Philip A. Francis Jr. ’74

Protector of special places

For 41 years, administrative management major Phil Francis devoted his career to helping protect our country’s national parks and special landmarks. This year he retired from the U.S. National Park Service as superintendent of the Blue Ridge Parkway.

Since joining the Park Service in 1972 at Kings Mountain National Military Park, Francis served in parks from coast to coast — including Shenandoah, Yosemite, Chickamauga and Chattanooga National Military Park, Great Smoky Mountains and the Blue Ridge Parkway.

In 1994, Francis transferred to the Smokies after serving for three years as associate regional director for administration in Southwest Regional Office in Santa Fe, N.M. He was deputy/acting superintendent of Great Smoky Mountains National Park. In 2005, he became the sixth superintendent of the Blue Ridge Parkway.

His leadership was instrumental in the creation of new nonprofit partners that included Blue Ridge Parkway 75 Inc., the Institute at Tremont, Experience Your Smokies and Discover Life in America. Discover Life in America, which is conducting the first all-species inventory of a national park, named a new species after Francis in appreciation for his support of the project. His many awards include the Department of Interior’s Superior Service Award.

In retirement, Francis hopes to continue to stay close to the great outdoors — and he certainly knows all the special places to see and visit.

Danni M. Allen ’09

Danni Allen

Danni Allen competed and won on NBC’s “The Biggest Loser.”

A winning determined spirit

Danni Allen knows hard work and dedication can get you where you want to go. She practiced this while she was a student and continues to live by it today.

Allen competed and won the 14th season of NBC’s “The Biggest Loser,” a weight-loss reality show. She attributes much of her success in the competition to the lessons she learned at Clemson. As a freshman, she had not been accepted into the major of her dreams, architecture. Allen double-majored her first semester, worked hard and was accepted into the program. She says that lesson set her up for life. “‘The Biggest Loser’ was the same way,” she says. “I worked really hard and it paid off.”

During her appearances on “The Biggest Loser,” alumni and students noticed that Allen was showing her Tiger pride by wearing her Clemson ring — which she never takes off. Allen received Facebook and Twitter comments from Clemson people supporting her throughout the season. Football great C.J. Spiller let her know that he was pulling for her. When Allen responded that she had cheered for him in college, he said, “Now I’m cheering you on.”

Allen is paying forward her success by speaking about what she has learned through her experiences and encouraging others to find the inner strength to meet their goals, not just in weight-loss, but also life.

Gary J. Coleman ’08

A progressive farmer

Gary Coleman '08Animal and veterinary sciences major Gary Coleman is a first-generation cattleman who exemplifies all that an entrepreneur should be.

Coleman was named one of The Progressive Farmer’s America’s Best Young Farmers and Ranchers for 2013. The program recognizes leaders in production and management innovation, and for involvement in their communities.

Coleman’s C. Calf Farms includes a 274-head cow/calf operation specializing in Angus and Brangus cattle, a facility that turns out 800 calves a year, hay sales, a pay-and-fish operation, feed mixing and sales, and a mobile meat store — Coleman 3 Meats. His meat products are hormone- and antibiotic-free beef, pork and goat — about 800 to 1,500 pounds per month.

The Anderson native’s cattle enterprise began when he was in ninth grade, and he bought a few steer calves while working at a local dairy. By the time he entered Clemson, his business included 70 brood cows. A few years later he experienced a huge setback when he lost 500 heifers and bull calves in a barn fire.

Coleman started again, and his perseverance paid off as he built his enterprises. He works closely with the Natural Resources Conservation Service to make sure conservation is an important part of his management efforts.

Participation in leadership development events has allowed Coleman to bring ideas and practices from around the world back to his community. He served as the U.S. representative at the 2011 Five Nations Beef Alliance conference as a member of the Young Producer’s Council, and is active in several cattleman associations.

“It has been said, ‘It takes hard work to get to the top, but it takes a leader to stay there,’ ” he says. “As a first-generation farmer, putting myself through college, raising a daughter, relying on farming for income and dealing with the obstacles that come with the farming industry are all tasks that took dedication and passion. I have watched myself grow as a young farmer, [gaining] the ability to learn, lead and teach.”

Joseph G. Mizzi ’88

Joseph Mizzi and children

Joseph Mizzi ’88, with children in Zambia, where construction began this spring on Chipakata Children’s Academy.

Empowerment through Education

Joseph Mizzi knows the impact of education. The grandson of immigrants, and among the first generation in his family to attend college, he values deeply the opportunities and advantages his Clemson education provided. Making education available for others is a passion that motivates and energizes this architecture alumnus.

That passion is evident through his work as treasurer and vice-chair of the board for the Salvadori Center, which uses structures in the environment to teach NYC kids math and science, and as a member of the board of directors of the Boy Scouts of America Greater NYC Councils and an active participant with the Boy Scouts’ Explorer program, which introduces students to potential careers. But his excitement is palpable when he starts to talk about his 14+ Foundation and its work in Zambia.

Mizzi, who is president of Sciame Construction Co. in New York City, co-founded 14+ Foundation with Nchimunya Wulf, a Zambian-born fashion stylist, with whom he shares a vision for educational initiatives in Zambia and other areas in Africa. The nonprofit works to build schools and orphanages in rural African communities.

Construction for their first project, Chipakata Children’s Academy, began in Zambia this spring. The school and orphanage will encompass more than 200 acres, and the foundation has already completed road improvement work, drilled water wells and provided a grinding mill and a supply store to allow the community access to basic goods and services. Development plans also include a health clinic and community center.

For more information on the 14+ Foundation, go to

John B. McIntyre ’51

Cooking with care

A glance at John McIntyre’s class ring is just a glimpse of the 91-year-old World War II veteran’s loyalty. The ring is worn almost smooth from years of hard work, and more recently, dedicated cooking.

He picked up a pan for the first time at age 81 to cook for his late wife, Betty Ruth, as she battled Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease. He would go on to serve the Easley community by preparing meals for neighbors and members of his church, win a 2007 national contest for his essay on what inspired him to cook, and receive the 2011 Easley Chamber of Commerce Duke Citizenship and Service Award.

John McIntyre

John B. McIntyre ’51

McIntyre’s knack for preparing Southern dishes such as chicken boudine casserole, scalloped potatoes and fruit cobblers came out of necessity. When Betty Ruth did not enjoy the food served in the nursing home where she spent two months with an injured knee, McIntyre began preparing her meals. When he decided to bring her home and care for her full time, he also continued to take charge of the cooking.

He perfected Betty Ruth’s favorite dishes, such as grits pie and shrimp creole, to the point where the only thing she found wrong with his cooking was that “he hadn’t started 50 years sooner.” After her death in December 2005, McIntyre decided to continue giving back by sharing his dishes with others in the community.

One of nine children and the first and only member of his family to attend college, McIntyre attended Clemson on the GI Bill and earned a degree in textile management. McIntyre married Betty Ruth in 1951, and they moved from Spartanburg to Easley in 1957, where McIntyre worked for Draper Manufacturing Co. McIntyre formed John McIntyre Textiles and Machinery in 1969 and remained with his company until his retirement at age 79.

Dorothy Behre and Julianne Garner

Two Clemson grads awarded Fulbrights

Dorothy Behre and Julianne Garner, members of the class of 2013, have been awarded Fulbright grants to travel abroad as English teaching assistants.

Behre, of Charleston, received a degree in English and Chinese, and Garner, of Verona, N.J., received a dual degree in secondary education and history.

“In many ways winning a Fulbright Grant is akin to a national championship in sports,” said Stephen Wainscott, Clemson’s representative to the Fulbright U.S. Student Program. “Clemson students are competing against the best and the brightest college students in the country, and the ratio of applications submitted to the number of grants awarded is often greater than 10-to-1.”

Behre will travel to Taiwan. A member of the Calhoun Honors College and Phi Beta Kappa, she studied British literature on a Duckenfield Scholarship at the University of Oxford, and studied abroad in China, France and Germany.

Garner will travel to South Korea. She was a member of the Calhoun Honors College and has toured Australia, Belgium, France, Germany, Japan, The Netherlands, Slovenia, Croatia, Greece and Egypt.

English teaching assistants help teach English language while serving as cultural ambassadors for the U.S. Since 2008, 10 Clemson students have received Fulbright grants for study, research or English-language teaching in eight different countries.

Rondrick E. Williamson ’95

Rondrick Williamson

Rondrick Williamson is a frequent guest on the television show, The Doctors.

Beautiful doctor from the inside out

Dr. Rondrick Williamson was selected to be in the “2013 Most Beautiful Doctors in America, Men’s Edition” calendar published by the award-winning medical television show The Doctors — and he deserved to be.

Whether or not the criteria for selection were based on appearance alone, Williamson qualified in ways that go beyond the surface. As a frequent guest on The Doctors, the Atlanta podiatric physician offers health advice in his field. He’s not only a successful physician, but also an entrepreneur; a TV talk show host for “Perspectives TV;” and a philanthropist as the founder of The Rondrick Williamson Foundation, a nonprofit organization that grants college scholarships to disadvantaged students.

Columbia native Williamson understood at an early age that education was the ticket to his future. Growing up in public housing, the biological sciences major was inspired by his mother, a single parent, to work hard. Williamson’s hard work paid off, culminating in a medical degree.

Williamson was named a 2013 member of the Columbia Housing Authority Wall of Fame, which celebrates the achievements of past residents. The feeling among his neighbors was not if he would be successful, but when it would happen.

Screenwriter: Kendall Sherwood ’09

Kendall Sherwood

Kendall Sherwood came to Clemson with hopes of becoming an actor, but she left as a screenwriter. You might see her name on the credits for “Major Crimes,” a spinoff of the popular TV series, “The Closer,” where she is the writer’s assistant and script coordinator.

Because of Clemson’s requirement that theater majors must have experience in every facet of the field, Sherwood took classes in directing, acting, tech and writing. In one of her playwriting classes, she realized her love for writing and became interested in writing for TV shows.

This led her to Northwestern University where she earned an MFA degree in Writing for the Screen and the Stage. This program allowed Sherwood to pursue a career in TV writing while still writing for theatrical plays.

Planet hunter: Dirk C. Terrell ’87

Physics major Dirk Terrell’s work was recognized as one of CNN’s Top Ten science stories for 2012. He helped discover a planet.

Terrell’s research in the area of binary star systems contributed to a Yale University-led project that identified and confirmed the existence of the first known planet orbiting a pair of suns — that’s in turn orbited by a second set of distant stars. The planet was named PH1 — Planet Hunters discovery number one — after the citizen astronomer organization, Planet Hunters, whose members first spotted it.

Terrell is the section manager for the Astronomy and Computer Systems section in the Department of Space Studies at Southwest Research Institute in Boulder, Colo. He received a Ph.D. in astrophysics from the University of Florida and was a NASA graduate research fellow.

“Numerical Methods Guy”: Autar K. Kaw M ’84, PhD ’87

Autar K. Kaw, who received his master’s degree and Ph.D. in engineering mechanics from Clemson, was recognized for his exceptional work as a professor at the University of South Florida. He’s one of four recipients of the 2012 U.S. Professor of the Year award from the Council for Advancement and Support of Education and the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching. This highly selective award is considered the nation’s highest honor for engaging and influencing undergraduates.

It’s not the first time Kaw has been recognized for his outstanding teaching; he also received the National Outstanding Teaching Medal from the American Society for Engineering Education in 2011.

Kaw has taught mechanical engineering at the University of South Florida (USF) for 25 years — plenty of time to develop his teaching techniques. His teaching method utilizes new technology, such as social media, to help his students understand the complex mathematical modeling involved in mechanical engineering.

Students at USF aren’t the only ones benefiting from Kaw’s innovative teaching methods. He has dedicated his career to helping engineering students around the world and provides educational tips on his blog and through YouTube video lectures. Known as the “Numerical Methods Guy,” Kaw has helped thousands of students by redefining traditional teaching.