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Young Alumni Recognize This Year’s Roaring 10

In October, the Young Alumni Council named their newest rising stars: the Roaring 10. These alumni have made an impact in business, leadership, community, educational and/or philanthropic endeavors, while exemplifying Clemson’s core values of honesty, integrity and respect.

Tripp James ’02, M ’04 has founded, operated and harvested several successful small businesses and currently serves as small-business programs manager for the Greenville Chamber of Commerce. A graduate of Leadership Greenville, he has heavily invested his time and talent in PULSE, Greenville’s organization for young professionals. A member of the College of Business and Behavioral Science Alumni Loyalty Board, he serves as a mentor for students.

Hannah Hopkins Pittman ’03, M ’13 is director of professional development for the S.C. Association of School Administrators. Treasurer of the Columbia Clemson Club since 2011, Pittman led efforts to fund a $25,000 scholarship endowment that revitalized the involvement of Richland County alumni. A member of Women’s Alumni Council, Pittman planned and coordinated this year’s “Bring Your Daughter to Clemson” weekend that raised approximately $8,000 for scholarships.

Steven Foushee ’05 is a project manager for Moss 7 Associates, a construction management firm in Greenville. He is the youngest of only seven registered Design-Build Institute of America professionals in the state. A volunteer with the U.S. Green Building Council’s South Carolina chapter, he was in charge of education and outreach for green building initiatives. He is a member of Clemson’s Construction Science Management Industry Advisory Board.

Tia Nicole Williams ’05 is owner and operator of the SERVPRO franchise in Cayce, West Columbia and Lexington. She also is owner and editor of the Lexington Anchor, a monthly online publication. Former secretary and current treasurer of the Columbia Clemson Club, Williams is communications chair of the state Chamber of Commerce Small Business Council and a company adviser for the state Chamber of Commerce Business Week, teaching high school students about business.

George Magrath II ’06 is completing a two-year ocular oncology fellowship at Wills Eye Hospital in Philadelphia. During his time at the Medical University of South Carolina, he was the first resident in South Carolina to perform laser-assisted cataract surgery. He developed web application algorithms for diagnosing complex eye diseases, melanoma and ocular inflammation, which were featured in Review of Ophthalmology and Ocular Surgery News.

Thomas Rhodes ’06 heads his family business, Rhodes Graduation Services, and is owner of Sumter Advertising Company and chief operating officer of Custom Bike Rings in Summerton. He designed the 2014 Clemson Orange Bowl Ring for Coach Dabo Swinney. Last year, he helped establish the Clemson Distinguished Athletes Award to honor former athletes who are making a difference in their communities through non-athletic endeavors.

Brian Ammons ’08 works in investor relations with Dow Chemical in Midland, Michigan. In 2012 he was one of six people to receive the company’s highest award in both sales and marketing. A board member of Give Us Names, a nonprofit organization formed by Clemson alumni, he spearheaded a partnership with a Chicago-based theater company founded by alumni to donate profits from a stage production to the charitable organization.

Mary Kathryn (MK) Dempsey ’08 is a senior fundraising consultant for Blackbaud in Charleston. A member of the Charleston Junior League and Clemson in the Lowcountry, she volunteers with the Dee Norton Lowcountry Children’s Center. Dempsey devoted a lot of time to the Young Alumni Council — as a representative, at-large member and president. She is vice chair of the Alumni Council Engagement Committee and serves on the Alumni Board of Directors.

Laneika K. Musalini  M ’11 is director of grants at Tri-County Technical College and a grants writer and administrator for Community Colleges of Appalachia. She also is founder and CEO of Women’s Empowerment. The 2013 recipient of Clemson’s MLK Award for Excellence in Service-Community Member, she was awarded the Duke Energy/Clemson University Center for Workforce Development STEM Innovator Award in 2012.

Raven Magwood ’12 graduated from Clemson at the age of 19 with a 4.0 GPA. She published her first book at age 12 and followed that up with another during college, 7 Practices of Exceptional Student Athletes. Magwood has written a screenplay, “Switching Lanes,” scheduled to be released as a feature film later this year, and travels as a motivational speaker.

Celeste “Clete” Boykin ’79

Lifetime of Achievement

Clete Boykin graduated from Clemson with a degree in horticulture, so when she began working as a lobbyist for DuPont 21 years ago, her focus was on agricultural issues. Since then, her portfolio has broadened to include trade secrets, defense, transportation, chemical plant security, immigration and education.

The job and the issues demand flexibility and adaptability. “No two days are the same,” she says. “I start out the day saying, ‘I’m going to do ABC today.’ I end up doing D and Z. And you meet some of the most interesting people with different backgrounds.”

This past summer at the Washington Government Relations Group’s Annual Tin Cup Awards Dinner, Boykin received the Reginald “Reg” Gilliam Lifetime Achievement Award from the non-partisan volunteer association founded to enrich the careers and leadership abilities of African-American government relations professionals.

Her job may not be nine to five, but she still finds time every summer to get together with a group of 10 to 12 other Clemson alums who lived together on the fourth floor of Benet Hall. They call themselves the “Benet Babes.”

“After all these years,” Boykin says, “I still consider them my best friends.”
She’s a proud Tiger Band alum, and can still be seen sporting her Tiger Band jacket when the weather gets chilly.

DeAndre “Nuk” Hopkins

S.M.O.O.O.T.H. operator

Former Clemson football standout and now starting wide receiver with the NFL’s Houston Texans, DeAndre “Nuk” Hopkins has always been a smooth operator on the football field. But he can be just as smooth off the field.

Hopkins teamed up with his mother, Sandra Greenlee, and founded S.M.O.O.O.T.H Inc. — Speaking Mentally, Outwardly Opening Opportunities Toward Healing — an organization devoted to helping women and children heal from domestic violence situations. Greenlee, a victim herself, along with Hopkins, wanted to help end the cycle of domestic violence through education and empowering women and children. Hopkins has stood by her side and shared his perspective as a child who witnessed a bad situation, lived through it and is now successful.

With the help of sponsors, they have been able to provide children with school supplies as well as food, secure educational speakers, and set up booths promoting self-defense, anti-bullying and higher-education opportunities.

“This is an important issue, and if we can do anything about it to help people get around it, then we want to,” Hopkins says. “So we want to show people you don’t have to have a lot of money to overcome this. It’s something my mom went through, and she wants to reach out to people and help them.”

Hopkins also serves as an ambassador and spokesman for the Houston Food Bank and Souper Bowl of Caring. He hopes to raise awareness about hunger and help bring about hunger relief throughout the Houston community through volunteer activities, appearances and nutrition education.

Call Me MISTER


CMM-graduation3

Listen to the MISTERs sing “One MISTER”:

Providing positive role models in classrooms and communities

TEACHING ELEMENTARY SCHOOL was not the future that Daniel Spencer ’09 envisioned as a high school senior in Swansea, South Carolina. With two brothers having dropped out of high school (one of whom served prison time) and parents who didn’t go to college, postsecondary education wasn’t even on his radar — even though he was in the top 10 percent of his graduating class.

Daniel Spencer_042correctFortunately, he decided at the last minute to apply to Coastal Carolina University and chose elementary education as his major.

“I didn’t have a clue,” Spencer said. “I thought, ‘Well, I passed elementary school. I should be able to teach it!’”

When Spencer’s English professor learned about his major, he told him about Call Me MISTER®, a program started at Clemson to encourage and place African-American male teachers in South Carolina’s public elementary school classrooms. He advised Spencer to transfer to Clemson to be a part of the program. The rest, he says, is history.

“From the first day, Call Me MISTER changed what I thought would be easy into a lifetime challenge of working with people and shaping the lives of youth,” Spencer said.

MEETING THE CHALLENGE

This was a challenge observed 15 years ago by Clemson University as well as Benedict College, Claflin University and Morris College, three historically black institutions in the state.

“We found that there were more black men in jail than were sleeping in the dormitories of the colleges in our state,” said Roy Jones, Call Me MISTER director and a faculty member at Clemson’s Eugene T. Moore School of Education. “There were more black men in prisons than were teaching in our state, especially in elementary education. That we saw as a problem.”

And, Jones added, in a state that is one-third African-American and where young black males were being expelled, referred to discipline and dropping out of school at higher rates than any gender or ethnic group, fewer than one percent of the state’s teaching workforce were African-American males.

Leaders at the four institutions saw a connection between those figures. They determined that if you could increase the number of African-American males in the classroom, perhaps there would be more avenues for understanding and tackling the challenges that confront young black boys during their formative years.

“We got together and said, ‘We can do something about this,’” Jones said.

And Call Me MISTER was born.

Clemson — along with Benedict, Claflin and Morris — started Call Me MISTER (Mentors Instructing Students Toward Effective Role Models) in 2000. Clemson provided fundraising and program support, while the remaining three colleges carried out the program on their campuses.

Housed in the Eugene T. Moore School of Education at Clemson, Call Me MISTER combines teacher education with co-curricular programs such as retreats, seminars, academic support, mentoring, a summer institute, internships and volunteer opportunities. Participants, known as MISTERs, also live and study together as cohorts and receive tuition assistance through loan forgiveness programs as well as help with job placement.

Since its inception, the program has grown to 19 colleges/universities in South Carolina, including Clemson and Coastal Carolina. That number also includes several two-year community and technical colleges, a move made to provide greater opportunity and access to the program.

As a result of these efforts, there has been a 75 percent increase in the number of African-American males teaching in South Carolina’s public elementary schools. Of the 150 students who have completed the Call Me MISTER program in the Palmetto State, 100 percent of them remain in the education field.

Understanding that the issue is not South Carolina’s alone — that nationally, the number of male teachers is at a 40-year low, and that African-American males comprise less than 2 percent of the teaching workforce — Call Me MISTER has expanded to include 13 colleges in Florida, Kentucky, Pennsylvania, Virginia, Mississippi, Georgia and the District of Columbia. Including graduates and current students, approximately 425 participants are in the program nationwide.

IT’S ALL ABOUT RELATIONSHIPS

CMM-summer1Since the program’s inception, Call Me MISTER leaders have found that its purpose is being fulfilled: more African-American males are entering elementary classrooms and more African-American children — especially boys — are seeing them as positive role models.

“There’s no doubt about what it means for so many kids to see an African-American male in a position of authority where he is also nurturing, where he is also loving and where he is also mentoring,” said Winston Holton, who leads Clemson’s Call Me MISTER cohort. “Our MISTERs are filling an important void.”

But the program is doing something more — it is exacting a powerful personal influence that transcends race, gender and socioeconomics.

“I believe that Call Me MISTER is making up the difference between what’s not happening in our homes, schools and communities and what needs to happen — and that is the fostering of healthy relationships,” Holton said.

“We don’t have healthy relationships across too many lines,” Holton continued. “You see this playing out every day in schools and playgrounds across South Carolina — and in teacher’s lounges, in businesses, in families, in neighborhoods, everywhere.”

From day one, Call Me MISTER encourages — even requires — its students to pursue healthy relationships, Holton said. Through an intentional yet organic process, MISTERs learn to understand and articulate their life stories and hear each other’s stories with empathy and understanding — and this skill makes all the difference when they enter the classroom and community as teachers.

“The result is that MISTERs have the capacity to empathize with their students, parents, fellow teachers and community members just as they, themselves, have experienced empathy,” Holton said. “They are able to see through the differences, even the maladies, and really see another’s humanity. That’s how learning happens and how students, schools and communities are elevated.”

“It’s all about relationships,” Holton summarized.

I CAN MAKE A DIFFERENCE

Countless young people have been influenced by their relationships with Daniel Spencer, including his niece and nephew, the children of his formerly incarcerated brother.

“I was trying to help raise them, and I realized through Call Me MISTER that I wasn’t teaching them; I was just telling them what to do,” Spencer said. “Listening to the MISTERs and learning from them taught me that I can do things differently — and that I can make a difference.”

 

Spencer’s niece and nephew, now ages 15 and 16, live with him in Seneca — happily adjusted and involved in school and community activities.

Spencer is also making a difference in his classroom at Blue Ridge Elementary, a Title 1 school with a high percentage of children from low-income families. He meets with each child individually and sets goals for the year, based not only on test scores but also the child’s own aspirations. And he holds them accountable to those goals, meeting with them throughout the year.

“I get to know all the kids and strive to meet everyone where they are,” Spencer said. “But I’ve gotten past the ‘I’m here for them to like me’ thing because at the end of the day, I know that they are going to love me — because they respect me, and they know I believe in them.”

What results from this exchange of respect, caring and expectation is academic progress. “The kids are exceeding their own expectations, which translates into authentic learning,” Spencer said.

SPIRIT OF HOPE FOR CHANGE

It is clear that authentic learning is needed for South Carolina’s children. The Palmetto State ranks 43rd in education, according to the 2014 Kids Count Profile, with 72 percent of South Carolina’s fourth graders lacking proficiency in reading, and 69 percent of eighth graders identified as below proficiency in math. Twenty-eight percent of high school students aren’t graduating on time, if at all.

The same report ranks South Carolina 44th in economic well-being and child health — both factors that affect children’s performance in school.

The statistics grow more dire in underserved schools and communities, where employment and other opportunities have increasingly diminished, says Roy Jones.

With these factors in mind, Jones and his colleagues focus on recruiting MISTERs from underserved areas and encouraging them to return to their communities or others with similar challenges.

“Call Me MISTER teachers are at the cutting edge of a new crusade — to ensure quality education in underserved areas by creating a pool of talented teachers who are fiercely loyal to their schools and communities,” Jones said. “Such teachers embody the spirit of hope for change.”

I WANT TO SEE THESE KIDS GROW UP

CMM-Spencerclass1“Fiercely loyal” could be used to describe Daniel Spencer. Since he started his career at Blue Ridge, he has been offered many opportunities to teach in other school districts, but he is dedicated to remaining at the school and in the community where he has served as a volunteer since his days as a Clemson student.

“The first kids I mentored when they were in the fourth grade are now in the 11th grade,” he said. “I want to see these kids grow up.”

In addition to teaching, Spencer coaches high school basketball and middle school football in Seneca, attends his students’ extracurricular activities, holds free basketball clinics and workouts at Blue Ridge during the summer, and takes students to events such as Clemson’s spring football scrimmage, which many of them have never attended even though they live less than 10 miles away. When he greets former students or players in the grocery store or at school events, they avoid him if their grades aren’t up to par, because they know he’ll ask. “I love being there and talking to the kids because the more they see positive people and consistently have positive people talking to them, the better they are going to do,” he said.

THE INTANGIBLE ‘MORE’

What is it about Call Me MISTER that inspires such dedication and selflessness? If you talk to anyone associated with the program, you’ll find that it’s because it’s more than a program — it’s a lifestyle, a way of being.

The intangible “more” begins with the name of the program. The brainchild of Call Me MISTER founding director Tom Parks, the name is not only an acronym but also a tribute to a famous line by Virgil Tibbs (played by Sidney Poitier) in the 1967 movie “In the Heat of the Night.”

While investigating a murder investigation in a small Mississippi town, Tibbs, an African-American detective from Philadelphia, is asked by the racist sheriff what people in his hometown police force call him. With dignity and assertiveness, Tibbs responds, “They call me ‘Mister Tibbs!’”

It is a line that inspires, even demands, respect.

Respect is a cornerstone of Call Me MISTER, one that is seen as MISTERs receive the program’s signature black blazer upon graduation — and in the way MISTERs refer to each other as “Mister” in formal Call Me MISTER settings.

“Ultimately, our hope is for each MISTER to be self-assured and know himself, and to appreciate and understand the value of building relationships across traditional lines,” Holton said.

Other Call Me MISTER foundational concepts include ambassadorship, stewardship, personal growth and teacher efficacy. “And all of these things together pour into the most important tenet, servant-leadership,” which Holton describes as “living for more than yourself.”

Perhaps no one embodies servant-leadership more than Jeff Davis, former field director for Call Me MISTER, current assistant athletic director of football player relations, and 2001 recipient of Oprah Winfrey’s Use Your Life award.

All MISTERs continue to be challenged each time they recite the vision statement Davis penned, which includes the line, “A title is only important if one’s character and integrity dictate its use.”

The single MISTER who rises to that challenge most valiantly receives the Jeff Davis Spirit Award, one of the most coveted honors bestowed annually upon a MISTER.

According to Clemson junior Michael Miller, a MISTER from Orangeburg and 2014 recipient of the Jeff Davis Spirit Award, servant-leadership has been the key to his Call Me MISTER education.

“My viewpoint about education has changed from ‘What can I tell you or dictate to you?’ to ‘What can I do for you?’” he said.

“I want to be an educator rather than a teacher,” he continued. “A teacher delivers content, and that is important. The word ‘educator’ comes from the Latin word educe, which means to draw from within. That’s what I try to do with my students — to pull out what is already within them. Call Me MISTER has taught me how to do that.”

Melanie Kieve is the public information director for the College of Health, Education, and Human Development and the Eugene T. Moore School of Education.

To learn more about Call Me MISTER director Roy Jones, click here.

Call Me MISTER receives $1.3 million

William Buster, director of the Kellogg Foundation’s Mississippi and New Orleans programs

William Buster, director of the Kellogg Foundation’s Mississippi and New Orleans programs

Clemson’s Call Me MISTER program has received $1.3 million from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation of Battle Creek, Mich., to collaborate with Jackson State University to increase the number of African-American male teachers in Mississippi K-8 classrooms. The three organizations gathered on campus to commemorate the collaboration and grant.

Clemson established the now nationally recognized Call Me MISTER program in 2000 to increase the number of African-American males teaching in South Carolina K-12 schools. MISTER stands for Mentors Instructing Students Toward Effective Role Models. After more than a decade, there is a 75 percent increase in the number of African-American male teachers in South Carolina’s public elementary schools.

The program has expanded to 17 colleges in South Carolina. Nearly 100 students are enrolled in the program in six additional states: Florida, Kentucky, Pennsylvania, Virginia, Mississippi and Georgia.

“The demonstrated success of the Call Me MISTER collaborative model in South Carolina, which has resulted in a significant increase in African-American male teachers in our state, provided confidence that the same result was possible in Mississippi,” Roy Jones, director of Call Me MISTER said. “We simply exported our nearly 15 years of successful experience in recruiting, retaining and developing pre-service teachers to Jackson State, which has a long tradition and history in producing African-American educators.”

Chi Zeta celebrates 40 years, endows scholarship

This spring, the alumni brothers of the Chi Zeta Chapter of Omega Psi Phi fraternity returned to Clemson to celebrate the chapter’s anniversary. Forty years ago, a group of students chartered the first black Greek-lettered organization on campus. Since then, 122 brothers have been initiated, and more than 90 of those returned for the reunion.

Chi Zeta took a leadership role during the 50th anniversary of the ending of segregation at Clemson. The “50 for 50” campaign was designed to celebrate 50 years of integration at Clemson by creating 50 diversity endowments, with a goal of fully funding the endowments within five years. Chi Zeta saw this as an opportunity to create its own endowment to provide financial support for deserving undergraduate students now and for years to come. Chi Zeta met its commitment within four months and awarded the first scholarship in the fall of 2013.

To mark its 40th anniversary as a campus organization, the alumni brothers of Chi Zeta raised another $25,000, which doubles the endowment to $50,000. With these additional donations, the brothers of Chi Zeta, in conjunction with Mrs. Veronica Clinkscales and the Clinkscales family, were able to establish the Dr. William C. Clinkscales Sr. ’74 Diversity Scholarship Endowment honoring her late husband, one of the founding brothers of the fraternity.

 

Football Team Succeeding in Classroom and on Field

Defensive back Jerrodd Williams graduated this spring.

Defensive back Jerrodd Williams graduated this spring.

CLEMSON’S FOOTBALL TEAM HAS FINISHED THE LAST TWO SEASONS WITH A top-10 final ranking in the USA Today coaches’ poll. The NCAA Academic Performance Public Recognition Awards released in May show that the team is performing just as well in the classroom. For the fourth consecutive year, Clemson ranks among the top 10 percent of all FBS football Bowl Subdivision) programs nationally in Academic Progress Rate (APR) score.

Clemson is one of only five FBS programs ranked in the top 10 percent each of the last four years, joining Boise State, Duke, Northwestern and Rutgers. Clemson is the only FBS program nationally to finish each of the last three seasons in the top 25 of both the AP and USA Today polls on the field, and in the top 10 percent of APR scores in the classroom.

Excellence in the Academic Progress Rate has translated into a strong graduation rate for the Clemson football program. Over the last four years, 67 of Clemson’s 72 seniors have earned degrees, 93.1 percent. The APR is a metric developed to track the academic achievement of teams each academic term. Each studentathlete receiving athletically related financial aid earns one retention point for staying in school and one eligibility point for being academically eligible. A team’s total points are divided by points possible and then multiplied by one thousand to equal the team’s APR score.

Graduates Commissioned as Second Lieutenants

SHAROSCA MACK ’14, AN ECONOMICS MAJOR FROM LORIS, WAS commissioned as a second lieutenant in the Army at a joint Army and Air Force ceremony on May 8. Nineteen students received commissions into the U.S. Army and 11 received commissions into the U.S. Air Force. The ceremony featured guest speaker Col. (Ret.) Rick Schwartz M ’95. A former Army ROTC instructor, he retired last year after 29 years in the Army.

Following the commissioning ceremony, the new lieutenants participated in a Silver Dollar Salute ceremony at Military Heritage Plaza. The ceremony marks the first salute the new officer receives from an enlisted service member. As a sign of mutual respect, the officer presents the enlisted member with a silver dollar.

Clemson Memorial Stadium

“Put about 10,000 seats behind the YMCA. That’s all you’ll ever need.”

Those were the words of Coach Jess Neely as he left for Rice after the 1939 season. Fortunately, Clemson didn’t follow his advice.

In 1941, the S.C. General Assembly authorized the issuance of $100,000 in bonds to build a stadium. The project was a mid-1900s version of a Creative Inquiry project: Civil engineering students did the preliminary surveying, Professor H.E. “Pop” Glenn and Carl Lee, a 1908 engineering alumnus, provided the design and construction drawings, and players cleared the hill- sides. Coach Frank Howard and returning football players laid the sod in the summer of 1941. Legend has it that Howard put a plug of tobacco into each corner of the stadium as the concrete was poured.

When all was said and done, it seated about 20,000 fans in 26 rows. The University’s trustees named it Memorial Stadium, commemorating all of the alumni, faculty and staff who had died in service to the country.

The first game of the season in 1942 was against Presbyterian College, as it had been since 1930, and Clemson rolled over them 32-13. PC head coach Lonnie MacMillan is credited with providing the stadium its nickname in 1951 after being defeated 53-6.

“It’s like going into Death Valley,” he said.

The name stuck and gained even more traction with the addition of Howard’s Rock in 1966, presented to Coach Frank Howard by an alumnus after a trip to California’s Death Valley. It was at the 1967 game against Wake Forest when rubbing The Rock became a tradition. Legend has it that Coach Howard challenged the team by saying, “If you’re going to give me 110 percent, you can rub that rock. If you’re not, keep your filthy hands off it.”

Another 17,500 seats were added in 1958 (overseen by Professor Glenn), and in 1957, the first Tigerama was held. In 1960, dressing rooms, restrooms and additional concession stands were added along with 6,000 more seats.

Had the original plans for Hartwell Lake gone forward, Memorial Stadium would have been flooded up to the 26th row. Lengthy negotiations and the addition of dikes ensured the stadium’s survival.

More seats have been added over the years, with current capacity at more than 80,000. And just this summer, Yahoo Sports ranked Clemson as having the most exciting entrance in college football, referencing its designation by sportscaster Brent Musburger as “the most exciting 25 seconds in college football.”

David O. Prevatt M ’97, PhD ’98

He follows where the wind blows

When tornadoes strike, David Prevatt gets his Wind Hazard Damage Assessment Team into action. He and his civil engineering graduate and undergraduate students rush to sites around the country to investigate tornado damage done to buildings and homes. Through a Faculty Early Career Development research grant from the National Science Foundation, the team is working to develop engineering solutions for tornado-resilient and sustainable housing communities.

Prevatt is an associate professor in the Engineering School of Sustainable Infrastructure and Environment in the department of civil and coastal engineering at the University of Florida.

You might have heard about him on NPR and NBC News. Prevatt is a leading spokesman for improving construction and building guidelines. As a strong advocate for more federal funding to increase coordination and sustained research support in wind engineering, he testified before the U.S. House of Representatives’ Joint Hearing of Research and Technology Subcommittees and Committee on Science, Space and Technology.

The National Institute of Higher Education, Research, Science and Technology in his home country of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago, awarded Prevatt a silver medal in recognition of his research. Prior to his appointment to the UF faculty, Prevatt was an assistant professor and director of the Wind Load Test Facility at Clemson. He’s a director of the American Association for Wind Engineering and member of the U.K. Wind Engineering Society.