Posts

Are Fireflies Vanishing?

Clemson team recruits citizens scientists to answer the question.

In the liturgy of a late spring night, the call and response of a tree frog chorus accompanied the fireflies’ ethereal light, as a guard let in a dozen people to the Cooper Library to launch a “flash” mob.

It was the May 31 kickoff for 2014 Clemson Firefly Count, part of a project investigating the question, “Are fireflies vanishing?”

Over the summer, firefly census takers would count lightning bugs for the fifth year in a row. New technology was being used, and the Vanishing Firefly Project team of scientists and students was keeping their fingers crossed that it would work without a hitch.

The count this year included new and improved mobile apps, software to view the count in progress and social media to get the word out. The work spanned the University, calling on talents of entomologists, environmental and computer scientists and science educators.

Computer science senior Joshua Hull hunched over his laptop, checking the computer network that collected observers’ tallies and displayed their locations. He also had upgraded one of two mobile apps people used to “phone” in their counts.

“I feel like my mother must have felt when she dropped me off at college,” Hull said. “She had prepared me the best she could, and it was time to let me go into the real world. But I’m not going to cry like she did.”

Hull paused, scanning a new screen load of data. “Unless things go bad, then I might cry.”

By the end of the evening, Hull was smiling, not crying.

Firefly project

NOSTALGIA+SCIENCE

Are fireflies disappearing? A lot of folks say so. They remember summers when children dashed and darted through the dark holding an empty jelly jar in one hand and its lid poked with nail holes in the other in pursuit of the greenish glow. Triumphant young whoops of capture and the bittersweet release “bye-bye firefly” are not heard so much today.

Joshua Hull

Joshua Hull

Nostalgia needed to be buttressed by science, and so the Clemson Vanishing Firefly Project began. It was started by a scientist who had not seen a firefly until he was an adult, and then became enchanted by the blinking little lights in the night.

“My family had not yet come from California, so I was working late,” said Alex Chow, an associate professor stationed at Clemson’s Belle W. Baruch Institute for Coastal Ecology and Forestry in Georgetown. “As I walked from my office to the dorm, I saw these lights in the woods, and I didn’t know what they were.”

Chow grew up in Hong Kong, where he never saw fireflies. During his first southern summer in 2008, Chow enjoyed the light show. The next year, he did not see as many fireflies. His curiosity was piqued.

“We had done some prescribed burning, and I wondered if it had affected the fireflies,” Chow said. A biogeochemist, Chow studies how land disturbances such as fires, flooding or timbercutting, affect soil and water chemistry. He could imagine a relationship between firefly abundance and changes in their habitat. Chow decided to do an observational study looking for the effect of human activities on firefly populations. But Chow wasn’t a firefly guy.

Alex Chow

Alex Chow

“I needed an entomologist,” he said.

Chow searched the Clemson faculty and found one in Florence, which was closer to him than Clemson. But there was a problem.

“I didn’t know anything about fireflies, but I was willing to learn,” said Juang Horng “JC” Chong, stationed at the the Pee Dee Research and Education Center. Chong specializes in controlling insects that harm ornamental plants and turfgrass. Landscape plants and grass are multimillion-dollar industries in South Carolina.

Chong reviewed firefly studies and found that nothing had been done to learn about fireflies in South Carolina since the 1960s.

With so much to do on a spare-time project, the researchers had to be committed. Are fireflies worth the work?

“Absolutely,” said Chong. “Fireflies may not be endangered, but they are an indicator of environmental conditions. Just as important, fireflies affect our feelings about the future. What kind of world are passing on to our kids? I want my children to see fireflies like I did growing up in Malaysia.”

That Chow did not see fireflies growing up and Chong did see them lights the way to understanding what fireflies can show us about the environment. In Chong’s Malaysia, the fireflies that flash synchronously in large groups in the mangroves near Kuala Selangor are an international tourist attraction. In South Carolina, fireflies in the Congaree National Park swamp glow en masse, too.

Water or moist areas is one key to a robust firefly population. Another is tall grasses, bushes and trees. But perhaps the most important element is darkness.

Chow’s Hong Kong is a nightmare for fireflies. The bright white lights of a big city make it virtually impossible for one firefly to see another’s flashes. And the glow is not simply an ornamental taillight, but the medium by which the fireflies communicate about safety, food and sex. Light pollution prevents the signals from being seen.

Add the concrete and asphalt landscape of urban living and the malls and lawns of the suburbs, and it’s not hard to believe firefly numbers are declining.

But are they really vanishing, or is it just that many of us now live in places where fireflies do not flourish?

A CRACKERJACK TEAM

Chow and Chong needed help counting fireflies. They didn’t have the time or resources to sample beyond Georgetown, so the scientists turned to the public, launching a citizen-science project. The researchers also needed to enlist experts who could help them. Chow sent emails and made phone calls and began to assemble a crackerjack team.

David White was the first onboard, coordinating the computer work. Director of environmental informatics for Clemson’s Cyberinstiute for Technology and Information, White developed the firefly webpages and mapping programs.

In 2009, the tallies were recorded on paper, and researchers would enter the data online. Then White installed a Web page form in 2010 that observers could use directly via computer. Chow, Chong and White knew what was needed to make the process easier.

There had to be an app for that.

So Chow made calls.

“I was at a conference three years ago in Raleigh when my cellphone rang — it was Dr. Chow,” said Roy Pargas. “He introduced himself and said he was involved in counting fireflies.”

Firefly Project viewPargas is an associate professor in human-centered computing. He teaches courses in mobile app design and development — Apple IOS in the fall and Android in the spring. Students have to put theory to use.

“Students can work alone or in groups, but theyall have to do projects that produce a benefit — help students learn, help faculty teach, help Clemson in some way,” said Pargas. “Dr. Chow’s project was a good fit. I mentioned it to my Apple class.”

A student volunteered immediately. Doug Edmonson developed the iPhone app, continuing to work with the firefly project until he graduated. Josh Hull took over from Edmonson, seeing the app through its latest version in the Apple online store. New for 2014 was an Android app done by Greg Edison (“my dad is Tom but no relation to the inventor”). Edison installed a nifty feature, a light meter that lets the user measure the level of ambient light, which may correlate to the number of fireflies seen.

BRIDGING THE GAP

While it would be years before there would enough observation data to determine the fate of fireflies, Chow and Chong were seeing something notable, and they sought to publish their findings.

“We wanted to write up what we were learning about citizen-participation science research,” said Chow. “But we were out of our depth — I do soil, JC does insects. We needed somebody in education.”

Chow again asked around, and Joe Culin, an associate dean and entomologist in the College of Agriculture, Forestry and Life Sciences, suggested a collaborator.

“I knew right away I wanted to work with them,” said Michelle Cook, associate professor of education. “Fireflies offer a way to help people learn about who scientists are and how they work.”

Cook’s specialty is science education, a hot topic in the national conversation about what students need to know in order to succeed. Science depends on creativity and figuring things out. Cook advocates adding more inquiry activities that teach and encourage students to work out experiments, using the scientific method, which relies on accurate and repeatable data.

Cook and doctoral student Renee Lyons analyze survey results from firefly counters who volunteer to answer online questions. A number of firefly counters see their efforts as helping scientists. Some believe that the count can have an impact on environmental concern, but other are unconvinced that there is a link between human activities and environmental problems. Overwhelmingly, people surveyed enjoyed participating.

“It helps build a bridge between scientists and the public,” said Cook. “People get to know and talk with scientists, connecting to their work.” The bridge helps people not only develop a positive attitude about science but also helps encourage kids to try science.

MISSION CONTROL

This year, Lori Tanner joined the project as well. Tanner is part of the Clemson IT ivision and runs the Digital Learning Resource center, where firefly mission control set up in the library. The center looked like a high-tech movie set with projections of stunningly sharp digital images, maps and displays of Internet chatter about the firefly project.

Tanner is a specialist in social media — the buzz of the digital communities populating the Internet. Weeks ahead of time, Tanner and recent biosystems engineering graduate Devin Schultze kept the web-based world informed about preparations for the count and how to participate. Well more than 40,000 people were reached digitally.

Firefly Project TweetIn previous years, older people were the largest group of firefly counters. The 2014 counters in their late 20s to mid 30s comprised the larger group, a shift Lyons attributes to an increased use of social media.

By the end of the May kickoff night, nearly 500 people had reported firefly counts. Two months later, it had risen to more than 3,095 — one from Italy. They had reported seeing more than 62,400 fireflies.

Firefly APPThe Vanishing Firefly Project is on the glow.

Additional resources:
The New York Times article about the Vanishing Firefly Project.

CBS Sunday Morning recently produced a story about synchronous fireflies in Tennessee.

Why does the terrapin cross the runway?

 

Laura Francoeur and her team balance wildlife protection and air safety.

To rescue a turtle on a roadway is one thing.
To rescue a turtle on a runway is quite another.
Look left. Look right. Look UP.

This is the mission on a New York afternoon, as the Diamondback terrapins poke their heads from their telltale geometrically patterned shells, plodding to cross the JFK International Airport runway jutting into Jamaica Bay.

The wildlife patrol team plucks them from danger and tucks hatchlings into a see-through plastic bag while adults go into the back of patrol pickups, the first step in relocating them to safety.

The loudspeaker atop a yellow-striped, white patrol SUV babbles airport tower chatter until, clear as a bell, comes “Four Left” — the two words you were warned about.

“Go, now,” commands Laura Francoeur. “Off the runway.”

We hightail it to the safety of the crew-cut coarse grass apron. The twin turbine engines roar as the jetliner whooshes by no more than 10 yards away, leaving you feeling out of scale on this landscape, oddly like some small animal beside a highway.

Awed by the din, I look at Francoeur, who smiles, then quips, “It’s just another day at work.”

Managing wildlife and protecting the public

Clemson alumna Laura Francoeur is chief wildlife biologist for New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport, “Gateway to the World.”

But today, the world will have to wait, while Francoeur picks up Diamondback terrapins following their instincts.

In 2012 more than 1,300 terrapins were picked up by runway patrols during summer nesting season. The critters became media darlings, even getting their own Twitter handle #JFKturtles. “I did a Google search once for JFK and turtles and there were more than 900,000 hits,” Francoeur says.

To the public and media, Francoeur and wildlife patrol staffers are saving turtles. Actually they are protecting the airport by managing a wildlife problem. While the terrapins pose little hazard to the planes, they do cause a big headache for airport operations.

“Pilots on the taxiways will see a terrapin or a bunch of them, and will hold their positions and radio the tower to have someone from operations come out to pick them up,” Francoeur says. “During nesting season in the early summer, sometimes there are dozens of terrapins in the way. Delays are usually no more than 10 minutes, but they have gone on for nearly an hour.”

Why does the terrapin cross the runway? To get to the other side.

Terrapin crossing the runway.

Terrapin crossing the runway.

Runway 4L juts 400 feet into Jamaica Bay. On one side the terrapins live their lives and mate. On the other, females dig nests to lay their eggs. The biologists have had to figure ways to block the terrapins. Existing fences did not stop the turtles, which would look for gaps to slip under or trudge to the end and go around. The best solution so far is corrugated plastic pipe laid on the ground. The airport has installed more than 4,000 feet of it. “They can’t get a grip and slide back, and the pipe is staying on the ground,” Francoeur says. “The terrapins finally give up and lay their eggs outside the fence.”

Francoeur presented the JFK terrapin work during the 15th Wildlife Damage Management Conference held at Clemson last March. She had time to catch up with friends and colleagues, including her graduate program adviser, wildlife professor Greg Yarrow.

Wildlife-damage management, regardless of the problem species, has four basic components, according to Yarrow, now a division chair in the School of Agricultural, Forest and Environmental Sciences. It’s problem-solving that follows a process: You define the problem by identifying and assessing the damage. Next, study the behavior and ecology of the problem species. Then choose and apply controls, and finally evaluate the results.
Yarrow remembers Francoeur, who graduated in 1995 with a master’s in wildlife biology, and her thesis about deer damage to soybean fields.

Nicknamed “Spike” for her short-cropped gel-spiked blond hair, Francoeur was one of “the graduate students we had then who went all out all the time,” Yarrow says. “They were a group of great graduate students that put Clemson wildlife biology on the map.”

“Wildlife management was the right fit for me,” Francoeur says.

Arbitrating the conflicts of nature and development

Wildlife and airplanes have needed managing since the beginning of flight. Orville Wright wrote in his diary about a 1910 run-in with birds. In 2012, approximately 10,900 wildlife strikes to U.S. civilian aircraft were reported. Since 1988, more than 250 people have died because of wildlife strikes worldwide, according to the U.S. Bird Strike Committee. Damage to nonmilitary U.S. aircraft from wildlife strikes costs about $700 million a year.

A day with Francoeur and a colleague, wildlife biologist Jeff Kolodzinski, offers a glimpse of JFK from the outside in. The terminals, ticketing counters, TSA checkpoints, quick-bite joints, concourses and baggage carousels are out of sight, but not out of mind. “Our job is safety, looking for and controlling wildlife hazards,” said Francoeur.

It’s a deceptively simple statement, as complicated to achieve as is running an airport as big as a New York City borough. About 15 miles from downtown Manhattan, JFK borders the borough of Queens, Nassau County and Long Island.

In statistical description alone, JFK is a mind-boggling place, a city within a city. Some 49 million passengers buckle up for more than 400,000 takeoffs and landings a year on four runways linked by 25 miles of taxiways. Sited on 5,000 acres, the airport core is the 880-acre Central Terminal Area encompassing six airline terminals along with parking lots, hangars, administrative buildings and cargo facilities connected by 30 miles of road. More than 35,000 people work there. JFK’s economic impact in the region exceeds $30 billion a year.

It is a microcosm of the world coping with economic and environmental factors, where nature runs into increasing conflicts with its human neighbors.

Francoeur began her career in Newport News, Va., where she conducted wildlife-hazard assessments for airports and landfills for USDA Wildlife Services. Since 1999, she has been part of the wildlife management team dealing with animals that live or pass through the airports operated by Port Authority of New York and New Jersey — JFK, LaGuardia, Newark Liberty International, Teterboro and Stewart International outside of Newburgh, N.Y.

The work is challenging, even daunting. Animals don’t follow regulations and sometimes neither do people. The job requires a multi-tasker — part biologist, bureaucrat, trainer, forensic investigator and enforcer.

On any given day, Francoeur may work on how to discourage hawks from using airports as hunting grounds or preventing deer from dashing across runways. There are meetings with Federal Aviation Agency officials who regulate airports, USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service professionals, as well as state and local leaders. Topics can involve everything from designing new parks (tree selection can affect bird roosting) to supervising taxicab sanitation (some cabbies were tossing their edible trash where animals could eat it).

JFK also has a unique stakeholder — the U.S. Park Service. The airport and the Gateway National Recreation Area Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge interlace in the marshes and upland scrublands that harbor more than 325 bird species.

A CSI for bird collisions

Birds, especially bigger ones like gulls, geese and brants, are an obsession.

“We were mostly in the background until 1549,” said Francoeur. On January 15, 2009, US Airways Flight 1549 taking off from LaGuardia Airport collided with Canada geese, forcing Capt. Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger to land the plane in the Hudson River, saving all 155 passengers and crew.

“Collecting information on bird strikes — reporting them, when and where it happened, the species involved, the extent of damage and how long the plane was out of operation — helps us know how to prepare and respond,” Francoeur says. “We do a lot of training to help airport personnel to know what to do and who to call.”

Being a CSI for bird collisions is also a big part of the job. When a bird collision occurs or a bird carcass is found around the runways, the wildlife management team dons latex gloves and breaks out the evidence collection kits. Often the remains of a smashed bird or one sucked through a jet engine are not readily identifiable.

“It’s called ‘snarge,’” says Francoeur. Scientists at the Smithsonian Institution Feather Identification Lab made up the term for the mess of bird tissue, blood and feathers biologists bag and tag for identification. Tools ranging from DNA to microscopic feather analyses help researchers look for clues and narrow the search. The lab processes about 3,000 cases a year, adding to the FAA Wildlife Strike Database.

Set up in 1990, the database contains more than 133,000 reports. The actual number of strikes is far greater. Officials estimate that only 20 percent — one in five — wildlife strikes are reported.

Experts say hazards from wildlife conflicts are rising, as animal populations increase and adapt to living closer to humans. The number of Canada geese — the species that caused Flight 1549 to ditch in the Hudson River — has risen from 1 million birds in 1990 to more than 3.5 million in 2012, according to U.S. Bird Strike Committee data.

Meanwhile, the number of passengers getting on planes nationwide has soared from 310 million in 1980 to 715 million in 2011 on 25 million flights — a number expected to climb to 37 million by 2030.

The friendly skies have gotten a lot more crowded. It’s a serious concern, but for Francoeur and her colleagues it’s a manageable one for now.

More stories about wildlife management at JFK can be found at:
http://usfwsnortheast.wordpress.com/2013/08/30/why-does-the-terrapin-cross-the-runway/
http://www.nytimes.com/2010/01/03/nyregion/03birds.html?_r=0

In These Hills

FIVE FACULTY AWARDED NSF EARLY CAREER GRANTS

Fadi Abu-Farha

Fadi Abu-Farha

It’s the most sought-after recognition an emerging science, engineering or mathematics faculty member can receive: a National Science Foundation Faculty Early Career Development (CAREER) grant. And this year, Clemson faculty claimed five.

A CAREER grant is the NSF’s most prestigious award in support of early career development activities, providing a financial stipend to support research activity for five years. The NSF, an independent federal agency, supports fundamental research and education across all fields of science and engineering.

As any professor who has applied for a CAREER grant can attest, a submission for this award is much more than a research proposal: It’s a career development plan. The goal is to fund faculty members early in their careers to promote their development into teacher-scholars. The scientists and researchers who receive the awards are widely considered the most likely to become the academic leaders of the 21st century.

Each year, NSF receives about 50,000 competitive requests for funding and makes about 11,500 new funding awards. Since 2005, Clemson has been home to more than 30 CAREER grant recipients.

The CAREER grants awarded at Clemson this spring represent a broad spectrum of interests and applications — from harnessing the power of giant computer systems to innovative medical advances to developing lighter-weight materials for modern
car construction.

Fadi Abu-Farha (pictured)
Associate Professor of Automotive Engineering
Amount: $400,000
Low-cost manufacturing of lightweight sheet components for the automotive sector

Jeffrey N. Anker
Assistant Professor of Analytical Chemistry
Amount: $526,000
High-resolution spectrochemical imaging through tissue
Delphine Dean
Associate Professor of Bioengineering
Amount: $400,000
Hierarchical mechanical models of cell constructs

Haiying (Helen) Shen
Associate Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering
Amount: $400,000
Large-scale distributed data-sharing system

Melissa Smith
Associate Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering
Amount: $450,000
Harnessing hybrid computing resources in PetaScale computing and beyond

LIBRARY DIGITIZES TAPS

TAPS yearbook cover 1943.

TAPS yearbook cover 1943.

Whether you’re digging for family history or just browsing for fun, thumbing through decades-old Clemson yearbooks is an intriguing experience. And now that experience is accessible to anyone with a computer and an Internet connection.

Clemson’s Special Collections Library has digitized the complete run, from the first volume (Clemson College Chronicle) in 1899 through 2012. The yearbook had several names before finally becoming Taps in 1908.

Clemson's Special Collections Library has digitized TAPS.

Clemson’s Special Collections Library has digitized TAPS.

Through a partnership with the Internet Archive, the yearbooks were scanned cover-to-cover in full color. Online visitors can page through a volume, download a PDF, view it on a Kindle or search the full text.

This project was made possible through the LYRASIS Digitization Collaborative — a Sloan Foundation grant-subsidized program that has made digitization easy and affordable for libraries and cultural institutions across the country.

Also available digitally are the Clemson Catalog (undergraduate announcements) and the Clemson Chronicle (the student literary/arts/photography journal). In the coming months additional publications will be made available: Clemson College Newsletter (faculty/staff), The Agrarian (School of Agriculture student publication), and Bobbin & Beaker (official journal of the Textile School).

When all these publications have been digitized, more than 100,000 pages of full-color, text-searchable Clemson-related materials will be available for researchers worldwide.

To view the yearbooks, visit http://library.clemson.edu/depts/specialcollections/clemson-yearbooks/.

RICHARDSON NAMED TO CLEMSON BOARD

Mark Richardson

Mark Richardson

Charlotte business leader Mark Richardson ’83 is the newest member of the University’s board of trustees. Manager and owner of MAR Real Estate LLC, a commercial real estate company, Richardson is co-owner of the Carolina Panthers, Charlotte Thunder Road Marathon and more than 50 Bojangles’ restaurants in North Carolina and Virginia. He played on Clemson’s 1981 national championship football team.

“Mark brings to the board keen business and marketing insights, a commitment to excellence and a passion for Clemson University,” said Board Chair David Wilkins.

Richardson succeeds the late Bill L. Amick of Batesburg, who retired after serving for 30 years. Amick, a 1966 Clemson graduate, was chief executive officer of the Amick Company and a real estate developer. He served as chair of Clemson’s board from 1991 to 1995 and was awarded Clemson’s Distinguished Service Award.

EXPLORING THE BIODIVERSITY OF THE ROAN HIGHLANDS

Big Yellow Mountain in the Roan Highlands.

Big Yellow Mountain in the Roan Highlands.

Students from Patrick McMillan’s plant taxonomy class explored some of the most ecologically diverse areas in the Southern Appalachian Mountains, thanks to alumnus Witt Langstaff. Langstaff has property on Big Yellow Mountain, located in the Roan Highlands along the North Carolina/Tennessee state line, and hosts McMillan’s class each fall. One of the highest elevation areas in the Eastern U.S., the Roan Highlands has plant communities and climate typical of New England and Canada and is the location of one of the most picturesque and unique natural communities, the grassy bald.

CLEMSON OPENS DOORS IN VILLAGE OF WEST GREENVILLE

Clemson's Center for Visual Arts opens at West Greenville

Clemson’s Center for Visual Arts opens at West Greenville

Clemson’s Center for Visual Arts opens at West Greenville [/caption]Once the heart of the local textile industry, West Greenville has reinvented itself as an art destination. The Village of West Greenville is home to more than 30 artisans — including potters, sculptors, photographers and painters — as well as local businesses and restaurants. And now Clemson’s Center for Visual Arts has opened its doors there as well.

The Center for Visual Arts serves as the umbrella for all visual art activities at the University. The location on Pendleton Street will allow for undergraduate and graduate students, faculty and alumni to have hands-on experiences in developing, curating, installing and exhibiting art. The center will engage local, regional, national and international artists and will give Upstate residents an opportunity to both see and “do” art.

Greg Shelnutt, chair of the art department, sees the center as a mutually beneficial partnership for Clemson and Greenville. “This is a chance to become a part of the fabric of the community. Artists want to give back; we want to share what we do. Artists want to expand upon the cultural heritage of a community, using art to tell the stories of life in that community,” he says. “We get so much out of our interaction with the public, and this will give our students a chance to jumpstart their art careers.”

STUDENTS UNVEIL COMPLETED DEEP ORANGE 3 VEHICLE

Deep Orange 3 Vehicle

Deep Orange 3 Vehicle

Students in Clemson’s graduate automotive engineering program displayed a new concept vehicle at the 2013 L.A. Auto Show in November. Deep Orange 3 features a unique hybrid powertrain that automatically chooses front-, rear- or all-wheel drive; a load-bearing structure based on innovative sheet-folding technology patented by Industrial Origami; and groundbreaking 3+3 seating configuration in sports-car architecture.

Clemson’s graduate automotive engineering students are required to create and manufacture a new vehicle prototype. The vehicle’s concept and design are developed in partnership with students from the transportation design department at the Arts Center College of Design (Calif.) focusing holistically on the vehicle and the end-user. Each year, a prototype vehicle is developed with a new market focus and technical objectives, providing students an opportunity to work directly with automotive industry partners to innovate and develop ideas.

STUDENT RESEARCH TAKES AIM AT CONCUSSIONS

Assistant professor of bioengineering David Kwartowitz works with a student Creative Inquiry team conducting research to prevent sports concussions.

Assistant professor of bioengineering David Kwartowitz works with a student Creative Inquiry team conducting research to prevent sports concussions.

Hardly a week goes by without a news story about the effects of concussions on athletes from pee-wee to professional. And Clemson researchers and students are tackling the issue.

An undergraduate Creative Inquiry student research team, working with bioengineering professors David Kwartowitz, John DesJardins and Delphine Dean, has designed a dummy equipped with brain sensors that provide concussion data. The students built a track system to strike the head of the dummy with numerous objects, including weights, footballs, baseballs and helmets. Using this system, the researchers can manipulate the impact of these objects and the sensors provide instant concussion results.

“We control impact and collect concussion data while the dummy is donning an NCAA-approved football or baseball helmet,” says Kwartowitz.

And in that process, students are trying to find solutions. “We’ve begun a competition for the students to design their own padding inside the shell of a football helmet to avoid probable concussions at high impact,” Kwartowitz says. “Ultimately, the data collected will offer insight as how to better protect an athlete from concussion.”

While the project is educational for the Creative Inquiry student team, it’s designed to be educational for elementary, middle and high school students as well on the severity of concussions and the benefits of wearing protective equipment. The dummy simulator eventually will be displayed in Greenville at the Roper Mountain Science Center’s newly renovated health research facility, where 120,000 students visit annually.

SELF FAMILY FOUNDATION CREATES ENDOWED CHAIR IN GENETICS

One of South Carolina’s longest established private foundations has underscored its commitment to medical science by funding an endowed chair in genetics research at the Clemson University Center for Human Genetics. The Self Family Endowed Chair in Human Genetics will advance the development of novel therapeutics treating genetic disorders at the cell level. The $4 million chair is jointly funded by the Self Family Foundation and the state of South Carolina.

The researcher, to be selected, will be a leading geneticist who will work toward treatment, and preventive, diagnostic and curative tools with life-changing and economic potential.

The endowed chair will allow Clemson to build on the Greenwood Genetic Center’s potential for seamless technology transfer through opportunities for industry partners to locate in the adjoining Greenwood Research Park to support local business and economies.

According to Frank Wideman, president of the Self Family Foundation, the foundation made this commitment to honor the late Jim Self who understood early on the enormous potential of research to treat and cure genetic disorders. It was his vision to transform Greenwood from a traditional textile town to a modern center for the life sciences. Self was a longtime chair of the Self Family Foundation, a life trustee of the University and a founding investor in the Greenwood Genetic Center.

Clemson wildlife biology students made a strong showing at the 2013 Wildlife Society Annual Conference in Milwaukee, including first place in the student research in progress poster category and second place for the best doctoral research poster presentation. Senior wildlife and fisheries biology major Jenna Kohles won first prize in flora photography for this photograph of a sourwood leaf floating on a pond in her hometown of Cary, N.C.

Clemson wildlife biology students made a strong showing at the 2013 Wildlife Society Annual Conference in Milwaukee, including first place in the student research in progress poster category and second place for the best doctoral research poster presentation. Senior wildlife and fisheries biology major Jenna Kohles won first prize in flora photography for this photograph of a sourwood leaf floating on a pond in her hometown of Cary, N.C.

SERIES BRINGS SCHOLARS TO CAMPUS ON FOOTBALL WEEKENDS

Georgia Tech professor Nihad Farooq (left) and Clemson professor Kimberly Manganelli confer before the final Road Scholar Series lecture.

Georgia Tech professor Nihad Farooq (left) and Clemson professor Kimberly Manganelli confer before the final Road Scholar Series lecture.

Georgia Tech professor Nihad Farooq (left) and Clemson professor Kimberly Manganelli confer before the final Road Scholar Series lecture.[/caption]The fifth and final Clemson Humanities Road Scholar Series lecture, “Slavery and Social Networks in the New World,” took place Friday, November 15, in connection with the Georgia Tech vs. Clemson football game the night before. The series paired the Tigers’ associate professor of English Kimberly Manganelli (above, right) with Yellow Jackets’ assistant professor of American studies Nihad M. Farooq in a lively discussion of slavery and race.

Jonathan Beecher Field, associate professor of English at Clemson, organized the series which brought humanities professors from visiting football opponents to Clemson throughout the fall to present their current research, each followed by a response from a Clemson professor. Faculty from the University of Georgia, Wake Forest University, Boston College, Florida State University and Georgia Tech accepted Clemson’s invitation to visit and engage with Clemson faculty and students.

“We want to find a way to engage with our athletic rivals academically,” said Field, “and we want to show people what’s important to us at Clemson. This series offers us a way to bring some of the energy surrounding athletics to the academic side of campus and raise the profile of the humanities at Clemson.”

The series received support from across campus, including the Humanities Advancement Board, the Pearce Center for Professional Communication, the Department of Athletics, the College of Architecture, Arts and Humanities, the Class of ’56 Academic Success Center, the Office of the President and the Office of the Dean of Undergraduate Studies.

In her lecture, Farooq explored how contemporary communication networks might provide ways to re-think the diffuse global networks of slaves in the New World archipelago. She compared slave networks of earlier periods to virtual networks of today, calling them “traceable only through the flow of information.”

In her response, Manganelli explored the networks of slavery, both global and local, and together the scholars engaged their audience in a brief Q&A period.

CLEMSON OPENS ENERGY SYSTEMS TESTING AND RESEARCH CENTER

SCE&G Energy Innovation Center at CURI.

SCE&G Energy Innovation Center at CURI.

U.S. Deputy Secretary of Energy Daniel Poneman spoke at the November dedication of the world’s most advanced energy systems testing and research center, located at the old Charleston Naval Base. “Developing America’s vast renewable energy resources is an important part of the Energy Department’s ‘all-of-the-above’ strategy to pave the way to a cleaner, more sustainable energy future,” he said.

“The Clemson testing facility represents a critical investment to ensure America leads in this fast-growing global industry — helping to make sure the best, most efficient wind energy technologies are developed and manufactured in the United States.”

The SCE&G Energy Innovation Center, which is part of Clemson’s Restoration Institute, houses a four-story, 400-ton unit capable of testing drivetrains for wind turbines that can produce up to 15 megawatts, which is enough energy to power 6,000 homes. There are only two other such facilities in the world, but neither has this large of a capability.

In addition to drivetrain testing, the facility also includes the Duke Energy eGRID, which can simulate the electrical grid of any country in the world, allowing companies to see how solar, wind and storage devices might interact with the grid.

STUDENT-RUN LITERARY FESTIVAL TO FEATURE U.S. POET LAUREATE

U.S. Poet Laureate Natasha Trethewey.

U.S. Poet Laureate Natasha Trethewey.

Pulitzer Prize-winner and U.S. Poet Laureate Natasha Trethewey, along with a dozen other authors from around the country, will be on campus this spring for the seventh annual Literary Festival.

The festival, one of the few in the country planned and run by students, will include a Young Writer’s Workshop on Friday and Family Day on Saturday. The Young Writers Workshop is a half-day event for area high school creative writers. Upstate teachers bring selected students to campus for a day of readings and workshops with authors including Kelly Link (Pretty Monsters), Benjamin Percy (Red Moon) and poet Mathias Svalina. The Humanities Advancement Board is funding an expansion of the workshop this year, and the organizers are expecting approximately 70 students to attend.

At the heart of this event is a Creative Inquiry class, taught this year by professor Keith Morris. His class of 11 undergraduates and one graduate student are divided into four groups that handle communications, design, planning and organization. Each student serves as a liaison for one of the authors, handling correspondence, introducing the author at the festival and then writing a critical essay on the author’s work.

Many of the students, according to Morris, have used their experience on the festival as a way to secure jobs and internships. For a schedule and more information about this year’s festival, go to clemson.edu/litfest.

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)