Chapman Scholars honored

May 7, 2015 - Chapman Leadership Scholars graduation reception in Sirrine Hall.

May 7, 2015 – Chapman Leadership Scholars graduation reception in Sirrine Hall.

“If you believe in the future, you’ve got to invest in something that builds the future. And there’s nothing I know that’s any better than our young people.” Those were Tom Chapman’s words at a reception for the young people who have benefited from his investment.

While others were preparing for Commencement, the Class of 2015 Thomas F. Chapman Leadership Scholars gathered for a reception honoring them and recognizing Chapman’s generosity. Established in 2009, the Thomas F. Chapman Leadership Scholars Program identifies freshmen in the College of Business and Behavioral Science who show leadership potential, and it nurtures those qualities throughout their Clemson career.

The program is based, in part, on a leadership theme developed by former Equifax CEO and board chair Thomas F. Chapman ’65 that uses the analogy of The Wizard of Oz characters — the scarecrow, lion and tin man — to communicate the traits of leadership.

View a video about the Chapman Scholars: 

The power of partnerships

Professor Sandra Linder (standing) is helping lead the program to provide childcare teachers and home-based caregivers with skills that support mathematics learning among young children.

Professor Sandra Linder (standing) is helping lead the program to provide childcare teachers and home-based caregivers with skills that support mathematics learning among young children.

Support for developing math skills, simulation software for automotive engineering and a state-of-the-art digital press may not seem to have a lot in common. But all three of these will be pivotal in educating Clemson students for the future. And they’re all the results of gifts from corporations and foundations that are valuable partners with the University.

The PNC Foundation and the Eugene T. Moore School of Education agree that it’s never too early to develop math skills. The PNC Foundation has awarded Project BEEMS (Building Environments for Early Mathematics Success) a $50,000 grant to support the program that supports mathematics learning among young children across the state and nation.

The first year of Project BEEMS, also funded by the PNC Foundation, took place in 12 Head Start centers and showed very positive results. Forming an early mathematical understanding can be particularly helpful in establishing problem-solving and communication skills, according to Sandra Linder, project director and associate professor of early childhood mathematics education.

“The project is part of the Eugene T. Moore School of Education’s continuing focus on systematically improving education and an example of the school’s commitment to underserved communities,” said Dean George J. Petersen. “We are proud and thankful to be partnering with the PNC Foundation on this project.”

When graphic communications and packaging science students return to campus this fall, they’ll find an HP Indigo 5000 Digital Press in place and ready to use, thanks to a gift valued at $505,825 from Hewlett Packard. More than 600 students, many of whom will receive industry certification, will have hands-on experience using the press each year.

As growth opportunities in the digital print market shift from commercial printing to packaging, the need for talent also shifts. Clemson is uniquely positioned to work closely with HP Indigo to develop a pipeline of capable talent and meet the needs of industry. Having hands-on experience using the HP Indigo gives Clemson students invaluable access to a growing market segment through internship and career opportunities.

Professor Srikanth Pila demonstrates to his graduate students how the Moldex software further enhances research in his lab at CU-ICAR.

Professor Srikanth Pila demonstrates to his graduate students how the Moldex software further enhances research in his lab at CU-ICAR.

A $1.625 million gift from Moldex3D to the Clemson University International Center for Automotive Research will both provide students with valuable hands-on-experience in computer-aided engineering (CAE) software and advance faculty research, particularly in the area of injection molding.

Anthony Yang, president of Moldex3D Northern America, said it is their responsibility to assist the academic world in nurturing the next generation by offering its state-of-the-art simulation technologies and resources. “As the world’s largest independent CAE software developer, we are truly pleased for the opportunity to partner with Clemson University, which has one of the most elite automotive engineering programs in the world, to help students gain more practical hands-on CAE experiences and further equip them with a viable simulation ability to compete in the future job market,” he said.

All three of these gifts are part of the Will to Lead for Clemson capital campaign.


Two professors receive prestigious NSF award

Sophia Wang works with a robotic arm in her lab.

Sophia Wang works with a robotic arm in her lab.

Two faculty members have received a total of $1 million in funding as part of the National Science Foundation’s highest honor for junior faculty members.

Jacob Sorber and Yue “Sophie” Wang were among the honorees in this year’s Faculty Early Career Development (CAREER) Program. Each has been awarded $500,000 for research.

Sorber’s research enables low-cost, low-power sensors to gather data for long periods of time. The sensors would be powered by energy from environmental sources, such as the sun, with no need for batteries or manual recharging.

He said the sensors have the potential to transform science and society. They could, for example, be used to monitor human health, growing conditions in greenhouses or the behavior patterns of animal populations in the wild.

Wang is focusing on two distinctly human attributes — trust and regret — to develop new “control algorithms” and decision-making strategies that would help humans and robots work together to be more productive. She sees big opportunities for humans and robots to collaborate in manufacturing.

Wang also sees high potential for “human-supervised mobile sensor networks.” Robots could begin doing low-level simple and repetitive tasks while humans could be involved in high-level complex tasks, she said. While research is central to the award, winners also must be excellent teachers and have proven themselves exemplary in integrating research and education. Selection is highly competitive.

Sorber is an assistant professor in the School of Computing, and Wang is an assistant professor of mechanical engineering.

“First Lady of Clemson Athletics” makes Cornerstone gift

April 10, 2015 - The 2nd Cornerstone Gift Announcement was held at during the Board of Trustees Luncheon at the Madren Center with Betty  Poe 's gift of $2.5 million. This will be a Cornerstone Partner for Clemson Athletics.

Betty Poe (center) with (l-4) trustees David WIlkins and Smyth McKissick III, Dabo Swinney and President Clements

Longtime Clemson supporter Betty Poe of Greenville might not be a Clemson alumna, but you’d never know it. She knows what being a member of the Clemson Family is about, and her volunteer efforts and gifts are evidence of that.

This spring, she made the second Cornerstone gift of $2.5 million to Clemson Athletics for facilities. Cornerstone gifts are a vital part of the new athletics facilities initiative, which includes new facilities, upgrades or rebuilds planned for football, basketball, baseball, tennis, soccer and Vickery Hall, the most comprehensive change ever undertaken at Clemson.

A retired insurance executive, Poe served as co-chair of the leadership phase of the Will To Lead campaign and on the foundation board at Clemson, following in the footsteps of her husband Billy in commitment to his alma mater.

With this gift, her lifelong giving has eclipsed $5 million, in appreciation for which she will be inducted into Clemson’s Trustee Oak Society. She has supported facilities such as Memorial Stadium’s Poe Plaza and student entrance gate and was a founding partner of the Barker Scholars initiative. She also served on the WestZone capital committee, leading the effort to raise funds for the football stadium expansion.

Poe made her latest gift in honor of head football coach Dabo Swinney and his staff and in memory of her late husband, Billy “Tweet” Poe, a football letterman for legendary coach Frank Howard at Clemson in 1944-46. He was drafted into the Army and, after serving his country with distinction, returned to Clemson to finish his degree.

“Betty has long been a tremendous supporter of our athletic programs here at Clemson, and her recent commitment to become a Cornerstone Partner solidifies her place as the First Lady for Clemson Athletics,” IPTAY CEO Davis Babb said. “She has graciously donated not only her support but also her time as she has taken a leadership role in every athletics and IPTAY initiative we have embarked upon.”

This Cornerstone gift is part of the Will to Lead for Clemson campaign.

Cottinghams endow professorship in civil engineering

Forever-CottinghamsProfessional engineer Richard Cottingham and his wife, Nancy, of Seneca have pledged $500,000 to establish the J. Richard ’66 and Nancy W. Cottingham Distinguished Professor of Civil Engineering Endowment at Clemson.

The Cottinghams are passionate about Clemson and about professional licensure in the engineering profession. Both have served on state boards of registration, and Richard has served as president of the National Council of Examiners for Engineering and Surveying (NCEES). In 2014, he received the NCEES Distinguished Service Award with Special Commendation for his dedicated service to the engineering and surveying professions — the highest award given by the NCEES.

The endowment will support a distinguished professorship in the Glenn Department of Civil Engineering in the College of Engineering and Science. The recipient must be a professional engineer. Promotion of licensure among students and faculty in the College of Engineering and Science will be one of the primary objectives for the position, thus enriching the student process for professional engineering development and licensure and helping to meet the engineering challenges of the future.

“In my career, I have personally experienced the value of licensure as a professional engineer and am committed to encouraging other Clemson alumni, students and faculty to pursue licensure,” said Cottingham.

An endowed professorship will enable Clemson to attract and retain a professor with national prominence. A portion of the endowment budget will be used to supplement the salary of the named distinguished professor.

“We appreciate this generous gift from the Cottinghams, as well as the countless hours that both Richard and Nancy have invested in promoting licensure to engineers at Clemson,” said Dean Anand Gramopadhye of the College of Engineering and Science.

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

Long road to Clemson drives student’s entrepreneurial spirit to help others

InTheseHills-Kaitlynn_LewisKaitlynn Lewis’s journey to Clemson has been a circuitous one.

Through grit, determination and generous scholarship donors, she has overcome numerous obstacles and hopes to use what she learned from the school of hard knocks — and Clemson — to help others like her move beyond the hardships in their lives.

Lewis is a junior business management major with a nonprofit leadership minor and a concentration in entrepreneurship. Her future looks bright, but it wasn’t always that way.

The oldest of five children, she experienced a tumultuous childhood, having lived a nomadic existence from Texas to Virginia. She spent a good deal of her adolescence homeless, raising her siblings, working multiple jobs while in school, and in foster care. She attended eight high schools, four middle schools and a dozen elementary schools. Lewis’s 17th birthday was marked by her mother’s suicide. Through it all, her spirit and drive to help others hasn’t wavered.

Like the road to Clemson, Lewis’s experience since arriving has been atypical of most 21-year-old college students. When she’s not commuting more than three hours a day to and from Greer, her day is consumed with a variety of jobs, volunteering and, of course, studying.

Scholarships have helped her with the financial burdens of tuition, but she is still supporting herself and has had to work upwards of 50 hours a week to cover living expenses, like food, gas money and car insurance.

“I worry all the time about my future, money and my family,” Lewis said. “Happiness for me would be not having to worry about having food to eat, a place to live or not having to sleep in my car. Without the scholarships, a lot of my career objectives wouldn’t be possible.”

Outside the classroom, she’s learning and contributing to helping others less fortunate through her involvement in AmeriCorps and organizations like Youth for National Change, which advocates free college tuition for financially challenged foster children.

Lewis sees herself pursuing an entrepreneurial career path in helping people help themselves. “I see myself going the startup route in a way that will enable people in need to be able to sustain themselves and become self-sufficient on a path to stability and becoming productive members of society,” she said.

One startup idea Lewis is championing involves building “tiny” homes for the homeless, where the future inhabitants would play a role in their construction, giving them skin in the game and an accountability. She calls the concept Micro Homes for Macro Hope, and she floated the concept last fall at the Clemson IDEAS student organization’s “Startup Weekend.” The idea received an honorable mention and won the event’s social entrepreneurship award.

“My path to Clemson hasn’t been like a lot of others here, but I’ve learned from it,” Lewis said. “That, combined with the nonprofit leadership and entrepreneurial track of my education here, is preparing me well to make a difference in the world.”

As for life after Clemson, Lewis wants to continue helping others who walked in her footsteps, perhaps through the Peace Corps.

“I’d like to work in business development in the nonprofit sector, maybe helping people start their own business, again along entrepreneurial lines.”

To support students such as Lewis through your giving, go to or call 864.656.5896.

Mentoring on a Mission: Serita Acker M ’99

Environmental portrait of Serita Acker in the Fluor Daniel Building. Also a group photo with her WISE mentors.

Environmental portrait of Serita Acker in the Fluor Daniel Building. Also a group photo with her WISE mentors.

Mentoring others, especially those who may not realize their potential, has been a lifelong passion for Serita Acker. Those who know her weren’t surprised that she received the 2015 Calder D. Ehrmann Outstanding Individual Award at the 11th Annual Upstate Diversity Leadership Awards dinner. The dinner is hosted by the Richard W. Riley Institute® of Government, Politics and Public Leadership at Furman University and the Greenville Chamber, with support from other Upstate chambers. The event recognizes those who have shown leadership in promoting diversity in the Upstate. Acker was nominated by colleagues but was completely surprised by the honor.

“It was such a great honor to receive it. Calder recently passed, and this award is in his honor and the work he has done. It was very exciting for me. It was such a complete surprise,” said Acker.

Acker is in her 16th year as director of Clemson’s Women in Science and Engineering (WISE) program, which provides support and resources for women in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) fields. Additionally, Acker oversees WISE-sponsored camps and programs to introduce elementary, middle school and high school girls to careers in STEM.

Acker’s outreach in the community is not limited to helping young women. She has worked with the University’s Staff Development Program that trains staff members for professional and personal growth. She has also served as a board member for the Rape Crisis Center to develop initiatives that assist survivors.

In addition, Acker was named one of 10 U.S. individuals selected as a mentor for the 2014-2016 MentorLinks cohort, a program of the American Association of Community Colleges and National Science Foundation that advances technological education. She travels to Texas State Technical College to assist the school in programs that encourage and support Latina women in automotive technology. Acker was also honored by Women of Color magazine with the 2014 College-Level Promotion of Education award. Acker said her Clemson studies were the perfect preparation.

“My Clemson degree in human resource development has done exactly what it was supposed to do. The degree is about training people and helping them develop. My Clemson experience as a student has helped me as a staff member. I love that my journey has been ‘in these hills’ and preparing students for great careers.”
Recently Acker received certification as a Global Career Development Facilitator, where she’ll focus on educating people about STEM career opportunities.

“I like to be that person who bridges the gap between the community and the University,” Acker said. “I want to educate people, encourage people and help them fulfill their dreams.”

Christening the Patrick Anderson

Lifelong-PatrickAndersonBoatThis spring, a new crew boat hit the water at Clemson, thanks to the generosity of the family and friends of the late Patrick Anderson ’07. Anderson, who passed away last summer, was a member of the rowing club, and family and friends contributed funds in his memory to purchase a new crew boat. The boat was christened the Patrick Anderson before it was used in a race against the University of Georgia.

Crew team member Patrick Essex described the race: “We had a spectacular final race in the Patrick Anderson. We came back from nearly half of a boat-length behind in the last 250 meters of the race to beat UGA by 0.4 seconds, finishing with what I think might be a Clemson sprints record of 6:24.4. It was one of the greatest races I have ever been a part of, and it was obvious that there was something beyond the guys in that boat pushing us forward.”

A ceramics and materials engineering major at Clemson, Anderson was employed by Corning in Wilmington, N.C., as the submarine fiber-products supervisor. He maintained an active lifestyle including running marathons, cross-country biking, triathlons and was an Ironman.

Professors recognized for teaching, research

Provost Jones with Professor Jack G. Wolf

Provost Jones with Professor Jack G. Wolf

Each year the Alumni Association sponsors two faculty awards: the Alumni Master Teacher and the Alumni Award for Outstanding Achievements in Research. This year’s awards went to Associate Professor of Finance Jack G. Wolf as Alumni Master Teacher and chemistry professor Joseph Kolis for research.

The Alumni Master Teacher Award for outstanding undergraduate classroom instruction is presented to the faculty member nominated by the student body and selected by the Student Alumni Council (SAC).

“Dr. Wolf was chosen because he genuinely cares about his students achieving excellence in and out of the classroom,” said Sterling Lecy, vice president of Clemson Blue Key Honor Society and past president of SAC. “He consistently goes the extra mile to make sure Clemson’s business program is producing top candidates for post-graduate opportunities and devotes his own time to understanding the intersection between theory and practice that is so often overlooked.”

Environmental portrait

Joseph Kolis

The Alumni Award for Outstanding Achievement in Research is presented each May at the spring faculty meeting. Wil Brasington, senior director of alumni relations, presented the award to Kolis, a professor of inorganic chemistry. Kolis’ group studies the synthesis and chemistry of novel inorganic compounds with unusual structures and properties. The group is particularly interested in chemistry under very unusual reaction conditions, such as with very high temperatures and pressures, or in exotic solvents.