A Bias for Innovation

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.

Lightbulb SketchThis 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.

Think SketchIn 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.

GROWING IDEAS

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

Thinking Person SketchInnovation 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.

Training TIGERS for the real world

Training Tigers

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.”

CLIENT PARTNERS

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
Clean Start
Clemson Child Development Center
Clemson Elementary School
Code Elementary School

Concerned Citizens for Animals
CYT-Upstate
Doclink
Dining for Women
Foothills Conservancy for the    Performing Arts
Foothills YMCA
Frazee Dream Center
Gignilliat Park Academy
Greenville County Library
Greenville Humane Society
Habitat for Humanity
Happy Hooves
Helping Hands of Clemson
Hope Academy
Impact
Iva Recreation
Keep America Beautiful
Littlejohn Community Center

Mary’s House
McCants Middle School
Michelin Tire Co. Research and      Development
Oconee County Foster Parent Association
Oconee County Track Team
Oconee Pediatrics
Parenting Place
Pendleton Historic Foundation
Pickens County YMCA
Sharing Inc.
South Carolina Urban and Community Forestry Program
United Way of Pickens County

Upstate South Carolina Red Cross

We Stand for Kids

TECHNOSTRESS

Technostress

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.

24-7 Availability

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.

Controlling Consumption

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.

Reducing Technostress

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.”

Lisa Knott Walker ’03 with her daughter

My Clemson Experience in six words or less

My Clemson Experience

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.

The Roots of the University

Roots of the University

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.

Shawn Jadrnicek (left) and William Craig

Shawn Jadrnicek (left) and William Craig

“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:

Spring

Arugula, beets, broccoli, cabbage, carrots, cauliflower, cilantro, collards, green onions, kale, kohlrabi, lettuce, mustard greens, pac choi, radishes, spinach, Swiss chard, turnips

Summer

Basil, cucumbers, eggplant, garlic, green onions, herbs, okra, peppers, potatoes, snap beans, zucchini, yellow squash, sweet corn, Swiss chard, tomatoes, watermelons, cantaloupe

Fall

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.

Determined Spirits

Determined Spirits

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.

One Clemson

“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.

Creating Community

Creating Community

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.

For Michael LaDue, right, being at Clemson allows him to be immersed in a multitude of cultures all at once. This year, he's living with roommates from Ethiopia, Germany and Brazil. | Photography by Craig Mahaffey ’98

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.

Mike DesJardin is a resident assistant in the Army ROTC Living-Learning Community, where camaraderie on the hall is strong.“I figured it would help me academically to live with students in similar majors,” he said. “But if the Army ROTC community was here then, I would have chosen that.”

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.

First-generation college student Brooke Reed found support from faculty, staff, administrators and friends through the HEHD Living-Learning Community.
For first-generation college student Brooke Reed, living in the Health, Education and Human Development (HEHD) community was an easy way to meet people at a college where she “didn’t know a soul.”

“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.


I remember

I remember

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.

International collaboration

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.

Doing the Right Thing

As children with siblings, many of us were admonished by our parents to “do the right thing” and “set a good example.” For most of us, following that advice didn’t mean choosing to make groundbreaking decisions. But, for Harvey Gantt, those words were prophetic and resulted in decisions that would change Clemson University and South Carolina.

On January 28, 1963, Harvey B. Gantt took a step onto Clemson’s campus that would stake his claim in history. But as a quiet young man who only wanted a great education at a great institution, Gantt’s battle to gain admission to Clemson during state-mandated segregation was a step of courage and commitment. It was one step in a lifetime of steps that would set a good example and provide inspiration for generations to come, even for a future president of the United States.

An early inspiration

In 1990, Gantt was in a tight race for a U.S. Senate seat in North Carolina. In Cambridge, Mass., 850 miles to the north, Harvard law students gathered for an election watch. One of those students, 29-year-old Barack Obama, proudly donned a T-shirt in support of Gantt. Gantt, a successful architect and two-term mayor of Charlotte, was the city’s first African-American in that leadership role. And although Gantt lost his Senate race, he provided an inspirational example for the students who would follow him, including Obama, who would become the 44th president of the United States. Today, Gantt takes pleasure in displaying the signed photo of Pres. Obama, inscribed with the message, “To Harvey, an early inspiration,” and signed, “Barack Obama.”

This past fall, Gantt returned to Clemson to give the keynote address at Convocation to mark the beginning of the University’s 50th anniversary of integration. Gantt talked with pride about the accomplishments of his classmates and how the members of the Class of 1965 had made a positive impact on their world. He challenged faculty and students to do the same. But he also talked about the importance of the relationships they would forge at Clemson. These are just a few stories of African-American students who followed in his footsteps in the decades since Gantt stepped on campus.

The lessons of diversity

By the time Frank L. Matthews ’71 came to Clemson in 1968 from a two-year branch campus in Sumter, there were approximately 35 African-American students on campus. In looking for ways to bond, this small community formed the Student League for Black Identity to enhance their college experience, support each other and respond to other needs. “There were no black role models on campus,” Matthews recalls. “No black faculty or administrators. We got to know people in the community who were kindhearted and wanted us to succeed. They acted as surrogate parents and mentors.”

Despite some challenges during his college experience, Matthews said he learned lessons that have carried him through the rest of his life. “I learned to overcome obstacles, and I learned resilience,” he explains. “I made some lifelong friends, both black and white. Friendship comes in all shades.”

The co-founder of Cox, Matthews and Associates, an educational publishing and communications company, Matthews is publisher/editor-in-chief of Diverse: Issues in Higher Education, considered the premier news source for information about access and opportunity for all in higher education.

Matthews went on to simultaneously earn his J.D. and MBA from the University of South Carolina in 1976. Affiliated with George Mason University for the past 29 years, he has taught in both the Law School and School of Business Administration. He was recently inducted into the Writers’ Hall of Fame for his contributions in publishing.

The power of friendship

Frank E. Wise was a three-sport standout athlete at Eau Claire High School in 1972, just a few years after Gantt had graduated from Clemson and three years after Craig Mobley had became the University’s first African-American student-athlete in 1969. Clemson was on his short list because of the relationship Eau Claire faculty had with Clemson administrators. But Wise was a member of a large family, and staying close was a priority. Clemson won out for one simple reason. “I wanted my mother up there in the stands cheering me on,” Wise explains, “and she could do that if I came to Clemson.”

Unlike high school, Wise was unknown to his classmates at Clemson. But several factors helped smooth the waters. One was his teammate, Bennie Cunningham Jr., a local star athlete who had visited most of the same colleges as Wise and had played in the Shrine Bowl with him. Cunningham would introduce him to a friend who lived nearby, Rosemary Holland, which proved to be a turning point. The introduction led to a date and later to marriage.

“That proved to be a stable force in my transition to college,” Wise says with a laugh. “We just never saw any African-American women on East Campus.”

Wise also credits his relationship with administrators and faculty. “I had a great relationship with Dr. (R.C.) Edwards and Dr. Gordon Gray, dean of the School of Education. He had a genuine interest in African-American students and wanted them to be successful.”

Wise received his B.A. from Clemson in 1976 and his Master of City and Regional Planning in 1979. The first African-American city planner in Seneca, he later worked for the Health and Human Services Agency in Anderson. While he was in this position, Wise was diagnose with leukemia. And during his low points, he came to realize the value of the friendships he’d made at Clemson.

“I can’t say enough about G.G. Galloway and staying with him in Florida after my bone marrow transplant. He was also instrumental in pulling together the Clemson community. Contributions from the Clemson Family allowed us to focus on recovery rather than financial burdens. Those former student-athletes gave me hope. We don’t forget each other.”

All in the family

In 1978, with a stellar high school basketball career under her belt, Barbara Kennedy-Dixon ’85, M ’92 had several options for college. Clemson varsity athletics had just started for women in 1975. Kennedy-Dixon considered other schools, but after meeting coach Annie Tribble, the decision was easy. “The first time I spoke to her, it was like talking to my mother. She was so pleasant and personable. I didn’t know anything about Clemson, but I wanted to play for her.”

As a freshman, Kennedy-Dixon was one of three African-American women on the Lady Tigers team, which was a comfortable fit. “A family supports each person. I didn’t see anything different from my basketball family.” And part of her family experience was living in Clemson House, where permanent residents still occupied apartments on the top floors. “It was like having grandparents on campus,” she says.

In 1982, Clemson played in the first women’s NCAA basketball tournament; Kennedy-Dixon scored the first two points. She led the nation in scoring that season (1981-82) and was named a First-Team All-American by Kodak, the Women’s Basketball Coaches Association and “Basketball Weekly.” Still the ACC’s record holder in career scoring, field goals made and rebounding, she’s listed in the NCAA Division I Women’s Basketball Records for season field goals and scoring average. She is the first woman to be inducted into the Clemson University Ring of Honor and Clemson’s Hall of Fame and the first Clemson woman inducted into the S.C. Athletic Hall of Fame. Her Clemson jersey was retired at the end of her student-athlete career.

After playing in Italy for a couple of years, Kennedy-Dixon returned to Clemson as an assistant basketball coach, and she has remained enthusiastic about her Clemson home.

“Sometimes students see Clemson as a rural institution. But I tell them to focus on the people. There is a unique, strong family bond here. Once a Tiger, always a Tiger.”

Musical Tigers

By the time Eric Foster ’85 and Lisa Johnson Foster ’84, MBA ’95 came to Clemson in 1980, there was a small but growing number of African-American students. The first African-American drum major for the marching band at nearby Seneca High, Eric had attended Clemson’s Career Workshop program to recruit academically talented African-American students into engineering majors. Lisa had graduated from Lugoff-Elgin High School and already had a brother attending Clemson.

Both describe Tiger Band as an important part of their Clemson experience. By senior year, Eric had been selected to lead the band as drum major. Although not the first African-American to hold that position, he was the first student to simultaneously hold the position of band commander and drum major.

Lisa, now a disability examiner with the state of South Carolina, and Eric, an engineer with Square D-Schneider Electric in Seneca, say the best outcome from their Clemson days was meeting each other. Lisa says with a smile, “The best part of attending Clemson was finding the person with whom I would spend the rest of my life.”

Fifty years later

Harvey Gantt’s admission into Clemson opened the doors that led to the University that exists today. Clemson now has students of every race (as defined by the U.S. Census Bureau). There are students from almost every state in the U.S. (49), as well as the District of Columbia, Guam, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. And more than 90 countries are represented in the Clemson Family.

Fifty years later, a grateful University community commemorates Harvey Gantt’s courage and determination to do the right thing and set a truly good example.

Fifty years has made a difference – let’s keep building.

“I know that many of my classmates from the Class of ’65 had a lot to do with the changes we have witnessed. A lot of them, through personal and public initiatives, large and small, changed minds, changed attitudes and influenced behavior. That’s what an educated corps of good students do … they change minds, they change attitudes, and they influence behavior.”

This is an excerpt from the speech given by Harvey Gantt as part of the Victor Hurst Convocation on August 21, 2012. Hear his complete remarks at clemson.edu/clemsonworld/2013/winter/gantt.html.

Clemson Roots – Nashville Dreams

Clemson Roots - Nashville Dreams

Wander down Nashville’s Broadway early any evening, and you’ll hear strains of country music coming out of almost every door. Guitars are being tuned, microphones being checked, band members are chatting as the instruments get pulled out and plugged in.

In groups of twos and threes, tourists wander down the sidewalk, listening, stopping to hear the strains of music start to build. The bars and restaurants are interrupted by record stores and gift shops where you can find a cowboy boot-shaped vase, an Elvis Beanie Baby or a Johnny Cash onesie. There’s enough country music memorabilia to satisfy the most hard-core fan.

Stop by Boot Country, and buy one pair of cowboy boots and get two more for free. Get your picture taken with the large guitar mounted on the sidewalk that reads “Honky-Tonk Heroes” and sports pictures of country music legends from Johnny Cash and Willie Nelson to Dolly Parton and Loretta Lynn. Wander by the windows of Hatch Show Print where old letterpress-printed posters plaster the walls. You know the kind, the ones that look the way country music concert posters ought to look. They still print those here.

The bar stools and tables fill up as the music begins for real. Most of the musicians who inhabit the neon-lit venues in this haven of honky-tonks are not household names. These aren’t the Merle Haggards and Tim McGraws of the music world. Neither are they the Reba McEntires or the Taylor Swifts. They’re often working two or three jobs in addition to these gigs.

But if they’re playing here on Broadway, they’ve got their foot in the door of Music City. And that’s why these Clemson alumni come to Nashville.

Making a living

Michael Hughes

Michael Hughes

Many nights, you can find Michael Hughes ’96 on one of these stages. He plays a mean keyboard and a masterful guitar. In fact, he’s played 50 concerts this past summer plus a USO tour with former American Idol finalist Kellie Pickler, with whom he’s traveled for the last five years.

He’s been in the music business 20 years now, but he got his first job playing the piano from a friend who lived down the hall in Johnstone his freshman year. With a mother as a Clemson nursing professor, Hughes didn’t just go to Clemson; he grew up here. And even though he was a psychology major, it was an organic chemistry professor whose offhand comment had a great impact on him.

“Karl Dieter casually mentioned after class one day that the secret to life was answering these three questions: What do you love doing? What are you good at? What do you have to do to make the answers to No. 1 and No. 2 your career? I never forgot that, and it kept me going through many frustrations and setbacks,” says Hughes.

He’s had his share of frustrations and setbacks. He came to Nashville after college, stayed for six months then went back to Clemson where, as he says, he “learned what I needed to know.” After nine years in Nashville, he can say he’s making his living in the music business.

Not to say that’s a simple task. “I think most musicians today that do music full-time wear a number of different hats in order to make a living,” he says, “and I’m no different.” He reels off the list of his various “hats”: singer/songwriter/touring and session musician/studio owner, producer and engineer.

If you’re a fan of “The Voice,” you’ve probably heard the title track from his January 2011 release, “Start Again,” which has been featured in 12 episodes. You may have caught him on “American Idol,” the “Tonight Show,” the CMA Awards, “Ellen,” “Good Morning America” or the “Today Show.”

He hasn’t forgotten those lessons from Karl Dieter. He loves music, and he’s good at it. And he’s done what it takes to make that his career.

On the road again

A four-time Academy of Country Music nominee, Lee Brice has had a highly successful album, a single ("A Woman Like You") that reached No. 1 in April 2012, and a top-5 single officially certifed Gold by the Recording Industry Association of America. Photo by Chris Newman.

Lee Brice  (Photo by Chris Newman)

There are more Clemson alumni in Nashville trying to get their foot in the door of the music business than you might expect. They all have the drive and determination to follow their dreams. And a willingness to work — long and hard.

For Lee Brice, the years of hard work are beginning to pay off. A four-time Academy of Country Music nominee, he has had a highly successful album, a single (“A Woman Like You”) that reached No. 1 in April 2012, and a top-5 single (“Hard to Love”) that was officially certified Gold by the Recording Industry Association of America for digital sales of over 500,000 downloads. The New York Times has described him as “melodically eloquent.”

He’ll assure you, however, that success didn’t come easy. Brice was studying engineering and playing football at Clemson (long snapper) until an injury ended his football career. Recuperation provided time to think and reevaluate; Brice decided it was music, not engineering, that drove him. He remembered that music industry veteran Doug Johnson had promised to help him if he came to Nashville. That summer of 2001, he packed up his bags and his music. Johnson came through on his offer.

“I was able to learn a lot from him,” says Brice, “and over the next couple of years, write a bunch of songs and get started, and eventually get into Curb Records with him.” Brice’s songwriting and performances started to gain traction. He went on tour with Willie Nelson, Jamey Johnson and Luke Bryan.

“It’s been a long road,” he says. “I’ve written a thousand songs, I’ve been on the road for seven years, and we’ve put out four or five singles. It feels like all the work is paying off.”

Brice says that a lot of songs have come out of his Clemson experience, including “Orange Empire,” written last fall for the football team. As a student, one of his favorite things to do was to go up on top of the dam with his guitar and write songs.

“Those days at Clemson were the best of my life,” he says, “and it’s a big part of who I am. It’s played a part in a lot of songs I’ve written.” Including, he says, “the girl I dated for four years from Anderson while I was there. ‘More than Memory’ came out of that, and Garth Brooks recorded that song.”

Brice’s album, “Hard to Love,” seems to signal a different look. Gone is the trademark backward baseball cap and several days’ growth, replaced with a flat cap and a neatly trimmed beard.

“I was just trying for a little different look for that one specific album,” he says. “The realm of music ranged from country to everything else.” However, Brice says, “Every night on the stage, I still put on my ball cap.”

In November, Brice returned to Clemson and played a concert at Littlejohn Coliseum. Still sporting his backward ball cap.

Workin’ hard for the money

Rich Ramsey

Rich Ramsey

In a building that looks like a castle with a history that includes Al Capone sits Clemson alumnus Rich Ramsey ’03. Leaning back in his chair next to a control panel with more than six feet of sliders and knobs and switches, he reflects that he feels really fortunate to have landed the position as manager of this studio three years ago. There are more than 1,000 recording studios in Nashville; this one has been around for more than 30 years and has played host to a long list of legendary musicians.

At Clemson, Ramsey switched out of engineering into secondary education and math. But music had always been an outlet. He had grown up taking piano, playing at church. At Clemson, he led music for Campus Crusade and sang with Tigeroar.

Tigeroar gave him a taste of production, since the group recorded an album each year. Ramsey purchased his own Pro Tools rig and began recording some of his own music.

And then he graduated and went to work as a high school math teacher for two years. “Teaching math wasn’t the worst job I ever had,” he says with a grin, “but it wasn’t very musical.”

It was a life lesson he learned from education professor Bob Horton that gave Ramsey the courage to see if he could make it in the music business.

“It was very evident he loved what he did, and that’s why he was there and why he put himself into it,” says Ramsey. “That has definitely translated into here, because I love what I do, and it just makes all the difference in the world.”

Ramsey picked up and moved to Nashville. He went back to school at Belmont University to get the technical knowledge he needed, then interned at another studio while he was working part time for a recording equipment rental company and for Staples. Plus, he put in 15 to 20 hours a week working for an independent engineer and kept his foot in the door at Castle, volunteering to help out when he could.

“You have to keep your foot in every door you can,” he says. That philosophy played out when the studio manager and two assistant house engineers left in the span of a year. Ramsey was at the right place at the right time. “That’s how it works in this city,” he says.

“Hopefully some day, I’ll be able to just produce and engineer albums,” he says. For now, he appreciates the steady salary and the chance for the engineering to be a part of his job.

Ramsey gets back to Clemson on occasion; one trip was for a Tigeroar concert where he was introduced to Dewey Boyd, a student in mechanical engineering who also had a passion for music. Boyd’s girlfriend (now wife) was music director of TakeNote, Clemson’s female a cappella group that was performing as well.

“He told me what it was like working for free, working two jobs,” says Boyd. “I thought, ‘I will never do that.’ And here I am.”

Dewey Boyd

Dewey Boyd

You can find Boyd in a bungalow in between a chiropractor and a palm reader. The house looks fairly typical from the outside; once you enter you realize that the space has been re-engineered to function as a studio. Insulated double doors, sound baffles hanging from the ceiling. One room set up with a drum set; another with a variety of keyboards. A control room dominated by a computer.

At Clemson, Boyd says he “dabbled in recording music, running live sound and writing music.” He took recording classes with Professor Bruce Whisler, and toyed with changing from his mechanical engineering major. He even did his departmental honors thesis on analog to digital signal converters used for recording music.

But it took a year of graduate school in mechanical engineering for Boyd to realize that he didn’t love it enough. “It wasn’t just that it was hard,” he says. “It was too hard to do without loving it.”

Not that he chose an easier path. Over the last three years, he has pieced together part-time jobs, interning and volunteering to soak up as much as his mind could hold. “Working for free,” he says, “I learned what I needed to know.”

Boyd says he’s still “working to scrape together enough income from it to say that I do this ‘for a living.’ I love what I do.”

If it makes you happy

Lauren Simpson

Lauren Simpson

The Grand Ole Opry. It’s been called “the show that made country music famous.” And it’s one of Nashville’s top tourist attractions. Tours cycle through the different parts of the facility about every 15 minutes, with everyone wanting a picture taken on stage in front of the iconic neon sign or standing on the circle of wood that was taken from the Opry’s longtime home and embedded into the stage here.

But the Grand Ole Opry is not just the three-times a week “Grand Ole Opry” show. The venue hosts concerts and award shows, corporate events, general sessions, dinners, meetings and more. And the person making sure those events come off right is Lauren Simpson ’08, events manager.

“Anything you can think of to do,” she says, “we figure out a way to make it happen.”

She may be young to hold this position, but she has a lot of experience under her belt. Four years of that experience was at Clemson, working with Tiger Paw Productions and Littlejohn Coliseum. Before she graduated, the speech and communication major had worked in every department in Littlejohn, and also interned with Radio City Music Hall and MTV.

“The way that it [Tiger Paw Productions] is structured — to have students in management roles working with other students — was really the best opportunity I could have been given. I tell people I’ve been working at a venue since I was 18,” she says. “Most internships don’t give you that much hands-on stuff.”

Nashville may be the home of country music, but it’s a city that has turned country music into a tourist industry bringing millions of people every year. Like the Grand Ole Opry, some of those tourist attractions are natural outgrowths; others are a bit more on the periphery of the music business.

Christel Foley

Christel Foley

About 20 minutes south of Nashville, you’ll find a successful vineyard owned by Kix Brooks of Brooks & Dunn. Running the commercial side of the business is Clemson alum Christel Foley ’95, who began working there six months before it opened.

“I was brought in to get everything organized and ready for us to become the premier vineyard and winery in the Southeast,” she says. “I handle all of the marketing and public relations, daily retail operations and procedures for the winery, direct the sales and management team and pretty much anything else that comes up.” She has approximately 40 employees who report to her, including the general manager, controller, wine club manager and tasting room manager. And on any given Saturday, more than 2,000 locals and tourists will be there, picnics and blankets in hand, to enjoy the free wine tasting and the music, usually a local jazz trio.

Foley majored in parks, recreation and tourism management, which she says provided a good foundation for the two industries in which she has worked: sports marketing and the wine business.

As a Clemson student, Foley waitressed at Charlie T’s, a local hangout across from the baseball field. One night, she waited on a group of men who turned out to be professional baseball scouts, two from the Minnesota Twins, one from the Atlanta Braves.

“I struck up a conversation with them,” she says, “and they said, ‘You need to work for a sports team; they need people like you with a lot of enthusiasm.’” That stuck in her mind; her first job out of college was with the Charleston Stingrays (minor league hockey). She went from there to the Cincinnati Bengals, the Tennessee Titans and back to hockey with the Nashville Predators.

Two young children made her reassess all the nights and evenings of sports marketing. The contacts she had in Nashville led her to Kix Brooks and his fledgling vineyard. The wine business, she says, has many similarities to sports marketing. “I’m selling a product here that’s similar to selling a ticket. I have a celebrity — like having players. The difference here is that there’s no winning and losing; it’s all winning,” she says. “And no lockouts. Everybody goes away happy.”

Foley may be more on the edge of the music business than some of the other alumni in town, but she shares a drive and determination and ability to see the possibilities. When asked what about a Clemson experience makes alumni successful in Nashville, she responds, “a great education that doesn’t limit your ideas of what opportunities are out there.”

No business like show business

Teaching management may seem even further away from the music business, but not when it’s at Belmont University, named by Time and Rolling Stone magazines as having one of the best music business programs in the country.

Beth Woodard

Beth Woodard

And in the hallway of the building where she teaches, Beth Woodard ’87 shows off the display of gold and platinum records. Belmont grads have been a part of each of those records, whether writing, performing or producing.

Teaching music business students adds a different dimension to the classroom, says Woodard, who has been at Belmont since 1999. “My music business students are very creative. They see things through different lenses.”

Woodard, a management major at Clemson, might not have even finished her undergraduate degree if it hadn’t been for Professor Mike McDonald. His teaching, she says, both gave her a thirst for knowledge and restored her confidence in herself. “It was because of him that I stayed in school and I finished my degree,” she says.

And when she finished that degree, she never imagined she would end up back on a college campus, encouraging aspiring musicians and patterning her teaching style, in many ways, after McDonald.

Tigers raised in the Southland

Aspiring musicians keep coming to Nashville, its siren song pulling those who dream of connecting with sold-out audiences and producing gold records. Musicians like Doug McCormick ’04, whose voice belies his age. You’d swear you were listening to a seasoned singer when you hear the strains of “Tiger Raised in the Southland.”

In his Tiger Paw cap, he revs up the crowd at the Esso Club on one of his returns to town. Clemson University, he says, “is more than a football game. It’s a way of life. It’s who I am.”

He’s beginning to make himself known in Nashville and the Southeast, sharing the stage with artists like Luke Bryan, Rhett Akins and Corey Smith. And his success has inspired Cody Webb ’11, who spent weekends during his time at Clemson listening to McCormick play at TDs. Like others, Webb has taken memories of college and turned them into music. “Turning Four Years into Five” was his first single. He took advantage of Kickstarter, a popular online funding platform for creative projects, to underwrite the production costs of his first album, “Thing to Prove,” in 2011.

Like other Clemson alumni in the music business in Nashville, Webb has discovered that it takes a lot of grit and determination and hard work. Not that his quick smile and the self-deprecating, likable personality don’t help. But he’s taken the fan base he developed in Clemson and broadened that by playing 150 shows last year around the Southeast. And it’s beginning to pay off; he has a contract with Monument Entertainment to produce his next album.

Roots & Dreams

There are more Clemson alumni in Nashville than these. More who are following their dreams, wedging their foot in the door. Some have always known they wanted to be in the music business; others have ended up there almost serendipitously.

What they all seem to have in common is a willingness to work long and hard, and a desire to follow their dreams and do what they love.

And they haven’t left their Clemson roots behind.