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.