Clemson awarded its highest honor to two distinguished alumni
THE CLEMSON MEDALLION is presented to individuals who have rendered notable and significant service and support to the University and who exemplify the dedication and foresight of founder Thomas Green Clemson. Professor Emeritus Beverly “Ben” Skardon ’38 and Trustee Emeritus Allen Price Wood ’75 were honored with the Medallion at a presentation ceremony in February.
“Both of these men have helped shape the University in important ways,” said President James P. Clements. “Col. Skardon made a lasting impact by teaching countless students during his career, and students are being educated every day in buildings that Allen Wood designed. It is safe to say that our University would not be what it is today without these two outstanding leaders.”
BEVERLY “BEN” SKARDON ’38 Ben Skardon, a U.S. Army veteran, fought in the Philippines in World War II, earning two Silver Stars and a Bronze Star for valor before becoming a prisoner of war when American troops were forced to surrender to the Japanese on April 9, 1942. Skardon survived the Bataan Death March and more than three years in Japanese prison camps, despite becoming deathly ill. Two fellow Clemson alumni, Henry Leitner and Otis Morgan, kept him alive by spoon-feeding him and eventually trading his gold Clemson ring — which he had managed to keep hidden — for food. It is a story now told at every Clemson ring ceremony, when Clemson seniors receive their class rings.
Leitner and Morgan did not survive the war. Skardon honors them every year by walking in the Bataan Memorial Death March at White Sands Missile Range, New Mexico.
After retiring from the Army at the rank of colonel in 1962, Skardon earned a master’s degree from the University of Georgia, then joined the Clemson faculty in the English department in 1964. He taught at Clemson until his retire-ment in 1983. Skardon has received several honors from the University, including the Alumni Distinguished Service Award. In 2013, the University established the Skardon Clemson Ring Endowment, which helps fund the ring ceremony, and in 2016 the Memorial Stadium flagpole was dedicated in his honor. On Skardon’s 100th birthday, South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster presented him with the Order of the Palmetto, the state’s highest honor. In March 2018, Skardon received the Congressional Gold Medal honoring Filipino and American veterans of World War II.
ALLEN PRICE WOOD ’75 Allen Wood, who lives in Florence, South Carolina, and graduated from Clemson in 1975 with a degree in architecture, served on the University’s board of trustees from 1988 to 2003. He served as vice chair of the board from 1995 to 1997.
An architect by profession, Wood was chair of Moseley, Wilkins and Wood Architects of Florence before retiring in 2004. He designed and/or was the architect of record for several University buildings, including Lehotsky Hall, the CCIT Information Technology Center, and the Pee Dee Research and Education Center in Florence. Wood was an early proponent and supporter of the Charles E. Daniel Center for Building Research and Urban Studies, which opened in 1972 in Genoa, Italy.
He and his wife, Josie, endowed a fellowship to support architecture graduate students to spend a semester in Genoa or at the architectural program in Barcelona, Spain. He has been an active supporter of the Emerging Scholars program and played an important role in the creation of Clemson’s Wood Utilization + Design Institute.
He was honored for his service to the state with the Order of the Palmetto, the state’s highest honor, in 1995, and Wood also received the University’s Alumni Distinguished Service Award in 1996.
The Distinguished Service Award is the highest honor bestowed upon a former Clemson student. It recognizes those whose devotion to Clemson has increased the value of the University for future generations and whose lives have expressed, through service to community, profession and the public, the finest Clemson traditions.
Every year, the Clemson Alumni Association recognizes outstanding alumni whose personal lives, professional achievements, community service and loyalty to Clemson exemplify the objectives of the University. The Distinguished Service Award is the highest honor bestowed upon a former student, and it recognizes those whose devotion to Clemson has increased the value of the University for future generations and whose lives have expressed, through service to community, profession and the public, the finest Clemson traditions.
This year’s honorees have been recognized by their peers professionally for impressive achievements. They have contributed to their communities both publicly and privately, serving on boards and volunteering without expectation of reward or recognition. They have stayed connected with Clemson, giving back in time, talent and resources to benefit current and future students.
These five men reflect those characteristics that define Clemson. They are visionary, bold, competitive, determined and proud. They value family, tradition and loyalty. And they love orange. Here they are, this year’s Distinguished Service Award honorees.
Richard M. Davies ’86
Richard M. Davies grew up in Durban, a coastal city in South Africa, playing soccer and rugby, and briefly competed as a professional cricket player in England. His family moved to the United States in 1982. After making a phone call to Danny Ford, Davies joined Clemson as a kicker for the football team. He played Clemson football from 1982 to 1985, and graduated with a bachelor’s degree in business administration in 1986. A third-generation commercial property developer, Davies began his career in banking and loans before joining his father’s development business. Davies then founded and is now CEO of Pavilion Development Company, a real estate development firm based in Charlotte, N.C.
Davies is a member of the Trevillian Cabinet for the College of Business and served as vice-chair on the executive committee of the Will to Lead capital campaign. Davies served on the athletic director’s advisory council and football committee under Terry Don Phillips. He is also president of the All-In Team Foundation founded by Dabo and Kathleen Swinney. He has supported the Tiger Golf Gathering and the new Larry B. Penley Jr. Golf Facility and hosts an annual PGA Championship dinner for Clemson leaders and Charlotte-area alumni.
Davies has served on the board of the Novant Foundation-Presbyterian Medical Center since 2009. He was named to the Forest Hill Church Council of Elders and is the past chair of the church’s finance and risk management committee and governance committee. He is a past chair of the Mecklenburg County board of advisers for Easter Seals, past member of the board of trustees of Charlotte Latin School, and past member of the board of Habitat for Humanity of Charlotte. Davies is currently a member of the board of directors for the Guy Harvey Ocean Research Foundation. Davies founded the Sbonelo Scholarship Foundation that awards scholarships to economically disadvantaged students in South Africa to attend top boarding schools.
John W. Kelly Jr. ’77
Born and raised in the Upstate, John W. Kelly Jr. followed his father’s footsteps to Clemson, where he was involved in Phi Gamma Delta (FIJI), Phi Kappa Phi Honor Society and the horticulture club while working on his job with a landscape company. Kelly graduated with a bachelor’s degree in horticulture in 1977, then received a fellowship to attend Ohio State University for his master’s degree and Ph.D. in horticulture.
Kelly began his career in 1982 as an assistant professor at Texas A&M University. Three years later he returned to Clemson, rising from professor to chair of the horticulture department as well as director of the Clemson Botanical Garden. He helped the garden become the official South Carolina Botanical Garden and developed its Wren House and geology museum. In 1997, he was named vice president for Public Service and Agriculture (PSA) and, in 2010, became vice president for economic development.
Kelly led initiatives to create, build and fund some of Clemson and PSA’s most extensive projects. He spearheaded and then directed the Clemson University Restoration Institute (CURI). He then led a team to secure the largest competitive renewable energy grant in U.S. Department of Energy history at the time, which along with public and private grants, built the SCE&G Energy Innovation Center at CURI. During his tenure, he helped obtain several of the largest gifts in Clemson’s history.
Kelly served on Clemson’s Board of Trustees’ University land and capital assets stewardship committee; the president’s administrative council, cabinet and implementation teams; and assisted in outlining Clemson’s clean energy strategy. One of three mission vice presidents, he helped lead the development of two 10-year strategic plans. Kelly secured funding for several endowed chairs and helped form academic partnerships between Clemson and other state schools. He has also hosted many alumni events.
In 2014, Kelly became the seventh president of Florida Atlantic University, which he has led up the rankings to become the top performing university in the state in 2016, according to state accountability rankings. Nationally, he served on the boards of the administrative heads section of the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities and the American Distance Education Consortium.
Ronald D. Lee ’76
Ronald Lee was born and raised in Aiken. His father, a former Marine, had gone to Clemson, and Lee always knew it was where he wanted to attend college. At Clemson, Lee was a member of several science clubs, played intramural sports, worked at Harcombe Dining Hall and never missed a Clemson home football or basketball game. Lee graduated with honors in microbiology in 1976, then earned a master’s degree in environmental science and engineering at UNC-Chapel Hill. After several years as an engineer, he enrolled in dental school, earning a Doctor of Dental Medicine from the Medical University of South Carolina (MUSC) in 1988. He served as class president all four years at MUSC, where he earned three prestigious awards for scholarship and leadership. Having practiced dentistry in Aiken for 28 years, Lee was named a Fellow of the Academy of General Dentistry, a title given to only 7 percent of practicing dentists nationwide.
Lee is active in the Aiken County Clemson Club and, as a member of the Clemson Board of Visitors, he has hosted new student receptions in Aiken. In 2010, the S.C. General Assembly elected Lee to the Clemson Board of Trustees, where he serves on the committees for educational policy, finance and facilities, and student affairs. He served on the presidential search committee that recommended James Clements, and he currently is serving his sixth year as trustee liaison to Clemson’s Board of Visitors.
For 45 years, Lee has been an active member, past deacon and volunteer at Millbrook Baptist Church and has served as a medical missionary to Honduras. He has served on the board of Dollars for Scholars, a college scholarship program for local students. In 2015, he was named one of six trustees for the Sage Valley Golf Club Foundation, which hosts the world’s premier international junior golf tournament.
Perry Sprawls Jr. ’56, M ’61, Ph.D. ’68
Born on a farm in Barnwell County that had been in his family since 1812, Perry Sprawls Jr. grew up working in agriculture and learning the new technology of electricity. These dual interests led to Clemson, where Sprawls paid for college with money saved from raising 4-H cows and working at the campus YMCA. He was active in cadet duties, the Baptist Student Union and the YMCA council and cabinet.
Sprawls earned a bachelor’s degree in industrial physics in 1956 and was commissioned a second lieutenant in the Army Signal Corps. After serving and working at Bell Labs, he returned to Clemson for the new nuclear science program, earning a master’s degree in 1961 and then earning Clemson’s first doctorate in bioengineering in 1968.
Sprawls found the opportunity to apply nuclear physics to medicine as a professor in the radiology department at Emory University. After 45 years, he retired in 2005 and became a distinguished professor emeritus. His career in medical physics includes serving as director of Medical Physics in Radiology at Emory; co-director of the College of Medical Physics at the International Centre for Theoretical Physics in Trieste, Italy; director for Medical Imaging Continuing Education for the American Association of Physics in Medicine; and co-editor of Medical Physics International.
His passion for expanding medical education on a global basis led to establishing the Sprawls Educational Foundation, which provides textbooks, online resources and collaborative teaching methods to improve global medical education. He led the establishment of the Emory University-Xi’an Cooperative Program in Radiology in China. Sprawls has taught in 14 countries and had post-graduate students working in more than 70 countries.
Sprawls helped the class of 1956 select the Class of 1956 Academic Success Center as their 50-year anniversary project. The center opened in 2012 and contains a suite of rooms dedicated to his parents, Neva and Perry Sprawls Sr.
Sprawls has served as a deacon and leader in the Baptist church and on the board of directors for the Asheville Lyric Opera. With an ongoing interest in preserving rural South Carolina history and heritage, one of his current projects is hosting the Barnwell County Virtual Museum.
James H. Stovall ’51
Honored as a “native son” by the Elberton, Georgia, Chamber of Commerce, James H. Stovall has always been a servant leader. At Clemson, Stovall joined the Baptist Student Union council, YMCA cabinet, Blue Key and the student chapter of the American Society of Civil Engineers. He was president of Tiger Brotherhood. He graduated with a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering in 1951.
After serving as a first lieutenant in the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in Korea and Fort Benning, Georgia, Stovall worked for Lockheed Air, then earned a master’s degree from Georgia Institute of Technology in environmental engineering. His distinguished career included positions at International Paper, J.E. Sirrine, Sirrine Environmental Consultants and Waste Management. He retired as senior vice president of Rust Environment and Infrastructure Inc. Stovall has earned numerous awards as a pioneer of air pollution control and environmental engineering, including being named a Fellow of the Technical Association of the Pulp and Paper Industry.
Stovall supports the Samuel J. Cadden Chapel and has served on the Golden Tiger Reunion Class’ finance committee. An avid supporter of Clemson’s military traditions, Stovall joined the Clemson Corps; was on the committee that created Military Heritage Plaza; chaired the committee responsible for Basketball Military Appreciation Day; has organized the ROTC Seniors’ Recognition Dinner; and contributes to a scholarship for Army and Air Force ROTC.
Stovall was a Boy Scout troop leader and district commissioner for Upstate South Carolina. He volunteered at the Greenville Salvation Army for many years, including as chairman of the advisory board and capital campaign leader. Stovall is a lifetime trustee at Anderson University, where he has served as chairman of the board of trustees, vice chairman of the presidential search committee, and a member of the committees that built Anderson University’s Thrift Library and student center. Additionally, Stovall has led dozens of church mission trips, served as a deacon in several Baptist churches, and served on the executive committee of the S.C. Baptist Convention.
EVERY YEAR THE ALUMNI ASSOCIATION accepts nominations for the Distinguished Service Award, the highest honor bestowed upon a former student.
This year’s honorees are, as the name of the award says, a distinguished lot. They have been recognized by their peers professionally for impressive achievements. They have contributed to their communities both publicly and privately, serving on boards and volunteering without expectation of reward or recognition. They have stayed connected with Clemson, giving back in time and talent and resources to benefit current and future students.
At their core, more than anything else, these folks reflect those characteristics that define Clemson University. They are visionary, bold, competitive, determined and proud. They value family, tradition and loyalty. And they love orange. They are Tigers, through and through.
The pages of this magazine don’t contain enough space to list their many accomplishments and achievements or the numerous ways they have found to make their communities better places to live and Clemson a better place to learn. We’d have to double the pages to enumerate their activities as students and their involvement as alumni.
Here they are, this year’s Distinguished Service Award honorees, with just a sampling of what makes them stand out.
Bryant Graves Barnes ’76
Rock Hill, South Carolina
President and CEO, Comporium
Quiet yet affirmative leadership
Bryant Barnes is the fourth generation of his family to lead Comporium, a Rock Hill-based telecommunications company, and his leadership has resulted in a dynamic, streamlined and progressive company. Under his leadership, Comporium partnered with the city of Rock Hill to transform an eyesore of an empty parking lot into Fountain Park and is now working to transform a vacant textile mill into a bustling mixed-use development. Barnes has been deeply involved with area charitable organizations in support of children, health care and education.
Under his leadership, Comporium also contributed $1 million in 2009 to the Optoelectronics Research Center of Economic Excellence in the Holcombe Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering. Barnes was one of the founding partners of the Barker Scholars Endowment, and the Barnes family contributed $1 million to repurpose the Sheep Barn at Clemson to be “The Barnes Center,” in honor of his father. Comporium is the latest Founding Innovation Partner of the University’s Watt Family Innovation Center, to which they have pledged $3 million in financial support and in-kind products and services.
Janine Anthony Bowen ‘89, M ‘91
Shareholder, LeClairRyan PC
Diplomatic problem solver
With a master’s in industrial engineering and experience working with Andersen Consulting and IBM, Janine Bowen went on to earn a law degree. She rose to partner at McKenna, Long & Aldridge, then founded JACK Attorneys and Advisors, a technology and intellectual property firm. The list of organizations she serves makes it clear that she has a strong commitment to the poor and homeless in her community.
In her Clemson involvement, Bowen exhibits what one colleague called “a remarkable and rare collaborative dynamic,” displaying an analytical approach that would allow her to identify potential problems and recommend solutions. She has been the face of the Clemson family to many students in industrial engineering, providing support financially and through volunteerism. She established an endowment for the department in 2009, and an endowment supporting the PEER (Programs for Educational Enrichment and Retention) in 2011 in honor of her mother.
E. Grantland “Grant” Burns ’88
Greer, South Carolina
Vice president and general counsel, AFL
A leader through challenges
As an attorney with two prominent firms in Greenville, Grant Burns represented clients in trials and arbitrations in 20 states. He moved on to corporate practice with AFL, a telecommunications firm, along the way being named one of Greenville’s “Best and Brightest, 35 and Under.” He has broad community involvement, with membership on boards of organizations that provide housing, shelter and economic development.
He served as president of the Clemson Alumni Association during the transition that changed the group into a smaller Alumni Board and larger Alumni Council, leading that process with courage and foresight. One colleague commented that she did “not recall having seen someone who has had an impact [on Clemson] in such varied ways, prior to turning 50.” He has demonstrated his love for Clemson through the use of his time, the sharing of his talents and the gift of his resources.
Leslie Dunlap Callison ’81
Lexington, South Carolina
Community Technology Advisor, Connect South Carolina
Leslie Callison has had a lasting impact on the future economic development and educational success of many counties in South Carolina through her collaborative approach to assisting them in achieving technology certification. Committed to her local community as well, she was a founding director of Columbia’s EdVenture Children’s Museum and extensively involved in supporting her children’s schools.
Her consensus building approach was essential as she chaired the task force charged with implementing a reorganization of the Clemson Alumni Association and its governance structure, resulting in the engagement of more volunteers and enhanced vitality and responsibility. She served as president of the Alumni Association the following year, a position her father also held. She has been a loyal and vocal defender of Clemson and is recognized in Columbia as “that woman who wears orange 365 days a year.”
Douglas “Doug” Duke Richardson ‘64
Clemson, South Carolina
Retired, Director of Finance & Administration for Institutional Advancement and Treasurer, Clemson University Foundation
Humble servant leader
Doug Richardson brought what he had learned during his distinguished career in banking and consulting to a position at Clemson, leading the Clemson University Foundation to great achievement, establishing structures, formalizing procedures and methodologies, and stewarding significant growth of endowments. He helped lead the real estate acquisition, financing and development of CU-ICAR. He is a veteran, with tours of duty at the Quartermaster Depot in Philadelphia and in Vietnam. In his church, he has served as a leader, peacemaker, mentor for youth and bridge builder between persons of different backgrounds and perspectives.
Active on the Class of ‘64 reunion committee, Richardson, along with his wife Wilmer, has supported current and future students through a legacy gift for the class endowment, which supports the Academic Success Center and a scholarship endowment, and the Kappa Delta Chi Brotherhood Scholarship Endowment for students with financial needs.
“The Distinguished Service Award honors individuals who are dedicated to enhancing the quality and value of our University. I want to personally thank our award winners for giving so generously of their time and talents for professional and public service. Their personal accomplishments serve as a wonderful model for our current and future students.”
— Clemson President James P. Clements
“Getting is in the giving.”
When Randy Smith graduated from Clemson in 1966, he had some unusual options to consider. A lineman for Coach Frank Howard, he was drafted by the New York Jets (AFL) and the Atlanta Falcons (NFL).
But driven by a desire to serve others, he chose medical school over professional football, graduating from the Medical College of Georgia in 1970. That desire has resulted not only in a successful private practice in plastic and reconstructive surgery in Augusta, Georgia, but a lifetime of service as a volunteer surgeon in developing countries. In trips across Central and South America, Asia, Europe and Africa, he has made dramatic differences in the lives of thousands of children and families, while working “with limited water, no laboratory and rudimentary instruments.”
This spring, he traveled back to Palestine, his ninth trip to the region, where he performed surgery at the Ramallah Medical Complex on children with burns and congenital deformities. The Palestine Children’s Relief Fund honored him in 2013 for his dedication and work in that area, one of a number of local and international recognitions he has received for his humanitarian efforts.
This past year, his high school, Richmond Academy, inducted him into their Hall of Fame. Smith is a founder and board chair of Georgia Bank and Trust and chair emeritus of University Health Inc., the governing board of University Hospital in Augusta.
It’s not all just work and service, though. In 2014, Smith completed his fifth Iron Man Augusta competition, which involved swimming 1.2 miles in the Savannah River, biking 56 miles in South Carolina and running 13.1 miles in downtown Augusta.
Living by the motto, “getting is in the giving,” Smith has been recognized for his humanitarian work and civic involvement by Clemson as well, as a recipient of an honorary doctorate (1997) and the Distinguished Service Award (2008).
Every spring, Clemson recognizes a select number of extraordinary alumni. And this year is no different. Five men have been nominated and selected by their peers using three areas of evaluation: enhancing Clemson’s value for future generations, serving both in the professional and public realm, and serving as a model for present and future students through personal accomplishments.
These are no ordinary alumni. And because of that, they have been designated as recipients of the 2015 Distinguished Service Award.
When Gerald Glenn was still a student in civil engineering at Clemson, he was offered a position with Daniel Construction, which merged with Fluor. An integral part of the team that designed the structure of Fluor Daniel, he rose to group president and later became the chair, president and CEO of Chicago Bridge & Iron, one of the world’s largest construction companies. After early retirement in 1994, he started his own consulting company, The Glenn Group.
Glenn serves on the board of directors of Houston’s CHI-St. Luke’s Hospital and United Way. He stays involved with Clemson, recruiting students from The Woodlands area and supporting the Glenn Department of Civil Engineering, named in his honor.
A member of the Clemson University Foundation Board, he is a founding partner of the Barker Scholars Endowment and a major supporter of IPTAY.
Personal discipline and the mentorship of one of his closest friends, Dean Walter Cox, helped Normal Pulliam achieve his degree in industrial management. A job at Owens Corning Fiberglass and an MBA from Harvard Business School followed. After a position at Sonoco Products, Pulliam founded Pulliam Investment Company and Pulliam Enterprises, as well as First National Bank of the South in Spartanburg.
Pulliam has served on the board of commissioners of the S.C. School for the Deaf and Blind, and has been president of the Spartanburg Boys’ Home and currently serves on the board of the S.C. Department of Natural Resources.
A faithful Clemson supporter, Pulliam provided the endowment and initial funding for Clemson’s Master’s of Real Estate Development, is the namesake of the Norman F. Pulliam Founders Award and was responsible for the development of the Walter T. Cox Scholarship.
Gregg Morton believes Clemson prepared him for life — it taught him discipline and to always be prepared. After graduating in administrative management in 1978, he worked his way up at Southern Bell to become president of AT&T Southeastern region, managing state governmental and external affairs.
Morton has served on and chaired the executive committee and legislative task force of the S.C. Chamber of Commerce, the Tennessee State Collaborative on Reforming Education and the National Advisory Board of the National Museum of African American Music in Nashville.
A mentor for students in the College of Business and Behavioral Sciences, Morton is a past member of the Clemson University Foundation Board. He has supported Clemson Athletics both financially and by mentoring football players through the new Tigerhood Program. He has secured more than $1 million in gifts and contributions from AT&T for the University, including donations for the AT&T Auditorium at the CU-ICAR campus.
Charles Mickel credits his Clemson education for his success — from graduating with a degree in industrial management to earning an MBA from the University of South Carolina to his professional career.
After serving as vice president for U.S. Shelter Corporation, which
was acquired by Insignia Financial Group, Mickel founded Capital Deployment LLC, which manages commercial real estate and private equity investments.
Mickel volunteers with the Daniel-Mickel Foundation, dedicated to enhancing the quality of life for all people in the Greenville community. President of the Museum Association board and of the 2014-2015 Artisphere festival, he serves on the Christ Church Episcopal School Board of Visitors and with the Community Foundation of Greenville.
Mickel was the president of the Clemson Real Estate Foundation, served on the Board of Visitors and the Clemson University Foundation Board, and was integral in the development of the CU-ICAR project in Greenville.
A member of the 1980 basketball team that advanced to the Elite 8, Bobby Conrad graduated with a degree in history. He earned his law degree from the University of Virginia, then carved out a legal career that took him from South Carolina to Washington, D.C.
Conrad was selected by Attorney General Janet Reno as chief of her Campaign Financing Task Force in 2000. That year he became the first lawyer to question under oath in the same week a seated U.S. president and vice president (Clinton and Gore). In 2001, President George W. Bush nominated him as U.S. Attorney for Western North Carolina, and in 2005, he was confirmed by the Senate to a position as U.S. District Court Judge for the Western District of North Carolina.
Conrad is an adjunct professor at Wake Forest School of Law, a trustee at Belmont Abbey College and on the faculty of the Trial Advocacy College at the University of Virginia.
A member of Clemson’s Athletic Hall of Fame and Letterwinners Association board of directors, Conrad serves as a mentor for pre-law students.
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
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
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.
Clemson has graduated many an ambitious man and woman. Each year, the Alumni Association recognizes a select number of those who have demonstrated an extraordinary level of commitment to its three tiers of evaluation: enhancing the value of the University for future generations; professional and public service; and personal accomplishments that serve as a model for present and future Clemson students.
Whether in the House or in the boardroom, the classroom or the CEO suite, the 2014 Distinguished Service Award recipients have always displayed a drive to do better, to be better for both themselves and for the sake of giving back to their Clemson community.
Thomas C. Alexander ’78
The world of politics has a special draw for Sen. Thomas Alexander. Something in these hills spurred him on to a political career that began with Walhalla City Council in 1981 after completing his bachelor’s degree in economics. He was elected to the S.C. House of Representatives in 1986 and served for two terms before becoming the senator for S.C. Senate District One.
Chair of the Senate Labor, Commerce and Industry Committee, as well as the Public Utility Review Committee, Alexander also chairs the Health and Human Services Subcommittee and serves on the Senate Finance Committee, the Medical Affairs Committee, the Banking and Insurance Committee and the Joint Bond Review Committee. He holds multiple leadership responsibilities in the National Conference of State Legislatures.
Alexander has been a strong supporter of Clemson through legislative initiatives to provide funding for Public Service Activities, the Wind Turbine Drivetrain Testing facility, new research facilities through the S.C. Research University Infrastructure Act and endowed faculty positions through the SmartState Center of Economic Excellence program.
Owner of Alexander Office Supply, located in Oconee County, Alexander has received the Franklin G. Mason Award from the S.C. Lions Foundation, the S.C. Chamber of Commerce Business Advocate Award, the S.C. Commission for the Blind Foundation Legislator of the Year Award and an honorary doctorate of humanities from the Medical University of South Carolina.
Charles E. Dalton ’64
For Charles Dalton, Clemson always has been a family affair. He grew up in Pickens, attending campus events with his family before enrolling as a student. His three children followed suit.
For more than 35 years, he has been a loyal donor to Clemson University and for 40 years he has been an IPTAY member, recently serving as president. He has served on the University’s Board of Visitors, the Clemson University Foundation Board of Directors and the Alumni Association Board, and gave a major gift to the WestZone project.
But Dalton’s leadership has been evident in his community and throughout the state as well. He has served on the boards of organizations ranging from Upstate Alliance of South Carolina and Cannon Memorial Hospital to the Palmetto Conservation Center and the Peace Center for the Performing Arts. Recognized as the S.C. Development Ally of the Year, he was presented the S.C. Individual Initiative Award by the governor and the Outstanding Community Service Award by the Better Business Bureau.
After co-owning and operating the family’s furniture store, Dalton’s Furniture and Carpet, he became president and CEO of Blue Ridge Electric Cooperative in 1982, then added the roles of president and CEO for Blue Ridge Security Solutions in 1992.
His love of Clemson dance weekends during his college years was the impetus for him to develop Blue Ridge Fest, an employee-driven event hosted by Blue Ridge Electric Cooperative that features live performances by beach music entertainers.
Steve C. Griffith Jr. ’54
Steve Griffith knows power — both at the capital and in the grid. After devoting his first few post-graduation years to practicing law in Newberry and then serving in the S.C. House of Representatives, Griffith became part of Duke Power. He retired as general counsel and vice chair in 1997 after more than 30 years with the company.
In 1988, he was appointed by President Ronald Reagan to chair the Presidential Commission on Catastrophic Nuclear Accidents. He also served on the board of directors for Nuclear Mutual Limited from 1988 to 1997, and chaired the American Bar Association section of Public Utility, Communications and Transportation Law in 1994.
Affectionately known as the “Father of the Rowing Team,” Griffith provided support to start the Clemson Crew men’s and women’s rowing teams. Having served on the Board of Visitors and the Clemson University Foundation Board of Directors, Griffith led a campaign among Clemson alumni at Duke Power for donations that were matched by the company. These gifts made possible the establishment of an endowed chair in engineering.
In 1989, he chaired the Arts and Science Council Campaign in Charlotte, which raised nearly $2 million. He helped establish the Lawyers Volunteer Program for the Charlotte Bar Association, and in 1995, Griffith received the Robinson Award, Duke Power’s highest honor, for his work to help establish a homeless shelter.
Daniel C. Stanzione Sr. ’67, M ’68, PhD ’72
Daniel Stanzione is a Tiger three times over. An Air Force cadet and a member of Delta Kappa Alpha fraternity, he graduated with a degree in electrical engineering, then stayed at Clemson to complete a master’s degree in environmental systems engineering and a Ph.D. in electrical and computer engineering. He credits Professor Maurice Wolla for introducing him to his first small computer and preparing him for the professional world.
President emeritus of Bell Laboratories, Stanzione began his career at the company in 1972 and worked his way up through the ranks, becoming president in 1995 as well as COO of Lucent Technologies in 1997. A Fellow of the Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers, he has published a multitude of papers on computer simulation, microprocessors and software designs. He continues to serve as a director or adviser for several technology companies.
Elected to the Thomas Green Clemson Academy of Engineers and a member of the President’s Advisory Board, Stanzione established an endowment benefiting women majoring in engineering. He is a founding member of the Clemson Leadership Circle and Barker Scholars Endowment, and a member of the John C. Calhoun Society and the Clemson Legacy Society. Stanzione serves on the Clemson University Foundation board of directors, and the corporate and foundation relations committee of The Will to Lead capital campaign.
To see videos that capture the essence of these four determined spirits, go to
clemson.edu/clemsonworld and click on “In These Hills.