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Women, diversity in STEM focus of $3.4 million grant

Like many universities, Clemson struggles with attracting and retaining women and underrepresented minorities as faculty. That problem is magnified in STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) fields. Across the campus, 35 percent of full-time faculty are women. In STEM departments, the percentage drops to 19. When racial diversity is factored in, the statistics are even grimmer. Only one of the 509 STEM faculty members is an African-American woman; two are Hispanic women.

In an effort to improve those numbers, Clemson has launched an initiative funded by a $3.4 million National Science Foundation (NSF) grant to create an inclusive academic culture so women and underrepresented minorities are encouraged to enter and remain in academia. While the national initiative is called ADVANCE: Increasing Participation and Advancement of Women in Academic Science and Engineering Careers, Clemson’s program is nicknamed Tigers ADVANCE, and it has a greater goal: to build a culture that encourages diversity, inclusiveness and acceptance.

“The impact these STEM fields have on our society is immeasurable,” said Robert Jones, Clemson’s provost and executive vice president for academic affairs and co-principal investigator of the grant. “We need diverse ideas and perspectives in the academy and in our workforce to tackle the greatest challenges we, and future generations, will face.”

The grant application process, spearheaded by civil engineering professor Sez Atamturktur, took more than two years and countless hours from more than 40 faculty, staff and students. The group identified five major challenges to women in STEM faculty positions at Clemson and established these corresponding goals:
• Transform the culture and improve the campus climate to reduce bias and implicit bias against women and minority faculty.
• Increase the representation of women in STEM fields.
• Ensure equitable workload distributions so appointments to committees, special projects and other non-academic activities are assigned equally across the faculty.
• Enhance faculty mentoring and leadership development to support all faculty and increase retention.
• Implement family-friendly policies to help improve recruitment and retention of world-class faculty.

With Tigers ADVANCE, Clemson will increase the number of women being considered for faculty positions and put measures in place to retain female members. “We will strive to match the representation of women in faculty positions to the number of candidates available for those positions in the national pool,” Atamturktur said.

Of the 14,499 faculty applicants to Clemson between 2010 and 2014, 23 percent were women, 10.7 percent were minority women and 0.7 percent were African-American women. Of all eligible doctoral degree graduates in the country, 53 percent were women, 15 percent were minority women and 7 percent were African-American women.

“Our search committees absolutely are doing a good job of identifying talented women and bringing them to campus,” Atamturktur said. “The problem is the number of women in our applicant pools is very, very low. We’re starting with fewer options.”

Likewise, although women receive tenure and promotions at rates equal to men, women leave Clemson at rates higher than men. Between 2011 and 2014, 56 percent of assistant professors (pre-tenure faculty) who left were women. Among STEM faculty, 28 percent of tenured or tenure-track faculty members who left were women, although women made up only 19 percent of the faculty.

While the NSF grant specifically supports women in STEM fields, Clemson will make its own investment to extend Tigers ADVANCE to non-STEM departments. “We believe this is the only way to achieve institution-wide impact and sustainable transformation,” Atamturktur said. “Five years from now our campus should be a lot more diverse with a more inclusive culture and more openness to new ideas.”

Color Brave

In our polarized world of incendiary tweets and combative Facebook posts, honest and civil conversations about issues of race are not a common occurrence. This fall, a group of students and faculty took on those conversations.

Golden Girl: Brianna Rollins ’13


One, two, three — jump. One, two, three — jump. With a fierce face and a breakneck pace, former Clemson track standout Brianna Rollins lunged across the finish line. A time of 12.48 seconds earned Rollins a gold medal in the 100-meter hurdles at the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil in August. Right behind her were USA teammates Nia Ali and Kristi Castlin in second and third place. “It was awesome feeling to have to my teammates up there on the podium alongside me. We made history and I couldn’t have been happier to share it with Nia and Kristi. Kristi and I train together, and Nia is a really good friend of mine. It just goes to show you that if women can come together as one we can accomplish something huge.”

After catching their breath, the women draped their bodies in three American flags and jumped for joy for the cameras and the television crowds back home. It was the first time three American women claimed all three medals in a track and field event in the Olympics.

Rollins isn’t new to claiming victories. In 2011 and 2013 she was the NCAA indoor champion in the 60-meter hurdles, the 2014 NCAA outdoor champion in the 100-meter hurdles, and the 2013 IAAF world champion in the 100-meter hurdles while still a student at Clemson. But it wasn’t until her time at Clemson that she realized she could compete at an elite level. Rollins didn’t begin competing in the sport until she was in high school in her hometown of Miami. In 2012, as a sophomore at Clemson, she made the Olympic Trials. In the next months she earned a win at the NACAC Under-23 championships. From there she blossomed into the runner she is today.

“At the 2012 Olympic trials is when I realized I could compete on the professional level. I had the second fastest time coming back in the finals at the trials. I finished sixth in the finals but seeing that I was competing with the professional and running so close gave me the hope I needed,” she said. “Training as an elite-level athlete is a blessing; it comes with a lot of hard work, sacrifices, commitment, and focus but it is all worth it when the reward is being an Olympic champion and an inspiration to those who look up to me.”

Rollins is the second female from Clemson to win a gold in track and field and the first Clemson athlete to win an individual Olympic gold medal since 2004. Kim Graham won a medal as a member of the 4×100- meter relay team in 1996 and Shaw Crawford won the 200-meter dash in 2004. Nine athletes from Clemson have gone on to win Olympic gold.

Rollins is currently training for the next 2017 World Championships in London and hopes defend her title in Tokyo in the 2020 Olympics.

 

Fast feet stay in the game: Fabio Tambosi ’02

Fabio Tambosi spent his childhood with a soccer ball rolling at his feet. Soccer came naturally to him, and he moved from playing in the streets of Brazil to playing in the youth academy of a professional club in São Paulo.

It was here that Tambosi received his first pair of cleats — two freshly worn Nike Tiempos from Zé Roberto, a living soccer legend. “I was walking out of the locker room after practice and [Zé Roberto] said, ‘Hey shorty, what’re you doing? Do you want some shoes?’” Tambosi said. “That pair lasted me another two years.”

These days, Tambosi isn’t bumming cleats off the most famous players in the world — he’s partnering with world-class athletes to sell them. As the director of global football brand marketing at Nike, Tambosi is a leading voice for an iconic brand.

It’s a dream job, but he took a long journey to attain it. Early on, Tambosi played forward for the men’s soccer team at Clemson where he helped the team to an ACC Tournament championship in 2001. “The atmosphere at this school, it’s contagious,” Tambosi said. “You get there, and on a weekend when there are a lot of sports happening, you get a real sense of the community. You have the sense of being part of a family.”

Tambosi hasn’t left that family behind, despite his success. He stays involved as a board member at the Erwin Center for Brand Communications, where he helps students develop advertising and marketing skills. “There’s nothing better than being recognized by my alma mater and going back and giving back what Clemson has given to me,” Tambosi said.

Tambosi wants students to understand that it isn’t possible to fulfill one’s dreams without risking failure. He knows this to be true because he has risked it all. In 2012 he was working a stable, well-paying job in London for Nokia. But, Tambosi wasn’t satisfied — he had other ideas. “I wanted to go back to sports, and I wanted to have a role in the World Cup in Brazil. And I wanted to work for Nike,” Tambosi said.

So, he quit Nokia, and left for Brazil in January 2013. While he had no job offer on the table, he told everyone he was going to work at Nike. Once in Brazil, he spent his time networking with Nike employees, which eventually helped land him a job as Nike brand manager for the 2014 World Cup. “Growing up playing football at a very high level in Brazil, it was a dream to play in the World Cup,” Tambosi said. “I didn’t have the opportunity to do it as a player. But I had the opportunity to live the World Cup, to impact the World Cup, personally, in Brazil through my job.”

When the World Cup ended, Tambosi stayed on with Nike. Now Tambosi can stay in touch with the game he loves, the game for which he has crossed borders and risked professional failure. That passion, that commitment, is something he wants to impart to Clemson students and young people everywhere. “Know where you want to go,” Tambosi said. “Don’t be afraid to fail, and follow your dream.”

— Glenn Bertram ’18

Media moguls in training: J. Seldric Blocker ’01

While looking for internships at Clemson, Seldric Blocker was plucked for a program with First Union. But not for banking or financial needs; it was human resources. Now he’s the director of campus recruiting, shaping paths for future generations of network newsies and entertainment execs as the director of NBCUniversal’s talent acquisition campus programs, Campus2Career.

Each year he fields more than 42,000 applications for about 2,000 spring, summer and fall internships. In the last three years he’s managed more than 5,500 interns, including 300 added to cover the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio, Brazil.

Part of Blocker’s job has entailed streamlining the Campus2Career program so there is a standard NBCUniversal experience at each campus they visit, and across all internships and all markets, including their London and Singapore programs. “Flawless execution” is how Blocker defines it. “We want them to have a great experience, even if they decide this isn’t what they want to do long term,” he said. “We want them to leave more curious than when they came in. We want them to have fun.”

Lessons he learned from his own academic and career experience very much inform how he mentors others. He encourages those that come through his office to take advantage of study abroad, be more ambitious and take more risks. One of the ways Blocker and his team allow interns to have fun and take ownership of their internship is through NBCUniversal storytelling. “The students are digital natives, and we encourage them to craft and tell the NBCUniversal story through a multifaceted approach, whether that’s Snapchat or some other social platform. They have their fingers on the pulse of what’s happening next and are brand ambassadors for future generations of interns.”

Blocker is also focused on building diversity across NBCUniversal’s platforms. “We are looking for people who have demonstrated their leadership on campus. We employ a wide variety of majors and backgrounds. They don’t just have to have a passion for media and the entertainment industry. We want to know what you can take from your background and bring to the table to help us tell a more well-rounded story,” said Blocker.

Even after hanging strong in the financial sector through the economic downturn of 2008, Blocker said navigating the media industry at first was a new, interesting beast. “It was tough at first. In the media you have a lot of creative people who have a competitive edge, and you’re managing a first-impression for a major media brand,” said Blocker. Blocker said the experience at NBCUniversal has taught him to meet people where they are, and that being relatable is a skillset that transcends any workplace environment. “[Clemson’s] academic environment did a good job of fostering a sense of responsibility and ownership and made me feel like I belong,” he said. “I want to give others that sense of feeling like they belong, too.”

Former astronaut Mae Jemison speaks on campus

Former NASA astronaut Mae C. Jemison gave the keynote address in Clemson’s opening convocation in August. Jemison, the first African-American woman to travel to space, flew aboard the space shuttle Endeavour in September 1992. Jemison described her life growing up in Chicago in the 1960s, saying that as a girl she could see unlimited possibilities for herself through the turbulence of those times. “All around me was this world that was filled with ideas and actions and choices that would change the course of human history, and I wanted to be a part of it. I always assumed I would go into space.”

Young Alumni Council celebrates the 2016 Roaring 10

Front, l-r: Halphen, Leader, Lusk, Frazier, Newton. Rear: Adams, Crapps, Faerber, Park.
Not pictured: Eyraud Photo Credit: JacobDeanPhotography.com

The Young Alumni Council (YAC) has recognized the 2016 Roaring 10 — young alumni who have made an impact in business, leadership, community, educational and/or philanthropic endeavors.

This year’s honorees are:

KEENAN ADAMS M ’07, Ph.D. ’10, DENVER, COLORADO
Adams received both a master’s degree in forest resources and a doctorate in wildlife and fisheries biology from Clemson. Adams is the supervisory wildlife biologist for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service of the National Wildlife Refuge System in Colorado. He is an active member of Alpha Psi Phi and participates in the Omega Leadership Academy Mentorship Program.

MANNING CRAPPS ’06, LEXINGTON
Crapps received a degree from Clemson in economics and went on to a successful career in banking. He works at First Community Bank, where he is the bank’s expert in solutions for business retirement plans. He was part of the group that created the Lexington Beautification Foundation, which is dedicated to beautifying the scenic and historic community. He is president of the Lexington County Clemson Club.

LILY EYRAUD ’12, CHARLOTTE, NORTH CAROLINA
Eyraud graduated with a degree in financial management and accounting and is pursuing a master of business administration at Duke University. She works as a financial planner at TIAA-CREF. She has been a United Way Young Leaders Council member since 2013, is the communications lead for the Charlotte Clemson Club and is a regional recruitment coordinator for Gamma Phi Beta sorority. She was recently named the Alumni Association’s Volunteer of the Year.

NELSON FAERBER III ’09, TUCSON, ARIZONA
Faerber holds a law degree from Florida State University to go with his bachelor’s degree in construction science management from Clemson. He attended Clemson on a full athletic scholarship and was named the Clemson Football 2008 Special Teams Player of the Year. Post-college he served in Afghanistan and was recognized as company grade officer of the quarter and of the year. He currently serves in the U.S. Air Force JAG Corps, providing legal assistance to a community of more than 20,000 airmen and their families.

JAMILAH FRAZIER M ’15, NORTH CHARLESTON
Frazier received her master’s degree in public administration from Clemson and works at Charleston/Dorchester Mental Health, where she coordinates accreditation and quality improvement. She also owns her own business providing workplace CPR/first aid training. She is an advisory member of the Charleston County Clemson Club and works with the Clemson Black Alumni Council.

PAUL HALPHEN ’10, GREENVILLE
Halphen received his degree in financial management and joined First Citizens Bank and Trust, where he was ranked second out of more than 200 leaders for new portfolio volume. He is currently an investment manager with Kairos Real Estate, and he volunteers for multiple community organizations. He is on Clemson’s Library Leadership Board, is a long-time mentor for the College of Business and was YAC president.

BEN LEADER ’10, CHARLOTTE, NORTH CAROLINA 
Leader received his bachelor’s degree in political science from Clemson and his law degree from the Norman Adrian Wiggins School of Law. He served as a law clerk for the Honorable John C. Hayes III of 16th Judicial Circuit of South Carolina, and now works for the Elrod Pope Law Firm as an associate. He has been an at-large member of Clemson’s YAC since 2014 and serves on the board of the York County Clemson Club in Rock Hill.

BROCK LUSK ’02, M ’15, WALHALLA 
Lusk completed Clemson’s ROTC program, graduated with a degree in history and was commissioned into the U.S. Air Force. He came back to Clemson and earned his master’s degree in 2015. In between, he served multiple deployments in Iraq and Afghanistan. He currently serves as the director of operations and assistant professor of aerospace studies for the Clemson Air Force ROTC. He is on the board of directors of the Clemson Corps. Seven additional names have been added to Clemson’s Scroll of Honor as a direct result of his research.

DAVID NEWTON ’08, M ’10, MOUNT PLEASANT 
Newton earned his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in civil engineering while competing as a member of the varsity soccer team. He is currently completing his master of business administration from the Kenan- Flagler Business School at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill as a 2017 merit fellow. He serves as a marketing and product manager for Ingevity Corporation’s North American asphalt modification business in Charleston. Newton has served on the executive board of the Carolina Youth Development Center and the Trident United Way Young Philanthropist Society steering committee.

BRIAN PARK ’10, M ’14, ATLANTA 
Park earned bachelor’s degrees in economics and political science and a master’s degree in economics. He attended law school at the University of Virginia, where he was elected president of the student body and served as an editor for the Virginia Environmental Law Journal. He is a corporate associate at King & Spalding LLP in Atlanta, where he represents both publicly traded and privately held companies in mergers and acquisitions, capital-raising transactions and general corporate governance matters. He has volunteered with several organizations including the Blue Key Honor Society and Atlanta’s Youth About Business Program.

Landmarks & Legends: Marking History

Landmarks Legends-Sign InstallationThree new historical markers at Clemson are tangible reminders of the University’s full history — a history not as idyllic as the well-manicured lawn of Bowman field and the picture-perfect walk by the library.

In April, University officials, trustees and guests broke ground for three double-sided markers: One at the intersection of South Palmetto Boulevard and Fernow Street Extension to commemorate a site where slave quarters stood on the plantation owned by John C. Calhoun and later by University founder Thomas Green Clemson; the second near Calhoun Bottoms farmland to commemorate the role of Native Americans and African-Americans in the development of the Fort Hill Plantation lands; the third near Woodland Cemetery to mark the burial sites of the family of John C. Calhoun, enslaved people and state-leased prisoners who died during their confinement at Clemson.

“The story of Clemson University’s founding is one of great vision, commitment and perseverance,” said President James P. Clements at the event. “However, it is also a story with some uncomfortable history. And, although we cannot change our history, we can acknowledge it and learn from it, and that is what great universities do.”

Landmarks - Fort Hill property wp2The markers are one way Clemson is working to give a more accurate public accounting of its history to acknowledge connections to slavery, segregation or other practices and viewpoints inconsistent with current institutional values.

During the event, Clements praised the work of Rhondda Thomas, associate professor of English, whose research on African-Americans who lived and labored at Clemson prior to desegregation spurred interest in the markers.

One of those stories is about Sharper and Caroline Brown, whose daughter Matilda was born into slavery but lived most of her life as a free woman. Matilda Brown’s granddaughter, Eva Hester Martin, 90, of Greenville, was a guest at the groundbreaking ceremony for the historical markers.

It’s a story Thomas pieced together from personal recollections backed up by photos, newspaper clippings, church and census records, and other documentation. The youngest of 10 children, Martin earned a degree in chemistry from S.C. State University, enjoyed a successful career as a medical technician in Chicago and Los Angeles, and raised four children.

“Our archives are a wonderful resource, and census records are a great help,” Thomas said. “For the convict laborers, however, the pardon records provide the strongest evidence of the men and boys who labored at Clemson, as the documentation specifies when they were released from Clemson College. But in some cases the records are incomplete or missing.”

Thomas hopes the University’s efforts to tell these stories will encourage more family members to come forward with information, photos, family Bibles or other materials that can confirm an ancestor’s connection to the University’s early years.

If you have information for Thomas’ research, email her at rhonddt@clemson.edu.

Clements_019Read more about the history of these markers in The View From Sikes.

 

Gambles are a safe bet: Jason ’00 and Hesha Nesbitt ’00, M ’01 Gamble

 

Gamble_012Ensuring the health, safety and well being of others via the roads you drive or the buildings you enter isn’t just a day job for Jason and Hesha Nesbitt Gamble, but a desire they’ve each pursued since teenagers. The couple are stand-out licensed professional engineers who found their route to Clemson by way of high school internships, which also set into motion a path to each other.

As an exam development engineer for National Council of Examiners for Engineering and Surveying (NCEES) in Seneca, Jason is one of only five people in the country commissioned with managing the creation of 25 national licensing exams that examinees take to become licensed in 17 different engineering disciplines. Jason is tasked with managing four of those 25 exams. Hesha serves as county engineer for Greenville where she oversees 77 employees as well as the engineering and maintenance of all county roads, approximately 1,760 miles serving 450,000 residents.

“We take that job very seriously,” said Hesha. “If there’s a problem, we need to fix it. Greenville is my community so of course I want the best for my community.”

“I’ve never had a job that didn’t affect people in some way,” chimed in Jason. “What I do now at NCEES affects the future of the profession and affects what (engineering) is going to be for the next generation.”

Even beyond technical skills, the pair says honing soft skills like communication and public speaking prepares their teams to execute a project efficiently. “You can be the smartest person in the room, but if you can’t effectively communicate or explain something, you’re not going to be successful,” said Jason. “It’s about knowing how to interact with people. I’ve worked with Ph.D.’s to someone with only a third-grade education, but we all had to work together in order to get a job done.”

Those so-called “soft skills” were picked up in Clemson classrooms, where the two met each other through study groups for upper-level undergraduate courses. The couple praise their time at Clemson for making them effective engineers today. They especially credit the PEER program for many of their successes.

“We bring engineers and experts from all over the country to do a job, and to be able to relate to each of them individually and not just professionally, just to be able to hold a conversation, Clemson was where I learned to do that,” said Jason. “I have no doubt it makes me better at my job to be able to relate to people and just work with them regardless of where they’re from.” Jason and Hesha, despite their busy careers, find the time to be “All In” raising their five-year-old son, Justus.

The Clemson Medallion

Clemson honors Barker and Bostic with University’s highest public honor

This spring, Clemson recognized two alumni — President Emeritus James Barker and businessman and trustee James E. Bostic Jr . — with its highest public honor, the Clemson Medallion. The 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 its founder, Thomas Green Clemson.

The lives of both men began as Clemson students and their commitment to the University never waivered. Here are the 2016 Clemson Medallion winners.

 

James Barker

Medallion-James_BarkerOne Clemson. It’s a term that permeates Clemson vernacular, along with “Clemson family” and “All In.” But the two words together helped James Barker ’70 lay a foundation for a vision where he saw Clemson achieving more than ever as an institution.

“I am convinced that there is no university in America stronger than Clemson when we are ‘One Clemson.’… If we unite around the idea of Clemson, we have a future beyond our highest aspirations,” he said during his inauguration address.

And unite the campus he did. Clemson went from being ranked No. 38 among public universities to No. 21 during his term. Undergraduate applications increased from about 11,400 a year to more than 18,500. Scholarship support increased from $5.4 million to $13.8 million annually. Freshman retention went from 83 percent to 91 percent. More than 59,000 degrees were awarded during his time as president — representing 41 percent of all living alumni.

“Jim Barker is a man of integrity. He is a great visionary and great strategic planner. He leads with a core passion to put the students and their success first,” said Trustee E. Smyth McKissick III ’79, when interviewed about Barker’s presidency in 2013.

From student, alumnus, faculty member, dean, president and even parent — Barker’s seen Clemson from every perspective. “All of us who love Clemson will always be indebted to Jim Barker for his visionary leadership and service. It is an honor to present this well-deserved award to him,” said President Jim Clements.

His roles throughout the University and community are varied and active, including participating in IPTAY as an honorary life member; serving as president emeritus and professor in the School of Architecture; and serving at Fort Hill Presbyterian as an elder and choir member.

Under his administration, the Will to Lead campaign, which concluded successfully this summer, was launched with a $600 million goal and then re-launched with an ambitious and historic $1 billion goal.

 

 

James E. Bostic Jr.

Medallion-James_BosticWith $10 from his mother tucked into a Bible, James Bostic ’69, Ph.D. ’72 stepped off the bus from Marlboro County into the hills of Clemson. Since that day, Bostic’s legacy has included success in education and business, as well as philanthropic support for efforts to provide a more diverse campus.

Even as a White House Fellow in 1972-73, Bostic’s love of Clemson never faltered, according to retired Gen. Colin Powell, even if it wasn’t always endearing to others. The two met as the only minorities in the class, with Powell becoming like a big brother to Bostic.

“His life revolved around things colored orange, Tigers and basketball,” said Powell. “Only when he got married were his wife and I able to get the orange furniture and paintings out of his apartment, to his great distress.”

After receiving his bachelor’s degree and Ph.D. from Clemson, Bostic went on to serve as deputy assistant secretary in the U.S. Department of Agriculture until 1977. From there his business acumen gathered steam as he served 10 years with Riegel Textile Corporation before moving on to Georgia–Pacific Corporation, moving up through the ranks to the position of executive vice president in 2000 and retiring in 2005.

“He has volunteered his time and talents as a leader for the University,” said President Clements, “and he continues to lead by assisting us in our efforts to improve diversity and inclusion. I am extremely proud to honor him with this award.”

Bostic’s desire to pay it forward goes well beyond what’s listed on a resume. He and his wife helped fund the Edith H. and James E. Bostic Presidential Scholarship as part of the Harvey B. Gantt Scholars program for diversity scholarships. His name is also on the Dr. James E. Bostic Presidential Scholarship in the College of Engineering and Science and the James E. Bostic Endowed Leadership Program for Resident Assistants.

“Jim’s love for Clemson can’t be measured by what he has done but by the difference he has made in the lives of students and Clemson University as a whole,” said Bert Henderson, IPTAY/ Athletics Director of Gift Planning.

 

ILLUSTRATIONS BY DALE COCHRAN