Debbie Dunning '75

“I’ve been here so long I rocked on the porch with Thomas,” I’ve often quipped when asked about my tenure here at Clemson. In all honesty, I can’t lay claim to ever stepping on this hallowed ground before the summer of 1971, when my mother and I motored up from the Lowcountry to attend Orientation before the start of my freshman year. But Clemson “took,” and I stayed on to enjoy a 38-year career as an editor for publications such as Clemson World and for commemorative projects such as the University’s Centennial Celebration, the Thomas Green Clemson biography and both volumes of The High Seminary. It was while working on these special projects that I came to best know Thomas and Anna Clemson and could imagine rocking on the porch of Fort Hill, gazing out at the wondrous “high seminary of learning” that has been carefully and caringly built on their homeplace.
Now, as I prepare to pass my role in the telling of Clemson’s history to the next generation, I represent Clemson folks everywhere when I say, “Rock on, Thomas, rock on.”

Debbie Dunning ’75
Manager of Editorial Services
Clemson Creative Services

The Last Lecture

‘President Barker was the keynote speaker at the Victor Hurst Academic Convocation on August 20, marking the beginning of the 121st academic year. This is an excerpt from his remarks.’

This morning, I will attempt to answer the question:
“If this was your ‘last lecture’ what would you say?” I’ll use this time to share with you some of what I’ve learned over the past 14 years about how my idea of Clemson has continued — and will continue — to evolve. Then I’ll try to say something useful to those of you who will help write the next chapter in Clemson history.
First, I’ve come to understand that Clemson must pay special attention to our relationship to both change and tradition.
Clemson exists explicitly to be an agent of change. After all, what was Thomas Green Clemson’s great cry? “Our country is wretched in the extreme,” he wrote. Our economy is struggling. Our people are struggling. And something needs to change. We need education and research to solve problems, to bring prosperity. Clemson must deliver this much-needed transformation.
So, a commitment to bold, even radical change is a true Clemson tradition.
Going forward, Clemson must take care not to embrace a false sense of tradition — the one that leads to protectionism and resistance to change masquerading as some proud commitment to the past. But Clemson must embrace its covenant with — and tradition of — change. Finding the proper balance becomes ever more important.
The ability to “dance with uncertainty” will be a fundamental quality needed in Clemson University’s next president.
Second, I’ve learned the truth of something Gen. Dwight Eisenhower once said: “In preparing for battle I have always found that plans are useless, but planning is indispensable.”
Clemson has a well-deserved reputation for doing effective, meaningful planning. But the true value in any planning is not the document you produce at the end of the process. A plan is merely a tool to inspire good, clear thinking about the future.
In the end, sound thinking yields strategic behaviors that persist long past the discard date for the plans themselves. We describe these behaviors with words like honest … brave … resourceful … nimble.
The Clemson 2020 Plan must be carried forward and implemented with honesty, resourcefulness, courage and … never forget … adaptability and flexibility.
Third, I’ve learned that the world truly needs its educational institutions to be incubators of creativity.
All children are naturally curious and creative. Too often, our educational system is guilty of drumming the creativity out of them instead of helping them to nourish it and channel it in constructive ways. Creativity — where good ideas come from — is a special interest of mine. My soon-to-be department chair, Kate Schwennsen, has asked me to prepare a course on “Creativity and Leadership,” and I hope to do so.
There is a proper emphasis here on equipping our students with the skills of math, science and technology. But if you ask business leaders — and I have done this — “What do you value most in prospective employees?” They will answer: “People with skills who are also creative thinkers and problem-solvers.”
Finally, I’ve learned in the most personal sort of way that leadership is service. It is the opposite of self-advancement or resume building. In fact, people who claim for themselves the mantle of leader are often not the ones whom other people want to follow.
Clearly, I felt called to this service out of my deep affection for this place — Clemson.
Your next president will likely be answering a different call. The love of learning … or a passion for making sure venerable 19th century institutions can remain viable and sustainable in the age of digital, mobile technology. The kind of chief executive Clemson needs tomorrow is different from the kind we needed in 1999 — after five presidents in 15 years.
[pullquote align=’left’]I’ve always thought that leading a university is more like conducting a symphony orchestra or jazz band … one in which each individual player is a skilled, talented and creative star in his or her own right.[/pullquote]
But I know that it is you — the faculty, staff, students and alumni of Clemson— who work in harmony to turn the noise into music. And what a beautiful song it has been for us for 14 years. Today, Marcia and I feel an overwhelming sense of gratitude at being given the responsibility and the opportunity to serve, with all of you, in protecting and advancing this noble idea of Clemson.

Orange Rose

Since 1999, Marcia Barker has called the two-story white house situated off Cherry Road, atop a grassy hill, “home.” Shortly after she and husband, Jim, moved into the space, she affixed a sign to the front door that said as much. The small plaque has a simple message, but it makes an intentional distinction: This is the “President’s Home.”
In the Barkers’ 14 years of living and entertaining here, tens of thousands of guests have crossed the threshold — each one enjoying an introduction to Marcia’s hospitality and her love of all things Clemson. Whether it’s a donor event, Woman’s Club gathering, faculty reception or alumni celebration, an invitation to the President’s Home is always an invitation to time well spent with Marcia, as she entertains alongside her high school sweetheart, life partner and best friend.
The flowers are fresh, and guests are welcomed with a warm smile and open arms. And if Marcia can help it, the roses are always orange.
“When we lived in Clemson as students, Jim’s architecture faculty embraced all their students,” she recalls, seated in her well-appointed front living room and explaining that, as a young couple in the late 1960s, they were invited to picnics, dinners at faculty homes and all variety of outings.
[pullquote align=’right’ font=’oswald’ color=’#EA6A20′]“So, when Jim started his first faculty appointment, we just opened the door, because that’s the way we had been treated,”[/pullquote] Marcia says. Now, nearly five decades after they began their Clemson journey together, Marcia is readying herself and her husband to exit the presidency and begin the process of reflecting on their time spent here. “I realized early on how fast this would go, and that it would pass,” Marcia says quietly and thoughtfully. “I’ve tried to embrace every single moment.”
Marcia and Jim met in Kingsport, Tenn. They were high school sweethearts, dating for five years before they were married in 1969, him at 21, her at 20. Her father signed for her to wed the young Clemson architecture student, and she left Winthrop College lacking one year of school so she could move to Clemson. She completed her Bachelor of Arts in elementary education at Georgia State University in 1972.
Their marriage marked the beginning of a partnership that would carry them through life and academia, starting out in “married student housing” at Clemson, a modest group of buildings known as the “pre-fabs.” The small metal buildings on Jersey Lane have long since been replaced by the Brooks Center for the Performing Arts. But every time the Barkers attend a performance, Marcia says they smile a little at the memory of their Clemson beginnings.
“We just thought it was the most wonderful house in the world,” she says laughing. “It would probably fit in the foyer of the President’s Home. That’s where we learned about the Clemson Family, too.”
They moved straight into the pre-fabs after their August 1969 wedding and prepared for Jim to finish his bachelor’s degree. “You know how hot it is here in Clemson,” she recalls of that first summer. “There was no air conditioning, and those little metal houses were warm.”
Shortly after they’d unpacked, one of Barker’s architecture professors, Hal Cooledge, appeared at their door with a window air conditioning unit in hand. He told them he just happened to have an extra one lying around. Marcia may never know if that was true, but she says this, smiling: “It cooled that whole little place, and probably saved our marriage.”
Nearly 45 years later, she’s seen more kindness extended to her family by the Clemson Family than she could ever have imagined.
“It’s been overwhelming and very amazing,” she says. “We can just feel their genuine care and concern.”
Barker was appointed dean of the College of Architecture in 1986, and the couple left Mississippi State University to return to Clemson for the second and last time. Marcia had one lament about the move back, after years of making the trip to Clemson to visit friends:
“We were so excited to start this adventure here,” she recalls. “I said, ‘There’s only one bad thing about coming back to Clemson.’”
It was a comment that she remembers surprising her husband: “When we would come back to visit, we would drive into town, and I would get that excited feeling in my stomach when I would get to Bowman Field. And I said, ‘I will miss that.’”
She found out that the feeling never actually went away, whether she was driving to work as a teacher at Fort Hill Presbyterian or passing by Bowman on one of her early-morning walks around campus, something she enjoys with a small group of friends as often as she is able:
“I still get that feeling, because there’s always something different going on there. It’s the heartbeat of the campus.”
Through the years, the Barkers worked together to serve the students and faculty and to advance Jim’s career, raising two sons, Jacob and Britt, along the way. They celebrated a wedding and two grandchildren in that time — son Jacob married Rita Bolt Barker and they have since had two daughters, Madeline and Eliza.
On her own, Marcia has served the community with diligence and selflessness, volunteering her time and her talents to many, many organizations — America Reads, Friends of Lee Gallery, Fort Hill Presbyterian Church, Clemson Child Development Center and University organizations among them. As first lady, she is honorary president of the Clemson University Woman’s Club, and each year she hosts their open house. As a caring friend, she can be counted on for her homemade breakfast casserole during times of loss (a death) and moments of celebration (a new baby!). She is often responsible for flowers when a special event is happening at her church.
Those who know her well say Jim has always been her No. 1 priority. Marcia explains her support of him the same way she characterizes her engagement with students, faculty, staff and donors: “When you care about someone or something, you really want to do what you can to make that person successful and happy. That’s the way the people at Clemson are.”
[pullquote align=’left’ font=’oswald’ color=’#EA6A20′]The Barkers moved into the President’s Home in 1999, and since 2000 they have hosted an impressive 93,708 guests at 789 events there.[/pullquote]
In all that time, Doris Johnson has been the executive housekeeper. And in all that time of sharing a house and a calendar with Marcia, Johnson says, “I have never seen her upset.”
Johnson works hand in hand with Marcia’s executive assistant, Linda Wofford, to support the events and entertaining that take place at the President’s Home. Johnson and Wofford have been a team since they both worked for University dining services in the 1990s. They agree that Marcia’s cool, calm and collected public persona doesn’t change behind closed doors. What folks don’t see as often, they say, is her sense of humor.
Case in point: Years ago, the Barkers were entertaining a group of college deans with an outdoor, white tablecloth dinner reception. As Johnson and Wofford were just finishing setting the tables and the Barkers were inside getting dressed, the backyard sprinklers went off. Everything was soaked.
The two staffers looked at each other and realized that someone was going to have to tell the Barkers. So, Wofford stood at the foot of the stairs and called up to them, saying, “We have a problem.”
The Barkers emerged. They saw the soaked table settings. Their response? “They laughed,” Wofford recalls, smiling. The four of them worked as a team to wipe down the glassware and china and replace the soaked tablecloths. Minutes before guests walked through the door, Marcia was helping her team dry off the wet grass with bath towels.
“If anybody had seen us, they would have thought we were crazy,” Johnson says. It remains one of her most treasured memories from her years at the President’s Home.
There’s seldom a face that Marcia Barker forgets. Rare is the occasion that doesn’t merit a hand-written note in her perfect script. She’s in a constant state of outreach — be it congratulations or condolences. It’s not out of obligation. It is, friends say, because she really cares.
“She will know as much about you as you know about her,” says Hazel Sparks, a longtime friend of Marcia’s and her former teacher’s assistant at Fort Hill Preschool. Marcia taught and served as director of the preschool for 10 years, prior to becoming first lady. Sparks, a Clemson institution in her own right, connects the dots between Marcia’s teaching days and her role as first lady.
“She could focus on one child’s need and still be aware of everything else going on in the classroom,” Sparks says. “In a social situation, she can focus on the person she’s talking to, but she still knows what’s going on around her.”
And chances are, if you had a nice conversation, she’ll write a thoughtful note to say so. There’s no telling how many notes Marcia has penned through the years. But if you ask her, it’s one too few.
“I write a lot, but that’s one thing that’s really hard for me. I always feel like there’s one more I need to write that I don’t get time for,” she says. “I do think it’s important, and people have been so incredibly great to write us — just some heartfelt thanks and gratitude. We will definitely treasure those.”
It’s been years since they’ve gone back and looked in the wooden box that holds the thousands of letters they’ve received through the years, dating back to when President Barker was inaugurated. In retirement, they have plans to revisit those letters and those memories, one at a time.
A favorite memory Marcia shares occasionally is a valentine’s party that several male students talked them into hosting at their home. The undergrads convinced the Barkers to let them cook dinner in their kitchen and have their blindfolded dates chauffeured to the President’s Home to share the meal.
The young women took turns gasping at the surprise before being invited to sit down to dinner. Afterward, the group of about eight ladies gathered in the den with Marcia, and the next thing they knew, one of the young men had slid behind the grand piano. He started playing. The rest of the men, including President Barker, then filed in through the French doors and surrounded the piano, proceeding to perform a choreographed rendition of the song, “L-O-V-E.” (Think, “L, is for the way you look tonight.”) The song ended with Jim on bended knee in front of Marcia, an orange rose in hand.
At the end of the night, they were in a state of shock, Marcia recalls. “We just looked at each other when they walked out the door and said, ‘What just happened?’”
It’s clear that memories like that will live on long after the last of the Barkers’ belongings are moved out of the President’s Home and into a home off campus. Marcia hasn’t spent too much time being reflective about her tenure as Clemson’s first lady, in part because she’s still so busy, but also, she says, because it makes her emotional.
“Jim always says it’s been a great honor in his life to serve Clemson as president,” she offers. “When he says that, I always in my mind say, ‘It’s really been an honor for me to serve alongside him.’”

A Bias for Innovation

Innovation isn’t always creating a new, flashy product. Sometimes it’s taking something that already exists and finding a different or more efficient way to use the same product.
Lightbulb SketchThis idea, this intersection of form and function, is where science and the humanities come together. It’s also the place where universities like Clemson can allow students to stretch boundaries and truly innovate without the obstacles that often face companies — cost, time, bureaucracy of the process.
“It’s not just about making the machine, it’s also about seeing how people are going to use the product,” said David Blakesley, the Campbell Chair for Technical Communication and professor of English. He works extensively with students on the future of the traditional book — what forms it will take, how it will be published and how it will be read.


Building on the idea of innovation while allowing for creativity is integral in Clemson’s new MBA in Entrepreneurship and Innovation (MBAe) program, which just graduated its inaugural class from the one-year program.
Designed for individuals who want to start their own companies, the program attracts students who come with a business idea, and then they spend the year networking, developing and refining their idea in the effort to graduate with a market-ready company.
“One of the primary goals of the MBA in Entrepreneurship and Innovation is to ensure that we incorporate a bias for creativity, experimentation and innovation,” said Greg Pickett, associate dean and director of the Clemson MBA program. [pullquote align=’right’ font=’chunk’ color=’#685C53′]“Just as an entrepreneurial mindset encourages big ideas, the knowledge gained from our unique curriculum provides students the real-life tools necessary to bring ideas to the marketplace.”[/pullquote]
Starting a company wasn’t even a consideration for May MBAe graduate Riley Csernica when she began her undergraduate career at Clemson in bioengineering in 2008. “I kind of stumbled upon it and really liked taking charge and being creative,” she said.
What started out as an idea for a capstone project for her senior design class is now being made into a full-fledged business. She and her group mates were paired with a clinician from Greenville Health System, and from discussions with him, they created a shoulder stabilization brace for athletes and active individuals who experience recurring shoulder instability issues.
With idea in hand, Csernica entered the MBAe program — and now she and one of her original group members have begun Tarian Orthotics. They’ve already received a $50,000 National Science Foundation I-CORPS award as well as $7,500 from the Clemson EnterPrize Awards, the MBAe capstone business pitch competition. They have worked through the Clemson University Research Foundation (CURF), which promotes technology transfer of Clemson intellectual property, to file a provisional patent on the brace.
“There are definitely good days and bad days — there aren’t really any rule books we can look into for answers,” she said. “But through this program, we now have an idea of where we’re going and who to talk to. It was a great time for me to be able to focus on what we are trying to do big picture.”


Using an approach to education that fosters innovation, Clemson’s Creative Inquiry program immerses undergraduates in the research process. Students work in teams with faculty mentors, take ownership of their projects and assume the intellectual risks necessary to solve problems and get answers. Team-based investigations are led by a faculty mentor and typically span two to four semesters.
Creative Inquiry students develop critical-thinking skills, learn to solve problems and hone their communication and presentation skills, alongside getting to work on incredible projects with entrepreneurial prospects.
When Greenville Health System Children’s Hospital expressed the need for a pediatric arm stabilizer that could be used to facilitate blood draws from young patients, a Creative Inquiry class took the idea and worked for two years on a solution. The project team included 12 students majoring in mechanical engineering, nursing, bioengineering, business and general engineering, and CURF has since filed a provisional patent for the invention.
Think SketchIn a recent agricultural mechanization Creative Inquiry project, students converted a four-passenger electric golf cart into a teaching platform by building and designing a powertrain and utilizing a diesel engine with hydrostatic transmission. The students incorporated GPS guidance and variable rate controllers.
“We can now demonstrate agricultural power and machinery principles in addition to precision agriculture technologies in a more efficient and student-centered manner,” said Kendall Kirk, agricultural and biological engineering research assistant.


Clemson’s charge from the very beginning has been to innovate and improve the field of agriculture. And while the study of agriculture is far from new, researchers’ work is never done.
A team of professors and students in the agricultural mechanization and business program has designed and implemented technologies that allow a zero turn mower — a standard riding lawn mower that has a turning radius that’s effectively zero inches — to use its existing hydraulic circuit to power cylinder and motor–actuated implements. It can also operate accessory attachments such as log splitters, scrape blades, wood chippers, leaf blowers and others.
“This technology substantially increases the versatility of zero turn mowers and eliminates the need for additional internal combustion engines to drive accessories,” Kirk said.
As part of a horticulture class, students [pullquote align=’left’ font=’chunk’ color=’#685C53′]Malisia Wilkins and Allison Kelley recently tackled the idea of vertical gardening as a way to feed the hungry in small-space urban environments.[/pullquote] Vertical gardening involves a simple structure, built vertically, that doesn’t require soil and retains water. To build one, they upcycled several standard wooden pallets and outfitted them with materials found at your average hardware store.
“When it came to designing the vertical garden, our first priority, beyond feeding people, was sustainability; our second priority was to design something inexpensive and easy to build,” they wrote in their report.
The three prototypes of varying sizes were then filled with cilantro, bell peppers, Italian parsley, kale, basil, sweet marjoram, oregano, chard, micro-greens, lettuce, strawberries, thyme — all plants that grow at shallow soil depths and, more importantly, provide nutritional value and health benefits.
“We believe that by educating individual families to produce on a micro-scale, we can work to eliminate food insecurities and hunger,” they said.


Partnerships with Greenville Health System (GHS) and private corporations are helping drive innovation in the classroom as well as the business sector. From advanced materials to bioengineering, recent academic innovations have given rise to commercially applicable medical advancements.
These advancements are fueled by the 20-year partnership between the College of Engineering and Science and GHS, and more recently, the opening of the Clemson University Biomedical Engineering Innovation Campus (CUBEInC) on the Patewood medical campus. This facility includes translational research laboratories that focus on cardiovascular and orthopedic engineering. CUBEInC enables the translation of high-impact medical technology and devices from the laboratory to bedside, providing numerous opportunities for entrepreneurial pursuits.
“GHS is a wonderful partner for Clemson,” said Martine LaBerge, bioengineering department chair. “Where Clemson has a comprehensive understanding of biomaterials, the hospital system is the go-to organization in Upstate South Carolina for medicine and surgery. When these areas of expertise are combined, there exists a real opportunity to make a difference in the quality of life of the people of our state.”
Using CUBEInC as a springboard for innovation, assistant professor John DesJardins and colleagues have mentored two recent senior biomedical engineering design projects that have development technologies destined for the marketplace — one of those being the newly formed Tarian Orthotics.


Thinking Person SketchInnovation and change happening in Clemson classrooms isn’t just affecting industry and business, but the future of teaching and classrooms.
“It’s so important for teachers to be able to think creatively and to be able to inspire this thinking in their students because they are charged with educating young people for an unknown future in a digital, global world that requires students to be literate across an interweaving media — from written text to the body to digital imagery to sound,” said Alison Leonard, assistant professor of arts and creativity.
To address this, she has created the Arts and Creativity Lab in Godfrey Hall, which was physically and aesthetically designed to cultivate creative and artistic thinking. The design of the space, along with the pedagogy of the class, nurtures ideas among students.
“We cannot continue to train teachers the same way that many of us were taught. The world is different,” Leonard said. “Ways of communicating continually are changing, and young students are literate in ways that are so multifaceted and mediated, that being flexible, creative, able to function and communicate effectively across cultures, contexts and media is essential.”
The same goes for long-standing products like books. In Blakesley’s class on the future of the book, his students approach creating a book in both traditional and non-traditional ways. Each has to think linearly across platforms — how will this read on the printed page? How will it read on a tablet? What will make this more interactive? In the end, the whole process is scrambled, and the writer has to rethink the approach. A book is no longer just a book in the simplest sense of the word.
The consequences of such innovation is that long-standing roles and processes need to be changed, adapted or simply eliminated. And change is hard.
“I like to think of our students as ‘change agents,’” Blakesley said. “Down the road, they’ll be more capable and likely to bring about innovation in the workplace. And they’ll be better prepared to anticipate the cost and challenges because they’ve done this already, in the classroom.”

Clemson writers Ron Grant and Jonathan Veit contributed to this article.

J. Dean Norton ’77

Working for George Washington

Experiencing a sense of place that transcends time, Dean Norton has spent the last 44 years sustaining George Washington’s greatest horticultural legacy — Mount Vernon Estate’s landscape design and grounds.
Norton, an Alexandria, Va., native, worked on the estate grounds while in high school. He worked with a Clemson student who talked about Clemson nonstop — his first introduction to the University. Wanting to attend an out-of-state school, he stopped by campus on his way to Myrtle Beach one summer. In Norton’s words, “I was hooked.”
After graduating from Clemson, the horticulture major began his career at Mount Vernon as the first boxwood gardener and was quickly promoted to director of horticulture and gardens. As the longest-serving horticulturist at Mount Vernon, Norton oversees a staff of 23 people responsible for the gardens, grounds, greenhouse and livestock. The estate is designed to look exactly as it did when Washington died in 1799. Documents, diaries, letters and new archaeological findings occasionally surface containing new information about the gardens and grounds. Norton and his team are then challenged to research and interpret the new finds in order to keep the state’s plantings accurate.
In demand to speak and lecture internationally on heritage horticulture and gardening, Norton has received numerous awards for his work and has been a guest on many network television and radio programs. The Clemson Historical Properties Committee invited him to evaluate the landscapes of the University’s historical properties; he hosted a Clemson Alumni cleanup event at Mount Vernon; and hosted University historian Jerry Reel for a talk on the connection between George Washington and Thomas Green Clemson.
Norton recalls his time at Clemson as “indescribably perfect.” In addition to a great education, he lists his experiences as a trumpeter in the Tiger Band, enjoying sporting events and embracing the Clemson spirit as some of his best memories.
“Simply put, I am one of the most blessed folks I know. I have worked at an institution and in a job that I have loved for 44 years. The degree I received from Clemson allowed me to be where I am today,” Norton said. “I am not only thrilled and honored to tell people that I work for George Washington, but I am also thrilled and honored to tell people that I received my degree from Clemson University.”

Philip A. Francis Jr. ’74

Protector of special places

For 41 years, administrative management major Phil Francis devoted his career to helping protect our country’s national parks and special landmarks. This year he retired from the U.S. National Park Service as superintendent of the Blue Ridge Parkway.
Since joining the Park Service in 1972 at Kings Mountain National Military Park, Francis served in parks from coast to coast — including Shenandoah, Yosemite, Chickamauga and Chattanooga National Military Park, Great Smoky Mountains and the Blue Ridge Parkway.
In 1994, Francis transferred to the Smokies after serving for three years as associate regional director for administration in Southwest Regional Office in Santa Fe, N.M. He was deputy/acting superintendent of Great Smoky Mountains National Park. In 2005, he became the sixth superintendent of the Blue Ridge Parkway.
His leadership was instrumental in the creation of new nonprofit partners that included Blue Ridge Parkway 75 Inc., the Institute at Tremont, Experience Your Smokies and Discover Life in America. Discover Life in America, which is conducting the first all-species inventory of a national park, named a new species after Francis in appreciation for his support of the project. His many awards include the Department of Interior’s Superior Service Award.
In retirement, Francis hopes to continue to stay close to the great outdoors — and he certainly knows all the special places to see and visit.

Danni M. Allen ’09

Danni Allen

Danni Allen competed and won on NBC’s “The Biggest Loser.”

A winning determined spirit

Danni Allen knows hard work and dedication can get you where you want to go. She practiced this while she was a student and continues to live by it today.
Allen competed and won the 14th season of NBC’s “The Biggest Loser,” a weight-loss reality show. She attributes much of her success in the competition to the lessons she learned at Clemson. As a freshman, she had not been accepted into the major of her dreams, architecture. Allen double-majored her first semester, worked hard and was accepted into the program. She says that lesson set her up for life. “‘The Biggest Loser’ was the same way,” she says. “I worked really hard and it paid off.”
During her appearances on “The Biggest Loser,” alumni and students noticed that Allen was showing her Tiger pride by wearing her Clemson ring — which she never takes off. Allen received Facebook and Twitter comments from Clemson people supporting her throughout the season. Football great C.J. Spiller let her know that he was pulling for her. When Allen responded that she had cheered for him in college, he said, “Now I’m cheering you on.”
Allen is paying forward her success by speaking about what she has learned through her experiences and encouraging others to find the inner strength to meet their goals, not just in weight-loss, but also life.

Gary J. Coleman ’08

A progressive farmer

Gary Coleman '08Animal and veterinary sciences major Gary Coleman is a first-generation cattleman who exemplifies all that an entrepreneur should be.
Coleman was named one of The Progressive Farmer’s America’s Best Young Farmers and Ranchers for 2013. The program recognizes leaders in production and management innovation, and for involvement in their communities.
Coleman’s C. Calf Farms includes a 274-head cow/calf operation specializing in Angus and Brangus cattle, a facility that turns out 800 calves a year, hay sales, a pay-and-fish operation, feed mixing and sales, and a mobile meat store — Coleman 3 Meats. His meat products are hormone- and antibiotic-free beef, pork and goat — about 800 to 1,500 pounds per month.
The Anderson native’s cattle enterprise began when he was in ninth grade, and he bought a few steer calves while working at a local dairy. By the time he entered Clemson, his business included 70 brood cows. A few years later he experienced a huge setback when he lost 500 heifers and bull calves in a barn fire.
Coleman started again, and his perseverance paid off as he built his enterprises. He works closely with the Natural Resources Conservation Service to make sure conservation is an important part of his management efforts.
Participation in leadership development events has allowed Coleman to bring ideas and practices from around the world back to his community. He served as the U.S. representative at the 2011 Five Nations Beef Alliance conference as a member of the Young Producer’s Council, and is active in several cattleman associations.
“It has been said, ‘It takes hard work to get to the top, but it takes a leader to stay there,’ ” he says. “As a first-generation farmer, putting myself through college, raising a daughter, relying on farming for income and dealing with the obstacles that come with the farming industry are all tasks that took dedication and passion. I have watched myself grow as a young farmer, [gaining] the ability to learn, lead and teach.”

Joseph G. Mizzi ’88

Joseph Mizzi and children

Joseph Mizzi ’88, with children in Zambia, where construction began this spring on Chipakata Children’s Academy.

Empowerment through Education

Joseph Mizzi knows the impact of education. The grandson of immigrants, and among the first generation in his family to attend college, he values deeply the opportunities and advantages his Clemson education provided. Making education available for others is a passion that motivates and energizes this architecture alumnus.
That passion is evident through his work as treasurer and vice-chair of the board for the Salvadori Center, which uses structures in the environment to teach NYC kids math and science, and as a member of the board of directors of the Boy Scouts of America Greater NYC Councils and an active participant with the Boy Scouts’ Explorer program, which introduces students to potential careers. But his excitement is palpable when he starts to talk about his 14+ Foundation and its work in Zambia.
Mizzi, who is president of Sciame Construction Co. in New York City, co-founded 14+ Foundation with Nchimunya Wulf, a Zambian-born fashion stylist, with whom he shares a vision for educational initiatives in Zambia and other areas in Africa. The nonprofit works to build schools and orphanages in rural African communities.
Construction for their first project, Chipakata Children’s Academy, began in Zambia this spring. The school and orphanage will encompass more than 200 acres, and the foundation has already completed road improvement work, drilled water wells and provided a grinding mill and a supply store to allow the community access to basic goods and services. Development plans also include a health clinic and community center.
For more information on the 14+ Foundation, go to