Posts

The Clemson Medallion

In October, trustee Ellison Smyth McKissick III of Greenville and retired professor Jerome V. Reel Jr. of Clemson were awarded the Thomas Green Clemson Medallion, the University’s highest public honor. The medallion is awarded to those members of the Clemson Family whose dedication and service embody the spirit of the University’s founder.

“These two gentlemen each have devoted decades of their lives to Clemson and its faculty, staff and students,” said President James P. Clements. “Clemson would not be the university it is today without their hard work and leadership. It is a great honor to recognize them for their dedication, exceptional example and continuing impact.”

SMYTH McKISSICK ’79

McKissick

Smyth McKissick’s father was a great believer in an honest day’s work and admired hard-working people. The younger McKissick learned this lesson well and began work at age 16 in the spinning room of his family’s textile company, Alice Manufacturing.

McKissick entered Clemson in 1975 to study business, then went on to the University of South Carolina for an MBA in 1981. He characterizes his time at Clemson as a life-changing experience, and says he “grew up” in Sirrine Hall. He then returned home and to Alice Manufacturing, where he had the pleasure of learning and working alongside his father.

Soon after his father’s death in 1998, he took the reins as president and CEO, knowing the company needed to transform its business model to survive the many changes in the U.S. textile industry. He credits the success of his family’s business and its re-creation to the dedicated people within the company.

The McKissick philosophy of hard work is evident in his involvement and investment in Clemson. A successor member of the Board of Trustees since 1998, he has chaired or served on almost every board committee, including the search committees for Clemson’s 14th president, James F. Barker, and 15th president, James P. Clements.

An IPTAY member, McKissick supported the WestZone initiative; served as Clemson University Foundation director; is a member of the Thomas Green Clemson Cumulative Giving Society; and is a charter member of the President’s Leadership Circle. McKissick chairs the University’s $1 billion Will to Lead for Clemson campaign, the largest fundraising initiative in Clemson’s history. In 2012, he received the Alumni Association’s highest honor, the Distinguished Service Award.

McKissick has served as a leader in numerous textile industry organizations and is an active member of Christ Church Episcopal. He and his wife, Martha, live in Greenville and have three children, Smyth, Holly ’13 and Caroline.

JEROME V. REEL JR. H ’00

Reel

Clemson University historian since 2002, Jerry Reel has quite a history with the University. His career at Clemson went from potentially short-lived to honored professor and academic leader for 50 years.

The New Orleans native began putting down his roots in Clemson in 1963, when he joined the faculty while still finishing up his Ph.D. in British medieval history at Emory University. His plan was to stay long enough to finish his research, but he never left.

Reel began as an instructor, advanced to assistant and associate professor, and was named professor of history in 1971. He worked with student groups including Tiger Brotherhood, Blue Key, Golden Key, Omicron Delta Kappa and Order of Omega. He served as adviser to Pi Kappa Alpha fraternity for more than 25 years.

Reel served as dean of undergraduate studies, vice provost and dean of undergraduate studies, and senior vice provost. He was named professor emeritus in 2003 and was honored with the Governor’s Award in the Humanities in 2011.

For decades, students filled his “History 101 ­— History of Clemson” course in which he indoctrinated generations with stories of the families who founded the University and the leaders who presided over it. Reel is the author and co-author of several books on Clemson history.

Reel is a member of the National Association of State Universities and Land Grant Colleges, and past president of the National Opera Association and the national Pi Kappa Alpha fraternity. He is active in Fort Hill Presbyterian Church, serving as an elder.

Students nominated Reel as an Alumni Master Teacher in 1975. Friends and former students honored him in 2009 with the establishment of the Jerome V. Reel Jr. Endowed Scholarship. Reel has direct Tiger “orange bloodlines” throughout his family. His wife, Edmeé, holds a master’s degree, and all three of his children and their spouses are alumni. One grandson is a current student.

The Clemson Medallion

Two trustees awarded Clemson’s highest honor

In March, Thomas B. McTeer Jr. and Joseph D. Swann were awarded the Thomas Green Clemson Medallion, the University’s highest public honor. The Clemson Medallion is awarded to those members of the Clemson Family whose dedication and service embody the spirit of the University’s founder. These two long-serving trustees who worked quietly and passionately have made immeasurable contributions to Clemson through leadership, teamwork and perseverance from classroom to career.

Thomas B. McTeer ’60

William Shakespeare said, “When words are scarce they are seldom spent in vain,” and Thomas B. McTeer’s more than 35 years of service to Clemson as a man of few words but great action are a testament to this statement.

And to think this longtime Tiger fan almost became a Gamecock.

McTeer was set on playing Carolina football when Coach Frank Howard offered him a last-minute scholarship. He would go on to become one of the longest-serving members of Clemson’s Board of Trustees, his passion for teamwork and unity evoking a drive that would see the University through challenge and triumph, from integration to winning a national football championship and becoming a top-25 public university.

As an industrial management major, McTeer played football and ran track; was involved in student government, Tiger Brotherhood and Blue Key Honor Society; and served as vice president of the Central Dance Association and the senior class.

President of McTeer Real Estate since 1964, McTeer also has served on the Columbia Board of Realtors and the Columbia Zoning Board of Adjustment Appeals, and offers his skills and expertise to Clemson as a member of the Real Estate Foundation Board.

McTeer’s Clemson legacy has also continued through family ties. All three of his daughters are Clemson graduates as well as one of his grandchildren; two grandchildren are current students. An IPTAY and Clemson Fund donor, McTeer established the Sandra B. McTeer Memorial Scholarship Endowment in memory of his late wife. Chair of the board from 1981 to 1983, he was named Trustee Emeritus in 2012 after retiring from his tenure that began in 1976.

Joseph D. Swann ’63

When he took part in student government’s efforts to welcome Harvey Gantt to Clemson in 1963, Joseph D. Swann demonstrated the self-discipline and leadership skills he would later use to help guide the University to national and international acclaim.

A Clemson University trustee for 23 years and two-term vice chair of the board, Swann demonstrated a passion for service throughout his undergraduate career as a ceramic engineering major. He was involved with student government and Blue Key Honor Society and served as vice president of the junior and senior classes. He also lent his talents as a writer to the engineering magazine Slipstick and The Tiger student newspaper.

Swann began his career in the ceramics industry by working as a development engineer for the Ferro Corp. in Cleveland, Ohio. He went on to become the division materials manager and earned an MBA from Case Western Reserve University.

After taking a job with Reliance Electric in 1969, he moved his family back south, eventually settling in Greenville and becoming vice president and general manager of the company. He was named senior vice president in 1995 when Rockwell Automation acquired Reliance Electric, and he became president in 1998. Though he retired in 2007, he continued to serve as chair of the board of directors for integrated power services.

A recipient of the Clemson Alumni Association Distinguished Service Award in 1995, Swann has served as an IPTAY representative and is a past member of the Board of Visitors. All three of his children are Clemson graduates, and his family left a permanent mark on the University in 2003 when the Swann Fitness Center was dedicated after their generous donation.