Core Strength

Martin

Disaster doctor knows what it takes to endure.

At 2:04 p.m. EST on October 17, 1989, the “World Series Earthquake” struck the San Francisco Bay Area. As the Oakland Athletics and San Francisco Giants went through their warm-ups, viewers at home watched in amazement as the Loma Prieta became the first major earthquake in the United States to have its initial jolt broadcast live on television.

Heavy equipment cranes and backhoes probe and lift debris from the crushed Interstate 880 freeway in Oakland, Ca. on Friday, Oct. 20, 1989. The Bay area was hit with a 7.1 earthquake on Tuesday, causing the two-level freeway to collapse. Over 250 persons were killed. (AP Photo/Paul Sakuma)

Heavy equipment cranes and backhoes probe and lift debris from the crushed Interstate 880 freeway in Oakland, Ca. on Friday, Oct. 20, 1989. The Bay area was hit with a 7.1 earthquake on Tuesday, causing the two-level freeway to collapse. Over 250 persons were killed. (AP Photo/Paul Sakuma)

While instrumentation recorded the tremors, word went out among the civil engineering and geologic communities that a major event had taken place. Among those packing their bags was James R. Martin II, then a Ph.D. candidate at Virginia Tech, now the chair of Clemson’s Glenn Department of Civil Engineering. This was to be his first major disaster assessment in the field, and he would be working with his doctoral adviser, Wayne Clough, an internationally known earthquake engineer who would eventually serve as president of Georgia Tech and secretary of the Smithsonian. As he traveled west, Martin had an opportunity to reflect on the winding road that had brought him to this particular place and time.

A firm foundation

As a kid growing up in Union, South Carolina, Martin’s family vacationed widely up and down the East Coast, traveling on the interstate system that took them south to Florida, north to New York and as far west as Ohio, visiting family and friends along the way. Martin was impressed with the vast ribbon of concrete and steel, with its smooth wide lanes and massive bridges. As impressive as the highway was, what impacted him just as much were the gigantic construction projects going on along the edge of the interstate, just outside the car windows. There were factories, shopping centers, dams and power plants — intricate and complex structures that fired Martin’s young imagination. “It was my mom who taught me to be present in the world,” Martin says. “She always said, ‘Pay attention to what’s going on around you; be a student of life.’ If I returned from a school field trip and couldn’t describe everything I’d seen that day in minute detail, she’d be very disappointed.”

His parents also taught (and illustrated by personal example) that a contributing citizen of the world had to move beyond observing to becoming involved. His father worked for the phone company, but also devoted a great deal of time to public service. James R. Martin Sr. was the first African-American elected to public office in Union County. He served 17 years on the Union County Council and the Catawba Regional Planning Council, and he worked closely with Sen. Strom Thurmond for many years to advance development of rural communities. His mother, Dora T. Martin, enjoyed a 38-year tenure as an educator and served 23 years on the Union County Council. A board member of the Catawba Regional Council of Governments, she was elected state president of the South Carolina Association of Regional Councils. “I grew up in a household where it was easy to be inspired,” says Martin. “Both of my parents were living examples of how we are called to service — to try to make a positive difference in people’s lives.”

Dora and James Martin, 1999

Dora and James Martin, 1999

It isn’t surprising, then, to know that it was the impact on people that Martin noticed during his first field experience following the Loma Prieta earthquake. “The human element is really first and foremost,” he observes. “An earthquake or flood is a human tragedy first before it is a case history.”

Looking beyond the build

Field reconnaissance must be performed early in the aftermath of a natural disaster before cleanup efforts remove vital evidence. Researchers like Martin are typically concerned with the performance of civil infrastructure such as bridges, buildings, dams, ports and power plants. And the empirical field evidence reveals what worked and what did not.

Over time, Martin developed the belief that civil engineering has to embrace an understanding of social policy, in addition to mastering infrastructure’s technical requirements. He and his colleagues realized the need for a more multidisciplinary approach, which was the foundation for establishing the Disaster Risk Management Institute at Virginia Tech. This National Science Foundation-funded effort has helped establish an education and research environment that includes social and economic perspectives in investigating disaster risk resilience.

James Martin in Japan

James Martin in Japan

Martin represents a new maturity in terms of the discipline itself. “Traditionally, civil engineering has been involved with just the technical aspects of a project, but if you want to be part of the big decisions, you have to go beyond that,” he says. “When we talk about sustainable infrastructure, civil engineering has to be part of the big decisions — where a bridge is going to be built, how it’s going to be financed and who will be served by it. Sustainable infrastructure goes beyond just the engineering parameters that govern the design.”

A personal quake

In 2000, tremors of a completely different sort rocked Martin’s world. He noticed numbness in his legs after a workout. Over the course of the next few days, the numbness got progressively worse, and in two weeks he had lost about 50 percent of the movement and feeling in his legs. He began to notice problems with his vision. His reasoning and short-term memory began to falter. After exhaustive testing, he was officially diagnosed in late February 2000 with multiple sclerosis (MS). His condition worsened, and he required care for everyday living until he began to slowly regain the use of his hands. Eighteen months after the initial attack, he was able to hold a pen and scribble his name. It took another four years to really be able to write legibly and 10 years to regain fine motor skills for things like buttoning a shirt — a task that still can be a challenge.

MS can be debilitating, and it was clear to Martin early on that the disease has to be fought from every angle — physically, mentally and spiritually. Martin was committed to fighting the disease with all he had. He learned about diet and exercise, and explored Eastern approaches to healing. “Healing is about hard work — it’s tremendously hard,” he says. “But the important thing I’ve discovered is that if you really make up your mind to do something, I mean REALLY make up your mind to do something, you can do it.” In the 13 years since he was diagnosed, he has never missed a single day of a planned workout. Even if he gets home at 3:00 a.m. and has been up for 48 hours, he works out. There are no exceptions, ever.

His message of determined resolve is one that he has shared as a motivational speaker and one he wants to introduce to an even broader audience. Martin has completed two manuscripts. It’s Raining details how he dealt with the spiritual and emotional aspects of struggling with a disability. In Buying Time, he outlines the steps one must take to extend the quality of real life. His ultimate goal is to establish a foundation to help people deal with disabilities. “Most of us at some point are going to have some difficult bridge to cross, and we are going to be tested,” he says. “At that point, you have to reach down inside and bring out that inner strength you need to cross that bridge. And we can’t bring out what we didn’t put in, so we need to constantly nurture the really important things.”

Martin has been drawing on his inner strength since the day he enrolled in the Citadel for his undergraduate degree. Being from Union always meant that Clemson was a choice for college, but he felt that the Citadel experience would present opportunities for growth, especially in terms of leadership. “Beyond the academics, I knew that the environment there, with its lack of diversity at the time, would be a little uncomfortable, but I’ve always felt that you have to be a little uncomfortable to grow, and if you are committed to growth you don’t care about going into places where you’re uncomfortable.” At the time of his graduation, Martin was one of a handful of African-Americans in the class, and he was one of the first African-American engineering graduates at the Citadel. Diversity is important to Martin and as the first African-American department chair in the College of Engineering and Science, he sees his appointment as a milestone for the college and University.

“My welcome has been extremely warm and inviting, which I think illustrates Clemson’s commitment to a diverse faculty and staff, and by extension, a diverse student body,” he says. “It’s forward movement, and whether you are talking about personal challenges or academic advancement, what you look for is forward movement.”

Forward movement

Martin is working to achieve forward movement in Clemson’s Glenn Department of Civil Engineering as well. “We have a very good department,” he says. “And I am inviting faculty, students, staff and alumni to join me in an effort to establish a culture of greatness.” Martin points out that Clemson’s location along the I-85 corridor, coupled with its academic computing power, offers unique opportunities. “We live in the fastest growing area of the country right now,” he observes. “And Clemson’s cyber-infrastructure gives us the chance to put together big data for civil systems. We can make a positive global impact with the information and research we can develop.”

Had he stayed at Virginia Tech, the current academic year would have provided some sabbatical time for Martin, which he would have used to polish his manuscripts and refine his research. The opportunity here, though, was something he couldn’t pass up. Having an endowed department is one thing that attracted him to Clemson. Virginia Tech’s civil engineering department received an endowment when he was there, and it made a tremendous difference in what could be accomplished.

“Clemson’s civil engineering alumni are a passionate group,” he states. “From the first time I set foot on campus, I just had the feeling that this is where I am supposed to be, and they’ve reinforced that belief over and over. We have a chance to build something really solid, really special here. And we will.”

Backstage Pass

 

The curtain rises on a production of “Mamma Mia” to a packed house at the Brooks Center for the Performing Arts. Three hours later, the three-song finale of “Mamma Mia!,” “Dancing Queen” and “Waterloo” has even the most staid patrons standing and singing along to the music of ABBA, silly grins plastered on their faces.

It was a production befitting the 20th anniversary of the Brooks Center. The acting was superb, the music almost magical. And the technical support for the production came off without a hitch. So much so, that it was an invisible part of the production. Just like it’s meant to be.

But that’s where you find, as Paul Harvey used to say, the “rest of the story.”

Putting it together

Clemson was the first stop on a series of one- and two-night shows for the cast and crew, led by executive producer Stephen Gabriel of Work Light Productions. But they didn’t just come to Clemson for the production itself. They spent the previous ten days “teching” the show — putting all the pieces of the puzzle together, as Gabriel says. It’s the time to make sure the light, sound and scenic details get ironed out and to figure out how the set will break down and set up in the cities they’ll travel to during their 10-month national tour.

This is Gabriel’s seventh time to bring a production to Clemson. The relationship began eight years ago when he met Mickey Harder, director of the Brooks Center, in New York at a meeting of the Association of Arts Presenters. Harder was on the hunt for theatrical bookings; Gabriel was looking for a venue to tech a family musical.

Gabriel offered a challenge: Could Harder provide eight of Clemson’s very best students to work with them from 8 a.m. until midnight for 10 days, free use of the theatre and lodging at a local motel for the crew in exchange for two productions at the Brooks Center?

Harder’s response? “We can do it.”

She laughs, thinking back. “I had no more idea if we could do it or not. Have you had those moments in your life when you knew that this is not going to come again? I knew this was a golden opportunity for what we are trying to do at Clemson, so I decided — I’m going to tell him ‘yes.’ And then I’m going to go back and tell these kids they’re going to have to work their buns off.”

That year, and six times since, Gabriel has “teched” his productions at the Brooks Center. And Clemson’s performing arts students have been right in the midst of it. For 10 very intense days — from 8 a.m. until midnight — students work in the costuming shop, problem-solve with the sound crew, set up and adjust lights, work on the set and learn what it takes to re-work a Broadway show for smaller venues and constant travel. It’s a chance to learn from professionals and find out what it takes to translate the knowledge they’ve learned into skills of the trade.

What the students get out of these two weeks is more than just hands-on experience. Harder and David Hartmann, chair of the performing arts department, set up Q&A sessions with members of the company so that all the majors, not just those working with the show, can get answers to questions like, “What’s it like to travel with a show?” and “What does it do to relationships?” or “What do you look for in a technician?”

It gives students a chance, says Hartmann, to actually talk to the producer, designer and technicians, to help them make career decisions and answer the basic question: “Do I really want to go on the road?”

Joshua Carter, a senior from the Chicago area, spent the 10 days as a production assistant assigned to the resident director (Martha Banta) and the choreographer (Ryan Sander). “It was my job,” he says, “to make sure that they had everything they needed while here in Clemson.” That involved everything from arranging meals to coffee runs to serving as a tour guide and problem-solver. What it also involved, he says, was “direct access to these two amazing individuals. I could observe their process and really see how they worked. They were incredibly nice and approachable and encouraged me to ask questions.”

Alumni on the road

Almost 20 graduates of the program have gone on to work for Work Light Productions, a result of contacts made through this collaboration. Gabriel begins to tick off names: “Our head audio on this tour, Jeff Human, is a graduate. Our associate production supervisor, Mike East, is a graduate. This past year on the tour of ‘American Idiot,’ the head carpenter, Eric Stewart, was from Clemson. We have put so many grads on our tour, and our production supervisor has brought even more to Spoleto.”

Human, a 2007 graduate, knows the reality of being on the road. Based in Chicago, he travels the world and averages less than a week a month at home. For this production, he gets the opportunity to travel with his fiancé, also a member of the crew, but that doesn’t always happen. He and East were members of that first group of students who “worked their buns off” when Gabriel brought his first production, “Broadway Junior on Tour,” to Clemson.

Both cite the contacts they made as they talk about their professional journeys. Human interned with Work Light in 2005-06, then went on to work for Technical Theater Solutions (TTS) in Charleston, which partners with Work Light to manage the technical part of the production and also handles the technical aspects for Spoleto. East’s story is similar: He worked on the light board in Work Light’s first production at Clemson, then worked Spoleto in the summer with TTS. While he was in graduate school, he got a job offer from TTS and headed back to Charleston, where he is now vice president of operations. And that job brought him full circle: back to this production of “Mamma Mia,” overseeing the technical crew and the Clemson students.

Getting a foot in the door

It’s not an easy thing for these students to participate in this two-week merging of the professional with the academic, as Hartmann describes it. They’re responsible for contacting their other professors across campus, making provisions for getting notes, taking tests and keeping up with academic work that doesn’t stop just because they have this opportunity.

But the tradeoffs are tremendous, says Hartmann. “It has led to jobs,” he says, music to every parent’s ear. Hartmann describes the intense two-week experience as a professional internship, where the students get a sense of what it takes to work in the world of theater.

Gabriel explains it this way: “You learn at a certain curve when you’re in school, and then you learn exponentially in the first few months when you’re applying it professionally. The value to the students here is they get two weeks of the real world. Everything they’ve been learning — this is how it is applied. Hopefully, they walk away with an understanding of the level that they have to perform at and the speed of it.”

But the students get more than just two weeks of experience; they get connections that are crucial to their future. “You have to have knowledge, but you have to have connections to get a foot in the door,” says Harder.

Youth and enthusiasm … and opportunity

That snap decision on Harder’s part eight years ago began a successful partnership. What Gabriel didn’t know was that the performing arts program at Clemson was very young, having just graduated its first class of 12. What Harder didn’t realize was that Gabriel was in the midst of forming his company for the first time.

Both have grown and changed. Gabriel’s company has transitioned to taking Broadway musicals on the road; Clemson’s performing arts program, with concentrations in music, audio technology and theatre, has sent 134 graduates out into the world and currently enrolls 97.

Taking a Broadway show on the road is hard work, and it takes a lot of hands. With this particular production, it’s college students who round out the crew in preparing and teching the show. But for Gabriel, that’s not a compromise.

“We’ve found that the level of the training these students get makes it so that we don’t miss a beat,” he says. His experience with Clemson students has also taught him that “young and enthusiastic makes up for what might be lacking in experience.” He recalls a time during the production of “Frog and Toad,” when an audio problem had them all stumped. “This young, kind of geeky looking guy walked up and said, ‘If you do this, that and the other, it will work.’”

That young guy was Robert Allen ’08, who after a one-year internship with the Brooks Center, went on the road with Gabriel and Work Light Productions as part of the crew for “Avenue Q.” He’s recently finished up touring the U.S. and Canada for a year, running video for the show “American Idiot.” Now, Gabriel says, Allen “walks in the room and he’s very commanding. He knows how to solve problems.”

“We learned early on,” says Gabriel, “that you can find some young, very talented people, and if you give them opportunity, most of them rise to the occasion.”

From a Student Perspective

Mamma Mia
Kelsey Bailey
Year: Senior (graduating May 2014)
Hometown: Chamblee, Georgia
Major: Production Studies in Performing Arts: Theatre

“When I was a senior in high school, I had the experience to come see “Avenue Q” in its second national tour while it was in “tech” at the Brooks Center. Since my cousin, Mike East, was a recent graduate from the Production Studies program at Clemson and working as a part of Technical Theatre Solutions, I was able to get a backstage view of what a show of that magnitude looked like. Meeting members of the crew and seeing how all the technical elements fit together reinforced how much I wanted to go into technical theatre.

Mama MiaAfter the performance, I stood and watched the beginning of the “load out” from the front of the stage. Itching to be up there doing the same thing, I knew I wanted to work on a production like this. Clemson was the only place I could find where I could experience working with a national tour while I was still in school. I didn’t need to look at any other universities after that show; I knew Clemson would be the perfect fit for me.

While working with “Mamma Mia,” I was on the props crew. I spent most days organizing, cleaning, repairing, inventorying and maintaining the props. During rehearsals and shows I was backstage as an assistant to the show’s head of props. I was in charge of tracking props and making sure actors got them in time.

Being able to work on props crew for this show reinforced my love for what I do. I learned to come up with creative and out-of-the-box solutions for problems and saw how professionals had done things as well. Just being a part of the internship gave me the confidence to see myself touring when I graduate.

A lot of us refer to this internship as a two-week job interview, because you have to bring your best to work all day every day, but for me they are the best two weeks of my year.”

Why does the terrapin cross the runway?

 

Laura Francoeur and her team balance wildlife protection and air safety.

To rescue a turtle on a roadway is one thing.
To rescue a turtle on a runway is quite another.
Look left. Look right. Look UP.

This is the mission on a New York afternoon, as the Diamondback terrapins poke their heads from their telltale geometrically patterned shells, plodding to cross the JFK International Airport runway jutting into Jamaica Bay.

The wildlife patrol team plucks them from danger and tucks hatchlings into a see-through plastic bag while adults go into the back of patrol pickups, the first step in relocating them to safety.

The loudspeaker atop a yellow-striped, white patrol SUV babbles airport tower chatter until, clear as a bell, comes “Four Left” — the two words you were warned about.

“Go, now,” commands Laura Francoeur. “Off the runway.”

We hightail it to the safety of the crew-cut coarse grass apron. The twin turbine engines roar as the jetliner whooshes by no more than 10 yards away, leaving you feeling out of scale on this landscape, oddly like some small animal beside a highway.

Awed by the din, I look at Francoeur, who smiles, then quips, “It’s just another day at work.”

Managing wildlife and protecting the public

Clemson alumna Laura Francoeur is chief wildlife biologist for New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport, “Gateway to the World.”

But today, the world will have to wait, while Francoeur picks up Diamondback terrapins following their instincts.

In 2012 more than 1,300 terrapins were picked up by runway patrols during summer nesting season. The critters became media darlings, even getting their own Twitter handle #JFKturtles. “I did a Google search once for JFK and turtles and there were more than 900,000 hits,” Francoeur says.

To the public and media, Francoeur and wildlife patrol staffers are saving turtles. Actually they are protecting the airport by managing a wildlife problem. While the terrapins pose little hazard to the planes, they do cause a big headache for airport operations.

“Pilots on the taxiways will see a terrapin or a bunch of them, and will hold their positions and radio the tower to have someone from operations come out to pick them up,” Francoeur says. “During nesting season in the early summer, sometimes there are dozens of terrapins in the way. Delays are usually no more than 10 minutes, but they have gone on for nearly an hour.”

Why does the terrapin cross the runway? To get to the other side.

Terrapin crossing the runway.

Terrapin crossing the runway.

Runway 4L juts 400 feet into Jamaica Bay. On one side the terrapins live their lives and mate. On the other, females dig nests to lay their eggs. The biologists have had to figure ways to block the terrapins. Existing fences did not stop the turtles, which would look for gaps to slip under or trudge to the end and go around. The best solution so far is corrugated plastic pipe laid on the ground. The airport has installed more than 4,000 feet of it. “They can’t get a grip and slide back, and the pipe is staying on the ground,” Francoeur says. “The terrapins finally give up and lay their eggs outside the fence.”

Francoeur presented the JFK terrapin work during the 15th Wildlife Damage Management Conference held at Clemson last March. She had time to catch up with friends and colleagues, including her graduate program adviser, wildlife professor Greg Yarrow.

Wildlife-damage management, regardless of the problem species, has four basic components, according to Yarrow, now a division chair in the School of Agricultural, Forest and Environmental Sciences. It’s problem-solving that follows a process: You define the problem by identifying and assessing the damage. Next, study the behavior and ecology of the problem species. Then choose and apply controls, and finally evaluate the results.
Yarrow remembers Francoeur, who graduated in 1995 with a master’s in wildlife biology, and her thesis about deer damage to soybean fields.

Nicknamed “Spike” for her short-cropped gel-spiked blond hair, Francoeur was one of “the graduate students we had then who went all out all the time,” Yarrow says. “They were a group of great graduate students that put Clemson wildlife biology on the map.”

“Wildlife management was the right fit for me,” Francoeur says.

Arbitrating the conflicts of nature and development

Wildlife and airplanes have needed managing since the beginning of flight. Orville Wright wrote in his diary about a 1910 run-in with birds. In 2012, approximately 10,900 wildlife strikes to U.S. civilian aircraft were reported. Since 1988, more than 250 people have died because of wildlife strikes worldwide, according to the U.S. Bird Strike Committee. Damage to nonmilitary U.S. aircraft from wildlife strikes costs about $700 million a year.

A day with Francoeur and a colleague, wildlife biologist Jeff Kolodzinski, offers a glimpse of JFK from the outside in. The terminals, ticketing counters, TSA checkpoints, quick-bite joints, concourses and baggage carousels are out of sight, but not out of mind. “Our job is safety, looking for and controlling wildlife hazards,” said Francoeur.

It’s a deceptively simple statement, as complicated to achieve as is running an airport as big as a New York City borough. About 15 miles from downtown Manhattan, JFK borders the borough of Queens, Nassau County and Long Island.

In statistical description alone, JFK is a mind-boggling place, a city within a city. Some 49 million passengers buckle up for more than 400,000 takeoffs and landings a year on four runways linked by 25 miles of taxiways. Sited on 5,000 acres, the airport core is the 880-acre Central Terminal Area encompassing six airline terminals along with parking lots, hangars, administrative buildings and cargo facilities connected by 30 miles of road. More than 35,000 people work there. JFK’s economic impact in the region exceeds $30 billion a year.

It is a microcosm of the world coping with economic and environmental factors, where nature runs into increasing conflicts with its human neighbors.

Francoeur began her career in Newport News, Va., where she conducted wildlife-hazard assessments for airports and landfills for USDA Wildlife Services. Since 1999, she has been part of the wildlife management team dealing with animals that live or pass through the airports operated by Port Authority of New York and New Jersey — JFK, LaGuardia, Newark Liberty International, Teterboro and Stewart International outside of Newburgh, N.Y.

The work is challenging, even daunting. Animals don’t follow regulations and sometimes neither do people. The job requires a multi-tasker — part biologist, bureaucrat, trainer, forensic investigator and enforcer.

On any given day, Francoeur may work on how to discourage hawks from using airports as hunting grounds or preventing deer from dashing across runways. There are meetings with Federal Aviation Agency officials who regulate airports, USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service professionals, as well as state and local leaders. Topics can involve everything from designing new parks (tree selection can affect bird roosting) to supervising taxicab sanitation (some cabbies were tossing their edible trash where animals could eat it).

JFK also has a unique stakeholder — the U.S. Park Service. The airport and the Gateway National Recreation Area Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge interlace in the marshes and upland scrublands that harbor more than 325 bird species.

A CSI for bird collisions

Birds, especially bigger ones like gulls, geese and brants, are an obsession.

“We were mostly in the background until 1549,” said Francoeur. On January 15, 2009, US Airways Flight 1549 taking off from LaGuardia Airport collided with Canada geese, forcing Capt. Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger to land the plane in the Hudson River, saving all 155 passengers and crew.

“Collecting information on bird strikes — reporting them, when and where it happened, the species involved, the extent of damage and how long the plane was out of operation — helps us know how to prepare and respond,” Francoeur says. “We do a lot of training to help airport personnel to know what to do and who to call.”

Being a CSI for bird collisions is also a big part of the job. When a bird collision occurs or a bird carcass is found around the runways, the wildlife management team dons latex gloves and breaks out the evidence collection kits. Often the remains of a smashed bird or one sucked through a jet engine are not readily identifiable.

“It’s called ‘snarge,’” says Francoeur. Scientists at the Smithsonian Institution Feather Identification Lab made up the term for the mess of bird tissue, blood and feathers biologists bag and tag for identification. Tools ranging from DNA to microscopic feather analyses help researchers look for clues and narrow the search. The lab processes about 3,000 cases a year, adding to the FAA Wildlife Strike Database.

Set up in 1990, the database contains more than 133,000 reports. The actual number of strikes is far greater. Officials estimate that only 20 percent — one in five — wildlife strikes are reported.

Experts say hazards from wildlife conflicts are rising, as animal populations increase and adapt to living closer to humans. The number of Canada geese — the species that caused Flight 1549 to ditch in the Hudson River — has risen from 1 million birds in 1990 to more than 3.5 million in 2012, according to U.S. Bird Strike Committee data.

Meanwhile, the number of passengers getting on planes nationwide has soared from 310 million in 1980 to 715 million in 2011 on 25 million flights — a number expected to climb to 37 million by 2030.

The friendly skies have gotten a lot more crowded. It’s a serious concern, but for Francoeur and her colleagues it’s a manageable one for now.

More stories about wildlife management at JFK can be found at:
http://usfwsnortheast.wordpress.com/2013/08/30/why-does-the-terrapin-cross-the-runway/
http://www.nytimes.com/2010/01/03/nyregion/03birds.html?_r=0

Clemson’s Own Monster Garage

If you go to the website for Clemson’s Machining & Technical Services, you can read about the many capabilities of this department in the College of Engineering and Science. Seven bullet points list everything from drafting and machining to plastic fabrication and welding.

They might consider trimming that page down to just six words:

We can make just about anything.

That’s what director of instructional and research support Phil Landreth ’84 will tell you, backed up by his staff of engineers, artisans and craftsmen who work in the basement of Freeman Hall, packed with high-powered equipment and projects. “It’s like walking into Monster Garage every morning,” Landreth says with a grin, referring to the Discovery Channel show. There are no chrome dashboards or classic interiors, but the challenges they meet each day and the solutions they create have life-changing implications.

Say hello to the four managers of the shop — Truman Nicholson, Jeff Holliday, Brad Poore and Charlie McDonald ’04. Get them talking about their many projects, and their faces light up as they begin to tick them off:

  • Joist hangers and hurricane clips for the Wind Load Test Facility
  • Heart valve bioreactor and part of an artificial knee for biomedical engineering
  • A component of the buoys in the Intelligent RiverTM project
  • Fullerene nanoparticle producers for chemistry, physics and COMSET
  • An etching press, larger than commercially available, for the art department

The list goes on and on — from turf cutter blade parts for athletics to a machine to make miniature bales of cotton for materials science and engineering and air handling shafts for Facilities Maintenance and Operations. They produce samples for undergraduate labs to use for stress testing. They’ve helped students develop easy-to-connect joints for the steel bridge competition. They’ve created a mechanism to dynamically compress artificial cartilage tissue as it is being grown. They even worked with emeritus professor Cecil Huey to replace the governor on a historic steam engine for the Conservation Trust of Puerto Rico.

Etching Press

Etching Press

When art professor Sydney Cross wanted an etching press larger than she could find commercially, she went to the guys in Machining & Technical Services. The outcome? An etching press with a 5’x8′ bed.

“It is the largest etching press at a university on the East Coast,” says Cross, “and I don’t know of anyone commercially producing them at that size.” Her classes use the press on a regular basis. Pictured here is Claudia Dishon ’10, who completed her Master of Fine Arts degree in printmaking.

2012 SAE formula hub

The MTS shop produces a number of parts for the formula car teams that Clemson fields. Pictured here is the front hub being machined for the 2012 SAE formula car.

Heart valve bioreactor

Heart valve bioreactor

The MTS shop created parts for a heart valve bioreactor that was developed in Dan Simionescu’s Laboratory for Regenerative Medicine at the Clemson University Biomedical Engineering Innovation Campus (CUBEInC). CUBEInC, which opened in December 2011, is part of Greenville Hospital System’s Patewood campus.

Faculty at CUBEInC collaborate with cardiovascular and orthopedic surgeons across the hospital system and expose their students to the highest levels of research.

Stress testing samples

Stress testing samplesIn undergraduate engineering labs, students perform stress tests to determine how various materials respond and to see the relative strength of different metals. MTS produces samples like the ones pictured here.

Fullerene nanoparticle producers

Fullerene nanoparticle producersWhen chemistry professor Ya-Ping Sun needed to create a mechanism to produce fullerene nanoparticles, he came to MTS. They worked with him and others in chemistry, physics and COMSET (Center for Optical Materials Science and Engineering Technologies) to create this mechanism that produces carbon molecules used in pharmaceuticals, lubricants, coatings and composite materials.

Hurricane clips

Hurricane clipsWhen civil engineers were developing hurricane-proof building techniques, they worked with MTS to create joist hangers and hurricane clips that were then tested in the Wind Load Test Facility. Pictured here is one of the hurricane clips developed to keep roofs from lifting off houses during storms.

 

From drawings to reality

On the walls of the shop you’ll see pictures of years and years of formula cars designed, built and raced by Clemson students for the annual Society of Automotive Engineers competition. The silent partners in the projects are the guys in MTS.

“The students are building a prototype,” says Nicholson, “and we create different parts for them, like the rotors and the throttle body and the axles.” He picks up a differential that has been crafted out of a solid block of aluminum. “We usually do the differential.”

The competition is early May. Like other projects, these might start with a drawing on a napkin, but Landreth and the others pride themselves on the ability to work with students and faculty to figure out solutions, then make those solutions a reality.

“We meet with the students and talk about what they want and need,” says Nicholson. The back-and-forth conversation elicits a much better product than just dropping off an order and picking it up when it’s finished.

“I can count on one hand the failures    we have had of not being able to give someone what they need,” says Landreth.


Clemson SAE Formula Team

Where the rubber meets the road

Across campus in another little-known building are two guys spending their Friday morning working on Clemson’s SAE formula car for the competition that is less than three weeks away. The frame is welded together and sits on a large worktable. The whiteboard on the door lists most of the tasks that need to be finished, with a countdown of days to go before competition (19 at this time).

“There are more things we need to do, but I’m afraid if I put everything up there, it will overwhelm some of the team,” says Kevin Carlson, one of the team leaders. He and team member TJ Theodore will be here most of the weekend.

The SAE formula team is made up of students from mechanical engineering, industrial engineering and business who average 10-15 hours a week beginning in the summer. No course credit, no compensation. The seniors on the team will even have to choose between attending the competition or walking at graduation. Some of the team members (including the other team leader, Perry Ellwood) are working co-op jobs and come back to Clemson to spend their weekends on the car. Two alumni team members return once or twice a week to help as well.

The team relies heavily on the guys from MTS, who have produced 14 parts for this year’s car.

“We have 125 hours of MTS time,” says Carlson. “We completely design the car in SolidWorks [software application] and then go to MTS with drawings. They do the steering gears, the wheel hubs, the trigger wheels, the throttle body.” The team mills some parts themselves by hand. And they wrangle others, both donated and sold, from outside vendors.

Working with MTS not only saves the team money, but it also provides them with technical expertise. “It saves us around $6,000 to have their help,” says Carlson. “Hour-wise, it saves us over 300 hours of machining if we had to do it ourselves. They’re a huge help, both with the parts and giving us knowledge on how to machine things better or more efficiently.”

An engine for the rest of campus

The crew in MTS are probably best known for their work with the SAE formula car, but there’s not a college or department on campus that has not been affected by their work. Bioengineer Karen Burg discovered their capabilities while she was still a graduate student. Now a prolific researcher and holder of an endowed chair in bioengineering, she shares some of the credit with them for Clemson research productivity.

“I’ve worked with the Machining & Technical Services staff since I was a graduate student,” she says, “and I’m grateful for all their assistance on numerous projects. They are enthusiastic and helpful, and they have significantly increased our ability to conduct cutting-edge research.”

The MTS crew has worked with Burg to create an instrumented container used for growing tissue for breast cancer research. Caught in a more casual moment, Burg remarks, “In short, Phil [Landreth] and the Machining & Technical Services personnel ROCK.”

The rest of the Clemson crew agrees.

Clemson's Monster Garage group

In addition to Phil Landreth and the four managers, the staff of Machining & Technical Services includes (L–R) David Kelley, Glen Rankin, Scott Kaufman, Brittney McCall, Bill Simmons, Dustin Gravley (kneeling), Dock Houston and Wendy Baldwin.

Tailgating with the Tigers

You’ve known it for years, but Southern Living magazine has made it official. Tailgating at Clemson is a bang-up way to share the day with 80,000 of your closest family and friends.

When Southern Living held its competition for “The South’s Best Tailgate” last fall, Clemson took the prize over a host of other schools, with Alabama and Ole Miss coming in close behind. We weren’t surprised, and know you weren’t either. This fall, we did it again.

The atmosphere in Clemson every fall fairly sparkles with anticipation. From the rumbling of RVs rolling into town on Thursday (or Wednesday for those more hard-core fans) to the streets lined for the First Friday Parade and the sea of orange tents that sprout up almost pole-to-pole in a one-mile radius around the stadium, Clemson football weekends are a series of Tiger-themed parties thrown for our 80,000-plus closest friends and family.

And we’re not talking hot dogs and potato chips, although you might find those as well, as long as they’re freshly grilled and served hot. Clemson fans cook up tailgating fare that would make Rachael Ray proud, with coordinated tablecloths, decorations, coolers and seating that could come straight out of a Martha Stewart magazine. If it’s not orange, with an occasional purple accent, you won’t find it here.

You will, however, find visitors to those tents sporting the colors of the opposing teams. Because if Clemson fans are anything, they are friendly. Even the weekend of the South Carolina game, the tents are big enough for Tiger fans and Gamecock fans alike. There might be plenty of banter and (hopefully) good-spirited insults, but food and drinks will be shared.

Tailgates at Clemson start early and run late. When the game is over, the party keeps going, with cornhole games and beverages and tall tales. Friends and families find reasons to hang around for a while, even if it’s just to wait until the traffic begins to clear. They’ve been gathering here for generations, and it doesn’t get much sweeter.

Tailgating Stories

Tailgating Recipes

 

 

Tailgating Photo Gallery

When tailgaters set up at Clemson, they plan to stay the day.

When tailgaters set up at Clemson, they plan to stay the day.

 

Southern Roots + Global Reach


Clemson Architecture Center Genoa

Clemson Architecture Center Charleston

Clemson Architecture Center Barcelona

In 1913, the world was rushing toward its first Great War. But it was also a time of exploding creativity. The Woolworth Building in Manhattan, one of our earliest skyscrapers, had opened in April. The Armory Show had rocked the art world when it opened in New York in February, changing forever how we view art. A scientist named Albert Einstein was hot on the trail of his General Theory of Relativity that would explain how space and matter affect each other to create the universe in which we live.

And in the deep South, a forward leaning land-grant college called Clemson would realize that young architects trained in design and the building arts would soon be in great demand to imagine and design the spaces in which we would live, learn, play and work.

Almost a hundred years later, in the spring of 2010, Clemson historian Jerry Reel tapped the College of Architecture, Arts and Humanities on its proverbial shoulder and pointed out that the year 2013 would mark the centennial of architecture education at Clemson University. A celebration and a commemoration seemed in order, he suggested.

The college agreed with enthusiasm, but in retrospect, not a soul who was listening to Professor Reel speak that day could have imagined the wild ride of research, discovery, writing and making that would unfold during the next three years. Students, faculty, alumni, emeriti and staff of Clemson’s School of Architecture and the larger University joined together on a voyage of discovery that will culminate this fall with a retrospective display in the Lee Gallery and a reimagined “Beaux Arts Ball” — millennial style.

Looking forward by looking back

Planning for the centennial celebration began by looking backward, to the program’s earliest beginnings, to that tipping point when Clemson Agricultural College recognized the need for architecture education that was separate and distinct from its engineering program.

As the centennial committee delved into the history of architecture education at Clemson, they sifted through some 700 student projects that have been kept in storage. Records, documents, photographs and film footage were scoured. Alumni and emeriti were queried. An impressive collection of source material was soon at hand. Within a matter of months, however, the growing and collaborative group of scholars, students, librarians, artists and writers would realize they were even more interested in looking forward — ahead to the coming century. They wanted to learn how the decisions and achievements of the school’s first 100 years might give form and meaning to its next. They wanted to draw lines between the careers of alumni to the broader scope of the profession and to world events. They were looking for connections and scanning their horizons.


Lecturer and shop manager David Pastre stands in the Charleston center with the interactive display for children that will be unveiled statewide this fall. Commissioned by the S.C. chapter of the AIA, the display was designed and fabricated by students and faculty in Clemson, Charleston and Genoa.

Bending space and time

Peter Laurence, assistant professor and director of the graduate program in architecture, writes, “Since its first year of instruction in 1913, architectural education at Clemson has been mindful of its geographies — its connections and relationships to both the state of South Carolina and to the wider world.”

No kidding. The School of Architecture has grown from its humble beginnings in Riggs Hall to become an interconnected Fluid Campus, with centers in Genoa, Italy; Barcelona, Spain; and Charleston, S.C. The centers are joined at their cores by student travel and residency, by professorships-in-residence, and by digital and distance learning techniques — working together as one campus across great distances by bending space and time in ways that would have made Albert Einstein proud.

Just this year, for example, a studio project that began in Clemson soon moved to Genoa for further research and development, then on to Charleston for fabrication and fine tuning, and finally back to Clemson this fall for completion. That project, an interactive exhibit for children based on the Reggio Emilia Approach to education, will roll out in cities across South Carolina this fall. Watch for it.

Marking times

Throughout the year, the centennial has been observed with lectures, symposia, design projects, essays and celebrations. And others joined in as well. In August the South Atlantic Region of the American Institute of Architects held its fourth annual Architecture for Health conference at Clemson on the topic “Local Roots and Global Reach,” in keeping with the centennial theme. A reception and alumni gathering helped celebrate the 45th anniversary of the Architecture + Health program at Clemson.

Also worth noting, the year 2013 marked the 40th anniversary of the Clemson Architecture Center in Genoa, the 25th anniversary of the Clemson Architecture Center in Charleston, the 45th anniversary of Clemson’s Graduate Program in Architecture + Health, and the 13th anniversary of the Clemson Architecture Center in Barcelona — all observed during Clemson Architecture’s centennial year. The celebration, begun in those cities last spring, is gathering steam as it heads into Clemson this fall.


Extending roots and reach

The timeline created as part of this celebration makes clear that the trajectory begun in 1913 will not level out as the School of Architecture begins its second century. Simply scanning the range and scope of alumni accomplishments illustrates an influence in both the design of buildings and the building of communities.

In an article in The Chronicle of Higher Education, Clemson President James Barker ’70 said, “If architects want to be influential, we need to get out of our ateliers and connect with the curriculum, engage the culture and serve our larger communities.”

This year’s annual meeting of the American Institute of Architects made it clear that the graduates of Clemson’s architecture program have taken that challenge to heart. Clemson alumni captured three of the institute’s national awards — the Twenty-five Year Award, the Honor Award for Architecture and the Young Architects Award. And Harvey Gantt ’65 captured the Whitney M. Young Jr. Award for social activism and responsibility.

Join the celebration!

On September 30, the exhibition “Southern Roots + Global Reach: 100 Years of Clemson Architecture” opens in the Lee Gallery. Explore the people, themes and stories of the past century.
On October 18, the symposium “The Architecture of Regionalism in the Age of Globalization” features a keynote lecture by Alexander Tzonis and Liane Lefaivre, Ph.D., and a panel presentation including Frank Harmon, FAIA, and Marlon Blackwell, FAIA.
On October 18, get your Beaux Arts on with “Upcycle!” This formal reception and dance will be held in the Wedge in Lee III, the new addition to Lee Hall, designed by Thomas Phifer ’75, M ’77.

Celebration School of Architecture

 

Q & A with the President

This spring, Clemson World sat down with President James Barker to get his perspective as he prepares to step down from the presidency and back into the classroom.

CW: What was your first priority as Clemson’s president?

BARKER: The way I always respond to that question is the same, and that is, my first priority is our students. But that’s a set of people and really the reason for our existence, and it’s a reminder to all of us on the campus what role our students really play.

If I think back to that moment, there were two things. We needed some stability here. I had lived through five presidents in 15 years, and each of those changes was so disruptive that it was hard to have any momentum built, because you were constantly changing the strategic plans. So I reasoned that if I would commit to stay at least 10 years, then that would be a symbol about stability. The other was that some fractures were starting to get a little bit wider, and I was concerned about keeping the Clemson Family united and unified. So the idea of One Clemson emerged early on. And nobody is as strong as Clemson when we are united.

CW: In your inauguration speech you noted that Clemson is “a living organism with a core and surface,” the core having a covenant with tradition and the surface having a covenant with change. How have you balanced tradition and change in your leadership?

BARKER: This place has a special genius, a collective genius, about understanding that balance. Otherwise, we could not have experienced the degree of change that we did in the ’50s and ’60s when we went from an all-male and all-white military school, to the Clemson you see today, with students from 90 different countries, with 50 percent women. That would have torn many schools apart, and that did not happen to Clemson.

There’s this almost innate understanding about when it’s time to hold on to traditions tightly and when to let go and make sure that change is what dominates our thinking. All I really tried to do was not mess that up too badly — to just pay attention to that history and say, “We’re now in one of those times again, and it’s time for this amount of change or this amount of tradition to rise.”

In that quote, I was really challenging each of us to engage in that change-versus-tradition discussion — let it not be an abstract idea, but a very real idea on how we solve problems, how we build strategic plans, how we deal with the future. That dialogue about change and traditions served us very well. You can go back to the ultimate source of tradition, which is Thomas Green Clemson’s will, and he doesn’t make it very clear about how this is to be done. He saw it as a dynamic thing; he understood the need for change.

You can’t say in the 19th century what the 21st century’s going to be, or in the 21st century what the 23rd century Clemson should look like. We take seriously our roots as an ag school and an engineering mechanical school. But that doesn’t stop us from working with BMW, and that doesn’t stop us from doing wind energy. What will it take to bring prosperity to South Carolina in whatever century we’re in — that’s our charge from Thomas Green Clemson.

CW: You didn’t begin your presidency timidly. The top 20 goal was a bold reach. What motivated you to choose that?

BARKER: I’ve said jokingly that I wish I’d said top 25. That would have been very easy to do. Everybody thought that was ridiculous, because it seemed like a stretch too far. But when I think about the distinctive qualities of Clemson, it is clear that we are very competitive by nature. I challenged that competitive nature to say, “We can be top 20 in sports, and there’s no reason we can’t be top 20 in academics. This is something Clemson can accomplish if we work together.”

And yes, I gulped a few times before I said that, because I knew we had been in the third tier a year or two before. And we’re not there yet. But five consecutive years in the top 25 is clearly a trend, a level of success that I think we can be proud of.

CW: You also noted in your inauguration speech that “Clemson is still a work in progress.” What are the biggest changes you’ve seen in your 14 years?

BARKER: It’s hard not to start with technology. The kind of impact that instant communication has had — much for the better I think. I would list the range and location of where we are attracting students now — truly a national base, and an international base. Paths are as well worn in parts of China for students following their colleagues as they are in Bamberg and up and down the East Coast and in California and all the Midwest.

The other thing that’s changed dramatically for the better is our self-concept. To a person, we believe that we are a great school. Now some would say we are on our path to being a great school, and I wouldn’t argue with that either. There are still many things we want to accomplish, but our expectations are that we’re going to be great. That’s emboldened us to dream bigger dreams and to try harder things. I’m proud of all three of those things, but I think the change in self-concept is fundamental to the success of what our university can be.

CW: What was your biggest challenge?

BARKER: We’ve never really had the financial base to be able to justify our dreams. At the start of my service, we were 40 percent funded by the state, and now we’re about 9 percent funded by the state. When I was a student, it was about 80 percent.

But the biggest challenge, I think, was the Great Recession, when we all were furloughed — all of us took a pay cut — and yet we came through without any layoffs. We kept the Clemson Family as united as can be in a crisis like that. Coming out of that now, we’re stronger than we ever were. Certainly our capital campaign has shown that — we’re approaching $700 million, and we’re dead serious about reaching that $1 billion goal. When we do, we’ll be the only school our size ever to have done that, and I think that shows a lot about self-confidence and self-concept.

CW: You’ve often begun speeches with stories of life in the president’s house. What’s one of your favorites from over the years?

BARKER: Maybe the first one I told is still my favorite. We were here on a Saturday — just the two of us, Marcia and I — and that doorbell rang. I was doing something, so Marcia opened the door. She found me and said, “There’s a group of students who want to talk to you.” So I went out to talk with them, and they said, “We’re on our way to Bowman Field to play Frisbee. Do you wanna play?”

I called back to Marcia and said, “Can I go out and play?” And she said, “Yes, as long as you’re back by 3 o’clock, because you have an appointment at that time.”

That engagement is something I treasure probably more than anything else about living on campus or this work. That students would think to invite the president to play Frisbee — there is just something right about that. And I guess that gave me the confidence, that maybe I ought to get in the Tiger suit and do push-ups, and who knows, water-ski behind the rowing team. That degree of engagement always seemed to me to be the most joyful part of the job, but an important part of the job too.

CW: How has your background in architecture enriched your presidency?

BARKER: I can’t imagine a better preparation, a better education for a university president than architecture. I never thought of it this way, but at some point about six months into this service, it dawned on me that I’m practicing architecture.

My education was very broad — all the way from poetry to plumbing — but it wasn’t very deep. And that’s what a president’s job is. You don’t have to be an expert in everything on campus, but you need to have some understanding. The liability is that I don’t have the depth in any one area, but as president, that could get in your way. I really value that education because of the breadth that it gave me. It also asked for me to use both sides of my brain, the left brain and the right brain. So you’ve taken physics and you’re also taking painting.

The other part is that I am conditioned to strive for the beautiful. My eyes and my brain are very much tuned to things that aren’t, and they stand out when you’ve had that kind of education. I really value the beauty of this campus and making sure that it continues to become even more beautiful with every decision we make. It’s not just an aesthetic game I’m playing; we attract students and faculty to this campus because they look around and say, “This is beautiful — I want to live here.” It makes me look forward to getting up and coming to work every morning because I’m surrounded by this kind of beauty.

We have to make sure that we continue to do that in both the design of our buildings, and in the spaces between the buildings, the outdoor rooms. We ought to strive for this place to be a garden — every inch of it to be a garden — and I think we’re making real progress there.

I get to live here, and enjoy it when it’s filled with people and enjoy it when it very quiet and the mist is coming off of the lake. It’s a spectacular piece of the earth.

CW: When you look back, what were your proudest moments, both personally and professionally?

BARKER: Let me touch on a few of the highlights. I think that each one was a success that I didn’t do, that the campus did — everybody was a part of this. These things are too complex for one person to do. But I would list among them the fact that we set out to get a Phi Beta Kappa chapter, and now students are leaving Clemson with that very important credential, and it’s changed our self-concept.

The fact that we enrolled and created the National Scholars Program in 2000 — I would list that as a major moment.

The fact that we raised tuition 42 percent in one year and kept this family together. People rallied to support it because they believed in the quality of a Clemson education. We were one of the lowest priced, in terms of tuition, statewide, and we should have been priced according to the value we were giving. We built that base, and heaven knows — that was before the Great Recession — where would we be if we hadn’t done that? The quality wouldn’t be there.

The partnerships we’ve enjoyed with BMW, with Michelin, with the City of Greenville and with the state that created ICAR. It was a matter of really good teamwork and really good timing, and it’s helped give South Carolina a direct look at what a knowledge-based economy looks like.

The way we got through the Great Recession, with no layoffs, and we kept ourselves together.

The fact that, at the start of the Will to Lead capital campaign, we could have delayed that announcement, because you don’t do that kind of fundraising in the worst recession in 60 or 80 years. The Board said continue, the Foundation Board said continue, and we did. And that’s why we are where we are now.

Winning both a National Championship in Golf and the Habitat for Humanity International College Chapter of the Year. That shows the true balance of Clemson.

The Department of Energy grant we got to develop the drivetrain test facility in North Charleston, which is nearing completion now. That $45 million, combined with the state match, produced a $100 million project that we were able to capitalize on to create an environment that will help industry and serve our students remarkably well.

Creating the Academic Success Center, and Dori Helms, our provost, deserves credit for that. It was her idea and now we see the physical manifestation of a very good idea in a brand new building on campus.

I was touched by the Ring Ceremony, and having Col. Ben Skardon, one of my teachers, talk about what his ring had meant to him on the Bataan Death March and his prisoner-of-war experience for almost four years in the second World War.

And one that was hard, was the brawl we had with the University of South Carolina in football in 2004. We decided that we weren’t going to go to a bowl game. That was behavior we couldn’t accept, and we were not going to reward ourselves by having a bowl experience. I think that sent a pretty clear message about where our priorities were and a little bit of a statement about Clemson’s integrity. It was not universally praised, but I think it was the right thing to do.

CW: How has being an alumnus affected your presidency?

BARKER: Clemson is not ordinary; it is not normal. It is a school with all sorts of idiosyncrasies. We just don’t behave like other schools behave, and we don’t put priorities on things that some people, at other schools, might put priorities on. But the things we do put priorities on are critically important to us. It has taken me a lifetime to figure those things out.

I started at Clemson as a 17-year-old, the oldest of three boys, in a family that never had anyone go to college. My father died a year before the first time I walked across Bowman Field. I’ve just found that knowing that history, those traditions, how a campus can embrace someone — that’s where our priorities ought to be, and I understood that almost instinctively. I would have been a lousy president somewhere else because I didn’t understand those things. I think that understanding those distinctive qualities, praising them, strengthening them, has been an important part of what I hope we’ve accomplished.

CW: Is there anything you would characterize as “unfinished business” as you retire?

BARKER: The enterprise legislation. I knew it was a very hard task to get that through in one year and even more so in an abbreviated year. But that’s unfinished. It must happen — it is vital to our future. But we’re halfway there, and we’ll be planning our efforts between now and when the legislature begins in January. And we’ll be very active in this offseason to plant the right seeds hopefully so that we can be successful.

CW: What will you miss as you return to the classroom?

BARKER: No more knocks on the front door and to see who’s there — to open that door and to see what kind of Clemson experience someone is having, and whether or not I can make that better. I will miss that. I’ll miss the interaction with students and with faculty and staff too, but that interaction with students. That’s one thing we’ll miss, living right here in the middle of campus, surrounded by that energy, or that depression after the first round of tests. You can feel it by just being a part of this campus. So being an integral part of the campus 24 hours a day, seven days a week, is something I think we’ll miss.

CW: Is there a place on campus that has been particularly significant for you, either as a student, faculty member, or as president?

BARKER: There are moments when you walk on this campus that you get these glimpses of the mountains. There are a couple of beautiful spots where that happens on the campus; one of them is at the base of Tillman Hall. You look down College Avenue, and you see those mountains looming in the distance. I never get tired of that view. It’s breathtaking.

And Bowman Field, because every time I walk across it, I have that memory of the first time I walked across it, and the sense that this campus gave me, just intuitively, that said, “You’re going to be okay. We know you’ve got lots of challenges, financial, you lost your dad, you’re sort of representing your whole family in this effort. Trust us, you’ll be okay.” I felt that very much that first time, and now when I walk across Bowman Field, I feel the same way, every single time.

CW: Is there a person who was particularly significant for you as a student?

BARKER: Ben Skardon. This Marine reading poetry in his big deep gravelly voice and reading Shelley and Keats — I was just mesmerized by that.

Two faculty members in architecture who realized that I was having a financial crisis. They found a scholarship that fit my grade point average and need, and that kept me from having to drop out of school.

And then there was this speech teacher who had us listen to the speeches of Martin Luther King back in 1966 or ’67. She never talked about the content. She would say, “Listen to the inflection here. You know I’ve been teaching you about how repetition works when you’re giving speeches, and inflection and volume.” I was a changed person coming out of that class. I was not the same person walking out of there that I was when I walked in. It wasn’t just about technique and speech either.

CW: It’s obvious that you and Mrs. Barker have approached this presidency as a partnership. How has that enriched and strengthened your presidency?

BARKER: That’s absolutely true. The grace that she’s shown and the hospitality that she’s shown — I think it’s in her DNA. But also the kind of preparation that I had for the job — she had the same. Consider this — our first year of married life was in married student housing here. So she had that same understanding about Clemson that I had and was an active part of the community. From her preschool days [as a teacher and director at Fort Hill Church], she has a lot of alumni in this town, and now they’re my alumni. So we’ve handed off four-year-olds who became Clemson graduates, and that’s really a joy to see. When she sees them walking across the stage getting their degree, it’s a special moment for her too. I don’t have any doubt that the best first lady that Clemson’s ever had is Marcia.

CW: Any other thoughts you’d like to share with us?

BARKER: I think the thing that I’m feeling right now, as the time for us to change majors comes, is an overwhelming sense of gratitude. I am overcome by moments that are so special to me that demonstrate the opportunity that we’ve been given, and the gratitude that I feel for that opportunity to serve my alma mater for 14 years, to be the spokesperson for the Clemson Family, in times of loss, in times of celebration, all the way to memorial services for students, to picking up the trophy from the ACC Championship on the field and everything in between. I just have an overwhelming sense of gratitude.

CW: I would say the University probably has the same sense towards you.

BARKER: I don’t know about that part, but I just know what’s rolling around in my head and my heart, and it’s powerful.

The Idea of Clemson

Fourteen years ago, James Barker approached the podium for his inaugural address. Unlike many new presidents, he already had a fairly comprehensive understanding of the institution. After all, “president” was just the most recent of his Clemson monikers. Student, alumnus, faculty member, dean, parent — he had already experienced the University from all of those perspectives.

As he reflected with those in attendance on “The Idea of Clemson,” it was from a very well-informed perch. In an address that was forward-looking and optimistic and challenging, he examined nine qualities — of being inclusive, academically challenging, visionary, indomitable, bold and innovative, distinctive, sensitive to the needs of others, focused on the value of the individual and based on family — that he said described the “wonderful, powerful, noble idea called Clemson.”

“The most important ideas,” he said, “have a physical manifestation. The idea of Clemson surrounds you today in the ‘sense of place’ and ‘sense of community’ you can see and feel on this campus.” He went on to say, “To all gathered here today, I say that with everything I am, I believe in the idea called Clemson. But Clemson is still a work in progress.”

And the charge that Jim Barker accepted at his inauguration was “to ensure that the idea of Clemson will be stronger at the end of my service than it is now at the beginning.” In what is known now as characteristic Barker, he stated his strong conviction that “the only way to fulfill this responsibility is to find the way for each of you to join me in this effort.”

With that statement, and the one that followed, he launched the idea of “One Clemson.”

“I am convinced,” Barker said, “that there is no university in America stronger than Clemson when we are ‘one Clemson.’ … If we unite around the idea of Clemson, we have a future beyond our highest aspirations.”

After referencing the legacy and destiny of the University, President James Barker finished by simply saying, “Let’s get started.”

And get started he did. In the next few pages, alumni, faculty, staff, students and friends share their reflections on the ways in which Jim Barker’s presidency advanced what he called “The Idea of Clemson.”

In my humble opinion, James Barker and R.C. Edwards were the best presidents to have served Clemson in any time or season, but especially this was the case when it came to their steadfast leadership surrounding issues of race relations.

Dr. Edwards’ leadership during Harvey Gantt’s 1963 enrollment is well documented and widely known. What many may not know, however, is the quiet, dignified and determined way that President Barker built on President Edwards’ legacy to garner Clemson the coveted reputation as one of the nation’s premier institutions for tackling very complex and vexing issues surrounding diversity in higher education.

Three such initiatives that he led include:

• The visionary Call Me MISTER program: No one really knew what to do about the chronic black male teacher crisis until this program unfolded. It is the national model.

• The National Best Practices Conference in the Achievement of Students of Color: Poor retention of all students had been one of higher education’s ugly secrets for many years.

This challenge was most acute among black students. After more than a decade, this annual gathering has become the gold standard for identifying solutions to this persistent problem. President Barker has participated in every minute of every session. He thus created an indelible impression about Clemson on the minds of the thousands of leaders from across the nation.

• Black faculty recruitment: With the appointment of Dr. Juan Gilbert as chair of Human-Centered Computing and later as the first Presidential Endowed Chair, President Barker has done what many in higher education, industry and government thought to be impossible. Recruiting and retaining black faculty is intensely competitive in all disciplines, but especially in science, technology and mathematics. In short order, Clemson now has the largest concentration of black computer science faculty and Ph.D students in the nation. This could not have happened without President Barker’s leadership.

These accomplishments have truly been game changers in terms of how Clemson is perceived across the nation and around the world. President Barker’s singular ability to do the right thing while institutionalizing positive outcomes will hold Clemson in good stead for decades to come.


Frank Matthews


— Frank L. Matthews ’71
Co-Founder, Cox Matthews and Associates
Publisher, Diverse Issues in Higher Education

During most of President Jim Barker’s tenure as president of Clemson, I served as the director of the National Scholars Program, which was inaugurated by President Barker in 2000. “To be a national university,” he said at the time, “we must have a national-caliber scholarship program, and this is it.”

For me, the National Scholars Program symbolizes Clemson’s extraordinary academic and intellectual growth during Jim Barker’s presidency. To create the program called for extraordinary vision and for enormous faith in Clemson’s students, staff and faculty. To sustain it required a continuing commitment to providing the resources necessary to recruit, educate and challenge some of our very best students. Finally, to establish the program as a vital and integral part of Clemson’s culture required President and Mrs. Barker’s personal involvement and support. Jim and Marcia have been at nearly every important National Scholars event. They have entertained every group of National Scholars freshmen at their home. And they have made it clear to everyone at Clemson that the National Scholars Program — and the Calhoun Honors College as well — are both key symbols and very real products of Clemson’s commitment to academic excellence.


William Lasser


— William Lasser
Alumni Distinguished Professor of Political Science
Director, Calhoun Honors College

I believe that President Barker’s commitment to elevate the academic standards of Clemson, to lead with transparency and to be accessible to the entire Clemson family, especially to students, is second to none. Although I did not attend Clemson, I have worked here for 41 years, and it has been so rewarding during President Barker’s tenure to watch the University develop from an excellent regional university to one that is highly ranked nationally and well-respected. All Clemson alumni, and past and present faculty and staff, are proud that a degree from Clemson means much more now than in the past.

In addition to being a masterful architect of so many academic innovations and accomplishments, President Barker’s handprint is obvious in the improvements on the facility and the landscaping that have occurred during his tenure as president.

I will always be grateful to President Barker for the wonderful support that he has given the arts programs at Clemson, for no university can be considered great without having a strong program in the arts. He and Clemson’s gracious first lady attended performances at the Brooks Center as often as their schedules would allow. President and Mrs. Barker leave huge shoes to fill.


Mickey Harder


— Mickey Harder
Director, Brooks Center for the Performing Arts

“Do you wish to be great?” St. Augustine once asked. “Think first about the foundations of humility. The higher your structure is to be, the deeper must be its foundations.”

Fourteen years ago, Jim Barker set out to build a better university. He had a vision that Clemson could be a nationally recognized public institution. The fact that President Barker’s lofty vision for Clemson has been realized is certainly commendable by itself. But the most compelling part of the story is not about the obvious success President Barker has achieved, but rather how he went about achieving it. He met the challenge posed by St. Augustine to the faithful so many centuries ago — he stayed grounded in humility — built a foundation on it — even as Clemson soared.

History is replete with examples of powerful leaders who are larger than life, whose force of personality makes them irresistible to watch; leaders who are at their best and most dynamic when the spotlight shines the brightest on them. Few of us equate power, much less success, to those who turn the spotlight away from themselves. And yet, that is exactly how President Barker has achieved such remarkable success as one of the longest-serving college presidents in the U.S. He is always ready to lead and always reluctant to take credit. His humility encouraged and enabled other talented people to work on Clemson’s behalf — all headed in the same direction, all following his lead.

He and Marcia were always exceedingly gracious, greeting students, parents and staff as warmly as they did visiting dignitaries and VIPs. They represented Clemson globally and championed the University in prestigious venues. But he and Marcia were just as content — probably more so — opening their home at night to students who simply needed some support. He was comfortable walking the campus and cheering at games. He wanted Clemson to succeed on his watch, not because of his own personal investment or aggrandizement, but because when he went off to college as a young man, he went to Clemson. He wanted to give back better than he had received.

Today the University stands taller than ever, nationally recognized for its academics and athletics. It’s in the top tier of public schools — just as Jim Barker envisioned more than a dozen years ago when he began building a lasting foundation.

For Barker, it was always about Clemson rising tall, about generations of students crediting CU for providing a springboard to countless opportunities. It was never about his own legacy. Yet, history will undoubtedly record President Jim Barker’s rich contributions to Clemson, accolades the man himself is too humble to accept.


David Wilkins


— David Wilkins
Chair, Clemson University Board of Trustees

I have been privileged in my teaching career at Clemson University to have had James F. Barker as a student in my classes for three of his early semesters (one B, two A’s).

Few people have known that Jim Barker came to Clemson on a partial athletic scholarship. He was a pole-vaulter from Kingsport, Tennessee. Like his reticence to talk about his ability to draw, he seemed less inclined to review his brief career as a vaulter.

During his early years as a student in the school of architecture, he had an assignment, possibly in design or to test his creative inclinations. He visited my office and asked if I would take a look at his project. To me, Jim always had been a serious student. Naturally, I was flattered by his request. He unveiled plans and drawings for a city to be constructed in the area where South Carolina, Georgia and North Carolina boundaries are contiguous. The overall concept was a layout of a series of concentric circles, in which each circle some function or activity — habitation, religion, education, civic government, business, medical, etc., would be planned. I was amazed at his vision.

Jim Barker’s vision has carried over to the planning and development of the Clemson University campus, which now impresses students, visitors and local residents.

I have always taken pride in and have admiration for my former student from Kingsport, Tennessee.


Ben Skardon


— Col. Ben Skardon ’38
Professor Emeritus of English

As I reflect on the presidency of Jim Barker, I am so very proud of the accomplishments that Clemson has achieved over the course of Jim’s administration. Under Jim’s leadership, Clemson has risen to become a top-25 public university. Jim aspires to see Clemson improve because he wants to see Clemson students have an opportunity to receive the best education possible.

Jim Barker is a man of integrity. He is a great visionary and great strategic planner. He leads with a core passion to put the students and their success first. Most importantly, this “down to earth” man loves Clemson University! Marcia Barker has been an incredible leader as well and a fantastic ambassador for Clemson. She leads with a very special style and grace, and she has made Clemson a much better university.

Clemson has been blessed by the Barkers!


Harvey Gantt


— Harvey B. Gantt
Principal, Gantt Huberman Architects

I have always admired Jim Barker as the essence of a true Clemson man. He proved my long-held belief that architects, because of their unique education and training, could go out into the world and do much more than design buildings. Jim and I have often reminisced on a speech I gave at the College of Architecture years ago. I spoke on the theme of how some of us student architects could one day leave Clemson to serve as leaders in society … because we were being trained to analyze problems, examine alternatives, choose a way forward, and execute a solution with conviction. In other words, we were trained to be leaders, in our design firms, in civic life, in politics, in business, and even to lead a great university … like Clemson. Jim was in that audience when I spoke, and says he was inspired. Wow!!! And he has gone on to build a great record as one of Clemson’s finest presidents and a great leader in education for South Carolina.


Smyth McKissick


— E. Smyth McKissick III
Clemson University Trustee

Jim Barker is well-known for his intense interest and caring spirit for the well-being of Clemson students. What is not so well-known is his unique ability to manifest that same level of interest for campus organizations that are not an integral part of the University’s core mission of teaching and research.

I witnessed this during the past two years as IPTAY went through a reorganization. Early in the process we sought guidance from President Barker. He maintained a high level of interest in IPTAY , and never failed to avail himself to us. As the IPTAY Board moved through our changes, we recognized that the new landscape of college athletics suggested more involvement of college presidents. President Barker was aware of this new trend, and embraced our idea to have him become an active member of the IPTAY Board.

Jim never hesitated to help IPTAY through these changing times and was fully engaged and supportive during my term as president. I saw firsthand why the Clemson Family has so completely embraced
the Barkers.


Charles Dalton


— Charles Dalton
President, IPTAY Board of Directors

Jim Barker is one of the finest individuals I know, and I’m incredibly appreciative of what he’s meant to me both personally and professionally during my time as ACC commissioner.

As I look back over his tenure as president of Clemson University, it’s important to note that his fingerprints are all over the many monumental milestones that have happened within the ACC . From the league’s expansion in 2003, through the latest expansions and the grant of media rights, Jim has been instrumental in strategically positioning the Atlantic Coast Conference for the long term.

There’s no question that Jim is one of the most well-respected presidents, not only in the ACC but also across the NCAA landscape. As an educator and leader, he is insightful, thoughtful and brings tremendous wisdom.

Jim has become one of my most trusted advisers, and I’m thankful for the friendship we’ve developed over the years.

I wish Jim, Marcia and the entire Barker family nothing but health and happiness in the years ahead.


John Swofford


— John Swofford
ACC Commissioner

I first met my architecture classmate, the future president James F. Barker, on Riggs Field in August of 1965. Riggs served as the track at that time, and Jim was practicing his event, the pole vault. My first Clemson roommate was the other freshman vaulter, and he was excited to introduce me to his teammate since, he surmised, we had so much in common as architecture majors. Little did he know that this thoughtful introduction would lead to a lifetime of collegiality marked by true friendship.

As we approached the field from the south stands, Jim picked up his pole, took a deep breath and ran at full speed toward the box, the bar and the pit. Jim planted the pole perfectly in the box, leaned back with all his strength and swung his body skyward into a handstand with amazing grace. Then, the pole shattered. The sound was like a rifle’s blast echoing off Holtzendorff and the Barracks. All motion stopped and all eyes turned to the vaulting pit. Seeming unfazed by the disruption, Jim continued the backward flow of his body, executed a perfect back flip and landed on his feet in the pit. Still holding a four-foot piece of the offending instrument, he strode out to greet his teammate and his classmate with a broad smile as if to ask: “How’d you like that?”

Occasionally I will retell this story as I introduce President Barker and I like to add: “and he’s been landing on his feet ever since.”


John Jacques


— John Jacques ’70, AIA, CAF Director
Professor Emeritus of Architecture

From my perspective, the most significant contribution made by Jim Barker during my tenure as vice president for research and economic development was to articulate the “Top Twenty” Vision, and hold us accountable for it. The vision was compelling, succinct, memorable and measurable. It galvanized our thinking about Clemson University as a distinctive, national research university, guided our strategic planning and drove our implementation. The quarterly “Report Card” measured our progress.

For me, the second most important concept by Jim was to challenge us to develop a “Town/Gown” relationship with the City of Greenville.

These two bold ideas set in motion the deliberations and strategies which culminated in CU-ICAR and the other innovation campuses. As we worked on developing the practical implications of public/private partnerships that were aligned with the University’s core academic missions of teaching and research, and fostered economic development for South Carolina, Jim was personally engaged in these discussions. As the physical campus of CU-ICAR was designed and built, he brought his architectural background to the design charrettes. It was a personal privilege for me to tour the CGEC with Jim, and have him give me a passionate description of the sight lines and the architectural highlights of the building.

Finally, from a personal perspective, I could not have asked for a more supportive and encouraging president than Jim Barker. Recognizing the very high risks associated with such a bold idea as CU-ICAR , he consistently was the “champion” with our Board of Trustees, our state legislators and the Greenville community. I consider it a great honor and privilege to have spent the last nine years of my professional career serving under President James F. Barker.


Chris Prizembel


— Christian E.G. Przirembel
Vice President Emeritus for Research and Economic Development

It would be easy to rhapsodize about Jim Barker’s intelligence, his dedication and his humaneness. But anyone who has been near Clemson University in the last dozen years knows about all that.

So I add this comment: Throughout his presidency, Jim taught a course called “The President’s Seminar.” It met on Tuesday afternoons each spring and included about 15 students from several different disciplines. And it included six or eight faculty who, along with the president, made presentations and joined discussions. I was lucky enough to get in on it, and I count it as one of the best experiences of my 38 years at Clemson. As I look back on that seminar, I realize that, except for his Tiger Paw cuff links and ties, Jim did not appear to be president of anything. He was just a part of the general fray. Maybe he was so good with the students because he had been a Clemson student himself; maybe he was so good with the faculty because he had been on the faculty — and was still on the faculty. Whatever the cause, he was one of us, and we loved it.


Bill Koon


— Bill Koon
Professor Emeritus of English

“One Clemson” was more than a motto to President Jim Barker. He truly wanted the academic and athletic communities to merge and achieve a unified pride in Clemson University. That’s where Solid Orange came from — speaking to our traditions and how we conduct ourselves to understand our part in making the University strong. He worked hard to create an environment of unity when so many campuses across the country experience disunity.

He not only talked about supporting athletics, but as a former student-athlete, he is competitive. He and Marcia would attend many, many sporting events; they welcomed student-athletes regularly into the President’s Home, and knew most of our coaches and staff by name. You could count on seeing their Labs, Macs and Mookie, at rowing meets. In addition to an already full schedule with campus responsibilities, he chose to be involved with the NCAA at the national level.

He entered his tenure with extremely high athletic goals, targeting national success especially for football and men’s basketball. We’re all proud that under President Barker’s leadership, Clemson football has returned to the Top 10, won three divisional championships and the first outright conference championship in 20 years.

While men’s basketball at Clemson had historically struggled, President Barker’s support enabled our program to enjoy some unparalleled success and continuing progress — specifically, four consecutive NCAA tournament appearances, a first in Clemson history.

Certainly, Clemson enjoyed success and significant progress in other sports as well, but I find it fitting that as a track letterman, his final spring as president included Brianna Rollins’ thrilling individual national championship at the NCAA Outdoor Championships and our men’s and women’s track programs again competing at the highest level.

What’s refreshing about the athletic success is that it was accomplished with President Barker’s high academic expectations as well. While Clemson’s student-athlete academic performance has been strong in the past, it became measurably stronger in all sports the past decade.

Jim Barker gave our athletic program his support, his vision and his energy. He gave us “One Clemson.”


Terry Don Phillips


— Terry Don Phillips
Former Clemson Athletics Director

Jim Barker’s passion for being a president who was devoted to public service became evident within his first 100 days in office. He took teams of his administrative group on two trips across South Carolina to meet the people who love Clemson dearly but rarely get to the main campus. He continued that enthusiasm for engaging with the public throughout his time as president.

He extended that commitment to public service when the University embarked on the creation of “new” enterprise campuses in locations across the state. His brand of economic development was to take the University to where the action was located. This idea has led to one of the country’s most relevant and successful university technology-based economic development strategies. Jim’s unique ability to engage with the state’s citizens has allowed Clemson University to maintain a strong sense of reality as we do our daily work.


John Kelly


— John Kelly
Vice President for Economic Development

In early May 2006 a senior, Travis Rada, realized he was an hour short of graduating. Travis’ mother, Janet, was very ill with cancer, and he had lost track of his hours since he had been trying to spend as much time with his mom as possible. Travis took the course during Maymester to complete his requirements to graduate in August. But the doctors had told Janet that she probably wouldn’t be alive in August. Through all of Janet’s cancer treatments, her one goal had been to see Travis graduate from Clemson, and Patrick, her youngest son, graduate from T.L. Hanna High School, both that May.

With the help of registrar Stan Smith, President Barker presented Travis with a certificate of completion on June 1, 2006. The ceremony took place in the President’s Office with Travis’ parents, brother and grandparents present, Travis in his cap and gown and President Barker in his academic regalia. Less than six weeks later, I attended the memorial service for Janet Rada. Front and center of all the pictures that were placed on the table to honor Janet’s memory was the photograph of President Barker and Travis in their academic regalia and Travis’ proud family members.


Sandy McKinney


— Sandy McKinney
Executive Assistant to the President

President Barker’s accomplishments at Clemson will leave a lasting impact on the future of the University. His consistent involvement with the student body has been a major factor in producing the “Clemson Experience” that is so often discussed. Students have been reflecting on their favorite memories with him, including times when he passed out lollipops at the Homecoming floats, opened his home for trick-or-treating on Halloween, allowed students to walk his dogs, did pushups as the Tiger mascot during a football game and helped with freshman move-in.

President Barker’s desire to make Clemson the best it can be, while preserving the rich heritage and traditions that make the Clemson experience so unique, is remarkable. Clemson’s success in the past decade is largely due to his leadership and unwavering values He will always be remembered as one of Clemson’s most outstanding and respected presidents, and I am blessed to have had the opportunity to work with him during these last few months of his presidency.


Kayle Seawright


— Kayley Seawright
President, Undergraduate Student Body

As I reflect over the past 14 years of Jim Barker’s tenure as president of Clemson University, two words, in particular, come to mind — Clemson Family. President Barker really does understand the meaning of these two words because he was reared in the family that is so proud to call him one of our own.

He possesses a deep sense of caring and placing the Clemson Family and, in particular, the current Clemson students first. His unwavering resolve has helped Clemson remain a “high seminary of learning” just as Clemson’s founder, Thomas Green Clemson, so eloquently stated in his Will. We are so proud and fortunate to have been able to call Clemson’s 14th president one of our own.


Ann Hunter


— Ann W. Hunter ’80, ’82
President, Clemson Alumni Association

Jim Barker has been the only president I have known since I came to Clemson in 2003. He has set the bar very high for future presidents and has certainly brought Clemson to a higher level academically, athletically — in all areas.

He is a class man who has been a joy to work with. I will be forever indebted to him for supporting my hire as head coach in 2008. He has treated me with respect in every way since I have been here.

What I will remember most about Jim Barker is his genuine love for Clemson.


Dabo Swinney


— Dabo Swinney
Clemson Head Football Coach

Cappy and Sweet, you’re our favorite Tigers! Thank you for teaching us cadence count, that orange and purple are the best colors, and for letting us hitch rides at the First Friday Parades. We’ve loved our many adventures in the President’s House, like counting tigers and camping out in our tiger tent in the living room. We’re saving chairs for you at the tailgate. We love you!
Love,
Madeline and Eliza Barker
Granddaughters

We would just like to thank you both for introducing us to so many friendly students over the years. You are so right when you say Clemson students are the best! We sure are going to miss our morning walks on campus with you guys.
Love,
Mookie and Macs
Barker pups-in-residence

P.S. We really are SO SORRY for chasing after that skunk we found in front of the P & A Building one morning. We had no idea he would spray us and that it would take a week full of baths to get us clean!

President Barker was never just a figurehead — he was an active participant in every Clemson student’s experience. Few university presidents have improved their school’s academics so remarkably, and even fewer have earned the genuine love and respect of its students.

At the Clemson vs. Furman game this past year, the crowd bellowed, as usual, in coordination with the Tiger’s pushups. After a fairly long count, the Tiger unexpectedly stood up, threw off his headpiece and revealed an impassioned President Barker. Upon recognizing him, the stadium’s roar soared because we all knew that he shared our love, devotion and pride for Clemson.

At my ring ceremony, President Barker showed his unyielding devotion to Clemson students once again. I had always heard that there is something sacred about a Clemson ring ceremony; after 90 hard-earned hours we would walk with our fellow classmates to receive that famous and celebrated Clemson ring. Unfortunately, we knew that President Barker had recently received emergency surgery and assumed he would not be able to present our rings. However, as he had throughout my entire Clemson experience, he proved that Clemson students were his first priority. As he presented me with my ring, he leaned over and said, “We’re proud of you,” and I, along with the rest of the students receiving their rings April 8, 2013, knew that he truly was.


Ashton Lee


— Ashton Lee
Senior, Clemson University


When I think of the Barkers’ tenure at Clemson, I am struck by their family approach. They always would speak at orientation programs and offer their home, their dogs and even themselves to anyone feeling a little homesick. I believe Clemson is such a happy place because you do not feel like you’re at an institution. There is a constant feel of home, no matter where your other home may be. I truly feel the Barkers were at the center of this warm, caring atmosphere.

On a personal note, they arrived for move-in day for my daughter Libby, and then a couple of years later for my daughter Hannah. President Barker gave them each a signed miniature Clemson banner and told them to keep it with them till graduation for luck. Right from day one it was a personal, magnetic approach that made our whole family feel like we were home. The Barkers’ genuine love of the place was transparent and infectious, and thankfully will continue to live at Clemson.

— Bart Proctor
Parent of Libby ’13 and Hannah (sophomore)