Resilience in Challenging Times

Greetings from Clemson!
This academic year has been one like no other. But as we begin 2021, I can say that I am incredibly proud to be a part of the Clemson Family. Our faculty, staff and students have come together during extremely challenging circumstances, demonstrating flexibility, care and compassion, and resilience.
In this issue of Clemson World, you’ll read stories of alumni who also have demonstrated incredible resilience. From Bear Walker, who has built a business that reflects his passion for creativity, to Ty and Tracy Woodard, who turned a dream into a reality, and four alumni — Cheri Dunmore Phyfer, Jeff Brown, Tanya Chisolm Sanders and Kevin Purcer — who have channeled their education and life experiences to create paths to success. Their stories can offer all of us a bit of inspiration as we travel our individual and collective paths.
As I have said many times since last March, every member of the Clemson Family has a critical role to play as we move forward in a world impacted by COVID-19. It remains extremely important for each of us to do our part to mitigate the spread of this virus as we continue to do the important work of educating this generation of Tigers and making Clemson the best it can be.
Family is important, particularly in challenging times. Thank you for being a part of the Clemson Family and for helping to make it stronger and more resilient.
Go Tigers!


Reflecting Back and Looking Ahead

Happy New Year from campus. The start of a new year and a new semester is a good time to pause and reflect on the year just completed and look ahead to what comes next.
2015 was a year of many achievements and accomplishments — more than can be listed here. We continue to rank among the nation’s top public universities, we set records in undergraduate applications and private fundraising, and we made progress on the largest construction initiative in Clemson’s history.
We advanced efforts to enhance diversity and build a culture of inclusive excellence through the re-creation of the Harvey and Lucinda Gantt Multicultural Center, launch of the President’s Lecture Series on Leadership and Diversity, appointment of a 
new Diversity Advisory Council and work of a Board of Trustees task force on how to document and tell the full story of 
Clemson’s history.
As this magazine went to press, our men’s and women’s soccer teams were heading into the NCAA tournaments, both seeded 
No. 2, and the football team was finishing up an incredible 
undefeated season and headed for post-season play.
By any measure, it was an exceptional year. So as we look forward to 2016 and beyond, what’s next?
Much of what comes next at Clemson will be driven by a new strategic plan that will be presented to the Board of Trustees for approval next month. We call it ClemsonForward, because it’s about constantly moving forward, striving to reach greater heights and preparing Clemson for the next 50 years.
ClemsonForward is built on the success of the previous strategic plan — the 2020 Road Map — and remains true to our Top 20 vision. The planning process elicited hundreds of ideas and recommendations from faculty, staff and students through committees, town meetings and online discussions. Many common threads and themes emerged, which we have distilled into the following strategic priorities:
Research — to drive innovation and economic growth, solve problems and build a strong national academic reputation.
Engagement — the cornerstone of the Road Map and essence of the land-grant mission.
Academic Core — the central teaching, learning and student support mission.
Living — that is, the quality of the campus as a beautiful, supportive and nurturing place to live, work and learn, which has always been a treasured part of the Clemson experience.
You may have noticed that the acronym spells “REAL” — a word that came up frequently throughout the planning process, expressed in many ways:
• Real impact on the great challenges of our time.
• Real-world experiences that prepare students for success after graduation.
• Real family — supportive, inclusive and respectful.
• Real solutions to real problems facing our state and nation.

That’s not surprising, because we were founded in 1889 to solve real problems and find real solutions, and that remains the essence of the land-grant mission.

It’s not that Clemson was not “real” in the past. The University has been in the Top 25 for eight consecutive years, and it’s time to cement our place in that company. We believe the ClemsonForward plan will help us do just that.
A critical component of the plan is a reorganization that creates seven new colleges, including a College of Science, a College of Business and a College of Education. All colleges will have departmental realignments, even if the names don’t change, that are intended to sharpen their mission focus, support recruitment of outstanding academic talent and increase the opportunities for national prominence.
Throughout 2016, you will see tangible signs that the plan is being implemented. In January, we will open the Watt Family Innovation Center as a hub of engagement and entrepreneurship, and over the next few months we will erect new historical markers to document the role of Native Americans and African Americans in our early history, develop a capital improvement plan for research and academics, and launch major new research initiatives.
ClemsonForward truly reflects the energy and attitude of Clemson’s DNA, which is built on core attributes of vision, drive, determination, optimism, family — and, yes, competitiveness, as we look to make a positive difference for our students, state and nation.
You can find more about ClemsonForward online at
Go Tigers!

The View from Sikes

Building Futures

If you’ve been on campus lately, you’ve noticed a lot of construction fences, cranes and re-routed traffic. That’s because Clemson University has embarked on one of the largest campus development projects in at least half a century — maybe in history.
We call it Building Futures — a capital improvement plan to ensure that Clemson can compete at the highest levels and win — whether we’re competing for top students, big grants or athletics championships. This once-in-a-generation physical transformation will move the university forward and cement our place as a top-20, nationally regarded research University.
Building Futures is a strategic plan to look past 2015 or 2020 or even 2025. It is intended to set the stage for Clemson’s next 50 years, just as a surge of construction half a century ago, in the 1960s, positioned Clemson to become what it is today. It’s about building advanced and sustainable facilities to prepare us for whatever comes next — facilities that foster innovative teaching and learning, support advanced research and technology transfer, improve productivity and efficiency, and protect our rich physical and natural assets. It’s also about creating more educational and economic opportunities for South Carolina.
Already underway are major projects that will transform many areas of campus.
This summer, work begins in earnest on the Douthit Hills redevelopment to create a residential village for students that will change a main gateway to the campus — and change the view from the President’s House. Seven residential buildings and a contemporary student hub will rise on 80 acres on the north side of Highway 93, telling students and visitors they’ve arrived at one of the nation’s top schools. The facilities will provide more on-campus housing options for upperclassmen and bring Bridge to Clemson students to campus. A comprehensive tree plan will ultimately increase the number of trees on the site by 30 percent.
With the Core Campus development, the last vestiges of 60-year-old Johnstone Hall — built as temporary housing, mind you — and Harcombe Dining Hall will give way to a complex that includes a residential hall for freshmen that provides convenience, security, utility upgrades, modern dining facilities, a home for the Calhoun Honors College and more amenities. I know many of you have fond memories of Johnstone, but your children probably don’t share that sentiment.
An addition to Freeman Hall will add teaching and office space for industrial engineering that frees up research space, helps accommodate growth in student demand and makes room for fast-growing online master’s programs targeted to non-traditional students working in corporate engineering jobs.
In the center of campus, the digitally dazzling Watt Family Innovation Center will further define the area south of the library as the academic heart of the University. The center will be a hub of intellectual and entrepreneurial activity as it connects students, faculty and leaders from industry and government to generate ideas, solve problems and move new product concepts to the marketplace.
Days after graduation, Littlejohn Coliseum closed for a major renovation that will include reconstruction of seating areas, new practice facilities, locker rooms, meeting rooms and offices for the men’s and women’s basketball teams — a project completely funded by the athletics department and IPTAY.
Less visible but essential to the success of the Building Futures plan is a major overhaul of our electrical infrastructure — components of which date back to the 1950s.
The process won’t always be pretty. But the long-term gains — more and better housing and classrooms for students, capacity to grow research, improved landscapes and a tree stewardship plan that will leave us with more trees than when we started — are worth the temporary inconveniences.
There’s more to come — pending development of business plans and board and state approvals. Stay tuned for updates.
Please pardon our progress. Think of the sound of construction as a tiger’s roar — a sign of strength and greatness.
James P. Clements

My Freshman Year

Many people have asked me what I learned during my “freshman year” at Clemson.
Most of what I learned confirmed what I already knew. Our University has world-class faculty, dedicated staff, smart students, loyal alumni, great traditions, a proud history and unlimited potential.
In 2014, the rest of the country caught on to this truth as Clemson rose to the rank of No. 20 among national public universities in the U.S. News Guide to America’s Best Colleges. This recognition was based on the hard work done by thousands of people and the visionary leadership of President Emeritus Jim Barker that put a singular focus on improving the quality of undergraduate education.
We did it, and we should be very proud. But we know that Top 20 is not a destination. This is not a moment to kick off our shoes, sit back and relax.
[pullquote]Now the question is: With Top 20 as a starting point and a launching pad, where can Clemson go from here?[/pullquote]
This question will be asked often this spring as a review of the current strategic planning gets underway, led by our new provost, Robert Jones, and co-chaired by Brett Dalton and Ellen Granberg.
If you are not familiar with his qualifications for the job, let me introduce Bob to you. He earned B.S. and M.S. degrees in forestry and forest management from Clemson. It was here that he met his wife Jeri, also a Clemson graduate. Both hold doctorates — his in forest ecology and hers in veterinary medicine.
Bob is not only provost, but also Clemson’s first executive vice president for academic affairs. That means he will provide leadership for our undergraduate and graduate programs, academic support programs, research and public service activities.
His previous experience at Georgia, Auburn, Virginia Tech and West Virginia included leadership of very successful strategic planning efforts. They were inclusive, “bottom-up” efforts that succeeded because they had broad participation and a big vision.
At a November 19 Town Meeting in Tillman Hall — which was well attended and live-streamed to online viewers through ClemsonTV — I asked the campus to think 10, 15, even 50 years into the future. Bob and I challenged all of us to seek not only undergraduate excellence, but excellence in graduate education and research. To meet that challenge, we will be guided by four key words that we hear over and over when people talk about Clemson:

  • Quality. This has been Clemson’s mantra and rallying cry for many years, and we must continue our push for academic excellence.
  • Impact. Thomas Green Clemson founded this University to have a positive impact — on our community and our economy.
  • Distinction. Where can we be the best? What will bring us distinction? We must focus our limited resources on building areas of strength.
  • Differentiation. What sets us apart from other universities? Let’s look for the niche areas to develop where Clemson’s unique strengths match society’s need for answers and innovation.

[pullquote]We need to look over the horizon to what might be future opportunities to serve humanity, drive economic growth and distinguish Clemson from other research universities.[/pullquote] And we need to do this in a way that does not de-emphasize or diminish our unshakable commitment to undergraduate excellence.
Will it be hard? Yes. Can we do it? Yes.
But it will require the best thinking and the best efforts of every constituent, every stakeholder and every member of the Clemson family. That includes you, our fantastic alumni. I invite you to be part of this process of reflection, goal-setting and planning. Visit our website at and join the conversation.
In 2015, our focus is solidly on the future. By this time next year, we will be well on our way to building a new vision for Clemson in 2025 and beyond.
I am excited about our future!
Go Tigers!
James P. Clements