As Billy Bridges walked around the Clemson University campus with his daughter and two grandchildren two summers ago, they stopped at the Carillon Gardens to look at the bell tower.

Bridges’ grandson, Laurie, pointed at the names etched into the monument under the Class of ’39 bell.

“Well, I know this person,” Bridges, an alumni distinguished professor in the School of Mathematical and Statistical Sciences, told Laurie while pointing at the first name on the list, Dixie Goswami. “And you’ve met this person,” he said, pointing at another.

Bridges worked his way through the list of Class of ’39 Award for Excellence winners, telling his grandson that the recipients whose names he saw were outstanding people and Clemson faculty members.

“Where’s your name, Opa?” Laurie asked.

Months later, Bridges could point at his name as the latest recipient of the Class of ’39 Award for Excellence. The award, endowed by the Class of 1939 to commemorate its 50th anniversary in 1989, is given annually to a faculty member judged by peers to represent the highest achievement of service to the student body, University and the larger community.

“Class of ’39 Award recipients stand out as servant leaders, scholars and teachers, and this is certainly the case for Billy. He is renowned throughout the campus for his extraordinary dedication to research, teaching and mentorship, serving faculty and students, and I’m proud to see him recognized with this honor.” 

Clemson Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs and Provost Robert H. Jones 

“I like that my grandson and my granddaughter can see my name, but I’ve worked with so many people around campus who do so many wonderful things and seem just as obvious a choice as I am,” he said.

Bridges has served on more than 300 graduate student advisory committees. He’s published more than 400 peer-reviewed papers that have garnered more than 8,500 citations. In addition to mentoring graduate students and sustaining a vast research program, Bridges maintains a heavy teaching load.

Windsor Westbrook Sherrill, associate vice president for health research, who nominated Bridges, called him “the ultimate go-to source for statistical expertise at Clemson University.”

“I really enjoy learning, thinking and engaging. If you teach classes and work with lots of colleagues and mentor lots of graduate students, you always have new things to think about or a new challenge,” said Bridges, who is in his 40th year on Clemson’s faculty. “I like trying to explain things to people, and I like statistics because you can use it to solve problems. That’s why I got into it, and things haven’t changed much.”

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