A Campus of Overachievers

President James ClementsMany of us love to quote Dabo Swinney as he refers to “little old Clemson.” It’s a way of describing Clemson as a community that accomplishes a whole lot more than some, not familiar with our University, expect. This has been true of our football team, our faculty and staff, our students, and our alumni.

In this issue, you can read stories that illustrate that theme: Dallas Glass ’03, an avalanche forecaster and mountain guide who leads groups up the tallest mountains in the world — a far cry from the rural Alabaman landscape of his childhood. Alumni who have found and followed their passion for craft brewing, launching successful businesses and breweries. Rhondda Thomas, the Calhoun Lemon Professor of Literature who has shed light on the formerly untold stories of the African Americans who contributed to the development of Clemson from 1825 to the present.

Also included in this issue is a holiday gift guide, featuring products crafted and created by Clemson alumni. I think you’ll be amazed at the creativity and determination that is on display among our alumni around the country.

All of these stories make up the larger Clemson story — and that is one of collaboration, resourcefulness and tenacity, fueled with a passion for leading lives of significance and creating a better world for all of us.

Clemson continues to amaze and impress me every day as I hear the stories of the people who make up this institution.

Please keep sharing your Clemson stories with us.

Go Tigers!

Living Lives that Make a Difference

Clemson Undergraduate Student Government held the fifth annual Walk for Veterans on Saturday, April 6. Some 350 people participated. The event began at the President’s House with an address from Jim Clements at 10 a.m., followed by a one-mile walk at 11 that ended at the Scroll of Honor Memorial next to the football stadium. All proceeds benefit the scholarship endowment for Clemson student veterans. (Photo by Ken Scar)

Clemson University has changed tremendously since its founding in 1889 as Clemson Agricultural College, an all-male military school with 446 students. But with all of our changes and growth, there are things about Clemson that have not changed, and I hope never will.

One of those things is the character of the people who make up the University  — students, faculty, staff and alumni — and their commitment to leading lives of significance that make the world a better place. On page 62, you can read the stories of young men who, because of that commitment, stormed the beaches of Normandy on June 6, 1944. This month we celebrate the 75th anniversary of D-Day, one of the most important battles of World War II.

The alumni and faculty featured in this issue reflect that same character. People like Helen Mohr ’97, M ’02, a forester who is mentoring Clemson’s Fire Tigers in the beneficial uses of fire. Or Sue Limber, a faculty member who researches what works in bullying prevention and then helps train educators to put those methods in place to protect children. Or George Greene IV ’01, who takes his training as a problem-solving engineer and leads an organization that provides clean water for communities around the globe.

Our Distinguished Service Award recipients were honored by our Alumni Association this past spring and were asked what they hope never changes about Clemson. I hope you’ll take a few minutes to read what they said and reflect on what your answer would be to that question. I hope it will inspire and encourage you to come back to visit us on campus. Whether it’s for a weekend of cheering on our national champions at Death Valley or a get-together with old classmates and friends, take time to wander through campus and enjoy both the old and the new.

I hope to see you on campus!

GO TIGERS!

The View from Sikes: Building for the Future

I think of Clemson as a place that is always building. I’m not talking about the construction that has been completed at Douthit Hills and continues with the College of Business, although those are important as well.

Clemson University builds many other things that are highlighted in this issue. This year, over Homecoming week, our students completed the 26th Habitat for Humanity home in the 25th anniversary year of the program on campus. The education our students receive is broader than the books they read and the lectures they hear. They also learn what it means to give back to the community in which they live. 

In the 10th year of the ClemsonLIFE program, we celebrate building futures at Clemson. This program has opened a world of opportunities to students with intellectual disabilities and enabled them to live more independent, productive lives. Our ClemsonLIFE students have contributed a tremendous amount to the University community as they live, study and work on campus. You can read more about the program on page 22.

Clemson is building futures in Charleston as well. In partnership with a local nonprofit and several corporations, we’re offering coding classes and other opportunities to young people in one of the most economically challenged neighborhoods in the state in an effort to help those students break the cycle of poverty and see the potential for a different kind of future.

And Clemson alumni are active in the world, building bridges for peace and understanding and fostering international relationships. The story on page 30 highlights Kristie Kenney ’77, who has had a distinguished career in the U.S. State Department as an ambassador to Ecuador, the Philippines and Thailand. She is committed to mentoring students and junior foreign service officers, building the next generation of diplomats and American leaders. I’m proud to represent a University that produces graduates like her.

While the physical building projects at Clemson may be temporary, the other building we do will continue and will have results that resound through the years. Join me in recognizing our students and alumni who are building a better world for us all.

GO TIGERS!

A Transformative Place

From my window in Sikes, I have a wonderful view of students coming and going from the newly completed Douthit Hills residence halls across the street. I can also see the business school building as it begins to rise out of the ground. On Friday afternoons, I can hear the sounds of Tiger Band as they prepare for the upcoming game. Like every fall, it is a time of energy, enthusiasm and change, this year maybe more than most.

In the midst of all the change, Clemson continues to be a transformative place for students. On page 7, you can read the inspiring story of recent graduate Chastyn Webster who is using her past experiences and education to help improve the lives of young girls at our Youth Development Center in Aiken.  On page  you can also read about the life-changing experiences our students have through our study abroad program. Biological sciences professor Vincent Gallicchio leads a trip each year to provide pre-professional health students the opportunity to get global clinical shadowing experience while they help deliver health care to people in need. Stories like these make me optimistic for the future of our students and our communities.

If you haven’t been back to campus in a while, I invite you to join us this fall for a football game. On page 28, you’ll find a guide to tailgating at Clemson. It’s an experience like none other, if only for the way Clemson fans welcome opponents to town, sharing the shade of their tailgate tents. That’s an institutional value that sets us apart from many other schools, and I love getting letters from people who have been amazed at the reception they have received. I hope that never changes.

As you read this magazine, I hope you will reflect on your own Clemson experience — and those faculty members who influenced your life and those friends with whom you shared a freshman hall, or played intramurals, or tossed a Frisbee on Bowman Field. I encourage you to rekindle those memories and reconnect with some of those people.

I hope to see you on campus this fall!

GO TIGERS!

 

James P. Clements

President

The Value of a Life-Changing Education

I spent an energizing day at the South Carolina State House this spring with hundreds of Clemson advocates who gathered to learn about the University’s legislative agenda and to show support for keeping Clemson among the best universities in the nation.

On page 9, you’ll find a by-the-numbers look at the cost and value of a Clemson education. I encourage you to take a few minutes and discover some things you might not know about how Clemson provides access to a life-changing experience for students across the state and across the economic spectrum. You’ll see how our graduates’ earnings rank among all universities and how Clemson ranks among top-25 public universities in terms of cost.

Within the pages of this magazine, you’ll also read stories that illustrate the value of that very life-changing experience: a computer science major who succeeds despite being nearly blind and deaf; researchers who are laying the groundwork for a system to document battlefield injuries to ensure that troops receive benefits they are due; faculty and graduate students working to understand and impede the spread of a disease threatening fragile ecosystems; and a renowned sculptor accurately and beautifully representing the creation he loves. These are the stories of Clemson.

As we celebrated commencement this spring, I was struck with yet another story of determined Clemson Tigers, and those are the graduates of the ClemsonLIFE program which provides a postsecondary experience for students with intellectual disabilities.
I was honored to shake their hands at the University graduation, and I have been so proud of the Clemson community for embracing these students as members of the Clemson Family.

I am proud of all of these Tigers and proud to call myself one as well.

Clemson Women Making a Difference

When Clemson was founded in 1889, it was an all-male military school. It wasn’t until 1955 that the first full-time degree-seeking female undergraduate students enrolled for classes. Since that time, the women of Clemson have been crucial to our success as we have moved up the ranks to be a nationally ranked university that values the contributions of all Tigers.

This issue of Clemson World features four outstanding Clemson women: Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley, NASA launch director Charlie Blackwell-Thompson, environmentalist Maria Whitehead, and graduate student and researcher Kylie Smith. They are all making an impact on our world, and they all wear their identities as Clemson alumni proudly. Their successes make us proud to call them fellow Tigers.

Their stories also have relevant messages for all of us, regardless of our gender, race, religion or national origin. I invite you to read about how Nikki Haley has not let other people define who she is, how Charlie Blackwell-Thompson has combined a dream with hard work and a plan, how Maria Whitehead’s passion for birds has fueled her drive for conservation and how Kylie Smith’s research revealed her gift for mentoring others.

I have always appreciated and admired strong women, my mother being at the top of my list.

When I was growing up, she always told me to be a good person and to make a difference. That advice has guided my life. The four women in this issue have followed that same mantra as well, and the world is a better place because of their contributions and achievements.

So now, I’ll give you the same advice my mother gave me: Be a good person, and go make a difference in the world.

Building on Our Legacy of Undergraduate Excellence

More than 4,700 Clemson graduates walked across the stage in December and May of this past academic year in a commencement tradition that never gets old. I love looking into the eyes of our new graduates wondering how they will use the amazing foundation their Clemson education has provided. With each hand that I shake on stage, I grow more assured of our graduates’ abilities to achieve their dreams and make a positive difference in the world.

Our students come to Clemson as undergraduates having already set themselves apart from many of their peers in the classroom. Indeed, the average SAT and ACT scores for our applicants last year place Clemson among the very best in public higher education for student quality.

Students are coming to Clemson with better academic credentials, and the pull of the Clemson name has never been stronger among potential applicants. This year we received more than 26,000 applications for 3,600 spots. That’s a 41 percent increase in applications from just five years ago.

Clemson’s popularity has been broad-based. Not only are we doing a better job of attracting elite students from outside South Carolina, Clemson today is educating 3,000 more high-quality in-state students than we did 10 years ago.

The continuously improving academic profile of our accepted students is a reflection of Clemson’s status as a top-tier public research institution as well as our much-deserved reputation for creating a living and learning environment that is second to none.

The students who are choosing to come here are doing so because of our reputation, academic programs, research, real-world learning opportunities and return on investment. They also are attending because of the family-first atmosphere and strong sense of community at Clemson — all of which are reflected in the wide spectrum of national recognition Clemson receives each year. This year, the University was ranked No. 23 among national public universities by U.S. News & World Report. And we just learned that we have been named the top university for career services and ranked in the top 10 in seven other categories in the Princeton Review’s annual national survey of more than 130,000 college students.

Our ClemsonForward strategic plan articulates our strong commitment to undergraduate teaching and individual student success. And once enrolled, our students continue their paths toward great achievements in an environment that is built to foster their growth and to surround them with family that applauds their successes.

This past academic year was a record-setting year for the number of students receiving nationally competitive scholarships or fellowships. In total, 28 students received national honors: four Fulbright Grant winners; two Goldwater Scholarship recipients; eight National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship recipients; 12 Gilman Scholarship winners; one Schwarzman Scholarship recipient; and one Truman Scholarship recipient.

Clemson has a long tradition of offering a world-class undergraduate education to the best and brightest students from South Carolina, across the country and throughout the world. We remain committed to providing the resources and strategic direction necessary to build on our legacy as a “high seminary of learning” so that future generations of students will walk across our commencement stage confident in the knowledge that their Clemson education has prepared them for a lifetime of success.

A national championship helps all of us win

Watching the Clemson Tigers win the school’s second football national championship was a moment we will never forget. Whether in Tampa, Clemson or in living rooms across the country, the euphoria felt as the final second ticked off the clock turned into immense pride for all of us as Clemson fans and members of the Clemson Family.

The spotlight has been shining brightly on the Clemson brand and, after two consecutive trips to the final game of the College Football Playoffs, the Tiger Paw is more recognizable than ever, and its value has never been higher!

The national championship was a success for Clemson on many levels beyond the game itself, and I am grateful to everyone — from the team and coaches to our fans and alumni, and faculty, staff and students — who played a role in that success. 

Bringing home the 2016 College Football Playoff National Championship trophy, and all of the resulting exposure that comes along with it, certainly doesn’t hurt our student recruitment or interest-generating efforts. In fact, we are having another record-breaking year in admissions with applications for undergraduate admission up 12 percent from this time last year, which was also a record-breaking year.

We also saw a huge surge in web traffic and social media engagement around the time of the national championship game. Our main Clemson website had more than a quarter of a million visits from a national audience, and web traffic during the national championship game itself was five times normal levels for that day of the week.

During the week between the national championship game and our wonderful parade and celebration, Clemson’s Facebook page recorded more activity than the 10 largest university accounts — combined! This strong engagement is indicative of the power of the Clemson brand, and I am proud of the work our University and athletics communicators did to leverage the opportunity on behalf of Clemson.

When a university has a winning athletics program, donors are energized and willing to help reach new levels in academics, as well as athletics, with funding for facilities, endowed chairs or other programs to benefit all students, faculty and staff. This has certainly been the case for Clemson, as last year was a record year for gifts received.

There is ample anecdotal evidence to show the connection between opportunities for donor support with increased engagement activities around post-season and national championship events. The post-season games provided for Clemson a one-of-a-kind experience of engaging our donors and alumni that is not available during the regular season. The additional engagements and positive momentum resulted in at least seven or eight major gifts we may not have received otherwise thanks to our generous alumni and donors.

Clemson is a championship university in so many ways, including the way our fans support our Tigers with great sportsmanship and class and the positive ways in which our coaches and players represent the University on the national stage. Along with having the best college football team, we are one of the top public universities in the country, thanks to the hard work and dedication of our faculty and staff. And the nation has taken notice. Go Tigers!

Setting a new bar for research and scholarship

James P. Clements

James P. Clements

As a public, land-grant institution, the responsibility to conduct research for the benefit of South Carolina and beyond is embedded in our foundation — and our future. Every day, faculty, staff and students are working to improve the quality, quantity and impact of our research to foster our position as a world-class research university that serves to inspire a new generation of thinkers, drive economic growth and solve real-world problems.

In the 2016 Carnegie Classification for Institutions of Higher Education, Clemson was designated a Research 1 university — putting us among universities with the highest level of research activity. This recognition raises the University’s national profile, helps us recruit top faculty and puts us in a better position to compete successfully for more research funding.

Our increasing reputation in research helps attract the best and brightest graduate students, and our faculty are continuing to bring in major funding for their work. In fact, we have seen an increase of nearly 60 percent in sponsored research and programs over the past three years — from $102 million in 2013 to $159 million in the most recent fiscal year.

For years, Clemson has created and nurtured research and economic development centers to build a knowledge-based economy in South Carolina. The University’s more than 100 research centers and institutes are dedicated to everything from automotive excellence to advanced materials, and agriculture to foresty — to name just a few — and serve as the link between academics, industry and government.

In addition to research that supports economic development, Clemson’s research also supports better health outcomes for all. As just one example of that work, in a collaborative effort with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, our faculty, graduate students and undergraduates worked together to identify different strains of Legionella, the most common cause of waterborne bacterial outbreaks in the United States. As part of that research, they determined that one of the strains was novel — it had not previously been identified. You can read more about the newly named Legionella clemsonensis on page 6.

We recently announced several major grants from such institutions as the National Science Foundation and the National Institutes of Health that will help solve problems related to causes of Type 2 diabetes, the treatment of seizures, detection of infections on implanted medical devices, and critical functions for data and cyber security. And these are just a few examples of Clemson addressing real-world problems with well-researched solutions.

Our ClemsonForward plan sets a new bar for research and scholarly work. Through the implementation of this strategic plan, we will

  • refocus our research mission,
  • increase scholarship and funding,
  • grow targeted research investment,
  • raise expectations and
  • reward excellence in research.
We are committed to furthering our international research reputation by promoting a culture of discovery and excellence while exploring new opportunities to bring bold ideas and innovative answers to South Carolina and the world.

Our over-arching goal is that in 10 years, Clemson will perennially rank among the nation’s Top 20 public universities and as a Carnegie Tier 1 research institution.

James P. Clements, Ph.D.
President

 

Thanks a Billion!

View From Sikes WTL Celebrat

When I talk to students, I talk a lot about the lessons I learned from my mother. She was an incredible woman, and she taught me and my three older siblings so much. One big thing she taught us was the importance of expressing gratitude and how to write a good thank-you note.

This column is my personal thank-you note to all of you for your support and generosity over the past 10 years of the Will to Lead campaign. We would not have been successful in this campaign without each one of our donors, and Clemson will be forever grateful for that support.

We reached a record-breaking milestone of raising $1,062,528,346 — the largest fundraising effort in South Carolina history, and the largest ever for a public university with an alumni base our size. The amount of money we raised during the campaign is a very impressive number, but the campaign was never about just numbers. It was about making a difference in the lives of our students. It was about making a difference for the state, nation and world through ground-breaking research and incredible public service. It was about taking Clemson to the next level, enabling us to go further as a university than we ever have before.

Because of your donations, students are able to attend Clemson who might not have been able to otherwise. Because of your donations, we are able to hire and support world-class faculty and staff who are among the top experts in their fields. Because of your donations, we are able to build amazing new facilities for academics, research, student life and athletics. Because of your donations, we are able to give our students real-world experiences and opportunities for engagement that will make them better prepared for the workplace or graduate school.

Those are all things that you made happen, and the money raised during this campaign will continue to make a difference for generations to come.

So whether you donated $1 or $1,000 — thank you! You made this possible!

Go Tigers!

James P. Clements, Ph.D.