich., is the former director of marketing and sales for Dow Chemical, where he spearheaded an initiative to raise funds from employees and retirees to benefit students and faculty in the Clemson College of Engineering and Science. He created two endowments: the Dow Chemical Engineering Alumni Endowment, which has surpassed $250,000 in value, and the Dow Chemical Alumni Endowment, which is approaching $100,000 in value. As a student, he was inducted into Tau Beta Pi, an engineering honor society.

With 23 members, the board of directors is the governing body for the Alumni Association. Primary responsibilities include general oversight of the programs and initiatives of the association, financial audit and review, creation of governing policies and strategic planning.

Call for nominations
We need your help in selecting outstanding alumni for the Alumni Association board of directors. We’re looking for candidates with exceptional judgment, a strong work ethic, leadership qualities and the vision to advance the goals and objectives of the Alumni Association. Deadline for nominations is Dec. 1. To nominate a candidate, go to cualumni.clemson.edu/boardnominations.

 

D.C./Baltimore Club Holds Six Degrees of Clemson event

Clemson Club of Baltimore and Washington, D.C.

Clemson Club of Baltimore and Washington, D.C.

High above the Washington, D.C., skyline with stunning views of the Washington Monument, Capitol Dome and Ellipse, members of the Clemson Club of Baltimore and Washington, D.C., enjoyed mingling at Six Degrees of Clemson, the professional networking series designed by the club to bring alumni, parents and students together. Held in the spring and fall each year, the series promotes opportunities for guests to meet with top-level industry leaders, network with fellow Tigers and strengthen their skill sets for navigating the professional world.
Hosted by Stephen Burch ’06 at his PricewaterhouseCoopers LLC office in downtown D.C., the May event highlighted four alumni: Brian Sykes ’99, Michael Newman ’78, Stephen Burch ’06 and Angie Howard ’69; and two parents: Glenn Roland and Gregg Blanchard. According to Elizabeth Jackson ’06, the “Six Degrees of Clemson” refers to the degrees of the six speakers as well as the “small world” feel in D.C. when fellow Tigers gather.

More than 30 members of the club’s regional board of directors also met in May for their spring meeting, hosted by Stephen ’06 and Kristin David ’06 Burch. IPTAY CEO Davis Babb highlighted current athletic initiatives and funding opportunities to shape the future of Clemson athletics. Board members John Lynn ’85 and Todd Ray ’90 shared their vision for a brand-new Clemson/ D.C. Internship and Housing Opportunities Program, a two-part initiative with an immediate focus on matching alumni and parents with students seeking internships and a long-term goal of establishing a central building in D.C. to serve as Clemson’s hub for intern housing, classroom and event space.

Visit clemsonclub.org to learn about D.C. and Baltimore regional events.

Tigers celebrate Reunion Weekend

Class of 1964

Class of 1964

The Class of 1964 celebrated their 50th anniversary reunion, and 64 members of the class were inducted as Golden Tigers during Reunion Weekend in May. The class also presented a gift of $1.046 million to the University, bringing the total of gifts by class members over the last 50 years to almost $16 million.

Two members of the Class of 1939, Ralph Boys (standing) and Tee Senn (pictured at right), were presented with Diamond Tiger medallions by Alumni Association president Ann Hunter.

Ralph Boys (standing) and Tee Senn  (right), with Alumni Association president Ann Hunter.

The reunion gift will be divided between an endowment for scholarships and support for the Class of 1956 Academic Success Center. According to Class of 1964 Golden Anniversary Project committee chair Walter Cox, “The Class of 1964 wanted to make a difference in student lives.”

During the weekend, reunion guests heard Professor Jerry Reel speak about life in 1964 and enjoyed entertainment by the Jungaleers. Individual classes gathered for reunion dinners Friday night.

Two members of the Class of 1939, Ralph Boys (standing) and Tee Senn (pictured at right), were presented with Diamond Tiger medallions by Alumni Association president Ann Hunter.

Students choose Madray as Alumni Master Teacher

Students chose accounting senior lecturer J. Russell Madray ’86, M ’88 as this year’s Alumni Master Teacher

J. Russell Madray ’86, M ’88

Students chose accounting senior lecturer J. Russell Madray ’86, M ’88 as this year’s Alumni Master Teacher for outstanding undergraduate classroom instruction. The annual award is presented to a faculty member nominated by the student body and selected by the Student Alumni Council.
In addition to teaching intermediate accounting, Madray is president of The Madray Group Inc. and is scholar-in-residence at Elliott Davis in Greenville.

 

Clemson Crew alumni celebrate 25 years

Clemson University Rowing Association (CURA) at the boathouse on Hartwell Lake for the annual Clemson Sprints Regatta.

Clemson University Rowing Association (CURA) Alumni Association

Past and present members of the Clemson University Rowing Association (CURA) gathered April 5 at the boathouse on Hartwell Lake for the annual Clemson Sprints Regatta, at which the organization hosted 30 other junior and collegiate clubs. It was an especially momentous event for the club as it celebrated the 25-year anniversary of the club’s establishment in 1989. More than 60 members of the CURA’s Alumni Association (CURAA) were in attendance, traveling from as far as Oklahoma, Colorado and California. Nine members of the 1992 team, some who had not rowed since graduating, even hopped back into one of their original boats for a race and earned a gold medal in their heat, proving they still have what it takes to row with the best. Gathering downtown afterward, it was time for fun, drinks and swapping stories of Clemson Crew.

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Williams receives Modern-Day Technology Leader Award

Willie J. “W.J.” Williams Jr. ’04 (COMPSC) of Alexandria, Va., received the Modern-Day Technology Leader Award at the 28th Annual Black Engineer of the Year Awards STEM Global Competitiveness Conference. The conference recognizes successful black inventors, technical innovators, gifted scientists, budding engineers, and high-level managers and executives. He’s a senior lead software engineer for BAE Systems, a defense, security and aerospace company and supplier to the U.S. Department of Defense. Williams is pictured receiving the award from Robin N. Coger, dean of the College of Engineering at North Carolina A&T State University, and Kendall T. Harris, dean of engineering at Prairie View A&M University.

 

OOBE: A word, reimagined, becomes a blueprint for business and life

THE GENESIS OF THE APPAREL COMPANY OOBE, strange as it may seem, was an infomercial for the Psychic Friends Network, hosted by Dionne Warwick.

Mike Pereyo and Tom Merritt

Mike Pereyo and Tom Merritt

Students at Clemson, Tom Merritt and Mike Pereyo were hanging out at the lake with their soon-to-be spouses Allyison Clark ’92 and Melissa Magee ’92. Merritt was cooking steaks, and they were halfway listening to a Psychic Friends infomercial when someone started talking about having an out-of- body experience, an “oobe.”

That caught their attention. “We had come to faith a couple of years earlier,” says Merritt. “Spiritual things were a big deal to us.”

It started a conversation about a different kind of “oobe”: an out-of- Bible experience. “That’s been our ultimate experience since we came to Clemson,” says Pereyo.

They coined the word and began using it, and their friends picked it up as well. An “oobe” day for Merritt and Pereyo was the kind of day you’d have if you were going to skip class (not that they would recommend that) and go to Whitewater Falls. Or if you played ball at Fike and were hitting every shot. The kind of day that makes you feel like you’re doing what you were born to do.

“It was our ultimate-day experience,” says Pereyo, “and Tom just wore that word out.”

HEADS OR TAILS?

Fast forward several years. Both were married and working, Merritt as a high school counselor and coach in Easley with two small children, Pereyo in a corporate job in Charlotte with a baby on the way.

OOBEvideo

Video Extra

How to pronounce OOBE, and more about Mike and Tom’s early adventures.

“We recognized that we were entrepreneurs at heart, having grown up watching our dads either go from the bottom to the top like [Pereyo’s] dad in a real boot-strap-type story, and my dad had a dairy farm before getting into the landscaping business and figuring it out,” Merritt said. “So we both had this itch that we had to create and do something.

Merritt can’t help but laugh when he recalls the one particular phone call on April 29, 1994, that served as their future-company’s first springboard.

Pereyo had called to say, “We’re incorporated. You owe me half of $300.” “Awesome. What’s our corporate name?”

The window frame from that first office is framed and on the wall of the 105-B conference room.

The window frame from that first office is framed and on the wall of the 105-B conference room.

“I just put OOBE.”

“Brilliant!”

“Are you in or are you out?” “I’m in.”

“That’s great!”

“What do we do?”

“I have no idea. That’s why I called you.”

That phone call led to months of meetings at a Waffle House halfway between Charlotte and Easley, where they begin to imagine what OOBE would look like, crafting a business plan for what they saw as their niche: a segment of the outdoor industry that had to do with apparel. After a year, they handed in their resignations on the same day and moved into their first office: a rundown auto body shop in Easley that rented for $50 a month.

They bought two desks and a FAX machine, had two OOBE bags made along with their first T-shirt samples and caps. “For the first several months,” says Pereyo, “while samples were being made, we called every outdoor store within driving distance several times a week, asking them if they carried OOBE.”

oobe_filesWhen the samples were done, they packed the car and started driving. When they’d introduce themselves as being from OOBE, the response was, “Oh, folks have been calling for that. Come on in.”

Merritt ticks off the names of those outdoor specialty shops that were early adopters: Sunrift Adventures, Halfmoon Outfitters, Highcountry, Outdoor Experience. “They took a chance on us,” he says. “They are such a part of our story.”

As the business began to grow, they realized they needed to divide responsibilities. They swear it’s a true story: “We flipped a coin,” says Pereyo. “Heads, you’re in charge of sales, marketing, business development. Tails is design, sourcing, all of that. The way it landed, it’s still that today. It’s really worked.”

“Mike,” says Merritt, “went into management.”

COMING BACK TO TIGERTOWN

That approach is no more conventional than the way they raised enough capital to move forward. When they were selling out of their cars to outdoor stores, Merritt began stopping by dive shops and selling scuba diving-themed shirts. It seemed to be a successful ploy, so they created “Dive Jive, the company that wants to go under,” with a series of shirts and hats sporting phrases like “Zero Visibility,” Deep= High and “Deep Thinker.” They went to the Jockey Lot in Anderson, bought tanks, a velvet Elvis, plywood and lava lamps, then drove to New Orleans and set up a booth at an international dive show.

The result? “We wrote 6 figures worth of orders,” says Pereyo, “and that gave us the capital to get OOBE off the ground.”

Sitting in the auto body shop, handwriting invoices on carbon paper, Merritt and Pereyo realized they needed help to move their company to the next level. They drove to Clemson’s Small Business Development Center with their yellow legal pad to meet with Becky Hobart (now Van Evera). When she asked to see their financials and their balance sheet, they handed her the yellow legal pad.

“They were a super dynamic couple of guys,” she says. “My job entailed taking them and tying them to the ground so they could get from where they were to where they wanted to be.”

At that point, says Pereyo, the BSDC “wrapped their arms around us and helped us put together a strong financial model.”

“You can’t get very far in our story,” says Merritt, “without coming back to Tigertown.” Pereyo concurs. “Clemson engaged in the OOBE story and has pretty deep roots in there for the past 20 years.”

Not long after, Van Evera and Clemson successfully nominated the pair as Young Entrepreneurs of the Year. But they’ve never been able to take themselves seriously for too long. They got up to receive the award, and the first thing out of Merritt’s mouth was, “Who came in second? Or were we the only ones?”

The award paved the way for their first loan from the Small Business Administration, which enabled them to get over a bump in the road and on their way.

IT TAKES A VILLAGE

oobe_clothingThe corporate offices of OOBE that overlook the Reedy River in Greenville are a far cry from the Easley body shop. But beginnings are important, and Pereyo and Merritt make a point of remembering theirs. The window from that first office is framed and on the wall of the 105-B conference room, a gift last year from their current OOBE family. The name of the room refers to 105-B Hollow Oaks Lane, the address of the body shop.

They have no sales force, no business development staff. That money and energy, according to Pereyo, goes into the service strategy instead: treating people well and exceeding their expectations. They want to have partners, not customers, who will become storytellers and ambassadors on their behalf. “Our customers are our sales staff if we treat them well,” he says.

It’s a philosophy that sounds like it reflects a small business with four or five employees, not one that outfits the employees of companies like Chick-fil-A, Krispy Kreme and Race Trac and has three offshore offices.

oobe_Mike PereyoBut it’s a philosophy that fits Pereyo and Merritt, who have run a business together for 20 years with the kind of love, respect and trust that most people reserve for their spouses. “If you really want to make a relationship work,” says Merritt, “it’s got to be about the other person at some point. If it’s always about you, that gets old in a hurry, in a marriage or a business partnership. It’s never been about what can I maximize personally, but what we want to do next, and what does God want us to do.”

They’ve known each other long enough and worked together enough that they finish each other’s sentences. Which is somewhat the secret of their success. They have a firm understanding that no decision goes forward that they don’t both feel good about.

“We’ve always been on the same trajectory,” says Pereyo. “We want to honor God; God doesn’t honor greed or selfish ambition. For us, it’s more about people than a product.”

They dote on OOBE like an only child. “It feels like parenting in some ways,” says Merritt. It’s something we desperately want to grow up and do well without it becoming an idol.”

And now, with OOBE’s growth, there’s a village raising that child. “There are people here taking care of OOBE in ways we are not capable of doing. As a parent who birthed the company, that’s one of the coolest things in the world — to see other people love the company and want to do right by it. There might be something here other than just schlepping clothes.”

AN OOBE APPROACH TO BUSINESS

Ten years ago, Merritt and Pereyo took OOBE in a new direction, positioning themselves “as a strategic branded apparel company specifically looking to provide the world’s best brands with large-scale uniform services.”

That leap, like most things in their company, comes with a story filled with self-deprecating humor. They had worked with Chick-fil-A in smaller ways, providing clothing for special events, when they found out the company had issued an RFP for uniforms.

Pereyo called the corporate office and spoke with the vice president handling the RFP. The questions came like quickly:

Have you every shipped to 100,000 employees before?

Do you have a customer service department?

Do you have a warehouse?

Can you pass financial due diligence?

Is this contract bigger than your whole company?

oobe_Tom MerrittThe answer to all of those, except the last one, was no. The question that followed was this: “Then why should we include you in the RFP?”

Pereyo’s response? “Because we’re NOT a uniform company. We’re a strategic branded company.”

“We changed the battlefield,” says Merritt. “We clearly focused on their team members, providing them a better product, leveraging performance fabrics, helping the team members feel better about themselves so they could provide better service.” That answer resonated with Chick-fil-A.

Chick-fil-A was followed by a number of other companies and organizations: a wall at the Greenville office sports logos of their clients including YMCA, BMW, Race Trac, Herschend Family Entertainment, among others. They’re deliberate about which companies they pitch: “We want to align ourselves with companies that value the same things we value,” says Merritt.

In the midst of this shift, something seemed to click for OOBE. Pereyo sees it as an OOBE moment of a sort, where the owners and the company shifted from a focus on themselves and building their brand to focusing on others. “When we put others first, and put ourselves behind them, we were able to move forward and help propel these great companies. That’s when we found success. That’s servant leadership. That’s where God allowed us to succeed — not when it was all about us.”

There are other organizations that might not be on the wall, but who have been beneficiaries of OOBE’s commitment to give back. They outfitted all the teachers in Greenville, Pickens and Anderson counties with branded shirts. And they recently provided the Clemson student tour guides with branded apparel that the guides say makes them feel more professional. “At this stage of life,” says Merritt, “we have to be focused about what we give our time and energy. Family and church are really important to us. But Clemson has won a place in our hearts as well.”

FAITH, FAMILY AND FRIENDSHIP

OOBE hit its 20th year recently, and it was an emotional milestone. Neither Pereyo nor Merritt can (or wants to) imagine what it would be like to have gone it alone these past 20 years.

In the company celebration, Merritt told the staff that it was their relationship and the support of their wives that kept them pushing the ball up the hill all these years.

Pereyo calls Merritt a truth teller, one of the few people who will unabashedly speak the truth to him. “He gets to speak whether I like to hear it or not. It creates friction, but I come around to ‘Yeah, you’re right.’ Few people, except Melissa, know me better.”

Merritt characterizes Pereyo as an encourager in his life. “For me, it’s been a massive blessing to have a partner. If he was down, I was up. If I was down, he was up.”

As they talk and tell stories, it’s clear that faith, family and friendship (plus humor) are all intertwined in their lives and in the story of OOBE, and there’s really no way to separate them.

More and more often, they’re asked to share the story of their company and their personal partnership. Recently, they were invited to speak to the Clemson Alumni group in Atlanta. On the ride down, they were talking about the upcoming presentation.

Pereyo looked over at Merritt and said, “Tom, do you know the common denominator of every mistake we’ve made with OOBE? It’s us!”

 

Landscape Architecture as Kinesthetic Experience

Most people think of design as a visual discipline, but a project in the Landscape Architecture department at Clemson in spring 2014 explored a multi-sensory approach.

Collaborating on the project were Mary Padua, founding chair of Clemson’s Department of Landscape Architecture; landscape architecture professor Dan Ford; and Jennie Wakefield, Clemson alumna and former English department lecturer. Eight freshmen landscape architecture majors and one graduate student participated in the four, 2½-hour experiential workshops on an under-developed, topographically challenging site beside Lee Hall.

The workshops used kinesthetic experience and the creative process developed by renowned landscape architect Lawrence Halprin to explore a “qualitative rather than quantitative” approach to design, said architecture professor Annemarie Jacques, who photographed the project. Halprin (1916-2009) is the California landscape architect who was brought in to redesign downtown Greenville in the late 1970s.

The project incorporated Halprin’s vision of landscape architecture as the choreography of people’s movement and interactions through a place. This point of view grew from a lifelong collaboration with his wife, modern dance pioneer Anna Halprin, and daughter Daria Halprin, who expanded their work into new models for psychology, education and leadership through the establishment of Tamalpa Institute in San Francisco. Wakefield is a teacher training graduate of Tamalpa.

Jennie Wakefield 01april14It’s natural to begin making something by sitting down at the computer or drawing pad to think up an objective form. But a blindfolded walk from Lee Hall to the site, led by Padua, who worked with Halprin at one time, threw the students back on their senses. Then an unblindfolded score (Halprin’s term for a plan of action over time, like a musical score) asked them to investigate the site using that sensory awareness.

From a collaborative group-building activity using found materials, performed without pre-planning or talking, to the creation of scores for classmates’ movement through the site, the emphasis was on the process that leads to design. Only after fully experiencing the site through sensory, kinesthetic activities and poetic reflections did the students generate preliminary designs. Presentations of their ideas were grounded in imaginary, sensory and emotional experience.

This project explored the creative process and a way of learning, working, and being – both individually and collectively – that is holistic and expressive. As one student commented, it was an experience that “totally opens up your mind and your creativity.”