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Magic Comes to Men of Color

Magic Johnson comes to Men of ColorFOR FOUR YEARS, Clemson’s Men of Color National Summit has featured an impressive lineup of speakers. Leaders from business, government, athletics and academics have spoken to students about their potential and pathways to success. This year, NBA legend Earvin “Magic” Johnson joined the all-star lineup of speakers March 3-4 in Greenville.

Johnson brought his inspiring story of athletic and entrepreneurial success to the high school students in attendance, including members of Clemson’s college readiness program, the Tiger Alliance. He joined keynote speakers and entertainment, including Alberto Gonzales, 82nd U.S. attorney general; Jim Murren, chair and CEO of MGM Resorts International; Akbar Gbaja-Biamila, host of American Ninja Warrior and former NFL player; Robert E. Johnson, chancellor of the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth; Johnathan Holifield, executive director of the White House Initiative on Historically Black Colleges and Universities’ Domestic Policy Council; Peter Villegas, vice president and head of Coca-Cola’s Office of Latin Affairs; and Victor Robertson of Three Mo’ Tenors.

Lee Gill, chief inclusion officer and special assistant to the president for inclusion and equity at Clemson, sees the lineup of speakers as the embodiment of the summit’s goal: “Our keynote and breakout speakers are testaments of what happens when the opportunity gap is overcome and organizations commit themselves to diversity and inclusion.”

Tiger Alliance students are part of a college readiness experience that includes relationships with mentors, college visits, college-prep workshops and attendance at the Men of Color Summit. The Tiger Alliance program kicked off at the summit in 2017 and has already shown what is possible when African American and Latino students are empowered and engaged in their education; seniors from the 2019 Tiger Alliance cohort had a 98 percent graduation rate.

The Resilient Clemson Family

AS I WRITE THIS, OUR CAMPUSES ARE QUIET, as they have been since late March when all classes first moved online as result of the coronavirus pandemic. Summer classes remain online, and events have been canceled as we continue to deal with the broad and deep impact of this crisis.

But don’t mistake the quiet for a lack of energy and activity on the part of the University. In fact, never in my 31 years in higher education have I been part of a more dedicated or focused effort to deliver on our commitment to provide a world-class education and to be of service to our state and the nation.

Across the University, our faculty and staff have been tireless in their work to return to on-campus instruction in the fall. Not only are we focused on returning to the type of residential college experience that sets Clemson apart but also on doing it in a way that provides the safest environment possible for our students, employees and communities.

The University, and the Clemson Family, are a resilient bunch, and that resiliency was instrumental in getting us through the spring semester. I am confident that we can — and will — continue to make the adjustments necessary so that Clemson emerges from the pandemic strong and ready to tackle the future.

This issue of Clemson World provides a few examples of the very best aspects of the Clemson spirit at work during these unprecedented times.

There’s the inspiring message from May 2020 graduate Thomas Marshall III to his classmates; a story on the innovation of engineering faculty member Fadi Abdeljawad, who turned a kitchen wall into a giant whiteboard as an online teaching tool; and stories about Clemson alumni stepping up to help others in this time of great need.

As members of the Clemson Family, you know that there really is something special in these hills. Part of it is an undefinable but very real sense of belonging to something larger than any one of us.

A large part of it, I am convinced, rests in the shared core values that we try to live every day: honesty, integrity and respect. They’re not just words at Clemson, as our continued response to the coronavirus pandemic has proven time and again in recent months.

Thanks to each of you for helping keep Clemson strong. I can’t wait until the time comes when we can all be together again.

James P. Clements
President, Clemson University