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Privilege to Command: John “Jay” Raymond ’84

Making sure your GPS keeps the most up-to-date information for your drive is one of the small responsibilities of the satellites in the sky that Air Force Gen. John “Jay” Raymond oversees from his headquarters at Peterson Air Force Base in Colorado.

“It’s really hard for the average American to understand just how reliant their life is on space. Space capabilities like GPS and communication satellites fuel our American way of life,” he said.

Raymond took command of Air Force Space Command in October 2016 after the U.S. Senate confirmed his appointment and promotion to four-star general. Prior to his current position, Raymond served as deputy chief of staff for operations of the U.S. Air Force headquarters in Washington, D.C.

The career military officer said he has prepared his whole life for this role. From growing up in a military family with service dating back to 1865 to attending Clemson’s ROTC program under the leadership of Col. Lew Jordan, Raymond said he knew he wanted a career in the military. “I love belonging to something bigger than myself and having the privilege of serving my country,” he said. “That was instilled in me at a young age.

Raymond’s command provides critical space capabilities for all of America’s joint military forces and the nation. His team operates eleven satellite constellations which enable global communications, deliver satellite imagery, ensure precision navigation and weather data, provide missile warning and guide precision weapons the United States employs.

“A vast majority of those weapons are GPS-guided,” Raymond said.

Commanding 40,000 space and cyberspace professionals in 134 locations doesn’t come easily. “I set high standards, and hold myself and the airmen I am privileged to lead, accountable to meet those standards. I come to work every day focused on removing any potential roadblocks that may interfere with mission success.”

While there isn’t an Apollo-type mission right now, it is an extremely exciting and critical time to be in the space business. The command works with industry and commercial partners to create an innovative satellite sector, which continues to expand the use of space-based technologies. Raymond said with space becoming a more congested and contested environment, working together with all nations ensures that “we protect the critical space domain so everyone can receive the benefits that it provides.”

“It’s my highest privilege to command,” Raymond said. “I’m privileged to serve alongside a great team making sure we defend and protect our space assets, which are absolutely critical to our American way of life.”

Words Matter

From March 29 – April 1, students involved with the Clemson Literary Festival bustled around campus introducing authors, doing microphone checks and thriving off adrenaline and coffee. On the backs of their navy blue t-shirts, white type spelled out, “Words Matter.” And the festival shows that indeed, they do.

In 2008, professors Keith Morris and Wayne Chapman began the Clemson Literary Festival as a Creative Inquiry. Over the past decade, the festival has presented a noteworthy array of authors, including former Poet Laureate Natasha Trethewey and Pulitzer Prize winner Charles Simic.

As a Creative Inquiry, the Clemson Literary Festival is planned by students over the course of a full school year. While the larger, logistical tasks surface in the spring, the fall revolves around the core of the festival: the authors. During this initial semester, students and faculty members can offer authors for the screening and voting process. After weeks reading selections of dozens of contemporary writers, the students of the CI vote. Unlike the majority of other college-sponsored literary festival, the planning remains largely student-based.

“Some of our writers are teachers, some are lawyers, some are editors, some are stay-at-home parents, some have six-figure contracts with large publishing houses and movie options and some are still struggling to pay student loans, but all of them find value in the art of the written word,” said John Pursley, one of the CI professors. “I think it’s this congruence that really hits home with students hoping to work within the larger writing world.”

For the undergraduate organizers, the festival allows for hands-on, dynamic experience at the intersection of literature and event planning. Katy Koon, a graduating English major, said, “Lit Fest gave me the opportunity to plan, promote and execute events that connected my interest in literature with the Clemson community. I think it’s incredible that the collaborative efforts of a group of dedicated students made this whole thing possible.”

Collaboration serves as a key aspect within the process, as students choose certain areas and events to spearhead. Whether working with local media outlets, designing the brochure or developing a transportation schedule for authors, the directors of the festival stay busy while pursuing their personal interests.

One of the major events, the Young Writers Workshop, invites high school students from the area to share their work and learn from the festival authors. Casey Collins, a graduating English major who is headed toward a teaching career, said planning the event was her favorite part. “I gained some valuable event planning skills, but when I met the high schoolers and listened to them read their writing, I knew I had chosen the correct career path as a high school teacher,” she said. “It was so fulfilling getting to know them and hearing their voices in their work.”

Gabby Nugent, a graduate student in the English program, returned this year to help organize the festival. After graduating in 2014, Nugent pursued a career in publishing, landing jobs at The New Yorker and the Aragi Literary Agency. Even after her own personal successes, Nugent is still impressed by the Clemson Literary Festival. “Though the sheer volume of work that goes into planning a festival this size is dizzying,” she said, “this year’s group of undergraduate student directors was superb.”

2017 marked the 10th year for the Clemson Literary Festival, a milestone that celebrated and solidified the importance of the humanities on campus. And certainly, this year’s lineup reflected such an achievement with a wide selection of authors and the presence of Viet Thanh Nguyen as the headliner. Beyond his position as the chair of the English department at the University of Southern California, Nguyen won the Pulitzer Prize in 2016 for his novel The Sympathizer.

During his reading, Nguyen shared selections from various works, while also providing personal anecdotes to the audience. In regards to his Pulitzer-winning work, Nguyen said, “Writing this book, writing The Sympathizer — I wrote it in 2011 to 2013 — at the time refugees, although they certainly existed, were not at the forefront of American consciousness, and now, of course, they are. And for me, it’s been really crucial to constantly assert wherever I go that I am not an immigrant. I am a refugee.”

After nearly a year of planning, the festival happens in four days: a whirlwind of readings, panels, venue set-ups and break-downs, airport trips and book signings. Hayes Owens, a graduating English major, admitted, “It’s definitely hard work and is very stressful at times.” Yet the overarching sentiment within the class was that of excitement and fulfillment. “Once the Festival comes around, all that stress and effort instantly pays off and somehow the busiest and most hectic week of your life is simultaneously the most fun week of your life as well,” said Owens.

The 11th annual Clemson Literary Festival will take place in the Spring of 2018 and will be sure to host another lineup of exceptional, diverse authors. For more information and updates, please visit the website at www.clemson.edu/litfest or the Facebook page.

Goodbye Guy: Berlyn Kessler “B.K.” Sutton ’50

After 67 years in the women’s shoe business, B.K. Sutton said goodbye to his family storefront on Orchard Park Road in Greenville this past spring.

With more than 6,500 pair of shoes to part with, the Suttons saw hundreds of customers filtering into Sutton’s Shoes from March to May to say how much they were going to miss Sutton and his son Robert “Bob” Sutton ’79.

“We’ve had some hug us; we’ve had a few cry with us,” he said. “We have three generations of customers.”

B.K. Sutton said the decline of customers in the last 10 years, especially since the recession of 2008, ultimately drove the decision to close up the last storefront of three the family has operated since 1950. The family opened three Greenville locations, including the Pleasantburg Shopping Center and Haywood Mall, which remained open into the 1990s.

But B.K.’s looking forward to a full-time retirement with more golf and traveling. “My son is 61 years old. I’m 88 years old. It’s time,” he said.

B.K., a textile manufacturing major, began at Clemson in 1946. “There’s no other place I’d ever thought about going,” he said with a wide grin.

While working his first job at the Judson Plant in Greenville, he was called into active duty in the Korean War. “It wasn’t a shock. We all sort of expected it,” he said.

While B.K. was making headway in a military career, his father O.W. had aspirations of opening a department store. Sutton’s father worked at the Belk store in downtown Greenville in fashion merchandising. Opening an entire department store wasn’t in the cards in 1950, so O.W. and his wife Clara moved forward with one specialty — women’s shoes.

“It was in Lewis Plaza off Augusta Road. It was unheard of at that time to have anything off Main Street whether that was here or in Atlanta,” said B.K. “We priced shoes from $8 to $30. People were standing in line for our merchandise.”

After four years in the Korean War, Sutton remained in the reserves, but took his service-oriented heart back to the shoe store to help his father build their generations of legacy. Bob joined the store after completing his degree at Clemson.

“I hate to see the Sutton name leaving the big community, but I’ve really enjoyed my civilian life,” he said.

One family. Twenty-four hours. Infinite impact.

 

The second annual Give Day at Clemson more than doubled the results of the first one. Donors gave $2,107,270 in support of scholarships, teaching and facilities during the 24-hour Give Day 2017 on April 6. Last year, 3,082 donors gave $907,603 on the first Give Day.

“We are overwhelmed by the generosity of the Clemson family in support of our second Give Day initiative,” said Brian O’Rourke, vice president for development and alumni
relations. “Our students, faculty and staff will benefit now and for years to come from the more than 3,000 individuals and corporations who united to move Clemson forward in a spectacular way.“

Gifts came from 3,265 donors. Fifty-one percent gave online; others donated at campus locations and by phone. Volunteers thanked many on social media who used the hashtag #ClemsonGiveDay.

The average online gift was $134.97, but several alumni donors pledged large “challenge gifts” that could be collected only when milestones were reached during the day:

  • Vic and Susie Parker of Brookhaven, Georgia, made a $25,000 gift and designated it for the Samuel J. Cadden Chapel — given when the number of donations reached 500.
  • Ed and Kelly Rose of Daniel Island gave $50,000 for the Dean’s Excellence Fund of the College of Engineering, Computing and Applied Sciences — given when the number of donations topped 1,000.
  • The Fort Hill Clemson Club gave $60,000 for the Fort Hill Clemson Club Endowment for scholarships — given when donations totaled 1,500.
  • Pat Harman of Burlington, North Carolina, gave $400,000 to the J. Pat Harman and Phoebe Harman Unrestricted Endowment for Excellence — given when the number of donations reached 2,000.

Clemson alumni employees of GE pledged a gift of $100,000 to the Watt Family Innovation Center and corporate partner Dräxlmaier gave $50,000 to support graduate fellowships in automotive engineering.

“We are so grateful to everyone who demonstrated their Clemson spirit by participating in Give Day,” O’Rourke said. “These gifts will make a difference for Clemson today, tomorrow and forever.”

Next year’s Give Day is scheduled for Wednesday, April 4. Mark your calendar now and plan to contribute.

Four students awarded Fulbright grants

Rachel Lang-Baldé

Before Rachel Lang-Baldé’s first trip to West Africa in 2002, she never knew anyone who had died in childbirth. During her almost four years spent in Guinea as an English teacher and consultant with community health and education nongovernmental organizations, she would come to know many mothers who wouldn’t survive to hold their own child or even hear their first cries.

One of her close friends, a doctor in Guinea named “Mama” Condé, became one of those mothers who died during childbirth. Condé and Lang-Baldé had often talked about doing research that would help shed light on birth outcomes and maternal health in Guinea. Thanks to a Fulbright U.S. student grant, Lang-Baldé is headed to Guinea in January to begin such research. A Ph.D. student in international family and community studies, Lang-Baldé is one of four Clemson students selected to receive the prestigious Fulbright U.S. Student Program grants this year. The grants provide funding to live and study abroad on research projects or to work as English teaching assistants.

The other Fulbright U.S. Student Program recipients from Clemson are:

Amanda Farthing, Danielle Gill and Rachel Lang-Baldé

Amanda Farthing, Danielle Gill and Rachel Lang-Baldé

  • Amanda Farthing, an industrial engineering major. She will spend her Fulbright year in Chile studying the development and optimization of solar energy.
  • Amanda Pridmore ’14 who majored in political science. She currently resides in Arlington, Va., and will spend her Fulbright year in Germany researching the funding and financing of Holocaust memorials.
  • Danielle Gill, a biological sciences major, was awarded an English teaching assistantship in Argentina, but has decided to enter a Ph.D. program in Sao Paulo, Brazil.
Amanda Pridmore

Amanda Pridmore

Clemson also has two semifinalists this year: Caroline Hensley, a health science/English double major from Waxhaw, North Carolina, and Kaitlyn Scola, a genetics/microbiology major from Charlotte.

My Clemson: Ashley Stumpff Jones ’07

Clemson Family means going to Texas for a conference the same day as the national championship game and having the San Antonio Clemson Club welcome a stranger with open arms, high fives, cheers and hugs as we watched the Tigers beat ’Bama.

It means having Clemson Kappa Delta sisters donate money to help care for my family as my 21-month-old daughter was dying, and years later give again to support other families through Love Not Lost.

It means moving to Chattanooga, Tennessee, and finding immediate friends. It means visiting my in-laws at Hartwell Lake and seeing Tiger paws and hearing “Go Tigers!” everywhere.

It means love. It means support. It means unity. The Clemson Family is one of great character and pride. And I am honored to be a part of it.


Ashley Stumpff Jones is the founder and executive director of Love Not Lost, a nonprofit that photographs families facing a terminal diagnosis to help them preserve memories. She started Love Not Lost after losing her daughter Skylar to Spinal Muscular Atrophy.

Spirit of fallen NASCAR driver lives on

Robert Prucka was still too young to legally drive a car by himself but not too young to work on engines when one of his favorite NASCAR drivers, Alan Kulwicki, died in a plane crash.

Now Prucka is taking on a new position at Clemson named for his fallen childhood hero.

Prucka, an automotive engineer whose passion for engines is alive as ever, is the new Kulwicki Endowed Professor in Motor Sports Engineering. His first big project will be guiding a team of graduate students and industry sponsors in building a next-generation Rallycross race car at the Clemson University International Center for Automotive Engineering in Greenville.

“It’s awesome and it’s humbling,” Prucka said. “It’s a big responsibility to carry on his spirit. He left big shoes to fill.”

Kulwicki received a bachelor of science in mechanical engineering from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee and applied what he learned to make his car go faster. When Kulwicki won the 1992 Winston Cup Championship, Prucka was a teenager growing up in Monroe, a small town amidst the cornfields south of Detroit. He was a NASCAR fan and the kind of kid who loved working on engines, whether they powered cars, chainsaws or lawnmowers. “Alan Kulwicki was an engineer, and he owned and drove his own car,” Prucka said. “He used his engineering knowledge to make his small team more successful. In the 1990s, it was rare.” Kulwicki and three others died on April 1, 1993, when a small plane crashed near Blountville, Tennessee. The plane had just left Knoxville, where Kulwicki had been signing autographs at a Hooters restaurant as part of his new sponsorship deal. Among those killed was Mark Brooks ’91, the 26-year-old son of former Hooters restaurants chairman Robert H. Brooks.

The elder Brooks, a Clemson alumnus, later provided the funds that allowed the University to establish the Brooks Center for the Performing Arts, the Kulwicki Endowed Professorship and what is now called the Robert H. Brooks Sports Science Institute. He died at age 69 in 2006.

Prucka is now focusing much of his attention on Deep Orange 9. The ninth installment of the much-celebrated program will be the first aimed at motorsports. Rallycross cars are modified, high-horsepower road cars that compete in sprint races on dirt and paved tracks.

But the new Deep Orange car will be about more than racing. Students will also try to make the car safer and more fuel efficient while reducing emissions. “I love it,” Prucka said. “Deep Orange is a shining star, an example of the right way to educate students for industry. Cars are not four wheels and a steering wheel. They are a mobile electronics platform with advanced powertrains and miles of wire.

“They have the complexity of an airplane, and it’s tough to teach out of a textbook. You need to learn by doing. With Deep Orange, you teach them by building a vehicle.”

Students will also use sensors to track drivers’ eyes and reaction times. The information combined with artificial intelligence could help search for signs of concussion, a problem now largely self-diagnosed in racing.

Kulwicki died at age 38, but his legacy lives on in the way engineers have revolutionized NASCAR. “Today there’s an engineer on every pit box and at least two or three more back at the shop,” Prucka said. “It all started from him. It’s an essential part of being successful in motorsports.” Prucka, a member of the automotive engineering faculty since 2008, has long been central to the Brooks legacy at Clemson. He continues to be active in the Robert H. Brooks Sports Science Institute.