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.

 

 

 

Marking our History

Clements_019

The next time you visit campus, you may notice some new additions in the form of three historical markers. These markers will commemorate the contributions of Native Americans and African-Americans in the history of our University and the land it occupies.

A plaque at the Calhoun Bottoms will commemorate the Native Americans and African-American slaves in the development of the land where Fort Hill now stands. A plaque at Woodland Cemetery — a.k.a. Cemetery Hill — will commemorate the burials of the family of John C. Calhoun, as well as slaves and convict laborers who built many of the earliest buildings on campus. The third plaque will be located near Lee Hall, where slave quarters for Fort Hill once stood and where a stockade later housed convicts working on construction, to acknowledge the role of enslaved people and prisoners at both Fort Hill plantation and in the construction of early campus buildings.

For Clemson to move forward as an environment of true inclusive excellence — a place where every individual feels valued and able to achieve his or her full potential — we must start by being honest about our past. We must be willing to discuss it, learn from it and, in the process, discover more about one another. Because, for better and for worse, each of us is shaped by the generations who came before us. A greater understanding about our history will lead to a greater understanding about the challenges and opportunities that face us today.

These markers are a small — but significant — step forward in our efforts to be a more inclusive campus. In order to make progress in this area, how we tell the story of Clemson needs to be inclusive as well. Many know the story of Anna Calhoun and Thomas Green Clemson and John C. Calhoun. But the University was not built by these people alone. Many enslaved people and prisoners, as well as the Native Americans who lived here for centuries before the Clemsons and Calhouns even set foot on this soil, literally laid the foundation for this University. Now we are telling more fully their stories to our students, faculty, staff, alumni and campus visitors.

The historical markers are only one piece of the puzzle. There is much more work to be done, but I am pleased with our progress. Our Diversity Advisory Council has been looking at seven specific initiatives, some of which we are already implementing:

• Expand the Office of Diversity.

• Create a multi-cultural center.

• Increase the minority representation of faculty, staff, students and administrators.

• Develop a tracking and reporting system to measure our progress in inclusive excellence.

• Emphasize diversity and inclusion in the ClemsonForward strategic plan.

• Enhance the use of inclusive images in University marketing.

• Provide a fuller presentation of the University’s history reflecting the important contributions of minorities and women in the development of the University.

I am also pleased to report that we have hired a new chief diversity officer. Lee Gill comes to Clemson from the University of Akron, where he served as chief diversity officer and associate vice president for inclusion and equity. He brings with him more than 20 years of experience in higher education, and I am excited to have him join my leadership team. I also want to commend the board of trustees task force on the history of Clemson for the work they did to examine how we need to tell the full Clemson story. The historical markers are part of their recommendations on how we can educate people on the accurate history of the University. You can read their full report of recommendations at clemson.edu/administration/bot/clemson-history-taskforce/. They received a great deal of feedback from students, faculty, staff and alumni throughout the process, and I want to say thank you to everyone who sent them their input.

Clemson should be a place where every member of the Clemson family, regardless of background, feels like they are valued. At the end of the day, we are working to make Clemson an even better University, and it will take all of us to achieve that.

James P. Clements
President

 

Reflecting Back and Looking Ahead

Happy New Year from campus. The start of a new year and a new semester is a good time to pause and reflect on the year just completed and look ahead to what comes next.

2015 was a year of many achievements and accomplishments — more than can be listed here. We continue to rank among the nation’s top public universities, we set records in undergraduate applications and private fundraising, and we made progress on the largest construction initiative in Clemson’s history.

We advanced efforts to enhance diversity and build a culture of inclusive excellence through the re-creation of the Harvey and Lucinda Gantt Multicultural Center, launch of the President’s Lecture Series on Leadership and Diversity, appointment of a 
new Diversity Advisory Council and work of a Board of Trustees task force on how to document and tell the full story of 
Clemson’s history.

As this magazine went to press, our men’s and women’s soccer teams were heading into the NCAA tournaments, both seeded 
No. 2, and the football team was finishing up an incredible 
undefeated season and headed for post-season play.

By any measure, it was an exceptional year. So as we look forward to 2016 and beyond, what’s next?

Much of what comes next at Clemson will be driven by a new strategic plan that will be presented to the Board of Trustees for approval next month. We call it ClemsonForward, because it’s about constantly moving forward, striving to reach greater heights and preparing Clemson for the next 50 years.

ClemsonForward is built on the success of the previous strategic plan — the 2020 Road Map — and remains true to our Top 20 vision. The planning process elicited hundreds of ideas and recommendations from faculty, staff and students through committees, town meetings and online discussions. Many common threads and themes emerged, which we have distilled into the following strategic priorities:

Research — to drive innovation and economic growth, solve problems and build a strong national academic reputation.
Engagement — the cornerstone of the Road Map and essence of the land-grant mission.
Academic Core — the central teaching, learning and student support mission.
Living — that is, the quality of the campus as a beautiful, supportive and nurturing place to live, work and learn, which has always been a treasured part of the Clemson experience.

You may have noticed that the acronym spells “REAL” — a word that came up frequently throughout the planning process, expressed in many ways:
• Real impact on the great challenges of our time.
• Real-world experiences that prepare students for success after graduation.
• Real family — supportive, inclusive and respectful.
• Real solutions to real problems facing our state and nation.

That’s not surprising, because we were founded in 1889 to solve real problems and find real solutions, and that remains the essence of the land-grant mission.

It’s not that Clemson was not “real” in the past. The University has been in the Top 25 for eight consecutive years, and it’s time to cement our place in that company. We believe the ClemsonForward plan will help us do just that.

A critical component of the plan is a reorganization that creates seven new colleges, including a College of Science, a College of Business and a College of Education. All colleges will have departmental realignments, even if the names don’t change, that are intended to sharpen their mission focus, support recruitment of outstanding academic talent and increase the opportunities for national prominence.

Throughout 2016, you will see tangible signs that the plan is being implemented. In January, we will open the Watt Family Innovation Center as a hub of engagement and entrepreneurship, and over the next few months we will erect new historical markers to document the role of Native Americans and African Americans in our early history, develop a capital improvement plan for research and academics, and launch major new research initiatives.

ClemsonForward truly reflects the energy and attitude of Clemson’s DNA, which is built on core attributes of vision, drive, determination, optimism, family — and, yes, competitiveness, as we look to make a positive difference for our students, state and nation.

You can find more about ClemsonForward online at clemson.edu/forward.

Go Tigers!

The View from Sikes: Preparing for What Comes Next

PrezClementsVFSikesA new academic year always brings a sense of renewed optimism and anticipation for what comes next. Preparing for what comes next is — after all — the essence of what universities do. Asking questions, experimenting, creating, debating and thinking deeply and critically — these are essential tools for equipping students to succeed during and after college. They also are tools for finding solutions to the great challenges of our time and for discovering innovations that drive economic growth.

It’s easy to be optimistic when we consider the accomplishments of the year just completed:

• Achieving a Top 20 national ranking from U.S.News & World Report and a seventh consecutive Top 25 ranking.
• Setting new records in demand for enrollment and quality of the student body.
• Reaching record levels in private fundraising.
• Earning national rankings for quality, value, return on tuition investment, town-gown relations and the No. 1 ranked alumni network.
• Securing additional state support for critical educational, economic development and public service programs and facilities.
• Opening our first off-campus visitors center — Experience Clemson — in downtown Greenville.
• Tackling the largest construction program in University history to address facilities needs and take advantage of a competitive external market, low interest rates and the University’s strong debt capacity.

Our strategic plan — 2020Forward — is a key part of preparing Clemson University for what comes next. In July, the board of trustees gave preliminary approval to the key concepts in the strategic plan and charged the administration to return this fall with a final plan for review.

Included among those key concepts are the following priorities:

• Providing high-impact engagement opportunities to students as a cornerstone of undergraduate education.
• Growing research and doctoral enrollment, with emphasis on programs and research focus areas where we can achieve national prominence, and an organizational structure that supports excellence.
• Making Clemson an exceptional place to work.
• Increasing our commitment to diversity and inclusiveness.

The plan also retains many of the strategic priorities of the 2020 Road Map — including a sustained Top 20 national ranking, an aggressive capital improvement plan and commitment to outreach and economic progress for South Carolina.

In order to achieve these goals, we must create a climate where every person feels valued and has the ability to succeed. The need for a more diverse and inclusive campus emerged as a consistent message from the strategic planning team. Based on that work and the dozens of meetings we held with faculty, staff, students and alumni in the spring, we have framed a plan for diversity and excellence that has the following four pillars:

• First, develop and implement a strategic plan to increase the diversity of the student body, staff, faculty and administration, with measurable goals.
• Second, promote greater cultural awareness and a sense of community, which is the focus of several initiatives launched last spring, such as the monthly student dialogue lunches and a planned lecture series.
• Third, assess and enhance the effectiveness of existing diversity initiatives and support services. As part of this effort, we will move the Gantt Multicultural Center from Student Affairs to the Office of Diversity — to enhance coordination and better leverage the expertise and resources of each unit.
• Fourth, document and communicate the history of Clemson, including the role of under-represented groups. We have initiated a process with state authorities to add a series of markers to campus to help document additional parts of our history.

These efforts will be enhanced by the board’s recent action to adopt a resolution and appoint a task force to explore ways to accurately preserve and tell the complete history of Clemson, which includes opening a discussion on Benjamin Tillman. I applaud the board for their action, and I look forward to assisting the task force with their work.  Evaluating, discussing, critiquing and debating important issues are what great universities do to arrive at the best solutions. Understanding and communicating the full story of Clemson’s history is an important part of creating a more inclusive and welcoming campus environment.

So what’s next for Clemson in 2015-16?

• Enrolling another outstanding class of students.
• Launching a new strategic plan by January 1, 2016.
• Successfully completing the Will to Lead for Clemson capital campaign, which will make Clemson the first public university with an alumni base our size to surpass a $1 billion campaign goal.
• Opening new academic and athletic facilities on campus, as well as additions to the Clemson University International Center for Automotive Research campus in Greenville and the Zucker Family Graduation Education Center in North Charleston — with more groundbreakings to come.

What comes next — is another great year to be a Clemson Tiger!

Go Tigers!

The View from Sikes

Building Futures

If you’ve been on campus lately, you’ve noticed a lot of construction fences, cranes and re-routed traffic. That’s because Clemson University has embarked on one of the largest campus development projects in at least half a century — maybe in history.

We call it Building Futures — a capital improvement plan to ensure that Clemson can compete at the highest levels and win — whether we’re competing for top students, big grants or athletics championships. This once-in-a-generation physical transformation will move the university forward and cement our place as a top-20, nationally regarded research University.

Building Futures is a strategic plan to look past 2015 or 2020 or even 2025. It is intended to set the stage for Clemson’s next 50 years, just as a surge of construction half a century ago, in the 1960s, positioned Clemson to become what it is today. It’s about building advanced and sustainable facilities to prepare us for whatever comes next — facilities that foster innovative teaching and learning, support advanced research and technology transfer, improve productivity and efficiency, and protect our rich physical and natural assets. It’s also about creating more educational and economic opportunities for South Carolina.

Already underway are major projects that will transform many areas of campus.

This summer, work begins in earnest on the Douthit Hills redevelopment to create a residential village for students that will change a main gateway to the campus — and change the view from the President’s House. Seven residential buildings and a contemporary student hub will rise on 80 acres on the north side of Highway 93, telling students and visitors they’ve arrived at one of the nation’s top schools. The facilities will provide more on-campus housing options for upperclassmen and bring Bridge to Clemson students to campus. A comprehensive tree plan will ultimately increase the number of trees on the site by 30 percent.

With the Core Campus development, the last vestiges of 60-year-old Johnstone Hall — built as temporary housing, mind you — and Harcombe Dining Hall will give way to a complex that includes a residential hall for freshmen that provides convenience, security, utility upgrades, modern dining facilities, a home for the Calhoun Honors College and more amenities. I know many of you have fond memories of Johnstone, but your children probably don’t share that sentiment.

An addition to Freeman Hall will add teaching and office space for industrial engineering that frees up research space, helps accommodate growth in student demand and makes room for fast-growing online master’s programs targeted to non-traditional students working in corporate engineering jobs.

In the center of campus, the digitally dazzling Watt Family Innovation Center will further define the area south of the library as the academic heart of the University. The center will be a hub of intellectual and entrepreneurial activity as it connects students, faculty and leaders from industry and government to generate ideas, solve problems and move new product concepts to the marketplace.

Days after graduation, Littlejohn Coliseum closed for a major renovation that will include reconstruction of seating areas, new practice facilities, locker rooms, meeting rooms and offices for the men’s and women’s basketball teams — a project completely funded by the athletics department and IPTAY.

Less visible but essential to the success of the Building Futures plan is a major overhaul of our electrical infrastructure — components of which date back to the 1950s.

The process won’t always be pretty. But the long-term gains — more and better housing and classrooms for students, capacity to grow research, improved landscapes and a tree stewardship plan that will leave us with more trees than when we started — are worth the temporary inconveniences.

There’s more to come — pending development of business plans and board and state approvals. Stay tuned for updates.

Please pardon our progress. Think of the sound of construction as a tiger’s roar — a sign of strength and greatness.

James P. Clements

President