Duckenfield Scholars return to campus to host symposium

Ten years ago, Clemson’s first Duckenfield Scholar, Lindsay Green-Barber, went abroad to study at Oxford. This spring, she and the 16 other Duckenfield Scholars have traveled back to Clemson to return the favor.
The group of alumni planned and executed a Clemson Global Symposium, held in March, to celebrate the anniversary of the founding of a program they consider life changing. Oxford University professor Ken Addison provided the keynote address.
The Christopher J. Duckenield Scholars Program was established by the family and friends of Chris Duckenfield, who was Clemson’s vice provost for computing and information technology. He was also an alumnus of St. Peter’s College of the University of Oxford. The program enables one or two members of the Calhoun Honors College, who demonstrate extraordinary talent, motivation, commitment and ability, to attend St. Peter’s College. Duckenfield Scholars also are expected to demonstrate the ability to adapt to the tutorial style of learning that exemplifies university education at Oxford and elsewhere in the United Kingdom.

Haircuts and History

The Clemson House Barber Shop is a nondescript one-room establishment nestled firmly in the heart of Clemson University. It is a hub of social activity – maybe the hub of social activity – and like all Clemson institutions it has roots that dig back not for years, or decades, but generations.
Tucked away in one of the school’s iconic student dormitories, the school’s rich heritage mixes with its promising future daily in the well-used space, as a steady ebb and flow of bright-eyed underclassmen and long-loyal alumni circulate through, filling the modest emporium with a steady buzz of humor and wisdom.
“Only people that enjoy you will come to you, so all my memories are pretty darn good,” said Dennis Laye, the spry southern gentleman who took over the shop in 1966 from his father, “Shorty” Laye, after the elder Laye lost his hand in a shotgun accident. It was an abrupt turn of events, but Dennis went on to be Clemson’s barber of choice for 48 years.
Now, his era is coming to an end at the shop and another one is beginning – but not before some proper reflection.
“Dennis cut my hair for 44 years, and I never had a bad haircut,” said Van Hilderbrand, Clemson’s associate athletic director and event coordinator. “He was the best. Dennis gave the softest, smoothest haircut. After a long day at work, he would put you to sleep. I would always go late in the day just for this experience.”

A bout with cancer has weakened his normally agile frame in recent years, but Dennis’s eyes light up whimsically as he speaks from one of the chairs he stood behind for nearly half a century, caring for legions of Clemson hairstyles.
“The doors opened at 7:30, and I was always very consistent: Five minutes late,” he grinned. “Let me tell you, 48 years went by like a snap.”
It’s easy to see why after settling into one of the three chrome and leather chairs. The rush of the outside world seems to drift away with the hair to the floor. Barbers chat and kid with their customers. School, football, family and hunting are big topics. Everyone is in a good mood. Everyone cares about everyone else in the room. Some of the customers have been coming to this place for 30, 40, 50 years and more, some for only a year or two. It’s not uncommon to find World War II veterans chatting with twenty-something students as they take their turns.
The experience is one of being on a movie set, because it seems implausible that places like this exist in the real world – but here at Clemson, they do.
Three years ago, Dennis’s son, Mike, became the third generation of Layes to cut hair in the shop.
“When I found out my dad had cancer I decided to come back and do my apprenticeship under him,” said Mike. “I was a body piercer in Myrtle Beach for ten years so I never thought I’d enjoy this as much as I do. It’s the people that make it great. Our customers range in age from the 90’s all the way down to three or four. You learn their life stories.”
“This is a special shop,” agreed Joe Tankersley, the current owner who bought the business from Dennis in 2012. “Special kids come in here, no kidding. Bright kids. It’s a pleasure to work with them. We also get a lot of professors, retired professors and alumni. I’m particularly proud of our customers.”
The back-and-forth between the barbers and their customers is some pretty entertaining Americana. Take for example this exchange between Dennis and one of his regulars as he was sitting for this interview:
“Dennis, tell them about the time you killed two pigs with one shot.” “
Say again?”
“You said you killed two pigs with one shot!”
“No I didn’t! I said I killed three pigs with three shots.”
“Joking around is pretty much a mainstay in the barber shop,” laughed Dennis. “We told jokes to everybody. Of course, me being one person, I had to repeat that joke quite a few times.”
That good humor is part of what’s kept people coming back again and again, making the business self-sufficient in the process.
Incredibly, the shop has never advertised.
“That’s one thing I’ve always taken pride in,” said Dennis. “I’ve had people call up and want to set us up a website or advertise and I’d tell them, we don’t need customers – we need barbers! We had more customers than we could handle.”
A register in the waiting area contains a perfect sample of the Clemson Family, with pages of testimonies from students, professors, alumni, donors, and war heroes. Some of the writers tell of being brought for their first haircuts and, years later, bringing their children too.
It’s hard to determine the impact a place like this has on a community but, judging from the exuberant standing ovation Dennis received as he entered his little shop for the first time in several months to be interviewed for this story, it’s significant.
Later, his eyes mist over as he tries to sum up his life’s work.
“I never worried about the money. It was always there because I did my job,” he said, smiling. “What did I enjoy the most? The people. I would hope they all have good memories of this shop, and they appreciate the effort. We’ve had a lot of fun.”

Watt Family Innovation Center adds two founding partners

In the heart of campus, strategically located next to the R.M. Cooper Library and across from the Class of 1956 Academic Success Center, a new building is taking shape. It’s not tied to a particular college or department but rather designed to be an incubator of creativity and innovation.
The Watt Family Innovation Center, projected to open in the spring of 2016, has announced two new founding innovation partners: SCRA and Philips Lighting North America. SCRA, an applied research corporation with more than 30 years of experience delivering technology solutions, will provide $3 million for new cross-discipline operations and sustainability for supporting extended network and operations, including equipment to establish virtual connectivity between the Watt Family Innovation Center, SCRA Innovation Centers and research universities in the state. This commitment includes science and technology advancements, special projects and support for faculty, staff and students, curriculum and operations of the Watt Center.
“The immediate and comprehensive advancements to multi-party communications that these studios will provide will greatly contribute to and improve our state’s ‘knowledge economy,’” said SCRA CEO Bill Mahoney. “This collaboration will add value and users to the current health care industry core that is using the S.C. LightRail high-speed research network.”
Philips Lighting North America, a global leader in lighting that has been focusing on innovative ways of using light to enhance people’s lives for more than 120 years, has made a cash gift to support research related to Philips Lighting technology and a gift-in-kind of state-of-the-art lighting products to equip and furnish the interior and exterior of the Watt Center.
“Working in isolation is never as effective as collaboration,” said Amy Huntington, president of Philips Lighting Americas. “We believe that great partnerships encourage great results. That’s why we’re pleased to have had the opportunity to support the Watt Family Innovation Center. … I know that the work and the programs supported by the Watt Family Innovation Center will make a meaningful impact and ensure a bright future for generations to come.”

Our Mission: Loving the Land

Aldo Leopold, writing outside "The Shack" with his dog Flick.

Aldo Leopold, writing outside “The Shack” with his dog Flick.

“There are some who can live without wild things and some who cannot.”

— Aldo Leopold

I  suppose I’m one of those folks who can’t live without wild things. Neither am I one who takes a burnt orange and northwest purpling October sunset or the joy of walking through the riotous kaleidoscope of leaf-turning in the Clemson Forest for granted.
No, I consider myself among those fortunate in understanding that a better life for all lies in the appreciation and care for “… things natural, wild and free.” As Leopold eloquently paints the opening strokes of his masterpiece, A Sand County Almanac, it quickly becomes clear that a care and love for nature establishes the foundations for what we now know as “The Land Ethic.”
This ethic is essentially a way of living such that we consider ourselves a part of nature and morally bound to steward it for its own sake and the sustenance of future generations. [pullquote]I think that ethic is at the core of who we are — and should be — as sons and daughters of Dear Old Clemson.[/pullquote]

My home place

I grew up in the backwoods of Edgefield, South Carolina. Only about a two-hour drive south of Clemson, the two places are inextricably linked beyond the personal history that has so shaped my life. Two of the men prominent in the University’s establishment — John C. Calhoun and Benjamin Tillman — hail from my home place. However, growing up I didn’t have any clue that I would somehow find my way to the place formerly known as Fort Hill. My focus coming up as a feral farm boy meant that jumping puddles, climbing trees, skipping stones and wandering in the woods took priority over things like history.


My family’s time on the 200-acre farm nestled in the middle of the Long Cane Ranger District of the Sumter National Forest was taken up with more important things. There were cattle and hogs and chickens to care for. There were crops to be planted. There were forests to be tended for lumber and firewood. There were fields to be plowed and harrowed for hay. There were gurgling creeks to be fished and always it seemed some fallible fence to be mended. There were three television stations — sometimes — and no video games.

Most distractions were born of something beyond the technical “out there.” [pullquote]Our mother and father — both science teachers — nurtured us in the midst of the naturing to appreciate where our food came from. [/pullquote]The system of gardens and cow-keeping and spring-fed plumbing meant that relatively little of what kept us alive came from outside the acreage we owned. A strong land ethic — a love for it all — meant survival for the Lanham family.
Years later and 100 miles or so northward I found myself at Clemson in the untimely wake of my father’s sudden death. As a middle schooler, I learned of Clemson’s exploits on the football field and made the choice it seems most South Carolinians have to make at some point between going to school in Columbia or finding a place in Pickens County. Clemson was close enough to home, and I could support our mother and the farm with just a short trip home.
With the ties to Edgefield still strong and a preference for a tiger’s paw over a rooster crowing, I found the shadow of the Blue Ridge and a campus swaddled in green more to my liking. Years of watching the sunset burnish the sky in the school’s colors instilled in me that deeply infused “something” that makes the Upstate such a special place. Some might even call the “something in these hills” a love for the land.

Drew-Fants Grove_brushesOur Own Backyard

Coming into the present I find that all those years of woods wandering haven’t disappeared. In fact I’m one of those fortunate enough to call my career and personal passion by the same name — conservation. What’s more, I live in the midst of an incredible place where nature won’t be ignored. Just a few miles up the road, Chattooga whitewater, born just minutes ago of an early morning rain, tumbles over boulders that count their ages in millions of years. The Blue Ridge escarpment’s deeply incised gorges and rich forest-cloaked coves seem more tropical than temperate as they abut the Pickens piedmont.
This is where Clemson can boast about its own natural superlatives. It’s here in our own backyard that an extraordinary place like the Clemson Experimental Forest gives us the chance to practice the love and care for land.
The Clemson Experimental Forest is almost 20,000 acres of land reclaimed from the past two centuries’ abuses of cotton-farming and subsequent erosive soil loss. As Clemson gained momentum as a leading Southern land-grant university in the 1930s — the worst of times — there were those who envisioned better for the farmed-out lands surrounding Fort Hill. When Congress ceded the land and its care to what was then Clemson Agricultural College through the federally provisioned Bankhead Jones Farm Tenant Act, a living laboratory for land ethic was born. At the same time that Aldo Leopold was creating the science of wildlife management and fortifying the foundations of what would become the Land Ethic, trees were being planted, gullies filled and streams cleared to make good again what carelessness had made bad.
I’ve seen the old aerial photos of what the college inherited. It was more moonscape than anything. With gullies gashing the land and few trees to be seen, it seemed a hopeless place. [pullquote]But then caring stewardship came in the way of science-based management, research and outreach that made the land-grant mission live in loblolly pines and soil-saving practices. [/pullquote]Wildness began to return to the land as white-tailed deer and wild turkeys once again found refuge in a place where boll weevils were more likely to be found than wildlife. As the wounds healed and the land recovered, it has become a showpiece for what hope and care — and love — can do for wildness.
In its northern extreme around Lake Issaqueena, the forest is more mountain than piedmont in character. Scarlet tanagers set the hardwoods aflame in spring, and black bear find a safe travel corridor to the lower piedmont. The streams run cold enough for massive black-bellied salamanders, and entomologists find six-legged things dwelling in the riffles that speak to the ecosystem’s stellar health.
The southern expanse of forest — most of which is in the region locally known as “Fant’s Grove,” with its wide-open pastures, well-managed forests and winding wetlands — blends into an agrarian landscape that represents tried and true piedmont. Over all the 18,000-plus acres, sustainable timbering practices pay the way as bikers, hikers, birdwatchers, hunters and horseback riders make the forest their place, too.

A place that wraps its wooded arms around me

I remember my first visits to the Clemson Experimental Forest when I re-found my wild heart as a zoology undergraduate. It was a new and wonderful world in which to wander. My nature-loving friends and I would marvel over the wetlands. We walked under tulip poplars that towered above us and soaked in the birdsong at dawn and frog chorus at dusk. We mucked knee-deep into newly made beaver marsh, turned stones in Wildcat Creek, spying on salamanders, and looked skyward to watch broad-winged hawks soaring above it all. I’ve sat in vain on a spring morning waiting for a woods-wary wild turkey to come to my call on Bombing Range Road and sat high in a stand on Fant’s Grove hoping a white-tail buck would make a mistake.
In those wanderings I’ve often felt more like a child than a college student or professor. Edgefield was my nurturing paradise, the wild place that set the stage for what was to come. Some 30 years since I left that home place and made the northwest corner of the state home, I’m in a place that wraps its wooded arms around me.
Drew Lanham_roadAs I take students afield into the special places to see how it’s all woven and working together — forests, fields, streams, swamps, creeks, rivers, lakes — I think of Aldo Leopold and his maxim of conservation being a “…state of harmony between men and land.” It’s easy then for me to link that to the mission that tasks us with playing the music tunefully and dancing in time to what nature would demand.
As I wander along a forest trail on a brisk fall day — a storm of red and gold leaves raining down around me — I think of all that this was, has become and will be. I love this place as I know so many others do, too.
Land ethic is the land-grant mission. And all of it is about love.
Drew Lanham is Distinguished Alumni professor of wildlife ecology in the School of Agricultural, Forest and Environmental Sciences.
Photos by Ashley Jones.
Drew Lanham’s blog


Zucker Family Graduate Education Center to bring engineering education to Charleston

Laura Zucker, Anita Zucker and President Clements in front of Jonathan Zucker at the ground breaking.

Laura Zucker, Anita Zucker and President Clements in front of Jonathan Zucker at the ground breaking.

It wasn’t your typical groundbreaking, but Jonathan Zucker certainly broke ground with a giant black and yellow excavator, marking the official beginning of construction of the $21.5-million Zucker Family Graduate Education Center in North Charleston.
Located at the Clemson University Restoration Institute on the site of the former naval shipyard, the approximately 70,000- square-foot center will offer master’s and Ph.D. degrees in engineering when its doors open in 2016. The center is expected to grow to accommodate approximately 200 students, filling a critical need for engineers for corporations such as Duke Energy, where 60 percent of its engineering workforce will be eligible for retirement in the next five years.
President Clements joined Anita, Jonathan and Laura Zucker for the ceremony that was attended by more than 75 Charleston County School District middle school STEM students. As Clements spoke to the students through a bullhorn while standing next to the excavator, he said, [pullquote]“Here we have the Hunley submarine in the Warren Lasch Conservation Center — that focuses on our past. Over there we have the SCE&G Energy Innovation Center — that deals with the present. And today we break ground on the Zucker Family Graduate Education Center, and that’s all about the future.”[/pullquote]
Upon completion, the Zucker Family Graduate Education Center will serve as the academic anchor in the CURI applied technology park. In addition to students and faculty, office space in the center will be leased to industry looking to engage with faculty, students and researchers.
Long-time Clemson supporters, Anita Zucker and Jonathan Zucker helped fund the center that will bear their family’s name. Anita Zucker explained why she wanted to help make this center possible. “I’m passionate about STEM. I’m passionate about education. And I’m passionate about our region and what’s happening here,” she said. “For years our business community has complained that we don’t have enough graduate-level courses in engineering. Well, I feel like that call will finally be answered with this new center.”
The Zucker family gift is part of the $1 billion Will to Lead for Clemson campaign.

Clemson fans turn Orlando orange for Russell Athletic Bowl

Thousands of Clemson fans came from near and far to cheer the Tigers on at the Russell Athletic Bowl in January. The Alumni Association, IPTAY and the Orlando Clemson Club sponsored a variety of events to welcome the faithful to Orlando.
The night before the game, more than 300 fans invaded Miller’s Ale House for an event sponsored by the Orlando Club. Participants enjoyed live music and a silent auction that raised money for scholarships. Fans also enjoyed a “Pre-Tailgate Tailgate” on game day, sponsored by the club.
The Orlando Club and the Alumni Association found time for some good deeds as well, as they co-hosted a volunteer event during the bowl festivities. Alumni from the local area as well as Tigers traveling from out of town gathered at Clean the World on Sunday to sort donated hygiene products and prepare them for recycling. Clean the World collects and recycles hygiene products discarded by the hospitality industry and distributes them to impoverished people locally and around the world.
FanFest at Russell Athletic Bowl was the site for a ONE Clemson Tailgate before the game, sponsored by IPTAY and the Alumni Association. A live deejay provided entertainment, and President Clements and his family welcomed everyone to Orlando. Fans were able to also enjoy the activities and games put on by FanFest, then walk across the street to cheer on the Tigers.
Those staying at the team hotel got an unexpected treat when they welcomed the team back in a spontaneous “Tiger Walk” in the halls of the hotel. Players walked through a tunnel of fans, punctuated with Cadence Counts and high fives.

Clemson trustees approve infrastructure, athletic plans

At their meeting in February, Clemson trustees approved the initial concept plan to replace and upgrade the main campus electrical distribution system. The project is estimated to cost $75 million, to be paid for with maintenance and stewardship funds and state institution bonds.
Brett Dalton, vice president for finance, said, “Replacing and updating the antiquated and unreliable 50- to 60-year-old electrical infrastructure is essential to meeting the basic electrical service needs of the campus while simultaneously increasing safety, efficiency and reliability.”
The board gave final approval for renovation of Littlejohn Coliseum and concept approval for a new football operations center. The coliseum renovation includes reconstruction of seating areas, new practice facilities, locker room, meeting rooms and coaches’ offices for men’s and women’s basketball programs.
The trustees also approved the athletic facilities bond resolution for the project, which is slated to cost $63.5 million. Additionally, the board granted concept approval of a new football operations complex, to be located near the existing indoor practice facility. The concept approval begins the process and allows for hiring an architect and further design of the new building.
The complex will include locker rooms, meeting rooms and coaches’ offices along with strength and conditioning, sports medicine and dining areas, all located next to the indoor practice facility and existing practice fields. The initial budget for the project is $62 million.

Osher Foundation awards $1 million to Clemson’s OLLI program

The Bernard Osher Foundation made a $1 million gift to Clemson’s Osher Lifelong Learning Institute (OLLI), a continuing education and membership program for older adults.
The gift — a $950,000 endowment gift and $50,000 in operating funds — is the foundation’s second $1 million gift to OLLI at Clemson and a recognition of the institute’s contributions to the local community, said OLLI director Julie Vidotto.
OLLI at Clemson offers lectures, courses, excursions and social events to adults ages 50 and older, as well as access to Clemson events and resources. The institute holds approximately 215 classes each year in interest areas including technology, philosophy, history, fine arts, culture, travel, nature and fitness, among others.
“We are incredibly grateful to the Osher Foundation for this latest expression of support,” said Brett Wright, interim dean of the College of Health, Education and Human Development, which houses Clemson’s OLLI program. “This generous gift will expand our efforts to make a difference in the lives of older adults, and we are thankful for our continued partnership.”
OLLI at Clemson grew out of a grassroots effort led by local retirees 12 years ago and a $5,000 commitment from the College of Health, Education and Human Development. Since then, the program has grown to more than 1,000 active members and is now housed in the Charles K. Cheezem Education Center at Patrick Square in Clemson, the result of a generous gift from the Cheezem family.
For more information about Clemson’s OLLI program, go to

ClemsonTV launches “Policy Matters” series

“Policy Matters,” a new grassroots-initiative webcast, is one of the newest series available for viewing on ClemsonTV. The series focuses on providing resources to assist schools and school districts, as well as communities, states and the nation, to tackle challenging issues of helping students succeed in school.
The series is a collaborative effort of departments and colleges across the University, in partnership with other state and national organizations. The first episode focuses on 4-year-old kindergarten and its potential impact in South Carolina. The series is produced by Clemson Broadcast Productions in their studio located in the Madren Conference Center.
ClemsonTV features a range of programming, from academic to athletics. Regular shows include “Solutions to the Dropout Crisis,” “Clemson News Now,” “Monday Night Roar” and others.
View ClemsonTV content at