New Members to Serve as Order of the Oak Ambassadors

The Order of the Oak supports the University with the gifts of wisdom and guidance

Many years ago, under the shade of a large oak tree on the grounds of Fort Hill, our University began with a small meeting of the original seven trustees in whom Thomas Green Clemson entrusted the fulfillment of his vision for the establishment of a high seminary of learning. Inspired by that seminal moment, in January 2021, the Clemson University Foundation established a group of trusted advocates called the Order of the Oak. 

Order of the Oak ambassadors provide wisdom, guidance and momentum as the University moves forward. They are chosen based on their leadership, experience, loyalty and generosity to the University, and their ability to inspire others. They adhere to the University’s fundraising goals to steer their mission and strategy and work closely with the Clemson University Foundation and the division of Advancement. 

Recently, five new Order of the Oak ambassadors were named: Johnny and Kristen Evans, Bill and Laura Pelham, Brook and Pam Smith, Bob and Pat Jordan, and Ken and Layne Smith.

They join the founding cohort of Order of the Oak ambassadors: Gerald and Candi Glenn, Brent and Blair Beason, Phil and Mary Bradley, Dan and Nancy Garrison, Bob and Susan Hambright, Allen and Suzie Martin, Albert and Gayle McAlister, Mitch and Carla Norville, Bart and Marion Proctor, Bob and Kaye Stanzione, Sharon and Ric Struthers, Emily and Jack Wallace, Amy and Rob Yoder, and Mark and Karen Phillips.

These leaders are ready to meet the changes and challenges of the future direction of our University, fulfilling our founder’s vision and upholding our land-grant mission. “It is an honor and privilege to serve as a founding ambassador of the Order of the Oak,” says Gerald Glenn, chair. “We are proud to work with University leadership to move Clemson forward.”


Endowing New Opportunities

Architect’s gift opens doors for underrepresented graduate students

Architect Thomas Phifer calls his experience at Clemson — and at the Charles E. Daniel Center for Building Research and Urban Studies in Genoa, Italy — “the beginning of everything for me.” 

Phifer earned his bachelor’s degree in 1975 and master’s degree in 1977.

One of the leading architects of our time, Phifer has completed numerous projects, including an expansion of the Glenstone Museum in Potomac, Maryland; an expansion of the Corning Museum of Glass in Corning, New York; the United States Courthouse in Salt Lake City, Utah; the North Carolina Museum of Art in Raleigh, North Carolina; the Raymond and Susan Brochstein Pavilion at Rice University in Houston, Texas; an outdoor performance pavilion in Austin, Texas; and numerous houses in the Hudson Valley of New York State. He was a lead design architect for Lee III at Clemson, which Architectural Digest called “one of the best in new university architecture around the world.” Ongoing projects include the Museum of Modern Art and TR Warszawa Theatre in Warsaw and the Cine Colombia headquarters in Bogotá. It’s an impressive list.

Equally impressive are the accolades. Phifer received the prestigious Rome Prize in Architecture from the American Academy in Rome in 1995. A fellow of the American Institute of Architects, he was awarded the Medal of Honor, in 2004, and the President’s award, in 2016, from the New York Chapter of the American Institute of Architects. In 2019, he received the National Design Award in Architectural Design from the Cooper Hewitt Smithsonian Design Museum. In 2022, Phifer was inducted as a lifetime member into the American Academy of Arts and Letters. And these are but a few of the many recognitions that have been bestowed upon him.


“I want to honor the state of South Carolina where I was born and raised … by elevating the presence of a more diverse community.”


Now an endowed fellowship for graduate architecture students from historically underserved and underrepresented communities bears his name at Clemson. The Thomas Phifer Fellowship supports two years of tuition in the School of Architecture for two graduate students from underserved and underrepresented communities to increase access and broaden a more diverse pathway within the architecture profession in South Carolina. 

“By opening new opportunities to underserved and underrepresented communities, we strengthen the diversity of voices in our lives,” said Phifer, “offering the promise of a more inclusive, open and welcoming architecture. My hope is that others will join me in supporting this fellowship fund that provides an education that is open to all people.”

In addition, Phifer is establishing an annual yearlong preceptorship in his New York studio for a School of Architecture graduate student in their second year of study.

“Thomas Phifer is a point of pride as an alumnus,” said School of Architecture director James Stevens. “This gift is essential in supporting our underrepresented students, who might otherwise not be able to pursue architecture as a career. Not only does it commit to supporting them financially, but it also commits to mentoring and training selected students in Thomas’ studio — a priceless contribution to our students, institution and profession.” 

The School of Architecture has an important historical role in the University’s progress toward greater diversity. Harvey Gantt, Clemson’s first African American graduate, is a School of Architecture alumnus who graduated with honors in 1965. Ray Huff, recently retired director of the Clemson Design Center in Charleston, was one of the first African American students to follow in Gantt’s footsteps, and he has spearheaded efforts to increase the diversity of the School of Architecture’s student body. 

“This fellowship will provide an unprecedented opportunity for students of color to pursue architecture as a vocation, enabling their voices, instincts and unique vantage to become purposeful and heralded in the canon of architecture,” Huff said.

“I want to honor the state of South Carolina where I was born and raised, a place that means so much to me, by elevating the presence of a more diverse community. The School of Architecture was the beginning of everything for me. That transformative experience so many years ago is still alive in me today, and I would like to pass along this inclusive ethos to the next generation. 

“If we all learn this way, then we will teach this way,” said Phifer. 

Inspired to Give Back

Crystal Pee honors her grandparents to bridge the gap of access

Crystal M. Pee ’18 is a firm believer in honoring the blessings of life. When she got her first job out of graduate school as a diversity, equity and inclusion consultant, she didn’t hesitate to return that blessing by giving back. 

She recently pledged a gift to her alma mater to establish the Major and Mazie Booth Diversity Scholarship Endowment at Clemson University, in loving memory of her grandparents. Although Pee never had the opportunity to meet her grandfather, his story was instrumental in her pursuit of an engineering degree. He was a self-taught “engineer,” with a pretty keen business mind thrown in for good measure. In the 1950s, he physically built a house for his family that still stands today. He designed and constructed an irrigation system for his family farm. He performed cost analysis to figure out how to pay for materials and labor, as well as track all his drawings and calculations in a notebook. He did all these things without the benefit of a formal education. 


“The scholarships and fellowships that I received helped me out so much as a student, I could not wait to do it for others when I got the opportunity.”


Pee feels the only difference between herself and her grandfather was access to resources and the opportunity to attain a college education. She established the endowment in his name in order to bridge the gap of access and provide opportunity for minoritized students who have the desire to complete a degree program at Clemson.

There is no lack of inspiration within the Pee family. Pee’s parents have dedicated themselves to a life of service and ministry. She was empowered from a young age to be anything she wanted to be. With her family’s encouragement, and her accomplished grandfather as inspiration, she chose chemical engineering at Clemson, where she excelled.  

Pee says, “I started this scholarship at the University I love to honor my maternal grandparents and the people in my life who have been a blessing to me. The scholarships and fellowships that I received helped me out so much as a student, I could not wait to do it for others when I got the opportunity. The Major and Mazie Booth Diversity Scholarship Endowment is my way of giving back to Clemson and providing access and opportunity to those who want to pursue a degree at Clemson University.”


Young and Wise

Summer camp gets middle schoolers excited about STEM careers

More than three dozen rising seventh and eighth graders from underserved communities around South Carolina spent a week on campus at a summer camp designed to introduce them to careers in STEM (science, technology, engineering and math).

Project WISE (Women in Science and Engineering) is the product of a long-standing partnership between Clemson and Duke Energy, which has funded the camps since the early 1990s.

Amanda Dow, manager of the Duke Energy Foundation that sponsors the program, said it’s a partnership that makes sense for the company. “[The workforce of the future] must bring diverse perspectives to the table, and that’s why programs like this, that encourage young women to pursue careers in science and engineering, are so important,” she said.

Project WISE employs graduate and undergraduate STEM students as teachers and camp counselors. This provides a chance for participants to interact with adults who grew up under similar circumstances and are now thriving in the world of STEM.

Skyler Holland, a rising junior studying electrical engineering, was a camp counselor this year. She went through the WISE program herself when she was a middle school student in Farmville, South Carolina, and it changed her life.

“This camp is why I picked my major,” she said. “In the electrical engineering class my first year, we did little robot crabs that were solar-powered, and I loved it. Then the next year, we did this little solar-powered dinosaur, and I said, ‘This is what I want to do with my life.’”

Classes ranged from biosystems and mechanical engineering to chemistry and mathematics. Instructors incorporated hands-on learning that kept the students engaged.

In one session, participants learned to use a computer-aided design program to render a simple gearbox with their names embedded in the body. In another, students assembled model helicopters to learn the physics and engineering behind helicopter flight. The instructors used the project to teach the class about thrust, torque, gravity and gears as the dozens of small aircraft took shape in students’ hands.

Camp counselor Dajonia Jackson ’22 walked from desk to desk, observing and offering advice as the students assembled the pieces of their helicopters. Like Holland, she attended the program as a middle schooler.


“Project WISE provides a chance for participants to interact with adults who grew up under similar circumstances and are now thriving in the world of STEM.”


“When I was in seventh and eighth grade, I wanted to be a doctor or nurse. Nobody exposed me to engineering,” said Jackson. “The WISE summer camp was the first time I saw that I could be creative. When I was younger, having that exposure opened up a lot for me. It made me want to build things and inspire others, and that’s why I’m here.”

Associate director of WISE Beth Anne Johnson said Holland and Jackson are perfect examples of the program’s mission.

“Overall, I hope every young person who participates in our programs sees that they belong; that math, science and engineering are for everyone,” said Johnson. “We’re trying to send that message and plant that seed of belonging so that everyone’s future is brighter.”


An Infinite Partnership

US Space Force names Clemson its newest strategic partner

The U.S. Space Force welcomed Clemson as an official member of its University Partnership Program at a Memorandum of Understanding signing event in July. Clemson is the 13th university to join the partnership program.

The U.S. Space Force — the sixth and newest branch of the U.S. armed forces — established the partnership program to identify, develop and retain a diverse, STEM (science, technology, engineering and math)-capable workforce to further its mission to protect U.S. and allied interests in space.

As modern warfare is increasingly fought via satellite control networks, the need for creative workers proficient in the STEM fields is at an all-time high. Through the partnership, the Space Force will seek to recruit new members and create educational and leadership development programs for existing Space Force employees.

“Clemson is proud to partner with the Space Force in becoming a member of the University Partnership Program,” said President Jim Clements. “As we continue our institution’s strong history with the United States armed forces, this new partnership is an incredible opportunity for our faculty, staff and students to continue to engage in groundbreaking research, develop innovative educational experiences and discover new and exciting ways to serve our country.”


“Our nation is depending on the next generations of scientists and engineers to help us solve complex national security challenges.”


The research and technology will make an impact far outside the military, said Vice Chief of Space Operations Gen. David D. Thompson. “With the signing of the MOU, Clemson University and the U.S. Space Force commit to an exciting partnership for the future,” said Thompson. “Our nation is depending on the next generations of scientists and engineers to help us solve complex national security challenges, and these challenges are multigenerational.”

Teaming up with the Space Force comes naturally for Clemson, with its rich military heritage dating back to its founding as an all-male military college in 1889. Its ROTC program has produced more than 10,000 officers, including Space Force Chief of Space Operations Gen. John W. “Jay” Raymond, a 1984 alumnus, and two Air Force generals assigned to Space Force — Maj. Gen. Leah G. Lauderback ’93 and Maj. Gen. Donna Shipton ’91. 


Clemson Honors the Best of Its Own

In April of this year, the Alumni Association awarded six recipients with the Distinguished Service Award — the highest honor the association bestows on those who graduated from the University.

The Distinguished Service Award is based on three main criteria: personal and professional accomplishments; dedication and service to Clemson; and devotion to community and public service. Members of the Clemson Family nominate potential honorees, whom the Alumni Association then selects as outstanding alumni, public servants and examples to others.

Celeste De Laine Boykin ’79

Trailblazer. Outstanding role model. Clemson advocate.

Celeste “Clete” Boykin was the first Black woman hired by E.I. du Pont de Nemours and Company as a sales and marketing representative in their agricultural chemicals business. She later joined their government affairs office and became senior manager before starting her own government consulting firm, CDB ProjX.

Boykin currently chairs the Clemson Institute for Parks board of advisers and advises prospective students of color in the Washington, D.C., area.

Boykin is a proud member of the “Benet Babes,” a group of women who lived on the fourth floor of Benet Hall. In 2015, the group established a scholarship fund to allow future students to make their own lifelong friends and memories while getting a quality Clemson education.

Boykin volunteers for a mobile food service that feeds people in need and raises funds for AIDS charities and multiple sclerosis.

She is vice chair of the board of the Briggs, De Laine, Pearson Foundation, which focuses on providing free after-school and summer tutoring for individuals from low-income backgrounds in Clarendon County.


John L. Easterling III ’80

Admired businessman. Community volunteer. “Mr. Clemson.”

After graduating with a degree in business administration, John Easterling earned his MBA from the University of South Carolina. He began working in property management for Pulliam Investment Company in 1983 and rose to become president in 1997 and owner in 2007. Today he is a senior associate with NAI Earle Furman, the largest commercial real estate brokerage and property management firm in Upstate South Carolina.

At Clemson, Easterling is a charter member of the Master of Real Estate Development program’s board of directors and a former member of the Board of Visitors, the IPTAY board of directors and the Alumni National Council. He has served as a county coordinator for the Clemson Advocates program and president of the Spartanburg County Clemson Club.

Easterling has served more than two decades in multiple leadership roles for the Spartanburg Area Chamber of Commerce, now called OneSpartanburg. He is a former chair and current member of the Downtown Development Partnership Board and the Spartanburg Tomorrow Political Action Committee.


J. Allen Martin ’69

Respected professional. Caring friend and mentor. “A Clemson gentleman.”

Allen Martin served as chief of staff for 22 years for U.S. Rep. Bob Livingston (R-LA), then co-founded The Livingston Group, where he specializes in international affairs and is lead partner for health care, pharmaceuticals, science, technology and telecommunications.

He has strong working relationships with many national and international leaders and officials and is well respected for his in-depth knowledge of governmental decision-making processes.

Martin is a longtime leader of the Baltimore/Washington, D.C., Clemson Club and a former Alumni Association and Foundation board member. He is a current member of the Order of the Oak, a select group of supporters and ambassadors who provide guidance and engage in philanthropic efforts to further Clemson’s long-term goals.

Martin has hosted numerous Clemson events in the Washington area. He employs at least one Clemson student intern each year and mentors alumni interested in working in government, public policy or politics.

Martin has received the Order of the Palmetto for his service to South Carolina.


John W. Parris ’58

Conservationist. Innovative educator. Clemson ambassador.

John W. Parris taught agri-science and technology for eight years, during which time he co-founded the S.C. Accredited Horse Show Association.

In 1966, Parris was named associate director then executive director of State Land Resources Commission. After retiring in 1994, he became state director of public affairs for agricultural education and the FFA. He now serves as director of the S.C. Agri-News Service.

The first South Carolinian named to the National Conservation Hall of Fame, Parris introduced drip irrigation and conservation tillage technology to South Carolina agriculturalists. He successfully promoted natural resource and stormwater and sediment control legislation.

Parris secured approval from the South Carolina Commission on Higher Education for Clemson’s landscape architecture major. He is a charter member and former chair of the College of Agriculture, Forestry and Life Sciences Alumni Board. He provides scholarships to agriculture students through the John W. Parris Agricultural Leadership Endowment.


John W. Raymond ’84

Four-star general. Trusted adviser. Military heritage leader.

Commissioned as a second lieutenant upon graduating from Clemson, Jay Raymond is now the highest-ranking military leader in any branch of service to graduate from Clemson.

When the U.S. Space Force was established in 2019, Raymond was appointed chief of Space Operations. He is the senior uniformed Space Force officer responsible for the organization, training and equipping of all space forces. He is a member of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, providing senior uniformed advice to the president and secretary of defense.

As the Air Force’s deputy chief of staff for operations, Raymond served in the Middle East in support of U.S. operations in Iraq and Afghanistan. The Japanese government recognized his leadership of U.S. humanitarian and relief efforts in Japan during its 2011 earthquake disaster. He was also awarded the French National Order of Merit for his contributions to French and American military cooperation.

A donor to academic and athletic programs, Raymond sponsors an annual scholarship for Air Force ROTC cadets.


Mitchell S. Scott ’75

Industry champion. Generous philanthropist. Dedicated Tiger supporter.

Micky Scott is president of Collum’s Lumber Products, a fourth-generation family-owned company founded in the 1930s, one of the most advanced sawmill and planer operations in the Southeast.

He and his family are recognized as the first Academic Cornerstone Partner of the College of Agriculture, Forestry and Life Sciences because of generous endowments they established.

Scott helped Clemson create its Wood Utilization + Design Institute and is a board member and corporate partner. He also helped the Real Estate Foundation develop its Timberland Legacy Program.

He has donated lumber for research by students in the Department of Forestry and Environmental Conservation and to help construct a graduate house at the Belle W. Baruch Institute of Coastal Ecology and Forest Science in Georgetown.

He supports the nonprofit Center for Heirs’ Property Preservation, which protects heirs’ property and promotes its sustainable use to provide increased economic benefit to historically underserved families in the Lowcountry, Midlands and Pee Dee.


Rev Up

Consortium to create next-generation electronic vehicle tech and talent

The unprecedented need to develop a workforce that can build and service electric and autonomous vehicles and develop the cybersecurity to protect them is the driving force behind a new consortium based in South Carolina.

The consortium, named Collaborative Research: REVVED, short for Revolutionizing Electric Vehicle Education, is receiving $2.83 million from the National Science Foundation to fund the project.

As part of the consortium, Clemson is partnering with Greenville Technical College, Spartanburg Community College and Trident Technical College.

The consortium will conduct evidence-based research studies to investigate the integration of virtual and augmented reality systems to support electric vehicle manufacturing and education.

One of the main goals is to strengthen learning and retention among students from rural areas, veterans and students who are from groups underrepresented in the workforce. Digital learning systems are especially attractive for students who are nontraditional and underrepresented in the workforce, researchers said.

Industry partners involved are BMW, Michelin, Bosch, Daimler, Proterra and Volvo.


Supporting the Next Generation of STEM PhDs

Bridge to Doctorate Program to fund, educate and mentor underrepresented students

The inaugural class of Clemson’s Bridge to Doctorate Graduate Program began their studies on campus this summer and fall. Funded by a $1 million grant from the National Science Foundation’s Louis Stokes Alliance for Minority Participation program, along with additional resources provided by the University, full financial support is being provided to a cohort of 12 incoming underrepresented Ph.D. students enrolled in select programs in the College of Engineering, Computing and Applied Sciences or the College of Science.

The cohort comprises diverse scientific leaders with expertise in advanced materials research, which will “further support the state by graduating qualified Ph.D.s with expertise aligned to the needs of the broad spectrum of industries in South Carolina,” according to Oliver J. Myers, associate professor and associate dean of inclusion and equity in the College of Engineering, Computing and Applied Sciences.

The students will receive a $32,000 stipend for their first two years of education and research through the NSF’s funding, and the University will cover the cost of their remaining three years. In addition, participants will benefit from individual faculty and peer mentoring, advising and advocacy, as well as a built-in network for professional development and support.


Alumni Master Teacher: Allen N. Swords ’97, M ’02

Students chose Allen N. Swords as the 2022 Alumni Master Teacher. Swords is a senior lecturer in the Department of English of the College of Architecture, Arts and Humanities, and he teaches courses on sequential art, Holocaust literature and art, and the Vietnam War and Star Wars mythos. The award for outstanding undergraduate classroom instruction is presented each spring to a faculty member nominated by the student body and selected by the Student Alumni Council.

“I am speechless. Humbled. Proud. And stunned,” Swords said. “I had no idea I was even nominated or in the running.”

Sarah Gibson, who took six classes with Swords, said that he is “by far the most caring and thoughtful professor out there. He comes to class with the most positive attitude and will go to great lengths to make every student feel heard and appreciated.”

Swords received a bachelor’s degree and a master’s degree in English from Clemson. 


Clemson University Tiger Band Association Goes to Normandy

A first-time adventure for the Clemson University Tiger Band Association was a trip to Normandy, France, to honor American veterans who landed on Utah and Omaha Beaches on June 6, 1944, during World War II. This occasion marked the 78th anniversary of the D-Day invasion.

CUTBA was invited to serve as the lead band in the American Ambassadors Band sponsored by Historic Programs, a nonprofit group supported by many corporations and the U.S. Department of Defense.

In Normandy, CUTBA played in four concerts and marched in one parade, featuring patriotic tunes and, of course, “Tiger Rag.” After three days in Normandy, the group traveled to Paris for two days of tourism before returning home.


“It was humbling to travel to Normandy and see the places where many members of our military … landed on the beaches to help liberate the French people.”


“My husband, Lt. Col. D. Edward Jones, proudly serves on active duty with the U.S. Army as a physician at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, home to the 82nd Airborne,” says Martha Huffman Jones ’00. “It was humbling to travel to Normandy and see the places where many members of our military, including numerous paratroopers from the 82nd Airborne, landed on the beaches to help liberate the French people. It was an honor to meet several veterans who had served in the region and had, at their ages of almost 100, traveled back to the area.

“As an active-duty military family, we have a small idea of the sacrifices these brave souls put forth for the freedom of others.”