Bill Mitchell made his first pair of jeans in his dorm room. Now he’s an evangelist in the denim revival.
Clemson Alumni and affinity groups have been busy welcoming students to the Clemson Family, hosting events, holding networking events for students and alumni, and watching football. Here’s just a sampling of the recent activities around the country:
The ARIZONA CLEMSON CLUB and N.C. State Wolfpack Alumni held a joint football party to watch the Tigers take on the Wolfpack and used the event to provide service to the local community by asking alumni to bring a donation to the St. Mary’s Food Bank. Approximately 30 Clemson alumni attended; the two clubs collected a total of 114 pounds of food.
The HOUSTON CLEMSON CLUB hosted a luncheon in October featuring President Jim Clements and his wife Beth. Approximately 75 alumni, supporters and parents of current students attended the luncheon. The Houston Club also hosted a Student Send-Off in August.
Every year, the GREATER ORLANDO CLEMSON CLUB participates in an alumni event called Feast on the 50 at Camping World Stadium, where active alumni groups from a variety of colleges compete for the most spirited tent. This year, the Orlando Club won the competition, reports President Thomas Harvell. He credits the hard work of Meg Ramis, Christie Hyde DeNave, Cheryl Mellin and others. The Orlando Club also hosted a Student Send-Off in August.
During Homecoming weekend, the CLEMSON BLACK ALUMNI COUNCIL (CBAC) hosted the Minority Student Success Initiative. During a panel discussion, alumni shared stories, tips and advice with more than 90 students on how to succeed both within the University and in the workforce. A networking event provided opportunities for students, alumni and employers to make valuable connections. The annual CBAC Homecoming tailgate at Carillon Gardens rounded out the weekend, welcoming more than 600 alumni back to campus.
The YORK COUNTY CLEMSON CLUB hosted a Student Send-Off for more than 100 students, hosted by Roger and Cathy Troutman. About 90 alumni, parents and students were in attendance at the SPARTANBURG CLEMSON CLUB’S Student Send-Off, the largest send-off for the club in recent years. Clemson Clubs hosted a record number of more than 35 Student Send-Offs across the country to welcome new students to the Clemson Family.
They may not have graduated from Clemson, but you wouldn’t know it from the orange in their wardrobe and the generosity they exhibit. David and Lynette Snow of Darien, Connecticut, who donated $2.4 million toward the intramural field complex on Hartwell Lake, have pledged an additional $1 million in matching funds to complete the project.
The Snows, whose daughter Ashley graduated from Clemson in 2015, became the most generous non-alumni Clemson parents in University history with their original gift. This fundraising challenge money will go toward adding new playing fields, facilities and educational areas to the recreation center.
“Lynette, our whole family and I continue to see how a world-class outdoor wellness and fitness center at Clemson will transform not only intramural activity on campus but have a daily impact on the lives of Clemson students and the surrounding community,” said David Snow. “We hope our gift doesn’t just raise awareness of this campaign, but inspires everyone to support Clemson. No gift is too small when we are working to enhance and transform the lives of Clemson students.”
In addition to the intramural fields, the center allows students to enjoy water and beach activities, and several student club sports are located there. It also offers the Clemson community amenities to enjoy year-round.
The weather was clear the week of Homecoming 2016 as students spent the week constructing floats for the theme of “Coming Home to Clemson.” While floats were going up, another group of students, faculty and volunteers were on the other end of Bowman Field, building Clemson’s 23rd Habitat for Humanity house built since 1997 and providing a local family with affordable housing.
Prodding from a library colleague led Pam DeFanti Robinson on an adventure that’s put her at the heart of influencing young lives — just in a different classroom than originally planned.
Robinson currently serves as the director of the University of South Carolina School of Law pro bono program. Before law school, Robinson’s path was elementary education. The Rhode Island native came to South Carolina as a teen during her father’s relocation with DuPont. With no ties to Clemson, she applied because a summer program had piqued her interest. After teaching in Atlanta and outside Washington, D.C., life brought her back to South Carolina, where she settled in Camden as a children’s librarian. “I knew I needed to go back and get another degree,” said Robinson.
A colleague challenged her to try law school. Robinson stayed around USC’s law school after graduation to assist with projects. A conversation over a cup of coffee with her dean was how the pro bono program idea started — the first of its kind in the state and the nation. Now she’s opening doors for those who need legal aid and students who need guidance navigating careers. The program is open to all law students who are willing to volunteer to work on everything from filing taxes to translating documents to Spanish.
“[Pro bono] doesn’t mean for free. The phrase is part of a Latin phrase meaning ‘for the public good.’ Sometimes [services] are free or low cost for people who can’t afford an attorney for whatever reason,” she said. “When you’re in law school [students] can’t practice law, or give legal advice, so we go right up to the line of what’s legal.”
Robinson says every class is different and offers a different skill set and potential for what they can accomplish that year, but the one-on-one experience the program offers showcases the breadth of the law and what a potential practice can entail.
And even though her students are bigger than first-graders, she still gets tickled when her students have “eureka” moments. “That’s such a good feeling to say, ‘Hang in there, you can do that,’” she said.
“We can’t, as law school and law students, solve all the problems of the community, but we can be there as part of the solution,” she said.
This past fall, the project known as Core Campus opened for business, with residence halls for 700 students, a large dining facility, and a new home for the Honors College and the Calhoun Honors Residential College.
One, two, three — jump. One, two, three — jump. With a fierce face and a breakneck pace, former Clemson track standout Brianna Rollins lunged across the finish line. A time of 12.48 seconds earned Rollins a gold medal in the 100-meter hurdles at the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil in August. Right behind her were USA teammates Nia Ali and Kristi Castlin in second and third place. “It was awesome feeling to have to my teammates up there on the podium alongside me. We made history and I couldn’t have been happier to share it with Nia and Kristi. Kristi and I train together, and Nia is a really good friend of mine. It just goes to show you that if women can come together as one we can accomplish something huge.”
After catching their breath, the women draped their bodies in three American flags and jumped for joy for the cameras and the television crowds back home. It was the first time three American women claimed all three medals in a track and field event in the Olympics.
Rollins isn’t new to claiming victories. In 2011 and 2013 she was the NCAA indoor champion in the 60-meter hurdles, the 2014 NCAA outdoor champion in the 100-meter hurdles, and the 2013 IAAF world champion in the 100-meter hurdles while still a student at Clemson. But it wasn’t until her time at Clemson that she realized she could compete at an elite level. Rollins didn’t begin competing in the sport until she was in high school in her hometown of Miami. In 2012, as a sophomore at Clemson, she made the Olympic Trials. In the next months she earned a win at the NACAC Under-23 championships. From there she blossomed into the runner she is today.
“At the 2012 Olympic trials is when I realized I could compete on the professional level. I had the second fastest time coming back in the finals at the trials. I finished sixth in the finals but seeing that I was competing with the professional and running so close gave me the hope I needed,” she said. “Training as an elite-level athlete is a blessing; it comes with a lot of hard work, sacrifices, commitment, and focus but it is all worth it when the reward is being an Olympic champion and an inspiration to those who look up to me.”
Rollins is the second female from Clemson to win a gold in track and field and the first Clemson athlete to win an individual Olympic gold medal since 2004. Kim Graham won a medal as a member of the 4×100- meter relay team in 1996 and Shaw Crawford won the 200-meter dash in 2004. Nine athletes from Clemson have gone on to win Olympic gold.
Rollins is currently training for the next 2017 World Championships in London and hopes defend her title in Tokyo in the 2020 Olympics.
As a public, land-grant institution, the responsibility to conduct research for the benefit of South Carolina and beyond is embedded in our foundation — and our future. Every day, faculty, staff and students are working to improve the quality, quantity and impact of our research to foster our position as a world-class research university that serves to inspire a new generation of thinkers, drive economic growth and solve real-world problems.
In the 2016 Carnegie Classification for Institutions of Higher Education, Clemson was designated a Research 1 university — putting us among universities with the highest level of research activity. This recognition raises the University’s national profile, helps us recruit top faculty and puts us in a better position to compete successfully for more research funding.
Our increasing reputation in research helps attract the best and brightest graduate students, and our faculty are continuing to bring in major funding for their work. In fact, we have seen an increase of nearly 60 percent in sponsored research and programs over the past three years — from $102 million in 2013 to $159 million in the most recent fiscal year.
For years, Clemson has created and nurtured research and economic development centers to build a knowledge-based economy in South Carolina. The University’s more than 100 research centers and institutes are dedicated to everything from automotive excellence to advanced materials, and agriculture to foresty — to name just a few — and serve as the link between academics, industry and government.
In addition to research that supports economic development, Clemson’s research also supports better health outcomes for all. As just one example of that work, in a collaborative effort with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, our faculty, graduate students and undergraduates worked together to identify different strains of Legionella, the most common cause of waterborne bacterial outbreaks in the United States. As part of that research, they determined that one of the strains was novel — it had not previously been identified. You can read more about the newly named Legionella clemsonensis on page 6.
We recently announced several major grants from such institutions as the National Science Foundation and the National Institutes of Health that will help solve problems related to causes of Type 2 diabetes, the treatment of seizures, detection of infections on implanted medical devices, and critical functions for data and cyber security. And these are just a few examples of Clemson addressing real-world problems with well-researched solutions.
Our ClemsonForward plan sets a new bar for research and scholarly work. Through the implementation of this strategic plan, we will
- refocus our research mission,
- increase scholarship and funding,
- grow targeted research investment,
- raise expectations and
- reward excellence in research.
Our over-arching goal is that in 10 years, Clemson will perennially rank among the nation’s Top 20 public universities and as a Carnegie Tier 1 research institution.
James P. Clements, Ph.D.
The Clemson family has gained a new namesake: Legionella clemsonensis, a novel strain of the Legionella bacteria, the most common cause of waterborne bacterial outbreaks in the United States.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) gave the honor of naming L. clemsonensis to students in a collaborative research group called CU and the CDC, which includes students from Clemson’s Creative Inquiry (CI) program for undergraduate students and officials in the CDC Legionella lab.
The newly named strain of Legionella was part of a batch of 68 strains the CDC sent to Clemson students to analyze. “While we knew they were Legionella, they didn’t match up to anything in the current database of bacterial species. It’s like knowing their last name but not their first names,” said Tamara McNealy, an associate professor of biological sciences who forged the collaboration with Claressa Lucas, director of the CDC Legionella lab, to characterize unknown Legionella strains.
Undergraduates in the CI group — Joseph Painter, Kyle Toth, Kasey Remillard, Rayphael Hardy and Scott Howard — sequenced two genes at the Clemson University Genomics Institute to identify the species or to find out if they were novel. “One of the strains Joseph was assigned turned out to be novel or not significantly matching anything in the database,” McNealy said.
A second wave of students, including Hayley Hassler, a junior, and Allie Palmer, a master’s student in McNealy’s lab, along with Vince Richards, an assistant professor in the biological sciences department, worked to validate that L. clemsonensis does indeed fall separately from the other known Legionella strains.“My experience in this CI has really allowed me to explore areas of microbiology that I wouldn’t have been exposed to otherwise,” Hassler said. “Thanks to Dr. McNealy and Dr. Richards I now have a real passion for studying infectious diseases and microbial genomics.”
According to the CDC, L. clemsonensis was originally isolated from a patient in Ohio. Preliminary analysis showed it was not L. pneumophila, the most commonly identified pathogen in the group, and that it didn’t fall into any known grouping, McNealy said. Another feature that set this strain apart: When hit with ultraviolet light, many Legionella strains fluoresce blue, red or yellow, but L. clemsonensis fluoresced green.
If Legionella is inhaled by someone who is elderly or immunocompromised it could lead to a treatable form of pneumonia. The bacteria live in biofilms of all manmade water systems and are found in freshwater lakes, streams and rivers. Around 4,000 to 5,000 cases of waterborne bacterial outbreaks are reported annually in the U.S., an estimate that is probably low, McNealy said.