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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.

Southern Roots + Global Reach


Clemson Architecture Center Genoa

Clemson Architecture Center Charleston

Clemson Architecture Center Barcelona

In 1913, the world was rushing toward its first Great War. But it was also a time of exploding creativity. The Woolworth Building in Manhattan, one of our earliest skyscrapers, had opened in April. The Armory Show had rocked the art world when it opened in New York in February, changing forever how we view art. A scientist named Albert Einstein was hot on the trail of his General Theory of Relativity that would explain how space and matter affect each other to create the universe in which we live.

And in the deep South, a forward leaning land-grant college called Clemson would realize that young architects trained in design and the building arts would soon be in great demand to imagine and design the spaces in which we would live, learn, play and work.

Almost a hundred years later, in the spring of 2010, Clemson historian Jerry Reel tapped the College of Architecture, Arts and Humanities on its proverbial shoulder and pointed out that the year 2013 would mark the centennial of architecture education at Clemson University. A celebration and a commemoration seemed in order, he suggested.

The college agreed with enthusiasm, but in retrospect, not a soul who was listening to Professor Reel speak that day could have imagined the wild ride of research, discovery, writing and making that would unfold during the next three years. Students, faculty, alumni, emeriti and staff of Clemson’s School of Architecture and the larger University joined together on a voyage of discovery that will culminate this fall with a retrospective display in the Lee Gallery and a reimagined “Beaux Arts Ball” — millennial style.

Looking forward by looking back

Planning for the centennial celebration began by looking backward, to the program’s earliest beginnings, to that tipping point when Clemson Agricultural College recognized the need for architecture education that was separate and distinct from its engineering program.

As the centennial committee delved into the history of architecture education at Clemson, they sifted through some 700 student projects that have been kept in storage. Records, documents, photographs and film footage were scoured. Alumni and emeriti were queried. An impressive collection of source material was soon at hand. Within a matter of months, however, the growing and collaborative group of scholars, students, librarians, artists and writers would realize they were even more interested in looking forward — ahead to the coming century. They wanted to learn how the decisions and achievements of the school’s first 100 years might give form and meaning to its next. They wanted to draw lines between the careers of alumni to the broader scope of the profession and to world events. They were looking for connections and scanning their horizons.


Lecturer and shop manager David Pastre stands in the Charleston center with the interactive display for children that will be unveiled statewide this fall. Commissioned by the S.C. chapter of the AIA, the display was designed and fabricated by students and faculty in Clemson, Charleston and Genoa.

Bending space and time

Peter Laurence, assistant professor and director of the graduate program in architecture, writes, “Since its first year of instruction in 1913, architectural education at Clemson has been mindful of its geographies — its connections and relationships to both the state of South Carolina and to the wider world.”

No kidding. The School of Architecture has grown from its humble beginnings in Riggs Hall to become an interconnected Fluid Campus, with centers in Genoa, Italy; Barcelona, Spain; and Charleston, S.C. The centers are joined at their cores by student travel and residency, by professorships-in-residence, and by digital and distance learning techniques — working together as one campus across great distances by bending space and time in ways that would have made Albert Einstein proud.

Just this year, for example, a studio project that began in Clemson soon moved to Genoa for further research and development, then on to Charleston for fabrication and fine tuning, and finally back to Clemson this fall for completion. That project, an interactive exhibit for children based on the Reggio Emilia Approach to education, will roll out in cities across South Carolina this fall. Watch for it.

Marking times

Throughout the year, the centennial has been observed with lectures, symposia, design projects, essays and celebrations. And others joined in as well. In August the South Atlantic Region of the American Institute of Architects held its fourth annual Architecture for Health conference at Clemson on the topic “Local Roots and Global Reach,” in keeping with the centennial theme. A reception and alumni gathering helped celebrate the 45th anniversary of the Architecture + Health program at Clemson.

Also worth noting, the year 2013 marked the 40th anniversary of the Clemson Architecture Center in Genoa, the 25th anniversary of the Clemson Architecture Center in Charleston, the 45th anniversary of Clemson’s Graduate Program in Architecture + Health, and the 13th anniversary of the Clemson Architecture Center in Barcelona — all observed during Clemson Architecture’s centennial year. The celebration, begun in those cities last spring, is gathering steam as it heads into Clemson this fall.


Extending roots and reach

The timeline created as part of this celebration makes clear that the trajectory begun in 1913 will not level out as the School of Architecture begins its second century. Simply scanning the range and scope of alumni accomplishments illustrates an influence in both the design of buildings and the building of communities.

In an article in The Chronicle of Higher Education, Clemson President James Barker ’70 said, “If architects want to be influential, we need to get out of our ateliers and connect with the curriculum, engage the culture and serve our larger communities.”

This year’s annual meeting of the American Institute of Architects made it clear that the graduates of Clemson’s architecture program have taken that challenge to heart. Clemson alumni captured three of the institute’s national awards — the Twenty-five Year Award, the Honor Award for Architecture and the Young Architects Award. And Harvey Gantt ’65 captured the Whitney M. Young Jr. Award for social activism and responsibility.

Join the celebration!

On September 30, the exhibition “Southern Roots + Global Reach: 100 Years of Clemson Architecture” opens in the Lee Gallery. Explore the people, themes and stories of the past century.
On October 18, the symposium “The Architecture of Regionalism in the Age of Globalization” features a keynote lecture by Alexander Tzonis and Liane Lefaivre, Ph.D., and a panel presentation including Frank Harmon, FAIA, and Marlon Blackwell, FAIA.
On October 18, get your Beaux Arts on with “Upcycle!” This formal reception and dance will be held in the Wedge in Lee III, the new addition to Lee Hall, designed by Thomas Phifer ’75, M ’77.

Celebration School of Architecture

 

The Oak Tree of Clemson

If you were chatting with Jerry Reel before a meeting, it wouldn’t be unusual for him to lean over, his eyes sparkling, and share some odd bit of knowledge with you such as, “Did you know that today is St. Columba’s Day? He’s the patron saint of bookbinders and poets.” He’s a veritable font of information about any number of things, about which he can usually spin a yarn that will captivate you, amuse you and educate you along the way. And when it comes to the history of Clemson University, he can claim the title as resident expert. In 2003, the University recognized that and named him University Historian. In that role, he has written two volumes of history about the institution, the latest of which was published this spring. 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.

It’s not often that we designate a living person as a landmark or legend. But Jerry Reel just begs to be both. Sometimes referred to as the “Oak Tree of Clemson,” Reel joined the faculty in 1963 while he was still finishing up his Ph.D. in history at Emory University. He was the second professor named an Alumni Master Teacher, and in addition to being a faculty member, served as dean of undergraduate studies and senior vice provost. He directed four inaugurations as well as the Clemson Centennial, witnessing five decades of traditions and transitions. And in 2000, Clemson named him an honorary alumnus.

A native of New Orleans (of which he is justifiably proud), Reel is married to Edmee M ’82, who he will tell you that he met for the first time when she was two years old, running through the backyard, “naked as a jaybird.” The two of them have raised three children (all Clemson alums) and have advised and encouraged 50 years worth of Clemson students.