A Fresh Start

It’s exciting to be on campus this fall, with a new sense of energy and optimism. After a year and a half of dealing with COVID-19, we are happy to be returning to a more normal Clemson experience while we continue to monitor the science and data to keep our students, faculty and staff safe. We welcomed a record-sized freshman class with exceptional academic credentials. They are ready to explore their potential and excited about being a part of the Clemson Family.

This past spring, we honored David Beasley, executive director of the U.N. World Food Programme, with an honorary doctor of humanities degree. In this issue, you can learn about the life experiences that have brought him to where he is, living in Rome and heading up the world’s largest humanitarian operation.

You most certainly have heard the name Harvey Gantt, and probably know that he was the first African American student at Clemson. Take the time to discover his whole story, from a politically engaged teenager to an accomplished architect, civic leader and successful two-term mayor of Charlotte.

Closer to home is an equally determined Trudy Mackay, director of the Clemson Center for Human Genetics and Self Family Endowed Chair of Human Genetics. Read about her pioneering research with fruit flies that potentially lays the groundwork for the development of drugs to treat or prevent addiction.

I hope you’ll join us on campus this fall, whether it’s for an athletic event, a concert at the Brooks Center or just wandering around on campus. Reconnect with faculty who have influenced you and with friends and classmates you haven’t seen in a while.

Thank you for being a part of the Clemson Family. Go Tigers!


Persistence and Determination

It is hard to believe that more than a year has passed since we first received news of the COVID-19 pandemic. It has been a year of reimagining  education in ways we never thought possible. We have masked up and maintained our physical distance, and as I write this, current positive test rates on campus are less than 0.5 percent for students and 0.3 percent for faculty and staff. As we look toward fall, we are planning on returning to classes and activities in person. And for that, we are all grateful.

Once again, we have learned that Clemson Tigers are a persistent and determined bunch.

In this issue of Clemson World, you’ll read about one of our most determined alumni — Col. Ben Skardon ’38. At 103, he walked a mile a day for eight days this spring to commemorate the Bataan Death March and to honor the fellow servicemen and friends he lost. You’ll also read about Michael Allen ’99, who has taken on the transformation of the Echo Theater from a home for the Ku Klux Klan to a community space focused on reconciliation and hope.

An equally determined faculty member, Professor Srikanth Pilla, is now heading up the Clemson Composites Center, a one-stop-shop for academic research, design, development and real-world manufacturing solutions. He didn’t drive a car until he was 21 years old, but he’s now collaborating with students and researchers on applications of academic research designed to net huge gains for the automotive industry.

I know it’s been a challenging year for all of us. If we learn nothing else from it, I hope that we learn how much we need each other, and how interconnected our lives are. Thank you for being a part of the Clemson Family, and I hope to see you on campus this fall.

Go Tigers!


Resilience in Challenging Times

Greetings from Clemson!

This academic year has been one like no other. But as we begin 2021, I can say that I am incredibly proud to be a part of the Clemson Family. Our faculty, staff and students have come together during extremely challenging circumstances, demonstrating flexibility, care and compassion, and resilience.

In this issue of Clemson World, you’ll read stories of alumni who also have demonstrated incredible resilience. From Bear Walker, who has built a business that reflects his passion for creativity, to Ty and Tracy Woodard, who turned a dream into a reality, and four alumni — Cheri Dunmore Phyfer, Jeff Brown, Tanya Chisolm Sanders and Kevin Purcer — who have channeled their education and life experiences to create paths to success. Their stories can offer all of us a bit of inspiration as we travel our individual and collective paths.

As I have said many times since last March, every member of the Clemson Family has a critical role to play as we move forward in a world impacted by COVID-19. It remains extremely important for each of us to do our part to mitigate the spread of this virus as we continue to do the important work of educating this generation of Tigers and making Clemson the best it can be.

Family is important, particularly in challenging times. Thank you for being a part of the Clemson Family and for helping to make it stronger and more resilient.

Go Tigers!




Celebrating Optimism, Renewal and Generosity in a Changing World

Greetings from Clemson!

The beginning of the academic year is always a time of optimism and renewal for me. The class of 2024 joins us this year — most of these incoming students were born just after 9/11, and now, they are beginning college in the midst of a pandemic. They are part of our country’s most racially and ethnically diverse generation, digital natives who have little or no memory of a world without smartphones. And they join us on campus this fall, excited to be part of the Clemson Family and eager to prepare for lives of significance in our rapidly changing world.

This fall, we also celebrate the incredible generosity of Billy and Ann Powers.

Their gift of $60 million, the largest in Clemson’s history, will transform the future of our College of Business — now the Wilbur O. and Ann Powers College of Business. The significance of a gift like this cannot be overstated; it will further elevate our College of Business toward national prominence. Billy and Ann have lived lives of generosity, and we are grateful that Clemson is an institution in which they have chosen to invest. You can read more about the Powers family and their incredible commitment to helping others beginning on page 28.

This fall will be a very different one on campus, and every member of the Clemson Family — students, faculty, staff and alumni — has a critical role to play in making this a successful year both in and out of the classroom.

I can’t stress enough how important it is for every member of our community to do their part to mitigate the spread of this virus, especially among those most vulnerable. It’s a time when we need to publicly demonstrate that a family takes care of its own. By being united as Tigers, we will emerge from this pandemic strong.

Thank you for all you do as part of the Clemson Family to help keep
Clemson moving forward. 

The Resilient Clemson Family

AS I WRITE THIS, OUR CAMPUSES ARE QUIET, as they have been since late March when all classes first moved online as result of the coronavirus pandemic. Summer classes remain online, and events have been canceled as we continue to deal with the broad and deep impact of this crisis.

But don’t mistake the quiet for a lack of energy and activity on the part of the University. In fact, never in my 31 years in higher education have I been part of a more dedicated or focused effort to deliver on our commitment to provide a world-class education and to be of service to our state and the nation.

Across the University, our faculty and staff have been tireless in their work to return to on-campus instruction in the fall. Not only are we focused on returning to the type of residential college experience that sets Clemson apart but also on doing it in a way that provides the safest environment possible for our students, employees and communities.

The University, and the Clemson Family, are a resilient bunch, and that resiliency was instrumental in getting us through the spring semester. I am confident that we can — and will — continue to make the adjustments necessary so that Clemson emerges from the pandemic strong and ready to tackle the future.

This issue of Clemson World provides a few examples of the very best aspects of the Clemson spirit at work during these unprecedented times.

There’s the inspiring message from May 2020 graduate Thomas Marshall III to his classmates; a story on the innovation of engineering faculty member Fadi Abdeljawad, who turned a kitchen wall into a giant whiteboard as an online teaching tool; and stories about Clemson alumni stepping up to help others in this time of great need.

As members of the Clemson Family, you know that there really is something special in these hills. Part of it is an undefinable but very real sense of belonging to something larger than any one of us.

A large part of it, I am convinced, rests in the shared core values that we try to live every day: honesty, integrity and respect. They’re not just words at Clemson, as our continued response to the coronavirus pandemic has proven time and again in recent months.

Thanks to each of you for helping keep Clemson strong. I can’t wait until the time comes when we can all be together again.

James P. Clements
President, Clemson University

Making the World a Better Place

President ClementsIt’s a new year at Clemson, and as always, I’m amazed by the many talents and accomplishments of our faculty, staff, students and alumni. If there is one trait that seems to encompass them as a whole, it is this: a strong commitment to making the world a better place.

In this issue of Clemson World, you’ll read a moving story about a nontraditional student, whose research was motivated by her own children’s rare genetic disease. You’ll learn about our partnership with Prisma Health, and how our faculty members provided the research backbone that allowed Prisma to expand a program to treat babies born with opioid dependency.

You’ll also get to meet some of the unsung heroes of Clemson — photographers who translate the people and places of the University into images that inspire and amuse us, and who bring back memories of our own experiences in this place that we call home. You may even gain some tips you can use in your own photography as they share some of their favorite shots.

I hope that as you read these stories and flip through these photos, you’ll be reminded of the friends you made, the professors who inspired you, and the memories that keep you connected to Clemson University.

As always, it’s a great time to be a Tiger!

Go Tigers!

James P. Clements

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!


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.


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!



James P. Clements