Reunion Regatta

Clemson Crew celebrated its 30th anniversary by hosting a reunion regatta, where alumni got to race on Lake Hartwell once more.

Rowing on Lake HartwellWearing sunglasses and carrying boats on their shoulders, present and past members of the Clemson University Rowing Association, also known as Clemson Crew, strode out to Lake Hartwell for a friendly regatta. The conditions were perfect, not unlike 30 years ago when Clemson Crew’s founding club members rowed out onto the lake for the first time.
In 1988, the club was born out of a shared passion for rowing among six students. Since then, that passion and bond has grown to produce a reunion of more than 1,000 alumni, students and friends on March 1, 2019. The group gathered on the lake to host their own informal regatta a day before the Clemson Sprints Collegiate and Masters, which would play host to many other rowing clubs including Atlanta Rowing Club, High Point University and the University of South Carolina Rowing Club. Alumni raced alumni across the lake, just like old times for some. Founding members Steven Diacumakos and Bill Palmer spoke about the connection between club members that spans class years.
“My feeling is that every generation has done a great job of building on that momentum that the team started with,” Diacumakos said, who was club president from 1990-91. “Every generation has been a great steward of that energy.”
A hand-drawn boat and a picture of a Concept 2 rowing machine ripped straight from an advertisement were splashed across Clemson Crew’s original fliers, which relayed a simple message: A date and time for the first meeting along with student Phil Pyle’s phone number.
At the beginning of the meeting, Pyle took the lead and assumed the role of president. He worked with the other founding members to establish a club proposal and a budget to get the ball rolling. After the meeting, Bill Palmer had only one question for Pyle. “I asked, ‘Where do we go from here, and who did you row for in high school?’ And he said ‘Oh, I never rowed. I grew up in Philadelphia,’” Palmer laughed.
Six founders oversaw the genesis of Crew, and 47 members joined shortly after. From day one, the club was coed and had simple rules: Pay your dues, don’t cause trouble and show up to practice. More students joined the club after its founding, but Crew faced an immediate conundrum: They had no boats. Without the necessary equipment to row, they started with early-morning runs. Missing a run without an excuse could get a member kicked off the team, but every rower was treated fairly.
Jon Morgan, one of the first members, recalled the rigor of those early runs: “I was one of the stragglers at first, but Phil was never mean or abusive. He always said: ‘Finish. Just finish.’ Within a few months I was keeping up with everyone else, because he motivated me to do so.”
Within the year, Crew would obtain their first two boats: an eight-person boat in poor condition and a four-person boat that was surprisingly heavy and worn-out. They had no oars, so they borrowed a set of wooden ones from the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga. But their problems with equipment didn’t keep them from starting practice.
Having eight people rowing in unison is no simple task, but when it clicks, the experience borders on spiritual. Palmer, who had prior rowing experience, helped early members achieve their rhythm. “I was trying to beat it into their heads that it’s effort on the drive and easy on the way up, and they started to get it,” Palmer said. “And then they took 20 strokes, and it was just symphony on the water. I told them, ‘That’s it.’”
Crew participated in their first regatta at Duke University, and although they didn’t win first place the experience brought them closer together. “At that point, we were a rowing team,” said Morgan.Reunion Regatta
The Duke regatta was the first of many. Clemson Crew went to Tennessee, Virginia and Florida, not to mention many events held in South Carolina. They eventually managed to acquire some quality equipment through donations and the club’s budget. With new tools to help level the playing field, Crew realized their potential, and their performance improved.
At the same time, Crew kept an eye on their finances. Since they were (and still are) an entirely student-run organization, the leading members ran the club as if they were running a business.
Pyle had a contact on the Clemson Board of Trustees who helped jumpstart the club with $5,000, and Crew paid for additional expenses with money from the University’s student club fund and donations from supporters they’d garnered over the years. Most of their structures, including a floating dock and brand-new boathouse, were built by Crew members and friends from donated materials. When traveling to regattas, they would see if there were any friends willing to house them for the night. Eventually, Crew decided they wanted to host their own regatta, and it seemed they would have to pay out-of-pocket.
The club started charting a plan for the regatta. Around this time, Palmer was outside building new boat racks one afternoon. A jogger stumbled across the scene and spoke with Palmer, who explained what he was doing. After the stranger realized that the club’s activities were in March and April (a dry period for sports fans after the end of basketball season), he offered to help fund the regatta. It turned out that the stranger “was some bigwig at the local bank. They threw $3,000 at us to run the regatta. It was incredible,” Palmer said. The event was a success and it drew more attention the club.
Reunion RegattaWithin a few years of its founding, Clemson Crew established itself at several regattas. “You got to know the national and international teams,” Morgan said. At an international race in Augusta, Georgia, Clemson Crew raced against a number of skilled teams, including a visiting Russian team. “The Russian teams still had clothing that said CCCP on them,” Morgan said. “That was from the USSR, so it was pretty intense to see that those guys still had their old rowing gear.” Interested in one Russian rower’s woolen tank top, Morgan offered to buy it. But the rower wasn’t interested in money. Instead, he asked for Morgan’s extra pair of Levi jeans. “I said, ‘You got ‘em.’” They traded right there at the regatta.
Clemson Crew’s tightknit community has continued to evolve over the years, but their sense of loyalty and belonging has remained intact.
Diacumakos said that he was touched “to see that a couple generations had come through the years, and the enthusiasm and the culture, and a lot of the things we used to do are still in the team.”
Morgan said, “There’s people that row who have no idea who we are. And they keep this organization going with the same spirit we had. I’m impressed that they have kept it running at such a high level.”
Before the club’s first official meeting in 1989, Frank Howard was asked about the possibility of Clemson Crew gaining varsity status. “We ain’t gonna have no sport at Clemson where you sit on your butt and go backwards to win,” Howard said.
According to Pyle, Howard would later admit his support for Clemson Crew, but the rowers still joke about it to this day.
“I guess we proved him wrong,” Palmer said, laughing.

First Fraternity

Members of Sigma Alpha Zeta gathered to celebrate the 60th reunion of the University’s original fraternity.

Sigma Alpha Zeta Group Photo
Seven students and a table. That was all it took to form Sigma Alpha Zeta, Clemson’s first national fraternity and the organization that helped paved the way for all 46 Greek letter fraternities and sororities on campus today.
In the fall of 1959, Winston Fowler, a young Clemson student, traveled to the University of Virginia as a cheerleader. When he was mingling with other students, he heard about their university’s notable and highly secretive Seven Society.
“I got very little background information,” Fowler ’62 remembered. “I was just a sophomore talking to people.” But what he heard was promising. Seven Society, aside from being an organization known for its secrecy and generosity, was a social group that gave its members a sense of purpose and fulfillment in their college experience. For Fowler, this was an important piece of the puzzle.
When Clemson University was an all-male military school, incoming students were divided into “companies” that provided a chance to socialize and make lifelong friends. In the post-World War II era, this tradition faded away, and by 1959, Clemson was still without fraternities, official or otherwise, to fill the gap. It was an awkward time for new students seeking recreation since all official organizations at that time were subject to close scrutiny.
These organizations, such as Tiger Band and Taps, “were an approved form of social gathering, but it didn’t meet the needs of a purely social fraternity without the service aspect of it,” said Jeff O’Cain ’69, who pledged in 1967. “You had to be personally involved in doing something for the University to be recognized as a group.”
So, when Fowler returned from his trip to Virginia, he decided to tell his friends about what he had found. Sitting at a round table that could only fit seven, they decided to form an under-the-radar social fraternity in lieu of a full-blown secret society.
SAZ Anniversary
Maybe it was destiny, or maybe it was just a bit of good luck, but Fowler and friends quickly came across a piece of relevant information: The Board of Trustees had unexpectedly decided in their last meeting that they might allow probationary local fraternities on campus.
“Let’s be the first!” Fowler said to his friend Bill Shachte ’63. The plan changed. They drafted a charter and were ready to become officially recognized. After some further encouragement from the others in the group, Shachte gave their proposal to the Dean.
It worked. Sigma Alpha Zeta became the first official fraternity at Clemson.
Sixty years passed, and the “Zetas” haven’t missed a step. In 1959, the first seven members went on to tap seven more, leading to the original 14. Although the fraternity started small, it only continued to grow, and by the time Sigma Alpha Zeta became defunct in 1970, the fraternity had a total of 209 members — each one a loyal supporter of the University and their fraternity.
Tight ties kept the Zetas together and still do, evidenced by the reunion that ran from March 29-31 in Columbia, where over 130 Zetas and special guests gathered for recreation and reminiscing.
Highlights of the event included a golf tournament with trophies ranging from “longest drive” to “worst putt,” a Zeta history reading, door prizes and a ladies mimosa party with special gifts presented by the first Zeta president, Winston Fowler, and the last, Bob Ogletree ’70. Saturday morning, a memorial was held for the 38 deceased members.
The event also featured video appearances from President Clements and Coach Swinney. Clements thanked the Zetas for their selflessness throughout the years: “You had 209 members over your 10-year existence as a local fraternity, and all of you have been outstanding and loyal alumni over the past 60 years. Thank you to those original 14 members for taking the chance to start something new, and thank you to all of you for your support of Clemson. Enjoy your celebration, and go Tigers!”
Since Clements was unable to make it to the reunion in person, he sent the Tiger in his place.
“The Tiger came busting through the door; ‘Tiger Rag’ was playing. The whole place went bonkers,” said O’Cain.
The Tiger’s surprise appearance energized the guests, especially since many of the Zetas had been the Tiger in the past.
Reunion Program
An auction was held afterward that featured several items, including a custom Zeta-made wine bottle. The crown jewel was a signed championship football that had been briefly introduced by Coach Swinney in his video appearance. When the video ended, O’Cain walked on stage, saying, “Boy, I sure wish I had that football!”
Then, the football went sailing from the back of the room into his hands.
Ogletree, the last Zeta president, won big and went home with the football. All proceeds from the auction went to Dabo’s All In Team Foundation.
The reunion was the result of a titanic effort to find and contact all living Zeta members, several of whom had not been in touch for decades. Linda Williams (wife of an early Zeta member) spearheaded the outreach and was aided by alumni in Columbia. Zetas Turk Matthews ’69, David McLellan ’71 and O’Cain worked to plan and budget the event.
“The real highlight was in the number of people who attended,” said Fowler. “It was just very heartwarming to see people you hadn’t seen in 20 or 30 years, sometimes 40 or 50 years, or maybe since graduation. That was the big highlight.”
The announcement of the 60th reunion was a happy surprise for many, but it was not the first time the Zetas reunited — and it will not be the last. They still meet at least once a year at the University, usually on weekends when campus is quiet. They tour the facilities, including the Sigma Alpha Zeta Presentation Room (also known as Room 201A) in Cooper Library. The room was gifted by the Zetas and is maintained by a perpetual fund. To them, it was simply a chance to give back.
Sixty years ago, Fowler was impressed by Seven Society’s loyalty to their university and decided that Sigma Alpha Zeta would do the same. Over the years, they’ve made gifts to the University sometimes overtly (the presentation room, for example) and sometimes subtly, like a secret society might.
Regardless, the Zeta spirit remains unique. It’s an aged-to-perfection concoction of respect, energy and that quintessential Clemson loyalty.
“It was a spirit that we derived from our responsibilities to Clemson and our responsibilities for each other,” said O’Cain. “For love and affection and brotherhood.”

Class of 1967 inducted as Golden Tigers

Golden TigersTigers celebrating more than 50 years since graduating returned to campus for reunion this year. Members of the Class of ’67, plus representatives of 19 other Golden Tiger classes, gathered for meals and memories at the Madren Center. Tours of campus, class parties and updates on construction and future Clemson initiatives provided opportunities to reminisce about the Clemson experience, then and now.
At the induction of the 76 members of the Class of ’67 into the Golden Tiger Society, the class presented the University with a gift of more than $336,000 for need-based scholarships, scholarships for first-generation students and resources for student veterans.
Next year’s Golden Tiger Reunion is scheduled for June 7-8, 2018. If you graduated in 1968 or earlier, mark your calendar now!

Tigers celebrate Reunion Weekend

Golden Tiger_087More than 370 alumni and friends attended the Golder Tiger Reunion in June, where more than 60 members of the Class of ’66 celebrated their 50th anniversary weekend by being inducted as Golden Tigers. Two members of the Class of ’41 were inducted as Platinum Tigers.
During the induction ceremony, guests heard University historian Jerry Reel speak about Clemson history and life in 1966. Attendees heard an update on University construction projects and the college reorganization, as well as a presentation about the James C. Kennedy Waterfowl and Wetlands Conservation Center. They also toured the Watt Family Innovation Center, athletics facilities and the historic Fort Hill mansion and Hanover House.


Class of ’65 celebrates Clemson ties, generosity

LifeLong-Class65collageFifty years after they walked the stage to receive their diplomas, nearly 100 alumni from the Class of 1965 presented the school a check for $1,227,872 to help future students do the same.
The group gathered near the Class of 1965 sidewalk — a shady path that cuts under the lush oak trees of Fort Hill — to celebrate their Golden Tiger Reunion and present the check to President James P. Clements.
Clements praised the group for their initiative and dedication.
“We cannot thank you enough for establishing this scholarship fund to help students have the same great Clemson experience that you all had,”
he said. “I am so grateful for your forward thinking that will help students for generations to come.”
The Class of 1965 Scholarship Endowment was established in 1989. It made the class one of the first to establish a scholarship in conjunction with its 25th reunion. The class members’ goal was to get the endowment to at least $25,000 by their 25th reunion, and they far exceeded that goal with $43,000 by the time they gathered to celebrate.
The endowment has been growing and regularly providing support for Clemson students ever since.
Lifelong-Kaci-Bennettclass65Rising senior Kaci Bennett, a recipient of Class of 1965 scholarships three years in a row, took the podium to thank them for their generosity.
“I am so excited and incredibly honored to be able to thank each and every one of you for this generous gift,” she said. “As an out-of-state student, part of the reason I chose to go to Clemson was because of the feeling of the Clemson Family. Seeing all of you here today shows me how strong the Clemson Family is.”
“When we started planning our 50th reunion, we decided to put our focus on building our scholarship endowment to a truly significant level,” said Gary Faulkenberry of the 50th reunion planning committee. “We reflected on the many years and the many ways that we have benefited from the education that we received at Clemson. Clemson did not just teach us how to make a living, it also prepared us to make a life. In gratitude for that, we decided that we would use this opportunity — our golden anniversary — to make a lasting impression of our own for future Clemson students.”
Their endowment will do just that, said Clements.
“At the end of this ceremony, you will take a walk down your senior class sidewalk where you will see your names etched into the pavement,” he said. “But, because of your scholarship endowment, the legacy you are leaving behind is much bigger than that. Your legacy is represented by each of the students who benefit from your generosity.”
The contribution to the endowment is part of the Will to Lead for Clemson capital campaign to raise $1 billion to support Clemson students and faculty with scholarships, professorships, facilities, technology and enhanced opportunities for learning and research. Including the endowment, the class has given a total of $15,122,050 to Clemson initiatives.
While the Class of ’65 was celebrating their 50th, alumni from classes ranging from 1939 to 1967 made it the largest reunion in 10 years.


Lifelong Tigers

Yandle named Honorary Alumnus


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

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

Bruce Yandle, dean emeritus of the College of Business and Behavioral Science and Alumni Distinguished Professor Emeritus of economics, was named an Honorary Alumnus in May by the Alumni Association.
“I join the ranks of my favorite people: my former students and others who came to Clemson,” he said. “Having the opportunity — the privilege — of being in the classroom at Clemson is the high point in my professional life.”
An economics professor from 1969 until his retirement in 2000, Yandle returned as dean of CBBS from 2004 to 2007. Honorary alumni are selected by the Alumni Council for outstanding service, lifelong devotion and loyalty to the University or the Alumni Association.

Clemson Day at the Statehouse

Clemson Day at StatehouseClemson at the State HouseClemson boards, alumni, students and supporters turned Columbia orange May 13. Events included an update on current legislation and the impact of state funding on Clemson, as well as the impact Clemson has on the state of South Carolina. Attendees heard an update on the state of Clemson from President Clements, then walked over to the statehouse where the Smith-Lever Act (which authorized the Cooperative Extension Service) was read and the Lever family was recognized. The Senate and House both declared May 13, 2014, as Clemson Day in South Carolina.
At the evening social, Trustee David Wilkins and President Clements addressed the group and thanked them for making “a significant statement” with their attendance.

Alumni Association names new board members

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

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

The Alumni Association board of directors elected five new members who took office July 1:
JOSH BELL ’08 of Charleston is executive director of Teach for America-South Carolina. He has been a member of the Clemson Alumni National Council (as student government representative), the Alumni Association Council and the committee to restructure the alumni board and council. At Clemson, he was student body president, Sigma Nu fraternity president and treasurer, vice president of Blue Key Honor Society and Tiger Brotherhood.
MARY KATHRYN DEMPSEY ’08 (not pictured) of Charleston is a fundraising consultant for Blackbaud. She is a former president of the Clemson Young Alumni Council and helped establish the inaugural Roaring 10 award in 2012. At Clemson, she was the Student Alumni Council vice president, secretary of the Blue Key Honor Society and a member of the Mortar Board Order of Athena.
MARK DERRICK ’91 of Gaithersburg, Md., is the regional director, government and transportation sector, at Xerox. As a founding member of the D.C./Baltimore regional campaign, Derrick helped raise $15.3 million for Clemson. He also has hosted the annual Crab Feast of the Clemson Club of Baltimore and Washington, D.C., and served as a member of the Clemson Alumni Council since 2008.
SANDY EDGE ’72 (president-elect) of Clemson is a retired Air Force colonel and director of the College of Business and Behavioral Science Advising Center. He has served as president of both the Clemson Rotary Club and the Clemson Corps and as a member of the Clemson Alumni Council. As a student, Edge was a member of the Air Force ROTC, Arnold Air Society and Alpha Zeta Honorary Society.
BUD HICKLIN III ’85 of Clemson is a radiologist at Mountainview Medical Imaging. He has been president and vice president of the Oconee County Medical Association, a member of the Society of Nuclear Medicine and a member of the Clemson Alumni National Council. At Clemson, he was a member of the Clemson Escort Service and Tiger Brotherhood.
RON TAYLOR ’65 of Midland, Mich., is the former director of marketing and sales for Dow Chemical, where he spearheaded an initiative to raise funds from employees and retirees to benefit students and faculty in the Clemson College of Engineering and Science. He created two endowments: the Dow Chemical Engineering Alumni Endowment, which has surpassed $250,000 in value, and the Dow Chemical Alumni Endowment, which is approaching $100,000 in value. As a student, he was inducted into Tau Beta Pi, an engineering honor society.
With 23 members, the board of directors is the governing body for the Alumni Association. Primary responsibilities include general oversight of the programs and initiatives of the association, financial audit and review, creation of governing policies and strategic planning.
Call for nominations
We need your help in selecting outstanding alumni for the Alumni Association board of directors. We’re looking for candidates with exceptional judgment, a strong work ethic, leadership qualities and the vision to advance the goals and objectives of the Alumni Association. Deadline for nominations is Dec. 1. To nominate a candidate, go to

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

Clemson Club of Baltimore and Washington, D.C.

Clemson Club of Baltimore and Washington, D.C.

High above the Washington, D.C., skyline with stunning views of the Washington Monument, Capitol Dome and Ellipse, members of the Clemson Club of Baltimore and Washington, D.C., enjoyed mingling at Six Degrees of Clemson, the professional networking series designed by the club to bring alumni, parents and students together. Held in the spring and fall each year, the series promotes opportunities for guests to meet with top-level industry leaders, network with fellow Tigers and strengthen their skill sets for navigating the professional world.
Hosted by Stephen Burch ’06 at his PricewaterhouseCoopers LLC office in downtown D.C., the May event highlighted four alumni: Brian Sykes ’99, Michael Newman ’78, Stephen Burch ’06 and Angie Howard ’69; and two parents: Glenn Roland and Gregg Blanchard. According to Elizabeth Jackson ’06, the “Six Degrees of Clemson” refers to the degrees of the six speakers as well as the “small world” feel in D.C. when fellow Tigers gather.
More than 30 members of the club’s regional board of directors also met in May for their spring meeting, hosted by Stephen ’06 and Kristin David ’06 Burch. IPTAY CEO Davis Babb highlighted current athletic initiatives and funding opportunities to shape the future of Clemson athletics. Board members John Lynn ’85 and Todd Ray ’90 shared their vision for a brand-new Clemson/ D.C. Internship and Housing Opportunities Program, a two-part initiative with an immediate focus on matching alumni and parents with students seeking internships and a long-term goal of establishing a central building in D.C. to serve as Clemson’s hub for intern housing, classroom and event space.
Visit to learn about D.C. and Baltimore regional events.

Tigers celebrate Reunion Weekend

Class of 1964

Class of 1964

The Class of 1964 celebrated their 50th anniversary reunion, and 64 members of the class were inducted as Golden Tigers during Reunion Weekend in May. The class also presented a gift of $1.046 million to the University, bringing the total of gifts by class members over the last 50 years to almost $16 million.
Two members of the Class of 1939, Ralph Boys (standing) and Tee Senn (pictured at right), were presented with Diamond Tiger medallions by Alumni Association president Ann Hunter.

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

The reunion gift will be divided between an endowment for scholarships and support for the Class of 1956 Academic Success Center. According to Class of 1964 Golden Anniversary Project committee chair Walter Cox, “The Class of 1964 wanted to make a difference in student lives.”
During the weekend, reunion guests heard Professor Jerry Reel speak about life in 1964 and enjoyed entertainment by the Jungaleers. Individual classes gathered for reunion dinners Friday night.
Two members of the Class of 1939, Ralph Boys (standing) and Tee Senn (pictured at right), were presented with Diamond Tiger medallions by Alumni Association president Ann Hunter.

Students choose Madray as Alumni Master Teacher

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

J. Russell Madray ’86, M ’88

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

Clemson Crew alumni celebrate 25 years

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

Clemson University Rowing Association (CURA) Alumni Association

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


Williams receives Modern-Day Technology Leader Award

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