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Yountses commit Cornerstone Gift for athletics facilities

Melvin K. and Dollie Younts, donors to the sixth Cornerstone Gift to athletics. 

Melvin K. and Dollie Younts, passionate Clemson fans and philanthropists from Fountain Inn, pledged the sixth Cornerstone Gift to athletics. The recently renovated 600-seat South Club area at Memorial Stadium has been named the Melvin and Dollie Younts South Club in appreciation of their $2.5 million commitment, announced in August.

“Melvin and Dollie have been tremendous supporters of various institutions and initiatives throughout the Upstate,” said President Clements. “We’re thankful for their support of our athletics programs and the impact their gift will have on student-athletes and Clemson fans for generations to come.”

The Clemson Athletic Cornerstone Program is a vital part of the new athletics facilities initiative. With new facilities, upgrades and rebuilds planned for or underway at football, basketball, baseball, tennis, soccer and academic support, it is the most comprehensive change to the facilities of athletics ever undertaken at Clemson.

Melvin Younts, a retired attorney with the firm of Younts, Alford, Brown and Goodson, is trustee and chief executive officer of Palmetto Real Estate Trust. The Yountses are noted philanthropists in the Upstate, having contributed significantly to various community organizations.

Swinneys pledge $1 million to IPTAY

Dabo and Kathleen Swinney pledged $1 million to IPTAY last fall in support of Clemson football to provide future funding for programmatic and building initiatives that will continue to propel the program forward.

“Kathleen and I are blessed,” said Swinney. “And we have always known we need to use those blessings to do good for others. It’s so important to us that we give back to this program that has been so good to us.”

While Kathleen and Dabo Swinney have a long history of generosity, they would never call their missions accomplished. Dabo sounds like the passionate coach he is when he talks about getting behind these Clemson programs: “You know, Clemson is a great school. But we can’t rest on that. We’ve got so much more to do. We have to always strive to get better, and that’s why we’ve got a new strategic plan at the University called ClemsonForward. That says it all. Just like playing offense in football: It’s all about the forward progress. No progress. No win. We can’t stop now.”

Nieri pledges Cornerstone Gift to athletics

Michael and Robyn Nieri

Michael and Robyn Nieri

Michael Nieri, who received his degree in construction management in 1986, has pledged the fifth Cornerstone Gift to Clemson Athletics. His gift of $2.5 million will go to the development of a new student-athlete academic and life skills enrichment area in the Memorial Stadium WestZone.

“I am so thankful to Michael Nieri and his family for their generous support of Clemson athletics,” said President Clements. “Giving our student-athletes the resources they need to be successful off the field is just as important as developing their skills on the field, and that’s what the Nieri family is enabling us to do with their gift.”

The Clemson Athletic Cornerstone Program is a vital part of the new athletics facilities initiative. With new facilities, upgrades and rebuilds planned for or underway at football, basketball, baseball, tennis, soccer and academic support, it is the most comprehensive change to the facilities of athletics ever undertaken at Clemson.

This gift is part of Clemson’s successful Will to Lead campaign to raise $1 billion to support Clemson students and faculty with scholarships, professorships, facilities, technology and enhanced opportunities for learning and research.

Michael is the president and founder of Great Southern Homes, headquartered in Columbia, which specializes in residential homebuilding.

“We’re so appreciative of Michael and Robyn’s commitment to Clemson and this generous donation,” IPTAY CEO Davis Babb said. “Their support of IPTAY through this gift will allow future generations of Clemson student-athletes to continue to achieve at high levels both on the fields of competition and in the classroom.”

Michael is married to Robyn Nieri, and they have three children: Pennington ’15, and Maigan and Patrick, both Clemson students.

The Clemson Medallion

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

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

SMYTH McKISSICK ’79

McKissick

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

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

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

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

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

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

JEROME V. REEL JR. H ’00

Reel

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Idea of Clemson

Fourteen years ago, James Barker approached the podium for his inaugural address. Unlike many new presidents, he already had a fairly comprehensive understanding of the institution. After all, “president” was just the most recent of his Clemson monikers. Student, alumnus, faculty member, dean, parent — he had already experienced the University from all of those perspectives.

As he reflected with those in attendance on “The Idea of Clemson,” it was from a very well-informed perch. In an address that was forward-looking and optimistic and challenging, he examined nine qualities — of being inclusive, academically challenging, visionary, indomitable, bold and innovative, distinctive, sensitive to the needs of others, focused on the value of the individual and based on family — that he said described the “wonderful, powerful, noble idea called Clemson.”

“The most important ideas,” he said, “have a physical manifestation. The idea of Clemson surrounds you today in the ‘sense of place’ and ‘sense of community’ you can see and feel on this campus.” He went on to say, “To all gathered here today, I say that with everything I am, I believe in the idea called Clemson. But Clemson is still a work in progress.”

And the charge that Jim Barker accepted at his inauguration was “to ensure that the idea of Clemson will be stronger at the end of my service than it is now at the beginning.” In what is known now as characteristic Barker, he stated his strong conviction that “the only way to fulfill this responsibility is to find the way for each of you to join me in this effort.”

With that statement, and the one that followed, he launched the idea of “One Clemson.”

“I am convinced,” Barker said, “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.”

After referencing the legacy and destiny of the University, President James Barker finished by simply saying, “Let’s get started.”

And get started he did. In the next few pages, alumni, faculty, staff, students and friends share their reflections on the ways in which Jim Barker’s presidency advanced what he called “The Idea of Clemson.”

In my humble opinion, James Barker and R.C. Edwards were the best presidents to have served Clemson in any time or season, but especially this was the case when it came to their steadfast leadership surrounding issues of race relations.

Dr. Edwards’ leadership during Harvey Gantt’s 1963 enrollment is well documented and widely known. What many may not know, however, is the quiet, dignified and determined way that President Barker built on President Edwards’ legacy to garner Clemson the coveted reputation as one of the nation’s premier institutions for tackling very complex and vexing issues surrounding diversity in higher education.

Three such initiatives that he led include:

• The visionary Call Me MISTER program: No one really knew what to do about the chronic black male teacher crisis until this program unfolded. It is the national model.

• The National Best Practices Conference in the Achievement of Students of Color: Poor retention of all students had been one of higher education’s ugly secrets for many years.

This challenge was most acute among black students. After more than a decade, this annual gathering has become the gold standard for identifying solutions to this persistent problem. President Barker has participated in every minute of every session. He thus created an indelible impression about Clemson on the minds of the thousands of leaders from across the nation.

• Black faculty recruitment: With the appointment of Dr. Juan Gilbert as chair of Human-Centered Computing and later as the first Presidential Endowed Chair, President Barker has done what many in higher education, industry and government thought to be impossible. Recruiting and retaining black faculty is intensely competitive in all disciplines, but especially in science, technology and mathematics. In short order, Clemson now has the largest concentration of black computer science faculty and Ph.D students in the nation. This could not have happened without President Barker’s leadership.

These accomplishments have truly been game changers in terms of how Clemson is perceived across the nation and around the world. President Barker’s singular ability to do the right thing while institutionalizing positive outcomes will hold Clemson in good stead for decades to come.


Frank Matthews


— Frank L. Matthews ’71
Co-Founder, Cox Matthews and Associates
Publisher, Diverse Issues in Higher Education

During most of President Jim Barker’s tenure as president of Clemson, I served as the director of the National Scholars Program, which was inaugurated by President Barker in 2000. “To be a national university,” he said at the time, “we must have a national-caliber scholarship program, and this is it.”

For me, the National Scholars Program symbolizes Clemson’s extraordinary academic and intellectual growth during Jim Barker’s presidency. To create the program called for extraordinary vision and for enormous faith in Clemson’s students, staff and faculty. To sustain it required a continuing commitment to providing the resources necessary to recruit, educate and challenge some of our very best students. Finally, to establish the program as a vital and integral part of Clemson’s culture required President and Mrs. Barker’s personal involvement and support. Jim and Marcia have been at nearly every important National Scholars event. They have entertained every group of National Scholars freshmen at their home. And they have made it clear to everyone at Clemson that the National Scholars Program — and the Calhoun Honors College as well — are both key symbols and very real products of Clemson’s commitment to academic excellence.


William Lasser


— William Lasser
Alumni Distinguished Professor of Political Science
Director, Calhoun Honors College

I believe that President Barker’s commitment to elevate the academic standards of Clemson, to lead with transparency and to be accessible to the entire Clemson family, especially to students, is second to none. Although I did not attend Clemson, I have worked here for 41 years, and it has been so rewarding during President Barker’s tenure to watch the University develop from an excellent regional university to one that is highly ranked nationally and well-respected. All Clemson alumni, and past and present faculty and staff, are proud that a degree from Clemson means much more now than in the past.

In addition to being a masterful architect of so many academic innovations and accomplishments, President Barker’s handprint is obvious in the improvements on the facility and the landscaping that have occurred during his tenure as president.

I will always be grateful to President Barker for the wonderful support that he has given the arts programs at Clemson, for no university can be considered great without having a strong program in the arts. He and Clemson’s gracious first lady attended performances at the Brooks Center as often as their schedules would allow. President and Mrs. Barker leave huge shoes to fill.


Mickey Harder

— Mickey Harder
Director, Brooks Center for the Performing Arts

“Do you wish to be great?” St. Augustine once asked. “Think first about the foundations of humility. The higher your structure is to be, the deeper must be its foundations.”

Fourteen years ago, Jim Barker set out to build a better university. He had a vision that Clemson could be a nationally recognized public institution. The fact that President Barker’s lofty vision for Clemson has been realized is certainly commendable by itself. But the most compelling part of the story is not about the obvious success President Barker has achieved, but rather how he went about achieving it. He met the challenge posed by St. Augustine to the faithful so many centuries ago — he stayed grounded in humility — built a foundation on it — even as Clemson soared.

History is replete with examples of powerful leaders who are larger than life, whose force of personality makes them irresistible to watch; leaders who are at their best and most dynamic when the spotlight shines the brightest on them. Few of us equate power, much less success, to those who turn the spotlight away from themselves. And yet, that is exactly how President Barker has achieved such remarkable success as one of the longest-serving college presidents in the U.S. He is always ready to lead and always reluctant to take credit. His humility encouraged and enabled other talented people to work on Clemson’s behalf — all headed in the same direction, all following his lead.

He and Marcia were always exceedingly gracious, greeting students, parents and staff as warmly as they did visiting dignitaries and VIPs. They represented Clemson globally and championed the University in prestigious venues. But he and Marcia were just as content — probably more so — opening their home at night to students who simply needed some support. He was comfortable walking the campus and cheering at games. He wanted Clemson to succeed on his watch, not because of his own personal investment or aggrandizement, but because when he went off to college as a young man, he went to Clemson. He wanted to give back better than he had received.

Today the University stands taller than ever, nationally recognized for its academics and athletics. It’s in the top tier of public schools — just as Jim Barker envisioned more than a dozen years ago when he began building a lasting foundation.

For Barker, it was always about Clemson rising tall, about generations of students crediting CU for providing a springboard to countless opportunities. It was never about his own legacy. Yet, history will undoubtedly record President Jim Barker’s rich contributions to Clemson, accolades the man himself is too humble to accept.


David Wilkins


— David Wilkins
Chair, Clemson University Board of Trustees

I have been privileged in my teaching career at Clemson University to have had James F. Barker as a student in my classes for three of his early semesters (one B, two A’s).

Few people have known that Jim Barker came to Clemson on a partial athletic scholarship. He was a pole-vaulter from Kingsport, Tennessee. Like his reticence to talk about his ability to draw, he seemed less inclined to review his brief career as a vaulter.

During his early years as a student in the school of architecture, he had an assignment, possibly in design or to test his creative inclinations. He visited my office and asked if I would take a look at his project. To me, Jim always had been a serious student. Naturally, I was flattered by his request. He unveiled plans and drawings for a city to be constructed in the area where South Carolina, Georgia and North Carolina boundaries are contiguous. The overall concept was a layout of a series of concentric circles, in which each circle some function or activity — habitation, religion, education, civic government, business, medical, etc., would be planned. I was amazed at his vision.

Jim Barker’s vision has carried over to the planning and development of the Clemson University campus, which now impresses students, visitors and local residents.

I have always taken pride in and have admiration for my former student from Kingsport, Tennessee.


Ben Skardon


— Col. Ben Skardon ’38
Professor Emeritus of English

As I reflect on the presidency of Jim Barker, I am so very proud of the accomplishments that Clemson has achieved over the course of Jim’s administration. Under Jim’s leadership, Clemson has risen to become a top-25 public university. Jim aspires to see Clemson improve because he wants to see Clemson students have an opportunity to receive the best education possible.

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. Most importantly, this “down to earth” man loves Clemson University! Marcia Barker has been an incredible leader as well and a fantastic ambassador for Clemson. She leads with a very special style and grace, and she has made Clemson a much better university.

Clemson has been blessed by the Barkers!


Harvey Gantt


— Harvey B. Gantt
Principal, Gantt Huberman Architects

I have always admired Jim Barker as the essence of a true Clemson man. He proved my long-held belief that architects, because of their unique education and training, could go out into the world and do much more than design buildings. Jim and I have often reminisced on a speech I gave at the College of Architecture years ago. I spoke on the theme of how some of us student architects could one day leave Clemson to serve as leaders in society … because we were being trained to analyze problems, examine alternatives, choose a way forward, and execute a solution with conviction. In other words, we were trained to be leaders, in our design firms, in civic life, in politics, in business, and even to lead a great university … like Clemson. Jim was in that audience when I spoke, and says he was inspired. Wow!!! And he has gone on to build a great record as one of Clemson’s finest presidents and a great leader in education for South Carolina.


Smyth McKissick


— E. Smyth McKissick III
Clemson University Trustee

Jim Barker is well-known for his intense interest and caring spirit for the well-being of Clemson students. What is not so well-known is his unique ability to manifest that same level of interest for campus organizations that are not an integral part of the University’s core mission of teaching and research.

I witnessed this during the past two years as IPTAY went through a reorganization. Early in the process we sought guidance from President Barker. He maintained a high level of interest in IPTAY , and never failed to avail himself to us. As the IPTAY Board moved through our changes, we recognized that the new landscape of college athletics suggested more involvement of college presidents. President Barker was aware of this new trend, and embraced our idea to have him become an active member of the IPTAY Board.

Jim never hesitated to help IPTAY through these changing times and was fully engaged and supportive during my term as president. I saw firsthand why the Clemson Family has so completely embraced
the Barkers.


Charles Dalton


— Charles Dalton
President, IPTAY Board of Directors

Jim Barker is one of the finest individuals I know, and I’m incredibly appreciative of what he’s meant to me both personally and professionally during my time as ACC commissioner.

As I look back over his tenure as president of Clemson University, it’s important to note that his fingerprints are all over the many monumental milestones that have happened within the ACC . From the league’s expansion in 2003, through the latest expansions and the grant of media rights, Jim has been instrumental in strategically positioning the Atlantic Coast Conference for the long term.

There’s no question that Jim is one of the most well-respected presidents, not only in the ACC but also across the NCAA landscape. As an educator and leader, he is insightful, thoughtful and brings tremendous wisdom.

Jim has become one of my most trusted advisers, and I’m thankful for the friendship we’ve developed over the years.

I wish Jim, Marcia and the entire Barker family nothing but health and happiness in the years ahead.


John Swofford

— John Swofford
ACC Commissioner

I first met my architecture classmate, the future president James F. Barker, on Riggs Field in August of 1965. Riggs served as the track at that time, and Jim was practicing his event, the pole vault. My first Clemson roommate was the other freshman vaulter, and he was excited to introduce me to his teammate since, he surmised, we had so much in common as architecture majors. Little did he know that this thoughtful introduction would lead to a lifetime of collegiality marked by true friendship.

As we approached the field from the south stands, Jim picked up his pole, took a deep breath and ran at full speed toward the box, the bar and the pit. Jim planted the pole perfectly in the box, leaned back with all his strength and swung his body skyward into a handstand with amazing grace. Then, the pole shattered. The sound was like a rifle’s blast echoing off Holtzendorff and the Barracks. All motion stopped and all eyes turned to the vaulting pit. Seeming unfazed by the disruption, Jim continued the backward flow of his body, executed a perfect back flip and landed on his feet in the pit. Still holding a four-foot piece of the offending instrument, he strode out to greet his teammate and his classmate with a broad smile as if to ask: “How’d you like that?”

Occasionally I will retell this story as I introduce President Barker and I like to add: “and he’s been landing on his feet ever since.”


John Jacques


— John Jacques ’70, AIA, CAF Director
Professor Emeritus of Architecture

From my perspective, the most significant contribution made by Jim Barker during my tenure as vice president for research and economic development was to articulate the “Top Twenty” Vision, and hold us accountable for it. The vision was compelling, succinct, memorable and measurable. It galvanized our thinking about Clemson University as a distinctive, national research university, guided our strategic planning and drove our implementation. The quarterly “Report Card” measured our progress.

For me, the second most important concept by Jim was to challenge us to develop a “Town/Gown” relationship with the City of Greenville.

These two bold ideas set in motion the deliberations and strategies which culminated in CU-ICAR and the other innovation campuses. As we worked on developing the practical implications of public/private partnerships that were aligned with the University’s core academic missions of teaching and research, and fostered economic development for South Carolina, Jim was personally engaged in these discussions. As the physical campus of CU-ICAR was designed and built, he brought his architectural background to the design charrettes. It was a personal privilege for me to tour the CGEC with Jim, and have him give me a passionate description of the sight lines and the architectural highlights of the building.

Finally, from a personal perspective, I could not have asked for a more supportive and encouraging president than Jim Barker. Recognizing the very high risks associated with such a bold idea as CU-ICAR , he consistently was the “champion” with our Board of Trustees, our state legislators and the Greenville community. I consider it a great honor and privilege to have spent the last nine years of my professional career serving under President James F. Barker.


Chris Prizembel


— Christian E.G. Przirembel
Vice President Emeritus for Research and Economic Development

It would be easy to rhapsodize about Jim Barker’s intelligence, his dedication and his humaneness. But anyone who has been near Clemson University in the last dozen years knows about all that.

So I add this comment: Throughout his presidency, Jim taught a course called “The President’s Seminar.” It met on Tuesday afternoons each spring and included about 15 students from several different disciplines. And it included six or eight faculty who, along with the president, made presentations and joined discussions. I was lucky enough to get in on it, and I count it as one of the best experiences of my 38 years at Clemson. As I look back on that seminar, I realize that, except for his Tiger Paw cuff links and ties, Jim did not appear to be president of anything. He was just a part of the general fray. Maybe he was so good with the students because he had been a Clemson student himself; maybe he was so good with the faculty because he had been on the faculty — and was still on the faculty. Whatever the cause, he was one of us, and we loved it.


Bill Koon


— Bill Koon
Professor Emeritus of English

“One Clemson” was more than a motto to President Jim Barker. He truly wanted the academic and athletic communities to merge and achieve a unified pride in Clemson University. That’s where Solid Orange came from — speaking to our traditions and how we conduct ourselves to understand our part in making the University strong. He worked hard to create an environment of unity when so many campuses across the country experience disunity.

He not only talked about supporting athletics, but as a former student-athlete, he is competitive. He and Marcia would attend many, many sporting events; they welcomed student-athletes regularly into the President’s Home, and knew most of our coaches and staff by name. You could count on seeing their Labs, Macs and Mookie, at rowing meets. In addition to an already full schedule with campus responsibilities, he chose to be involved with the NCAA at the national level.

He entered his tenure with extremely high athletic goals, targeting national success especially for football and men’s basketball. We’re all proud that under President Barker’s leadership, Clemson football has returned to the Top 10, won three divisional championships and the first outright conference championship in 20 years.

While men’s basketball at Clemson had historically struggled, President Barker’s support enabled our program to enjoy some unparalleled success and continuing progress — specifically, four consecutive NCAA tournament appearances, a first in Clemson history.

Certainly, Clemson enjoyed success and significant progress in other sports as well, but I find it fitting that as a track letterman, his final spring as president included Brianna Rollins’ thrilling individual national championship at the NCAA Outdoor Championships and our men’s and women’s track programs again competing at the highest level.

What’s refreshing about the athletic success is that it was accomplished with President Barker’s high academic expectations as well. While Clemson’s student-athlete academic performance has been strong in the past, it became measurably stronger in all sports the past decade.

Jim Barker gave our athletic program his support, his vision and his energy. He gave us “One Clemson.”


Terry Don Phillips


— Terry Don Phillips
Former Clemson Athletics Director

Jim Barker’s passion for being a president who was devoted to public service became evident within his first 100 days in office. He took teams of his administrative group on two trips across South Carolina to meet the people who love Clemson dearly but rarely get to the main campus. He continued that enthusiasm for engaging with the public throughout his time as president.

He extended that commitment to public service when the University embarked on the creation of “new” enterprise campuses in locations across the state. His brand of economic development was to take the University to where the action was located. This idea has led to one of the country’s most relevant and successful university technology-based economic development strategies. Jim’s unique ability to engage with the state’s citizens has allowed Clemson University to maintain a strong sense of reality as we do our daily work.


John Kelly


— John Kelly
Vice President for Economic Development

In early May 2006 a senior, Travis Rada, realized he was an hour short of graduating. Travis’ mother, Janet, was very ill with cancer, and he had lost track of his hours since he had been trying to spend as much time with his mom as possible. Travis took the course during Maymester to complete his requirements to graduate in August. But the doctors had told Janet that she probably wouldn’t be alive in August. Through all of Janet’s cancer treatments, her one goal had been to see Travis graduate from Clemson, and Patrick, her youngest son, graduate from T.L. Hanna High School, both that May.

With the help of registrar Stan Smith, President Barker presented Travis with a certificate of completion on June 1, 2006. The ceremony took place in the President’s Office with Travis’ parents, brother and grandparents present, Travis in his cap and gown and President Barker in his academic regalia. Less than six weeks later, I attended the memorial service for Janet Rada. Front and center of all the pictures that were placed on the table to honor Janet’s memory was the photograph of President Barker and Travis in their academic regalia and Travis’ proud family members.


Sandy McKinney


— Sandy McKinney
Executive Assistant to the President

President Barker’s accomplishments at Clemson will leave a lasting impact on the future of the University. His consistent involvement with the student body has been a major factor in producing the “Clemson Experience” that is so often discussed. Students have been reflecting on their favorite memories with him, including times when he passed out lollipops at the Homecoming floats, opened his home for trick-or-treating on Halloween, allowed students to walk his dogs, did pushups as the Tiger mascot during a football game and helped with freshman move-in.

President Barker’s desire to make Clemson the best it can be, while preserving the rich heritage and traditions that make the Clemson experience so unique, is remarkable. Clemson’s success in the past decade is largely due to his leadership and unwavering values He will always be remembered as one of Clemson’s most outstanding and respected presidents, and I am blessed to have had the opportunity to work with him during these last few months of his presidency.


Kayle Seawright


— Kayley Seawright
President, Undergraduate Student Body

As I reflect over the past 14 years of Jim Barker’s tenure as president of Clemson University, two words, in particular, come to mind — Clemson Family. President Barker really does understand the meaning of these two words because he was reared in the family that is so proud to call him one of our own.

He possesses a deep sense of caring and placing the Clemson Family and, in particular, the current Clemson students first. His unwavering resolve has helped Clemson remain a “high seminary of learning” just as Clemson’s founder, Thomas Green Clemson, so eloquently stated in his Will. We are so proud and fortunate to have been able to call Clemson’s 14th president one of our own.


Ann Hunter


— Ann W. Hunter ’80, ’82
President, Clemson Alumni Association

Jim Barker has been the only president I have known since I came to Clemson in 2003. He has set the bar very high for future presidents and has certainly brought Clemson to a higher level academically, athletically — in all areas.

He is a class man who has been a joy to work with. I will be forever indebted to him for supporting my hire as head coach in 2008. He has treated me with respect in every way since I have been here.

What I will remember most about Jim Barker is his genuine love for Clemson.


Dabo Swinney


— Dabo Swinney
Clemson Head Football Coach

Cappy and Sweet, you’re our favorite Tigers! Thank you for teaching us cadence count, that orange and purple are the best colors, and for letting us hitch rides at the First Friday Parades. We’ve loved our many adventures in the President’s House, like counting tigers and camping out in our tiger tent in the living room. We’re saving chairs for you at the tailgate. We love you!
Love,
Madeline and Eliza Barker
Granddaughters

We would just like to thank you both for introducing us to so many friendly students over the years. You are so right when you say Clemson students are the best! We sure are going to miss our morning walks on campus with you guys.
Love,
Mookie and Macs
Barker pups-in-residence

P.S. We really are SO SORRY for chasing after that skunk we found in front of the P & A Building one morning. We had no idea he would spray us and that it would take a week full of baths to get us clean!

President Barker was never just a figurehead — he was an active participant in every Clemson student’s experience. Few university presidents have improved their school’s academics so remarkably, and even fewer have earned the genuine love and respect of its students.

At the Clemson vs. Furman game this past year, the crowd bellowed, as usual, in coordination with the Tiger’s pushups. After a fairly long count, the Tiger unexpectedly stood up, threw off his headpiece and revealed an impassioned President Barker. Upon recognizing him, the stadium’s roar soared because we all knew that he shared our love, devotion and pride for Clemson.

At my ring ceremony, President Barker showed his unyielding devotion to Clemson students once again. I had always heard that there is something sacred about a Clemson ring ceremony; after 90 hard-earned hours we would walk with our fellow classmates to receive that famous and celebrated Clemson ring. Unfortunately, we knew that President Barker had recently received emergency surgery and assumed he would not be able to present our rings. However, as he had throughout my entire Clemson experience, he proved that Clemson students were his first priority. As he presented me with my ring, he leaned over and said, “We’re proud of you,” and I, along with the rest of the students receiving their rings April 8, 2013, knew that he truly was.


Ashton Lee


— Ashton Lee
Senior, Clemson University


When I think of the Barkers’ tenure at Clemson, I am struck by their family approach. They always would speak at orientation programs and offer their home, their dogs and even themselves to anyone feeling a little homesick. I believe Clemson is such a happy place because you do not feel like you’re at an institution. There is a constant feel of home, no matter where your other home may be. I truly feel the Barkers were at the center of this warm, caring atmosphere.

On a personal note, they arrived for move-in day for my daughter Libby, and then a couple of years later for my daughter Hannah. President Barker gave them each a signed miniature Clemson banner and told them to keep it with them till graduation for luck. Right from day one it was a personal, magnetic approach that made our whole family feel like we were home. The Barkers’ genuine love of the place was transparent and infectious, and thankfully will continue to live at Clemson.

— Bart Proctor
Parent of Libby ’13 and Hannah (sophomore)

Determined Spirits

Determined Spirits

In April, five Clemson alumni joined a select group and received the highest honor bestowed upon a former student by the Alumni Association. All five of these honorees have experienced success in their lives, personally and professionally. But one quality ties them together, more than all the others. And that’s their determination. They were determined in the classroom and on the playing field, in their communities and their careers, in their public personas and in their personal lives. And they bring that determination to their continuing involvement with Clemson.

A can-do attitude

William L. “Roy” Abercrombie Jr. ’69 learned early on in his life that “Can’t can never do anything.” That can-do attitude was nurtured along by his professors at Clemson, including Dean Wallace Trevillian, who required shirts and ties at all his management classes.

Though he started out in sales, Abercrombie ended up in banking. He rose to chair of the board, CEO and president at American Federal, where he served until 1997, when the bank merged with CCB–Central Carolina Bank. He continued with CCB until his retirement in 2003. He currently serves as chair of Colliers International–Greenville.

Abercrombie is a life IPTAY member, WestZone Initiative and Heisman-level donor, member of the Leadership Circle, and former member and past chair of the Board of Visitors. He was instrumental in securing resources needed to enable the board to promote the University. Past chair of the Clemson Real Estate Foundation, he is a founding member and chair of the Clemson Land Stewardship Foundation.

A thinker and a problem-solver

E. Mitchell “Mitch” Norville ’80 got his degree in engineering, but thanks to Professor Douglas Bradbury, he came to see himself as a thinker and problem-solver. He worked as an engineer for a couple of years before going to the University of Virginia to earn his MBA and continue his career at Boston Properties, one of the largest self-managed real estate investment trusts specializing in the development and ownership of office, industrial and hotel properties in the United States.

Clemson may not be the city on his driver’s license, but it does have his heart. A board member for the Baltimore/Washington D.C. Clemson Club, he has made significant financial contributions to Clemson’s basketball program and the WestZone, where Gate 6 was named the “Norville Family Gate” in honor of his family.

A founding member of the President’s Leadership Circle, he endowed the Ernest R. Norville Chair in Biomedical Engineering in honor of his father. He serves on the Clemson University Foun-dation Board of Directors, the President’s Advisory Board and the Advancement Board for Real Estate Development.

The eye of the needle

At 6 feet and 135 pounds, James Warren “Jimmy” Addison ’68 didn’t see himself as a potential college football star. Fortunately, Coach Fred Cone thought differently and recruited the young man known as “the Needle.” Addison went on to capture honors including All ACC Quarterback, S.C. Athlete of the Year and an NCAA Post-graduate Scholarship. Three ACC Championships helped cement his membership in the Athletic Hall of Fame.

His determination on the field was matched in the classroom and in ROTC. A member of Scabbard and Blade, he graduated with both the Norris Medal and the Algernon Sidney Sullivan Award. He went on to law school at the University of Virginia and now chairs the Commercial Real Estate Section at Troutman Sanders LLP.

Addison has served on the Alumni Association Board of Directors and the Advancement Board for the School of Humanities. He also established the Virginia and Bill Addison Endowment for the Humanities and has served as chair of Clemson’s Athletic Hall of Fame. In addition, Addison has given much of his recent time to the Clemson University Foundation Board.

Paving the way to success

Russell Carlton Ashmore Jr. ’50 has always had a way of turning roadblocks into opportunities — in athletics and academics, professionally and personally. When his football career ended for medical reasons, he served as an Army cadet and focused on his studies. When his pre-med dreams met a queasy stomach, he still found ways to provide medical care, both here and abroad, to those unable to afford it.

After graduation, Ashmore served in the U.S. Army and the Reserves, then returned to Clemson to pursue his interest in ceramic engineering, after which he took a position at General Shale in Tennessee. While on his way up the corporate ladder, he was convinced to return to the family business in grading, paving and excavation. He not only helped guide the family business, but also served as an industry leader.

For more than five decades, Ashmore has been a member of IPTAY and an annual donor to the Clemson Fund. An active supporter of Clemson Corps, he was one of the principal organizers and fundraising chair for the Military Heritage Plaza and Cadet Monument. President of the Class of 1950, he is co-founder of the Taylors Clemson Touring Club — the originators of orange overalls at football games.

One Clemson

“There’s never been a Duckworth who didn’t want to win,” says Edgar James “Ed” Duckworth ’61. But as competitive as he may be, Duckworth believes that it’s not winning or losing that matters in the long run, but how you play the game. And though he is a supporter of Clemson athletics, it is the philosophy of “One Clemson” that has captured his heart.

Duckworth graduated with a degree in civil engineering, then transitioned into the world of finance, where he has had a 40-year career in the securities industry as a broker, dealer and financial adviser. He is currently the senior member of an elite group of financial advisers for Morgan Stanley in Atlanta.

A member of the Clemson University Foundation Board of Directors, Duckworth is vice chair of the finance committee and a member of the Will to Lead National Campaign Committee. He was instrumental in helping the Atlanta Clemson Club fund the Clemson Tiger Paw license plate in Georgia, and continues to support IPTAY, Clemson Fund, alumni activities and the Class of 1961. He and his family recently made a major contribution to build the Duckworth Family Pavilion to support Clemson’s tennis teams.