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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!

Comfort Zone: James Comfort ’08

Clemson alumna James ComfortGrowing up the third of four boys, hand-me-downs were a natural part of life for James Comfort. “We just never really went out shopping too often,” he said. “There were always plenty of clothes around.”

Comfort said finding clothes got really difficult just out of college when he had to start looking for professional clothing. Big and tall stores offered the length he liked, but the 2X and up sizing didn’t fit his athletic frame. “There wasn’t just a ‘tall’ store,” he said.

But a few years ago when the 6-foot-5-inch tall and lean Comfort found a shirt that fit — really fit — with long sleeves and a slim torso, he wanted more. He set out to bring that fit to fellow tall men so they wouldn’t be left looking like they were wading in a pool of fabric two sizes too wide. After working his day job at an IT consulting firm out of Philadelphia, Comfort would come home and work on designs. Leveraging what he knew of business and his background working part-time in a T-shirt shop in college, Comfort was able to use the overseas market to his advantage.

After finding the high quality fabrics he loved through shows in New York, Comfort used an overseas producer to make his designs become an inventory of polos and laid-back plaids so men had options for work and play.

“One of the ‘un-successes’ came during one of the first productions,” Comfort said about the trial and error of doing production in China. “They changed out the collar type on me, and it wasn’t the quality I’d set out to provide.” Comfort used friends and family to try his product and get the word out, even shipping product to family in Germany to sell at markets frequented by soldiers. Comfort’s shirts were also placed in a store in his hometown of Morris, Illinois, this past winter.

“Fortunately it’s not too big yet,” said Comfort of his mostly online sales model. “It’s manageable, I want to make sure that I do it slowly so I’m able to adapt and grow as needed.”

Currently bins throughout his home and basement are filled with product, and he spends his evenings filling orders from his dining room table. “It’s a good feeling when you get something you really like,” he said.

— Julia Sellers

Gratitude Celebration spotlights Clemson’s faithful donors

At the annual Gratitude Celebration, held the evening of Legacy Day in November, new members were inducted into the Cumulative Giving and Clemson Legacy societies in recognition of their generosity and leadership. The Clemson Legacy Society honors donors who follow the example of Thomas Green and Anna Calhoun Clemson by including the University in their wills or other estate plans. Giving societies honor those whose cumulative gifts to Clemson exceed $100,000. For some inductees, this was their first time in one of the societies; others were honored for moving to a higher level society.

See the full roster of Clemson Legacy society members.

More photos of the Gratitude Celebration.

William Brooks Thayer honored at Legacy Day

The bronze leaves honoring members of the Fort Hill Legacy Society, a posthumous honor for those who have given the University $1 million or more, lie under the trees next to the Calhoun Mansion.

William Brooks Thayer ’52 is the most recent inductee into the Fort Hill Legacy Society, honored with a bronze leaf bearing his name during the Legacy Day celebration in November.

Thayer served his country as an officer in the Air Force and served his community as a talented agricultural engineer. He established the William B. Thayer ’52 Quasi-Endowment for Excellence, designated for Clemson’s areas of greatest need.

Clemson’s Legacy Day was started in 2009 to recognize the fact that Clemson was founded by an act of philanthropy by Anna and Thomas Green Clemson. To learn more about the Fort Hill Legacy Society, or to see pictures of the day’s events, go to clemson.world, and click on “Clemson Forever.”

Learn more about the Fort Hill Legacy Society and other giving societies at Clemson.

See more photos of the Legacy Day events.

Katsiyannis honored with Class of ’39

Antonis KatsiyannisThe 2016 Class of ’39 Award for Excellence was announced at the December faculty meeting, but the official presentation to Antonis Katsiyannis took place in February in front of the bell that bears the names of all those who share the honor.

Katsiyannis, who holds the title of alumni distinguished professor in special education, is known for his teaching, his research and his service, both in and beyond the University. Now he has the added designation of being an honorary member of the Class of 1939, which endowed the award to commemorate the fiftieth anniversary of the class. Recipients are chosen by their faculty peers to represent the highest achievement of service to the student body, University and community, state or nation.

“I am humbled with this distinct recognition,” said Katsiyannis. “I am thrilled to be at a university with world class faculty, bright students and dynamic leaders. The spirit of the Class of ’39 is well and alive in all Clemson does!”

Katsiyannis was recently recognized with the 2017 Outstanding Leadership Award by the Council for Children with Behavioral Disorders in recognition of his wide-ranging and exemplary service in the field of special education. He has published 180 articles in legal and policy issues and delinquency in professional journals, such as Behavioral Disorders, Exceptional ChildrenRemedial and Special EducationFordham Urban Law Review, and the Journal of Special Education. He serves as an associate editor for Remedial and Special Education and Intervention in School and Clinic and just completed a five-year term as co-editor of the Journal of Disability Policy Studies.

He has mentored numerous graduate and undergraduate students in publishing in professional journals and serves as a co-investigator of a federally funded grant — Project EXPERTISE. He also is president of the Council for Exceptional Children.
He has served as president of Clemson’s Faculty Senate and has been active in community-based activities for children with developmental disabilities such as TOPSoccer and Challenger League (baseball).

Whipped goodness: Washica “Shica” Hagood Little ’96

Clemson alumna Shica LittleShica Hagood Little saw her waistline expand as she was drinking multiple cups of sugar-and-cream-filled cups of coffee while teaching and working on her Ph.D. in education leadership at Grand Canyon University. But Little wasn’t ready to cut coffee from her routine. Something had to give. That’s when she got in her kitchen and started from scratch.

She bought cream, butter, spices and vanilla and blended it with a hand blender. “It came out horribly,” she said. “It didn’t perform the way it should and didn’t taste the way it should,” she said. “So I started researching.”

More than 2,000 batches later, she’s the proud creator of “Dr. Shica’s Healthy Surprises,” which includes “Incredi-Whip,” a coffee creamer, fruit dip and whipped cream in one. “Initially the product was called “Coffee Whip,” but once I started working with a couple of the stores and buyers, I decided it should be not only for coffee drinkers, but for everyone,” she said. The product doesn’t include artificial colors or flavors, high fructose corn syrup, carrageenan or gluten. With many of the ingredients that were going into her 1,000-calorie cup of coffee gone, Little said she was able to drop about 40 pounds using her product instead.

The next step was to bring Incredi-Whip to the masses. Little saw an audition for “Hatched” on the CW network, where entrepreneurs pitch their brands to business moguls. Her pitch was a success, and she partnered with investors Mark Koops, “Hatched” TV executive producer, and Freddy Cameron, retail expert and host of season 1 “Hatched,” to bring her product to Walmart, Sam’s Club and Kroger. “What that show did for me is amazing,” she said. “They have consumers come in and try your product so you have real-time feedback, and they tell you what you have to do to get on shelves.”

Little has gone on to appear on another show called “MVP: Most Valuable Partner” on Verizon’s Go90 television, where she earned the endorsement of basketball star Kevin Durant and his mother, as well as three other sports stars on the series. Little’s research showed Durant’s mother was an avid coffee drinker, and he was going to 7-Eleven every night to get her a coffee.

Little knew she had her hook. “I didn’t know if any of them wanted to work with me, but they all worked with me.” Little said she always dreamed of being “somebody” and going to California to lead her life. In October she was able to make her dream a reality and work full time for her brand that’s helped her rub elbows with industry titans and earn superstar endorsements.
— Julia Sellers

Researchers explore economical, environmentally friendly technology

Professors Chris Cole (left) and Philip Brown.

Professors Chris Cole (left) and Philip Brown.

With key support from the Walmart Foundation and its U.S. Manufacturing Innovation Fund, Clemson textile experts are working with the world’s most widely used fiber, polyester, to develop technologies that will make dyeing it more economical and environmentally friendly.

Chris Cole, a faculty member in materials science and engineering, has extensive experience in both textile and apparel design and fabrication, while her collaborator, Philip Brown, also a faculty member in materials science and engineering, is recognized nationally and internationally for his work in designing and extruding textile fibers.

The nearly $1 million award from the Walmart Foundation allows the research team to pursue three primary research objectives: reduce the amount of dyestuff required to color polyester; reduce the energy required to color polyester; and lower the amount of colored effluent from polyester dyeing processes. Effluent is the liquid waste remaining from the dyeing process, and as Cole has noted, “There’s a lot of dye used in dyeing polyester to be able to get the colors that we all know and love like our bright Clemson orange.”

The award was announced by the Walmart Foundation and the U.S. Conference of Mayors at the 2016 meeting of the U.S. Conference of Mayors in Washington, D.C. Clemson is one of five universities conducting research through this opportunity, which is focused on supporting research that strives to create new manufacturing technologies and to reduce the cost of producing goods in the U.S. with the ultimate goal of creating jobs that support America’s growing manufacturing base. Clemson’s award is supporting 2½ years of research.

Within Clemson’s Olin Hall is a unique machine that has enabled the research team to design a polyester fiber that will dye more easily. “The funding provided by the Walmart Foundation has allowed me to build this machine — something that has never been done before — and it’s phenomenal,” said Brown. “There’s only one in the world.” Researchers in the industry have attempted to dye polyester using copolymers, but due to fiber manufacturing technology limitations, they typically used a single polymer. This technology also suffered a very poor wash fastness unlike the technology Brown and his researchers have developed. “We might dye a fabric a brilliant orange, but after it was laundered a few times you could see the color was starting to fade with these other polymers,” said Cole. “Because of Dr. Brown’s expertise and the facilities we have at Clemson, we can now build fibers where we can take advantage of being able to get the dye in quickly with intense colors and excellent dye pickup by the fibers. We’re not leaving as much dye behind at the end of the cycle, but at the same time we’re going to be able to get the wash fastness and the light fastness that the commercial market requires.”

Materials science and engineering makes it a priority to get students involved in projects that provide them with hands-on research experience. “By being part of a major research project, students can see the techniques that we use, how to design a large project, how to build a team effectively for a large project and the communication skills you have to have,” said Cole. Another benefit is that students are introduced to the manufacturers who are their potential employers. With another award from the U.S. Manufacturing Innovation Fund announced this year, these two researchers are optimistic about expanding their research program to look at how they might develop polyester fibers that achieve a high level of water and oil repellency at lower economic and environmental cost.

A Cup of Mustard: Charlie Mustard ’91

Clemson alumnus Charlie Mustard

Free cups of coffee were all Charlie Mustard wanted when he volunteered to roast coffee at Jittery Joe’s in Athens, Georgia. At the time, he was working on his graduate thesis at the University of Georgia in nutrition and chugging cups of coffee as he wrote. Twenty-two years later he’s still at Jittery Joe’s, but now as their head coffee roaster.

“That was awesome they let me do that because I didn’t know anything about roasting coffee,” said Mustard with a laugh. But he found the answers at the UGA library. “There was a whole shelf dedicated to coffee and coffee production.” With a background in biological sciences from Clemson, and having focused on sciences most of his life, Mustard said, “Oh yeah, I can do this.”

Now he’s roasting batches from all over the world and has mastered how to get each bean to open the flavors indicative of their area. “If I am roasting a coffee from Tanzania for example, I am thinking about temperature, humidity, air pressure, size and density of the bean and how the bean was processed on the farm — to name a few of the variables” he said.

Jittery Joe’s is now sold all over the Southeast, throughout the country and around the globe, including being the brand packaged for the Ritz-Carlton in Atlanta. Roasting has even taken him as far as Japan to teach, as well as learn techniques.

“I actually do reflect from time to time about how much coffee we roast and how many cups are consumed every day — you can make 35 to 40 cups of coffee per pound. It blows your mind when you think about how many cups we’ve shared with this community,” he said. “This community is such a neat, creative place to be. There are so many who are being creative, whether that’s in a band, painting, acting or writing poetry. What I really like is that we get to help fuel that creativity.”

Mustard’s love of his job even filtered into his 20- and 21-year-old children’s lives. Mustard said when they were little he caught one son on the playground saying, “My daddy doesn’t work, he just drinks coffee all day.”

“Just for me personally, I see success in that I’m doing something that I truly like doing. What
excites you that you say, ‘I can do this for the rest of my life’? My children have never heard me saying, ‘Work sucks.’”

— Julia Sellers