Since 1999, Marcia Barker has called the two-story white house situated off Cherry Road, atop a grassy hill, “home.” Shortly after she and husband, Jim, moved into the space, she affixed a sign to the front door that said as much. The small plaque has a simple message, but it makes an intentional distinction: This is the “President’s Home.”
In the Barkers’ 14 years of living and entertaining here, tens of thousands of guests have crossed the threshold — each one enjoying an introduction to Marcia’s hospitality and her love of all things Clemson. Whether it’s a donor event, Woman’s Club gathering, faculty reception or alumni celebration, an invitation to the President’s Home is always an invitation to time well spent with Marcia, as she entertains alongside her high school sweetheart, life partner and best friend.
The flowers are fresh, and guests are welcomed with a warm smile and open arms. And if Marcia can help it, the roses are always orange.
“When we lived in Clemson as students, Jim’s architecture faculty embraced all their students,” she recalls, seated in her well-appointed front living room and explaining that, as a young couple in the late 1960s, they were invited to picnics, dinners at faculty homes and all variety of outings.
“So, when Jim started his first faculty appointment, we just opened the door, because that’s the way we had been treated,” Marcia says. Now, nearly five decades after they began their Clemson journey together, Marcia is readying herself and her husband to exit the presidency and begin the process of reflecting on their time spent here. “I realized early on how fast this would go, and that it would pass,” Marcia says quietly and thoughtfully. “I’ve tried to embrace every single moment.”
Marcia and Jim met in Kingsport, Tenn. They were high school sweethearts, dating for five years before they were married in 1969, him at 21, her at 20. Her father signed for her to wed the young Clemson architecture student, and she left Winthrop College lacking one year of school so she could move to Clemson. She completed her Bachelor of Arts in elementary education at Georgia State University in 1972.
Their marriage marked the beginning of a partnership that would carry them through life and academia, starting out in “married student housing” at Clemson, a modest group of buildings known as the “pre-fabs.” The small metal buildings on Jersey Lane have long since been replaced by the Brooks Center for the Performing Arts. But every time the Barkers attend a performance, Marcia says they smile a little at the memory of their Clemson beginnings.
“We just thought it was the most wonderful house in the world,” she says laughing. “It would probably fit in the foyer of the President’s Home. That’s where we learned about the Clemson Family, too.”
They moved straight into the pre-fabs after their August 1969 wedding and prepared for Jim to finish his bachelor’s degree. “You know how hot it is here in Clemson,” she recalls of that first summer. “There was no air conditioning, and those little metal houses were warm.”
Shortly after they’d unpacked, one of Barker’s architecture professors, Hal Cooledge, appeared at their door with a window air conditioning unit in hand. He told them he just happened to have an extra one lying around. Marcia may never know if that was true, but she says this, smiling: “It cooled that whole little place, and probably saved our marriage.”
Nearly 45 years later, she’s seen more kindness extended to her family by the Clemson Family than she could ever have imagined.
“It’s been overwhelming and very amazing,” she says. “We can just feel their genuine care and concern.”
Barker was appointed dean of the College of Architecture in 1986, and the couple left Mississippi State University to return to Clemson for the second and last time. Marcia had one lament about the move back, after years of making the trip to Clemson to visit friends:
“We were so excited to start this adventure here,” she recalls. “I said, ‘There’s only one bad thing about coming back to Clemson.’”
It was a comment that she remembers surprising her husband: “When we would come back to visit, we would drive into town, and I would get that excited feeling in my stomach when I would get to Bowman Field. And I said, ‘I will miss that.’”
She found out that the feeling never actually went away, whether she was driving to work as a teacher at Fort Hill Presbyterian or passing by Bowman on one of her early-morning walks around campus, something she enjoys with a small group of friends as often as she is able:
“I still get that feeling, because there’s always something different going on there. It’s the heartbeat of the campus.”
Through the years, the Barkers worked together to serve the students and faculty and to advance Jim’s career, raising two sons, Jacob and Britt, along the way. They celebrated a wedding and two grandchildren in that time — son Jacob married Rita Bolt Barker and they have since had two daughters, Madeline and Eliza.
On her own, Marcia has served the community with diligence and selflessness, volunteering her time and her talents to many, many organizations — America Reads, Friends of Lee Gallery, Fort Hill Presbyterian Church, Clemson Child Development Center and University organizations among them. As first lady, she is honorary president of the Clemson University Woman’s Club, and each year she hosts their open house. As a caring friend, she can be counted on for her homemade breakfast casserole during times of loss (a death) and moments of celebration (a new baby!). She is often responsible for flowers when a special event is happening at her church.
Those who know her well say Jim has always been her No. 1 priority. Marcia explains her support of him the same way she characterizes her engagement with students, faculty, staff and donors: “When you care about someone or something, you really want to do what you can to make that person successful and happy. That’s the way the people at Clemson are.”The Barkers moved into the President’s Home in 1999, and since 2000 they have hosted an impressive 93,708 guests at 789 events there.
In all that time, Doris Johnson has been the executive housekeeper. And in all that time of sharing a house and a calendar with Marcia, Johnson says, “I have never seen her upset.”
Johnson works hand in hand with Marcia’s executive assistant, Linda Wofford, to support the events and entertaining that take place at the President’s Home. Johnson and Wofford have been a team since they both worked for University dining services in the 1990s. They agree that Marcia’s cool, calm and collected public persona doesn’t change behind closed doors. What folks don’t see as often, they say, is her sense of humor.
Case in point: Years ago, the Barkers were entertaining a group of college deans with an outdoor, white tablecloth dinner reception. As Johnson and Wofford were just finishing setting the tables and the Barkers were inside getting dressed, the backyard sprinklers went off. Everything was soaked.
The two staffers looked at each other and realized that someone was going to have to tell the Barkers. So, Wofford stood at the foot of the stairs and called up to them, saying, “We have a problem.”
The Barkers emerged. They saw the soaked table settings. Their response? “They laughed,” Wofford recalls, smiling. The four of them worked as a team to wipe down the glassware and china and replace the soaked tablecloths. Minutes before guests walked through the door, Marcia was helping her team dry off the wet grass with bath towels.
“If anybody had seen us, they would have thought we were crazy,” Johnson says. It remains one of her most treasured memories from her years at the President’s Home.
There’s seldom a face that Marcia Barker forgets. Rare is the occasion that doesn’t merit a hand-written note in her perfect script. She’s in a constant state of outreach — be it congratulations or condolences. It’s not out of obligation. It is, friends say, because she really cares.
“She will know as much about you as you know about her,” says Hazel Sparks, a longtime friend of Marcia’s and her former teacher’s assistant at Fort Hill Preschool. Marcia taught and served as director of the preschool for 10 years, prior to becoming first lady. Sparks, a Clemson institution in her own right, connects the dots between Marcia’s teaching days and her role as first lady.
“She could focus on one child’s need and still be aware of everything else going on in the classroom,” Sparks says. “In a social situation, she can focus on the person she’s talking to, but she still knows what’s going on around her.”
And chances are, if you had a nice conversation, she’ll write a thoughtful note to say so. There’s no telling how many notes Marcia has penned through the years. But if you ask her, it’s one too few.
“I write a lot, but that’s one thing that’s really hard for me. I always feel like there’s one more I need to write that I don’t get time for,” she says. “I do think it’s important, and people have been so incredibly great to write us — just some heartfelt thanks and gratitude. We will definitely treasure those.”
It’s been years since they’ve gone back and looked in the wooden box that holds the thousands of letters they’ve received through the years, dating back to when President Barker was inaugurated. In retirement, they have plans to revisit those letters and those memories, one at a time.
A favorite memory Marcia shares occasionally is a valentine’s party that several male students talked them into hosting at their home. The undergrads convinced the Barkers to let them cook dinner in their kitchen and have their blindfolded dates chauffeured to the President’s Home to share the meal.
The young women took turns gasping at the surprise before being invited to sit down to dinner. Afterward, the group of about eight ladies gathered in the den with Marcia, and the next thing they knew, one of the young men had slid behind the grand piano. He started playing. The rest of the men, including President Barker, then filed in through the French doors and surrounded the piano, proceeding to perform a choreographed rendition of the song, “L-O-V-E.” (Think, “L, is for the way you look tonight.”) The song ended with Jim on bended knee in front of Marcia, an orange rose in hand.
At the end of the night, they were in a state of shock, Marcia recalls. “We just looked at each other when they walked out the door and said, ‘What just happened?’”
It’s clear that memories like that will live on long after the last of the Barkers’ belongings are moved out of the President’s Home and into a home off campus. Marcia hasn’t spent too much time being reflective about her tenure as Clemson’s first lady, in part because she’s still so busy, but also, she says, because it makes her emotional.
“Jim always says it’s been a great honor in his life to serve Clemson as president,” she offers. “When he says that, I always in my mind say, ‘It’s really been an honor for me to serve alongside him.’”
Innovation isn’t always creating a new, flashy product. Sometimes it’s taking something that already exists and finding a different or more efficient way to use the same product.
This idea, this intersection of form and function, is where science and the humanities come together. It’s also the place where universities like Clemson can allow students to stretch boundaries and truly innovate without the obstacles that often face companies — cost, time, bureaucracy of the process.
“It’s not just about making the machine, it’s also about seeing how people are going to use the product,” said David Blakesley, the Campbell Chair for Technical Communication and professor of English. He works extensively with students on the future of the traditional book — what forms it will take, how it will be published and how it will be read.
GIVING SHAPE TO IDEAS
Building on the idea of innovation while allowing for creativity is integral in Clemson’s new MBA in Entrepreneurship and Innovation (MBAe) program, which just graduated its inaugural class from the one-year program.
Designed for individuals who want to start their own companies, the program attracts students who come with a business idea, and then they spend the year networking, developing and refining their idea in the effort to graduate with a market-ready company.
“One of the primary goals of the MBA in Entrepreneurship and Innovation is to ensure that we incorporate a bias for creativity, experimentation and innovation,” said Greg Pickett, associate dean and director of the Clemson MBA program. “Just as an entrepreneurial mindset encourages big ideas, the knowledge gained from our unique curriculum provides students the real-life tools necessary to bring ideas to the marketplace.”
Starting a company wasn’t even a consideration for May MBAe graduate Riley Csernica when she began her undergraduate career at Clemson in bioengineering in 2008. “I kind of stumbled upon it and really liked taking charge and being creative,” she said.
What started out as an idea for a capstone project for her senior design class is now being made into a full-fledged business. She and her group mates were paired with a clinician from Greenville Health System, and from discussions with him, they created a shoulder stabilization brace for athletes and active individuals who experience recurring shoulder instability issues.
With idea in hand, Csernica entered the MBAe program — and now she and one of her original group members have begun Tarian Orthotics. They’ve already received a $50,000 National Science Foundation I-CORPS award as well as $7,500 from the Clemson EnterPrize Awards, the MBAe capstone business pitch competition. They have worked through the Clemson University Research Foundation (CURF), which promotes technology transfer of Clemson intellectual property, to file a provisional patent on the brace.
“There are definitely good days and bad days — there aren’t really any rule books we can look into for answers,” she said. “But through this program, we now have an idea of where we’re going and who to talk to. It was a great time for me to be able to focus on what we are trying to do big picture.”
BUILDING A CABINET OF CURIOSITY
Using an approach to education that fosters innovation, Clemson’s Creative Inquiry program immerses undergraduates in the research process. Students work in teams with faculty mentors, take ownership of their projects and assume the intellectual risks necessary to solve problems and get answers. Team-based investigations are led by a faculty mentor and typically span two to four semesters.
Creative Inquiry students develop critical-thinking skills, learn to solve problems and hone their communication and presentation skills, alongside getting to work on incredible projects with entrepreneurial prospects.
When Greenville Health System Children’s Hospital expressed the need for a pediatric arm stabilizer that could be used to facilitate blood draws from young patients, a Creative Inquiry class took the idea and worked for two years on a solution. The project team included 12 students majoring in mechanical engineering, nursing, bioengineering, business and general engineering, and CURF has since filed a provisional patent for the invention.
In a recent agricultural mechanization Creative Inquiry project, students converted a four-passenger electric golf cart into a teaching platform by building and designing a powertrain and utilizing a diesel engine with hydrostatic transmission. The students incorporated GPS guidance and variable rate controllers.
“We can now demonstrate agricultural power and machinery principles in addition to precision agriculture technologies in a more efficient and student-centered manner,” said Kendall Kirk, agricultural and biological engineering research assistant.
Clemson’s charge from the very beginning has been to innovate and improve the field of agriculture. And while the study of agriculture is far from new, researchers’ work is never done.
A team of professors and students in the agricultural mechanization and business program has designed and implemented technologies that allow a zero turn mower — a standard riding lawn mower that has a turning radius that’s effectively zero inches — to use its existing hydraulic circuit to power cylinder and motor–actuated implements. It can also operate accessory attachments such as log splitters, scrape blades, wood chippers, leaf blowers and others.
“This technology substantially increases the versatility of zero turn mowers and eliminates the need for additional internal combustion engines to drive accessories,” Kirk said.
As part of a horticulture class, students Malisia Wilkins and Allison Kelley recently tackled the idea of vertical gardening as a way to feed the hungry in small-space urban environments. Vertical gardening involves a simple structure, built vertically, that doesn’t require soil and retains water. To build one, they upcycled several standard wooden pallets and outfitted them with materials found at your average hardware store.
“When it came to designing the vertical garden, our first priority, beyond feeding people, was sustainability; our second priority was to design something inexpensive and easy to build,” they wrote in their report.
The three prototypes of varying sizes were then filled with cilantro, bell peppers, Italian parsley, kale, basil, sweet marjoram, oregano, chard, micro-greens, lettuce, strawberries, thyme — all plants that grow at shallow soil depths and, more importantly, provide nutritional value and health benefits.
“We believe that by educating individual families to produce on a micro-scale, we can work to eliminate food insecurities and hunger,” they said.
SPRINGBOARD FOR INNOVATION
Partnerships with Greenville Health System (GHS) and private corporations are helping drive innovation in the classroom as well as the business sector. From advanced materials to bioengineering, recent academic innovations have given rise to commercially applicable medical advancements.
These advancements are fueled by the 20-year partnership between the College of Engineering and Science and GHS, and more recently, the opening of the Clemson University Biomedical Engineering Innovation Campus (CUBEInC) on the Patewood medical campus. This facility includes translational research laboratories that focus on cardiovascular and orthopedic engineering. CUBEInC enables the translation of high-impact medical technology and devices from the laboratory to bedside, providing numerous opportunities for entrepreneurial pursuits.
“GHS is a wonderful partner for Clemson,” said Martine LaBerge, bioengineering department chair. “Where Clemson has a comprehensive understanding of biomaterials, the hospital system is the go-to organization in Upstate South Carolina for medicine and surgery. When these areas of expertise are combined, there exists a real opportunity to make a difference in the quality of life of the people of our state.”
Using CUBEInC as a springboard for innovation, assistant professor John DesJardins and colleagues have mentored two recent senior biomedical engineering design projects that have development technologies destined for the marketplace — one of those being the newly formed Tarian Orthotics.
LOOKING TO THE FUTURE
Innovation and change happening in Clemson classrooms isn’t just affecting industry and business, but the future of teaching and classrooms.
“It’s so important for teachers to be able to think creatively and to be able to inspire this thinking in their students because they are charged with educating young people for an unknown future in a digital, global world that requires students to be literate across an interweaving media — from written text to the body to digital imagery to sound,” said Alison Leonard, assistant professor of arts and creativity.
To address this, she has created the Arts and Creativity Lab in Godfrey Hall, which was physically and aesthetically designed to cultivate creative and artistic thinking. The design of the space, along with the pedagogy of the class, nurtures ideas among students.
“We cannot continue to train teachers the same way that many of us were taught. The world is different,” Leonard said. “Ways of communicating continually are changing, and young students are literate in ways that are so multifaceted and mediated, that being flexible, creative, able to function and communicate effectively across cultures, contexts and media is essential.”
The same goes for long-standing products like books. In Blakesley’s class on the future of the book, his students approach creating a book in both traditional and non-traditional ways. Each has to think linearly across platforms — how will this read on the printed page? How will it read on a tablet? What will make this more interactive? In the end, the whole process is scrambled, and the writer has to rethink the approach. A book is no longer just a book in the simplest sense of the word.
The consequences of such innovation is that long-standing roles and processes need to be changed, adapted or simply eliminated. And change is hard.
“I like to think of our students as ‘change agents,’” Blakesley said. “Down the road, they’ll be more capable and likely to bring about innovation in the workplace. And they’ll be better prepared to anticipate the cost and challenges because they’ve done this already, in the classroom.”
Clemson writers Ron Grant and Jonathan Veit contributed to this article.
Client-Based Writing Program is preparing students to write professionally in the workplace.
For mechanical engineering major Eric Roper, it’s fair to say that writing was not one of his favorite subjects. But as a senior trying to prepare himself for a career that involves writing reports and procedures, he needed to have a basic skill set under his belt.
That’s where professor Ashley Cowden’s technical writing class last fall came into play. A part of Clemson’s Client-Based Writing Program, the class provided Roper the opportunity to experience writing and formatting technical documents in a real-life setting, while gaining the knowledge that would prepare him for future technical writing projects he may encounter in the workforce.
Writing class+local client=real-world experience
Having been recently ranked among the top 10 in U.S.News & World Report’s list of schools with the highest percentage of students holding internships or co-op positions, Clemson takes pride in offering programs and opportunities to provide students with this type of real-world experience.
The Client-Based Writing Program pairs business and technical writing classes with local clients, such as nonprofit organizations, public schools, corporations and University departments, that need communication deliverables. In teams, students complete deliverables that range from white papers and research reports to brochures, instruction manuals and multimedia presentations.
Established in 2003, the program has garnered impressive statistics. More than 4,361 students in more than 220 sections of business and technical writing have partnered with clients, and more than 30 writing faculty and 176 clients from the campus and community have participated in the program.
Cowden, director of the program, has witnessed its development since the beginning.
“We started out doing a lot of environmental projects and sustainability, because that’s where a lot of the funding was and we felt very passionate about that,” she said.
Since then, the program has branched out in terms of the clients and projects that it undertakes, developing a strong reputation and a long list of clients ranging from Clemson Dining Services to Anderson Adult Education and Habitat for Humanity.
Solving real problems
Richard Gaines, director of Anderson Adult Education Center, has been working with professor Philip Randall’s classes for the past three years, and admires the creativity and commitment displayed through each project and semester. The classes have assisted with a variety of projects, including marketing efforts, boosting morale of students and faculty through building enhancements and surveys, communicating GED requirements and research.
“It’s been motivating for our students and staff to see the hard work and dedication of the University students,” Gaines said. “Beyond the obvious benefits, there are countless rewards that both groups experience by being challenged and inspired by each other.”
A goal of Randall’s is to enable students to excel in business writing while using their talents to positively impact society by solving real problems in the real world.
“Helping people get more education so they can qualify for better jobs is helping solve a very big problem,” Randall said. “It can change life for a person or even an entire family. So the work that Clemson students are doing for adult ed is very important.”
Moving students toward confident communicating
In addition to teaching and recruiting clients to participate in the program, Cowden is responsible for recruiting faculty members like Randall and orienting them to an approach unlike most of their other classes. Classes are very much student-centered, as class members work directly with clients. And faculty members collaborate with their students in a variety of ways throughout the process.
“In the beginning of the semester,” Cowden said, “we’re teaching a lot of the theory, how to perform good audience analysis, what a good proposal sounds like, how to do research, and so on.” Once the class moves forward in the process of actively working with a client, the professors direct students’ attention to the client when they have questions.
And while Cowden and other faculty members don’t tell students how to solve problems, they do work to guide them toward finding a solution.
“The client comes and says, ‘Here’s my problem, and here’s what I think I need.’ I know in my head how I would do it, and I try to ask students questions to help them get there, but I try to let them figure that out on their own,” she said.
And watching them succeed is especially rewarding, according to Cowden and Randall.
“Watching these students do amazing things for a client is exciting,” Randall said. “I often think, ‘I get to do this!’ I find it that enjoyable. It’s the best way to teach, in my opinion.”
Cowden views the program as one of the more unique experiences offered at Clemson.
“You have to meet real client expectations, and it’s not just for a grade,” Cowden said. “These skills give our students more confidence to be able to ask tough questions, give a client feedback, and feel more confident in their communication ability.”
Building résumés while building character
As the program enters its tenth year, it exhibits the potential for growth in the midst of its success. Cowden would like to expand the program across campus into a wider variety of courses. That has already begun “in little pockets,” she said, including some graduate classes. “I would also love to have more classes collaborating on projects, like having a business writing and marketing class working together.”
In all its efforts, the Client-Based Program is motivating business and technical majors to develop writing skills that will be useful in their careers. And with these new skills, students are building résumés while also building character through using their knowledge for the betterment of the Clemson community and surrounding areas.
“The IPTAY project we worked on not only gave me experience in writing technical documents, but it also gave me a chance to give back to the University,” Roper said. “And the experience will definitely benefit me in my career, because it’s given me an effective approach for writing technical reports and procedures.”
In addition to on-campus clients, the Client-Based Writing Program has worked with the following off-campus organizations:
AMECO division of Fluor Corp.
American Haitian Project
Anderson County Board of Education
Anderson County Department of Health and Environmental Control
Anderson County Museum
Anderson County Transportation
Anderson Emergency Food Bank
Anderson Free Clinic
Anderson-Oconee Speech and Hearing Clinic
Anderson Services Association
Anderson Sunshine House
Betty Griffin House
Cancer Association of Anderson
Carolina Farm Stewardship Association
City of Clemson
Clemson Child Development Center
Clemson Elementary School
Code Elementary School
Concerned Citizens for Animals
Dining for Women
Foothills Conservancy for the Performing Arts
Frazee Dream Center
Gignilliat Park Academy
Greenville County Library
Greenville Humane Society
Habitat for Humanity
Helping Hands of Clemson
Keep America Beautiful
Littlejohn Community Center
McCants Middle School
Michelin Tire Co. Research and Development
Oconee County Foster Parent Association
Oconee County Track Team
Pendleton Historic Foundation
Pickens County YMCA
South Carolina Urban and Community Forestry Program
United Way of Pickens County
Upstate South Carolina Red Cross
We Stand for Kids
Do you get concerned about losing your cellphone or mobile device?
Are you anxious if there is no wireless service?
Do you feel your life is dependent on Internet availability?
If you answered “yes” to any of these questions, then you might be suffering from ‘nomophobia’ – fear of having no mobile phone.
Or, if you felt that your phone vibrated when it didn’t, you might be experiencing ‘phantom vibration syndrome.’
Those are just two examples of the adverse side effects of our interactions with today’s technologies. Unfortunately, these effects, as well as others, are becoming widespread as contemporary information technologies get increasingly embedded into our day-to-day lives.
The psychological and physiological impact of these effects is broadly coming under the umbrella term of “technostress.” High levels of technostress can lead not only to significant chronic health ailments, but also to decline in productivity levels.
Our research shows that the leading sources of technostress are the technologies that increase our availability around the clock. This availability, combined with general work pressure in a weak economy, has resulted in organizations having increased expectations, and employees feeling pressure to acquiesce to those expectations.
And while technologies have advanced tremendously in their processing power, the ability of individuals to process and digest information hasn’t increased in comparison. The result is increased workloads. And when they are used ineffectively, technologies are also a great source of interruptions that hamper our ability to focus on the tasks at hand. As most of us can attest, all too frequently while working on tasks, we are distracted by an email, phone call, text, instant message, tweet or status update. These constant interruptions increase costs of switching to and from work, and effectively add to the workload.
It is not uncommon for individuals to work from home during off-hours or weekends or even on vacations. The accessibility provided by technologies is increasingly straining roles individuals have to play in work and family spheres and blurring the line between the two.
Compounding these issues is the concept of the “tragedy of commons.” Some highly motivated individuals in the workplace are available after-hours and make others feel like slackers. The tragedy of commons implies that eventually, what was an exception is becoming a norm. If you are the only one who doesn’t respond to emails in the evenings or on the weekends, how does that look?
In addition, these technologies have resulted in some confusion and role ambiguity among professionals regarding their roles when their technologies are so intertwined with work. If their devices or software breaks down or needs upgrading, whose responsibility is that? If an individual spends a day resolving technical issues, there is added pressure that real work is not being accomplished.This role ambiguity, coupled with the increased workload and resulting work-home conflict, contributes to the condition we’ve come to call technostress.
So what can be done about this growing problem? If technological power is not properly harnessed, it can be detrimental to our overall health. Harnessing technology must involve proactively controlling the consumption of technology resources.
Different industries are exploring innovative solutions to control technology consumption. Some restaurants, for example, are providing a discount if mobile devices are checked in, with the goal of providing an enhanced dining experience. Similarly, hotels are offering the service of locking up mobile devices during supposed vacation periods. And some have proposed the idea of a technology/Internet Sabbath.
The Benefits — and Challenges — of Disconnecting
It would have a positive impact on not only our productivity at work, but our satisfaction at home as well, if we can begin to find ways to disconnect. The biggest challenge in attempting this will be to manage expectations — to set limitations when one will be not available.
So how can this be accomplished? Some companies are experimenting with already established norms. For example, one company extended “casual Friday” to include being email free to encourage picking up the phone, or meeting face-to-face. Other employers have encouraged employees to set aside a portion of the workday to be free of interruptions and request support from colleagues to preserve this interruption-free time. Another strategy being tried is to leave your cell phone and PDA off one day per week — even if it is a weekend day. Whatever the strategy, it is sage advice to not go it alone — ask a colleague or spouse to help enforce the rules.
Overall, management should take initiative in establishing strong work-home boundaries. This might seem counterproductive for the firm; after all why should management encourage individuals NOT to work during off-hours? However, the potential effects of technostress are real — increasing health care costs to organizations and reducing employee productivity and morale. Further, possibly the greatest enemy of creativity and innovation are the partners of technostress — overload and fatigue.
It is not far-fetched to think that employers would encourage behaviors that would reduce the risk of technostress. Currently, employers (and some health insurance companies) encourage, and even pay, individuals to lead healthier lifestyles. Rising health care costs and obesity issues are forcing employers to think of innovative ideas such as incentive-laden wellness programs. In these programs, individuals are paid to lose weight in the hope that benefits are realized through reduced health care costs and increased energy and productivity.
We can draw a parallel between obesity and technostress. A simplistic explanation for obesity can be provided in terms of food availability (e.g., convenience food) and consumption. In technology terms, we now have convenience technology available (e.g., smartphones), and our present consumption of technology is unbridled. Isn’t it time we put boundaries on our technology consumption habits? Consideration of this issue might lead to corporate guidelines regarding managing expectations about an individual’s availability at work and after work, and establishment of stricter work-home boundaries.
Our world is certainly not going to become less technological in the future. It seems that every year, or often every month, there is yet another gadget, program or time-saving device that is supposed to make our lives easier. And while they often accrue real benefits and time savings, there are often downside risks that negate such benefits.
And so, ironically, we face the challenge of periodically disconnecting from our technological support system in order to recharge, both personally and professionally, to lessen our own technostress.
Varun Grover is the William S. Lee Distinguished Professor in Information Systems at Clemson. He ranks eighth out of 400 prominent management information systems researchers in the 2012 update of the University of Arizona’s h-index ranking, widely accepted as the metric that assesses the productivity and impact of a scientist or scholar.
Ramakrishna Ayyagari completed his Ph.D. from Clemson and is currently a faculty member at the University of Massachusetts, Boston.
Russell Purvis is an associate professor in the Department of Management.
Blurring the line between work and home
Lisa Knott Walker ’03, our cover model, spends her workdays as a home health physical therapist, traveling to patients across the Upstate. She and her husband, Todd, are parents of two children, Avery and Warren, under the age of 3. She loves to run when she can find the time, and the whole family cheers on the Tigers every fall.
Her life is much easier — and more complicated — because of the electronic devices that are an integral part of work and home. The smartphone is always on, for communicating with co-workers (during and after hours) and looking up patient-related questions, as well as for those calls that may come from the daycare center. Her GPS helps her find her way. Her laptop provides information about her patients, unless there are problems with Internet availability and she can’t find what she needs to do her job.
That’s when technostress raises its ugly head. And again when the phone is not working and she’s in some remote area, worried that the car may break down.
The technology definitely blurs the line between work and home. But that has both positive and negative implications.
“Because I document patient charts on my laptop,” she says, “I often find myself sitting on the couch after the kids have gone to bed working on patient charts. I don’t always mind though, because often it gives me a chance to spend more time with my kids during the day knowing I can finish up work after they are in bed.”
There’s a literary legend that Ernest Hemingway once was challenged to write a short story in six words or less and responded with:
“For sale: baby shoes, never worn.”
While that was never verified, Smith Magazine popularized the idea of six-word memoirs several years ago, inviting online readers to share their six words on life, happiness and more.
It seemed a perfect challenge for Clemson alumni, who, from both anecdotal and formal research, are among the most loyal in the country. Start a cadence count almost anywhere and any alum within earshot will pick it up.
So we threw out the question on our Clemson World Facebook page: “How would you describe your Clemson experience in six words or less?” We’ll give a little slack to those grads for whom mathematics isn’t a strong point — some of our six-word memoirs stretched to seven, or eight, or even 18. But it was clear in reading through them that the memories of the education gained and relationships formed have resulted in an incredibly strong Tiger pride. This is a visual representation of the many responses posted on Facebook. The larger the word, the more times it was used. And, yes, “thermodynamics” really was part of one six-word description.
Nine billion. That’s how many people will inhabit the earth by 2050. How do we feed nine billion people? How do we feed them well in a way that is both economically and environmentally sustainable? In a way that will make a profit and open new markets for farmers while leaving the planet a place where those nine billion people and their descendants will want to live?
These are some of the big questions being asked and answered by Clemson’s Sustainable Agriculture Program, the centerpiece of which is the Student Organic Farm (SOF), a 15-acre working organic farm and experiential teaching center dedicated to researching profitable, practical sustainable farming techniques that can benefit students and farmers across the state.
The history of the farm
In 2001, the area between Hartwell Lake and Perimeter Road known as “The Bottoms” was primarily being used to test row crop varieties and grow feed for livestock at the Clemson livestock farms.
A group of faculty from the College of Agriculture, Forestry and Life Sciences (CAFLS) suggested the land be used to create a small market garden that would produce fruits, vegetables and flowers for sale to consumers on campus and in the local community.
That group of faculty included Geoff Zehnder, professor of entomology in the School of Agricultural, Forest and Environmental Sciences (SAFES) and director of Clemson’s Sustainable Agriculture Program.“We secured a USDA Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education training grant and started with four 100-square-foot plots for vegetable production and four small areas for growing medicinal and edible herbs, blueberries and beneficial insect-attracting plants,” said Zehnder.
In 2005, the SOF earned its organic certification from the Organic Certification Program in Clemson’s Department of Plant Industry. Today, with funding from grants and produce sales through its Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) program, that former market garden is a productive organic farming operation and a showcase for sustainable farming techniques that advances Clemson’s land-grant heritage of teaching, research and extension and embodies Thomas Green Clemson’s founding vision of an agricultural college that would help the people of South Carolina prosper through instruction and outreach in the agricultural and natural sciences.
The SOF is located on land that is part of an area with a deep agricultural heritage and is now officially named “Calhoun Fields.” The land is said to have first been farmed by Cherokee Indians, then by John C. Calhoun and Clemson himself back in the days when a man’s gait was measured in furrows because he plowed his acreage walking behind a mule-drawn sodbuster. Back long before there was a university or before Clemson President Robert Cook Edwards (1958-1979) saved the land from inundation by Hartwell Lake.
Back in the days when the food we put on our tables and in our mouths was born of the sweat that stung our eyes and our own callused and mud-streaked hands.
What is sustainable agriculture?
Sustainable agriculture is more than just an abstract idea. The results of a strong sustainable agriculture operation are measurable as increased profitability, decreased farm debt and purchase of off-farm feed and fertilizer, and reduced reliance on government subsidies. This is accomplished by working with nature rather than against it.
On a perfect sustainable agriculture operation, there is no bare ground. Clean water flows through the farm’s ditches and streams. Wildlife is abundant and the farm landscape hosts a diversity of vegetation. Crops are diversified and plant and animal agriculture is integrated, reducing market risk and increasing profit. Solar energy is captured and used across the farm systems. The water cycle is managed in a way that reduces surface runoff, soil surface evaporation, and drought and flood incidence, and increases transpiration by plants and seepage into underground reservoirs. And a well-functioning mineral cycle moves nutrients from the soil through the crops and animals and back to the soil through on-farm feeding of livestock, thoughtful manure and crop residue management, and the use of catch crops to reduce nutrient-leaching losses.
The SOF aims to show Clemson agricultural and natural resources students and farmers across the state of South Carolina that, done right, sustainable farming can make more money for farmers, feed more people more efficiently, conserve natural resources and support surrounding businesses by circulating more dollars within the local economy.“The Student Organic Farm is a working farm,” Zehnder says. ìBut it’s also an experiential learning environment. It’s a place where we can demonstrate farming systems and strategies that are economically, ecologically and socially sustainable.”
Sustainable organic farming in action
Shawn Jadrnicek, a former farmer and South Carolina extension agent, manages the SOF’s day-to-day operations, including soliciting and managing volunteer and paid student labor, giving tours to curious farmers, students and extension agents, and designing and implementing many of the sustainable agriculture systems currently being used. The SOF is a sort of canvas for Jadrnicek’s farming imagination.
“That small market garden expanded and evolved over the years,” Zehnder says. “But Shawn’s work has really taken the farm to the next level.”
There are five greenhouses on the farm and each is oriented to take maximum advantage of passive heating and cooling techniques. A series of 55-gallon drums on the south side of one greenhouse collects solar heat during the day and emits that heat into the greenhouse at night.
In winter each solar-heated barrel produces over 9,000 BTUs of heat per day, which means that the heat generated from all the barrels is equivalent to burning one gallon of propane.
“The double-poly greenhouses with the 55-gallon drums give up to 13 degrees of frost protection without spending a penny on electricity or propane,” Jadrnicek said.
To augment the passive heating system, the greenhouses utilize a hydronic closed-loop active heating system that pumps warm water through pipes and a grid of tubing. Plant flats are placed directly on the tubing grid and kept warm by heat transfer. In this way, heat is placed exactly where it’s needed at the soil underneath the plants rather than wasting energy by heating the entire cavernous greenhouse space.
The greenhouses themselves are constructed of two layers of greenhouse plastic to reduce condensation and create insulation, and they are oriented to take advantage of the prevailing breezes. As the breezes move across the land, they are cooled by the ponds before entering the greenhouses. On extremely hot days, a recirculating fountain in an adjacent pond creates evaporative cooling. A series of solar-powered vents with expanding and contracting wax-filled switches allows hot air to escape and cool air to fill in behind it.
A rainwater collecting system captures water and feeds a cistern and a series of ponds used for irrigation and aquaculture. The ponds are strategically placed to control temperature and create microclimates. Plants and vegetation around the ponds capture and channel wind to the greenhouses. The ponds are also designed to create microclimates that provide a diversity of habitat for a variety of plants.
Some of the greenhouses partially encapsulate the ponds. Heat captured by the pond water is released into the greenhouses. Tilapia fingerlings are overwintered in one green-house pond and then transferred to outdoor ponds when the weather warms. The water in which the tilapia are raised, rich in organic matter, is used as fertilizer.
Laura Lengnick, director of the sustainable agriculture program at Warren Wilson College in Asheville, N.C., and lead author on the recently released USDA report, Climate Change and Agriculture: Effects and Adaptation, says that the SOF’s microclimate and keyline management practices offer examples of ways to create resilience to climate change.
“Shawn is doing some really groundbreaking work in managing microclimates and the large-scale movement of air and water across the landscape,” says Lengnick. “These features are unique among college farms.”
The SOF is also experimenting with a prototype soldier fly digester. The digester is used to recycle food and plant waste from campus dining halls and the farm. The soldier fly larvae consume the waste. The larvae are then processed in the Clemson Biosystems Engineering laboratory, where they are dehydrated and pressed for oil to make biodiesel. The remaining soldier fly meal can be used to feed chickens or fish. The digester is connected to a greenhouse. CO2 and heat from the digester are captured inside the greenhouse, while the greenhouse warms the digester and extends the life of the soldier flies and their larvae.“We estimate that the school could produce over 4,000 gallons of oil and $40,000 in high protein meal if we used all the food waste on campus in soldier fly digesters,” Jadrnicek says.
An enormous compost pile is cozied up against one of the greenhouses so its heat can help warm plants in winter. Water pipes run through the compost pile transferring heat into the hydronic system and reducing energy use.
The SOF maintains soil health by cover cropping rather than using fertilizers from offsite sources.
“Every part of the farm is cover cropped at some point during the year,” Zehnder says. “Cover cropping provides soil organic matter and nutrients and keeps fertilizer costs to an absolute minimum. Cover crops also suppress weeds and insects.”
Even the crop rows are planted with sustainability and efficiency in mind. They are planted on the high points of the fields so they can stay dry on the low-lying piece of land. The beds slope off the rows at a half-percent grade or less, allowing the fields to drain gradually without water loss or soil erosion.
Teaching and outreach at the SOF
The work that’s being done at the SOF isn’t theoretical. Like a stone dropped in a still pond, Jadrnicek and Zehnder hope the sustainable farming practices on display ripple outward.“The ultimate goal of the Student Organic Farm is to try techniques that will help farmers increase profitability and sustainability, and decrease farm debt. We also want to ignite the imaginations of the next generation of farmers,” Zehnder says.
Extension agents from across South Carolina visit the SOF to receive training in sustainable and organic farming practices. The agents then impart what they learn to producers interested in implementing sustainable farming practices and diversifying into emerging markets, including organic production.
“Producers are becoming more interested in organic and sustainable farming practices,” says Danny Howard, Greenville County extension agent. “The hands-on demonstrations we can provide through the Student Organic Farm are the best teacher of all. And current organic producers who are having challenges with weed, disease and insect control can learn how to solve these problems through the SOF’s outreach.”
During the 2012 Carolina Farm Stewardship Conference in Greenville, which was attended by more than 800 participants, the SOF conducted educational tours for agricultural stakeholders from across the Southeast.
Lee Meyer, extension professor in the University of Kentucky’s Department of Agricultural Economics, praises the SOF for showing farmers that sustainable farming systems are profitable and practical.
“When I talk about sustainable or organic farming alternatives, farmers often say to me, ‘That’s a great idea in theory, but you can’t do that it in the real world!’ Well, yes you can, and you can see it in action at Clemson’s Student Organic Farm,” Meyer says. “Geoff and Shawn listen to farmers’ problems and try to both find solutions and demonstrate their effectiveness.”
Students and faculty from a wide array of disciplines use the SOF for teaching and research. Horticulture professor Ellen Vincent takes her students on tours of the SOF.
“The Student Organic Farm is a great place for students to see cutting-edge sustainability practices in action,” Vincent says. “Geoff and Shawn have created a powerful environment for students to learn and grow.”
The SOF has also been the focus of Creative Inquiry projects in aquaponics, vegetable transplant, greenhouse design and architecture. One three-year Creative Inquiry project headed by associate professor of architecture Dan Harding led to the design and construction of several new structures at the SOF and the rebranding of The Bottoms as “Calhoun Fields.”
“When we were trying to understand the DNA of The Bottoms area, we decided that our agriculture programs are one of our strongest traditions,” said William Craig, a senior architecture major who worked on the project. “Agriculture is the reason we’re here in the first place. We wouldn’t have a Clemson University if Thomas Green Clemson hadn’t looked at those fields and imagined how they could be used to educate for the future. They are special, fertile fields. They are where the roots of this university lie.”
Organic produce for sale here!
The Student Organic Farm distributes organic produce and partially funds its research and outreach initiatives through its Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) program. CSA shareholders pay an upfront seasonal membership fee that covers production costs in exchange for a weekly share of local in-season organic food.
For 2013, the SOF will offer two 14-week shares, the Summer Share (April 30 – Aug. 1), and the Fall Share (Aug. 27 – Nov. 28). Some of the produce that shareholders can expect to receive:
Arugula, beets, broccoli, cabbage, carrots, cauliflower, cilantro, collards, green onions, kale, kohlrabi, lettuce, mustard greens, pac choi, radishes, spinach, Swiss chard, turnips
Basil, cucumbers, eggplant, garlic, green onions, herbs, okra, peppers, potatoes, snap beans, zucchini, yellow squash, sweet corn, Swiss chard, tomatoes, watermelons, cantaloupe
Arugula, basil, beets, broccoli, cabbage, carrots, collards, cauliflower, eggplant, garlic, green onions, kale, kohlrabi, lettuce, mustard greens, okra, pac choi, peppers, radishes, spinach, storage onions, sweet potatoes, tomatoes, turnips, winter squash
Fruit shares are also available during the Summer Share period. Though the fruit is not certified organic, the blackberries are treated organically, while the peaches, harvested from a local farm in Seneca, are minimally sprayed.
Learn more about the CSA by visiting
www.clemson.edu/sustainableag/csaprogram.html or by calling 864-656-5057.
In April, five Clemson alumni joined a select group and received the highest honor bestowed upon a former student by the Alumni Association. All five of these honorees have experienced success in their lives, personally and professionally. But one quality ties them together, more than all the others. And that’s their determination. They were determined in the classroom and on the playing field, in their communities and their careers, in their public personas and in their personal lives. And they bring that determination to their continuing involvement with Clemson.
A can-do attitude
William L. “Roy” Abercrombie Jr. ’69 learned early on in his life that “Can’t can never do anything.” That can-do attitude was nurtured along by his professors at Clemson, including Dean Wallace Trevillian, who required shirts and ties at all his management classes.
Though he started out in sales, Abercrombie ended up in banking. He rose to chair of the board, CEO and president at American Federal, where he served until 1997, when the bank merged with CCB–Central Carolina Bank. He continued with CCB until his retirement in 2003. He currently serves as chair of Colliers International–Greenville.
Abercrombie is a life IPTAY member, WestZone Initiative and Heisman-level donor, member of the Leadership Circle, and former member and past chair of the Board of Visitors. He was instrumental in securing resources needed to enable the board to promote the University. Past chair of the Clemson Real Estate Foundation, he is a founding member and chair of the Clemson Land Stewardship Foundation.
A thinker and a problem-solver
E. Mitchell “Mitch” Norville ’80 got his degree in engineering, but thanks to Professor Douglas Bradbury, he came to see himself as a thinker and problem-solver. He worked as an engineer for a couple of years before going to the University of Virginia to earn his MBA and continue his career at Boston Properties, one of the largest self-managed real estate investment trusts specializing in the development and ownership of office, industrial and hotel properties in the United States.
Clemson may not be the city on his driver’s license, but it does have his heart. A board member for the Baltimore/Washington D.C. Clemson Club, he has made significant financial contributions to Clemson’s basketball program and the WestZone, where Gate 6 was named the “Norville Family Gate” in honor of his family.
A founding member of the President’s Leadership Circle, he endowed the Ernest R. Norville Chair in Biomedical Engineering in honor of his father. He serves on the Clemson University Foun-dation Board of Directors, the President’s Advisory Board and the Advancement Board for Real Estate Development.
The eye of the needle
At 6 feet and 135 pounds, James Warren “Jimmy” Addison ’68 didn’t see himself as a potential college football star. Fortunately, Coach Fred Cone thought differently and recruited the young man known as “the Needle.” Addison went on to capture honors including All ACC Quarterback, S.C. Athlete of the Year and an NCAA Post-graduate Scholarship. Three ACC Championships helped cement his membership in the Athletic Hall of Fame.
His determination on the field was matched in the classroom and in ROTC. A member of Scabbard and Blade, he graduated with both the Norris Medal and the Algernon Sidney Sullivan Award. He went on to law school at the University of Virginia and now chairs the Commercial Real Estate Section at Troutman Sanders LLP.
Addison has served on the Alumni Association Board of Directors and the Advancement Board for the School of Humanities. He also established the Virginia and Bill Addison Endowment for the Humanities and has served as chair of Clemson’s Athletic Hall of Fame. In addition, Addison has given much of his recent time to the Clemson University Foundation Board.
Paving the way to success
Russell Carlton Ashmore Jr. ’50 has always had a way of turning roadblocks into opportunities — in athletics and academics, professionally and personally. When his football career ended for medical reasons, he served as an Army cadet and focused on his studies. When his pre-med dreams met a queasy stomach, he still found ways to provide medical care, both here and abroad, to those unable to afford it.
After graduation, Ashmore served in the U.S. Army and the Reserves, then returned to Clemson to pursue his interest in ceramic engineering, after which he took a position at General Shale in Tennessee. While on his way up the corporate ladder, he was convinced to return to the family business in grading, paving and excavation. He not only helped guide the family business, but also served as an industry leader.
For more than five decades, Ashmore has been a member of IPTAY and an annual donor to the Clemson Fund. An active supporter of Clemson Corps, he was one of the principal organizers and fundraising chair for the Military Heritage Plaza and Cadet Monument. President of the Class of 1950, he is co-founder of the Taylors Clemson Touring Club — the originators of orange overalls at football games.
“There’s never been a Duckworth who didn’t want to win,” says Edgar James “Ed” Duckworth ’61. But as competitive as he may be, Duckworth believes that it’s not winning or losing that matters in the long run, but how you play the game. And though he is a supporter of Clemson athletics, it is the philosophy of “One Clemson” that has captured his heart.
Duckworth graduated with a degree in civil engineering, then transitioned into the world of finance, where he has had a 40-year career in the securities industry as a broker, dealer and financial adviser. He is currently the senior member of an elite group of financial advisers for Morgan Stanley in Atlanta.
A member of the Clemson University Foundation Board of Directors, Duckworth is vice chair of the finance committee and a member of the Will to Lead National Campaign Committee. He was instrumental in helping the Atlanta Clemson Club fund the Clemson Tiger Paw license plate in Georgia, and continues to support IPTAY, Clemson Fund, alumni activities and the Class of 1961. He and his family recently made a major contribution to build the Duckworth Family Pavilion to support Clemson’s tennis teams.
College can be a scary place, especially for new students adjusting to navigating class schedules, meeting new people, working with advisers and managing their time, all while making good grades.
Clemson Housing provides students with support networks to help with these issues by creating communities within residence halls where students with similar interests or academic pursuits live together with access to advisers, resources and special activities.
Known as Living-Learning Communities (LLCs), these communities benefit students both academically and socially.
“Clemson has invested in our living-learning programs because we feel that they represent a best practice in residential learning,” said Kathy Hobgood, director of residential life. “LLCs connect students to their academics in a way that makes college life more seamless by bringing what they learn in the classroom into their living environments with discussions, resources and staff – including faculty. This allows for deeper learning, stronger ties to the University and overall greater student success.”
Clemson opened its first LLC in 2001 with the First Class program for business and engineering majors. There are now 18 LLCs on campus; the goal is to add or enhance two new ones each year through 2020. This year, 1,446 students live in an LLC – that’s approximately 23 percent of students who live on campus.
According to the National Study of Living-Learning Programs, more than 60 colleges and universities have living-learning programs. That study, as well as U.S.News & World Report, named Clemson’s among the nation’s best.
Perhaps the best indicator of the effectiveness of LLCs comes from the students who live in them.
Shauna Young – Clemson Business Experience
Junior, management, North Charleston
Shauna Young is convinced that the Clemson Business Experience (CBE) community in Benet Hall is the best place to live on campus. Now in her third year living in the community, she serves as a resident liaison, coordinating activities with the RAs and advisers. Last year, she served as an RA.
“I help plan programs, socials, whatever students might need to help them have a better experience,” said Young.
Young has helped plan a field day, a “Cake Boss” contest, movie nights and more for her fellow residents. She said these kinds of events help bring everyone on the hall closer together.
“I’ve heard from multiple people that Benet Hall is like one big family,” she said. “It’s different. Students just click with one another.”
Young actually had her choice between four different LLCs to live in this year. As a member of Air Force ROTC, she could have lived in that community, and as a CONNECTIONS peer mentor, she could have lived in the new CONNECTIONS LLC as a mentor for freshman minority students. She is also in the Calhoun Honors College, so she could have chosen to live in that community in Holmes Hall. But the sense of family drew her back to Benet for her third year.
“I like working with people and having a positive impact,” said Young. “I see my residents from last year, and I know I helped make their experience better than it might have been. That’s the reason I came back this year.”
Mike DesJardin – Army ROTC LLC
Junior, financial management, Merritt Island, Fla.
Mike DesJardin always knew he wanted to join the Army. The son of an Army officer, he was drawn to Clemson by the University’s strong ROTC program and military heritage. When the Army ROTC LLC was created this semester, he couldn’t pass up the opportunity to live among his fellow cadets, but it wasn’t his first time living in an LLC. His first two years were spent in the Clemson Business Experience (CBE) community for students in business majors.
DesJardin said living in the CBE was particularly helpful when he decided to change his major from political science to financial management in the middle of his freshman year. In his second year living in the CBE, DesJardin became an RA; he is now an RA in the Army ROTC community.
“Because I had worked in the CBE LLC before, I felt like I would be able to bring my experience from that into the new ROTC community,” he said. “I wanted to make an impact and help make the ROTC LLC better for future cadets.”
DesJardin said the camaraderie on the hall is strong, especially for the new cadets, and that it helps to live with someone who is sharing the same experiences.
“Having to get up at 5 a.m. is easier when your roommate is doing it too,” he said.
Michael LaDue – Cultural Exchange Community
Senior, civil engineering, Simpsonville
Michael LaDue was looking for a way to get outside his comfort zone and learn about other cultures, so he chose to live in the Cultural Exchange Community (CEC) his sophomore year. The community partners American students with international students, something that LaDue feels is mutually beneficial.
“One of my roommates that year was from India, and it was his first time in America,” LaDue said. “He had a lot of preconceived notions about America, so I served as a facilitator for him, in a way, to help him separate facts from myths about America. I would also ask him a lot of questions about his culture and religious beliefs, so we learned from each other.”
That same year, LaDue also lived with an Australian and a Belgian. He says the experience helped him prepare for his next big step, a yearlong internship in Haiti with Clemson Engineers for Developing Countries.
“Being in the CEC helped me get a picture of different cultures,” he said. “When you visit another country, you compare and contrast it with your own culture. Being among lots of different people from different countries, you are able to compare lots of cultures. It helped prepare me to be ready to step outside my own culture and adapt to someone else’s.”
LaDue said being in Haiti was an eye-opening experience.
“It was interesting for me to be the foreigner in a country,” said LaDue. “Being the person who’s the alien, who’s out of place, you get to see your own culture from a different perspective. Coming back, I had some reverse culture-shock. I had gotten so used to being in Haiti.”
After returning from Haiti, LaDue chose to live his final semester at Clemson back in the CEC. This semester, he’s living with roommates from Germany and Brazil and Ethiopia.
“Being at a university like Clemson is one of the few times in your life when you can be immersed in a multitude of cultures all at once. Your peers are from all over the world,” he said.
Brooke Reed – Health, Education and Human Development LLC
Sophomore, science teaching (chemistry), Chattanooga, Tenn.
“I loved the idea of living with people who were in similar majors. It was a good opportunity to meet people who I knew I would have something in common with,” said Reed.
Reed lived in the HEHD community her freshman year and said she met some of her best friends there. She also enjoyed the easy access to advisers and special workshops, which she said helped her make the adjustment to college life.
“Being the first person in my family to attend college, there’s a lot of pressure,” she said. “We had lots of meetings and workshops about college life, and our advisers were always available to us.”
Reed said living in the community also gave her the occasion to interact with administrators, including HEHD Dean Larry Allen, something that not every student gets to do.
“He may not remember my name after one meeting, but he remembers my face,” she said. “It was a great opportunity.”
The facts back up the stories
It’s clear not only from the stories, but from the facts that living-learning communities at Clemson are beneficial. The freshmen in living-learning communities have a higher grade-point average and higher freshman-to-sophomore retention rates than their peers in other campus housing or living off campus.
For more information and a complete list of all the living-learning options at Clemson, go to clemson.edu/housing/living-learning.html.
This past year, Alumni Distinguished Professor of Psychology June Pilcher spent six months in Austria as a Fulbright-Freud Scholar, researching, teaching, training and traveling. It was a marvelous experience for her, and one that she pursued in part because of another Fulbright award almost 30 years ago. Clemson World asked her to share her reflections.
I remember opening the small packet from the Deutscher Akademischer Austausch Dienst (German Academic Exchange Service) with a letter dated 1st March 1984 that began with, “We are pleased to inform you…” That was about as far as I read, at least in those first few minutes. I went back to my apartment, sat in an old rocker, and listened to “The Grand Illusion” by Styx, thinking that this whole thing could be a mistake, an illusion.
I had worked hard for seven years to finish my undergraduate degree; I enlisted in the Navy to support myself, and then I worked full time in an emergency room during my last two years as an undergraduate. Was I really fortunate enough to be going to Freiburg and then Munich, Germany, for a year on a PAID scholarship just to be a student?
A different world
I applied for the Fulbright student award in the fall of 1983, my last year at the University of Southern Mississippi. My knowledge of academic grants and awards was nonexistent; I didn’t even know what a Fulbright was. I was what Clemson calls a FIRST. My father finished sixth grade, but he was big enough to work the family farm so he didn’t return to school. My mother finished eighth grade but then had to go to work as a live-in housekeeper. I am a first-generation college graduate and a first-generation (in fact, only) Ph.D. in my family. The only reason I knew about the Fulbright was because my German professor, Dr. William Odom, told me I should apply for it. I wonder if he ever knew what a turning point getting that Fulbright award became in my life.
I remember that year in Europe. In Freiburg, I took an immersion course in German at the Goethe Institute, then moved to Munich and lived in student housing at the Olympic Village (from the 1972 Olympics). At the Max Planck Institute for Psychiatry, I worked on projects on sleep and biological rhythms and was fortunate to establish a long-term relationship with Dr. Hartmut Schulz. He was generous with his time and advice and helped me begin my scientific career. I sat in on undergraduate and graduate classes at the University of Munich and tried to understand as much as I could. And, of course, I traveled. I experienced life in Europe, and I loved it!
A continuing illusion
I remember the feeling of an illusion even after my Fulbright year. It was only after completing my Ph.D. at the University of Chicago and starting to work in academia that the feeling slowly faded. I gradually became more comfortable in my academic surroundings. And I became ever more devoted to helping students, much as my professors had helped me – a total greenhorn to the academic world – understand what it takes to succeed.
Before long, I realized that I wanted to become a Fulbright Scholar, to travel again to Europe, but this time to work with international students and offer them the chance to work with a professor from a different culture and scientific background.
It wasn’t until the spring and summer of 2010 that I didn’t have research funding that precluded a prolonged trip. I made the decision in a flash — I would apply for a sabbatical and for a Fulbright Scholar award. This time, being a little more aware of academic grants and awards, I knew that it would be competitive. I applied to work in the Social, Cognitive, Affective, Neuroscience Unit (SCAN) and teach at the University of Vienna. But instead of being awarded a Fulbright to work exclusively at the university, I received the Fulbright-Freud Scholar Award, which allowed me to work at the university and the Sigmund Freud Museum.
My experience as a Fulbright Scholar is something I will always remember. I lived in Vienna for about six months. I taught a seminar on human brain and behavior (in English) to about 40 students where we read and discussed a science-based popular press book and scientific articles. Our classes were oriented around presentations, discussions and projects. The students gave their presentations and contributed to discussions in English. And much like my students at Clemson, they were concerned about the amount of work needed to complete the course, but they did the work and did a great job! I was impressed with their effort, and I truly loved getting to know them and watching them learn.
I also started several research projects while in Vienna that are ongoing, so my Creative Inquiry and graduate students at Clemson also benefit by working on research projects with an international team. Maybe some of them will decide to go to Vienna in the future to experience Europe and the opportunity to collaborate with an international research team.
Paying it forward
A Fulbright in Vienna was even more attractive to me since the headquarters of my traditional martial art group, Karatedo Doshinkan, is located there, as well as the home of our grand master, Hanshi 10.Dan Nobuo Ichikawa. I have been training in and teaching Doshinkan for more than 25 years and have frequently visited Vienna for a week or two in the summer to train. Getting the Fulbright allowed me to train with our grand master for more than six months.
The Fulbright award gave me a fantastic opportunity to give back in so many ways. I could give back to the international students and research collaborators as a way to help “pay forward” for the opportunity I had as a student in Munich. I could also give back to my martial art group by contributing to the training, the positive atmosphere and the growing knowledge base of our martial art.
It was a memorable six months in Vienna. I traveled around Europe for research presentations and to train with some of the dojos in my martial art group. In Vienna, I listened to horse carriages pass below my apartment windows on their way home in the evenings, watched the 400-plus varieties of roses bloom in the Volksgarten, attended the Summer Night Concert by the Vienna Philharmonic at Schoenbrunn Palace, and experienced the 4th of July reception (with fireworks) at the American ambassador’s residence.
I expected my time in Vienna to be productive and a fantastic experience. What surprises me is how much of it I am bringing back to Clemson with me. I feel a renewed desire to help students succeed, to watch them learn and admire their effort, to better see their college education from their perspective, to remember that they are here to learn in the classroom and in research but to also learn outside of the classroom, much like I did on my Fulbright adventures.