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Clemson breaks new ground for business education

Architecture rendering for new School of Business building

The University broke ground in November for a new home for the College of Business. It will be one of the biggest academic building projects in University history.

“Our old friend, Sirrine Hall, has served us well,” said Bobby McCormick, College of Business dean, “but modern education needs to look and function like 21st century business, and that is what we are creating here.”

The 176,000-square-foot building is expected to be ready for occupancy in January of 2020. It will nearly double Clemson’s business education space for one of the University’s fastest-growing academic disciplines. It will also be the anchor of a new academic precinct that one day will occupy as much as 600,000 to 700,000 square feet of building space.

LMN Architects of Seattle is designing the building in collaboration with the Greenville office of South Carolina-based LS3P, the architect of record. Other members of the project team include DPR, general contractor/construction management, and OLIN landscape architecture. Construction on the $87.5 million project will be funded through state appropriations, private gifts and institutional bonds.

Research helps identify fake news

Marten Risius, Clemson University

Marten Risius is an assistant management professor who has done interesting research on how to tell the difference between fake news from real news on social media channels.

If you’re having difficulty discerning real from fake news on social media, you aren’t alone. Surveys suggest it’s a struggle for 75 percent of American adults.

Research by Christian Janze, a Ph.D. student from Goethe University in Frankfurt, Germany, and Marten Risius, an associate professor of management at Clemson, may be of help. “A lot has been written and said about fake news since the 2016 U.S. presidential campaign,” Risius said. “Our explorative study investigates how to automatically identify fake news using information immediately apparent on social media platforms.”

The study examined more than 2,000 news article posts on Facebook from left, right and mainstream media outlets during the 2016 election campaign, as well as responses from the user community. Articles were fact-checked to determine fake from real. Researchers then used 230 samples of fake news and 230 of real news and applied variables to predict those that were fake, with an 80 percent success rate. They then trained the algorithm so it could correctly detect 90 percent of the 230 fake stories.

Risius said the word count, or using all caps, exclamation marks or question marks in a post, are strong predictors of a story being fake. A person being quoted is a pretty good indicator the story is real, while if a story is shared more often with strong emotional responses, the likelihood of it being fake increases.

According to Risius, the process they used to determine authenticity is fairly simple, and he wonders why a social media outlet with a multitude of data capabilities wouldn’t flag stories they know to be fake for their users.

“Though they have many resources to determine what is real and isn’t, they may be more inclined to prefer the community engagement and public attention rather than solve an issue over what is real or fake news on their platforms,” he said.

Clemson introduces teacher residency program 
to improve teacher, student outcomes

In November, Clemson’s College of Education introduced South Carolina’s first university-led teacher residency program. The program is centered around the college’s new combined degree option for undergraduate education students that replaces student teaching in a student’s final undergraduate semester with graduate education classes. The fifth year is comprised of a year-long teacher residency.

Teacher Residency BenefitsThe residency program, housed within the Eugene T. Moore School of Education, will see its graduates emerge after five years with both a bachelor’s and master’s degree in education as well as an extended, year-long student teaching experience. According to George J. Petersen, founding dean of the College of Education, this degree option better prepares teachers and aligns with the most successful efforts at educational reform to prepare and retain classroom-ready teachers.

 

“When it comes to reforming education, innovation is key,” Petersen said.“Research has shown that extending time in the classroom provides a more comprehensive foundation and inspires mastery and self-confidence. It also keeps budding teachers in their classrooms long after graduation.”

Petersen said numbers related to teacher attrition aren’t going to get better without an innovative approach. The negative effects of teacher shortfalls are only compounded by high teacher turnover, which causes problems for schools across the state. In addition to being expensive, it causes a loss of institutional knowledge, school capacity building and consistent teamwork among teachers across grade levels.

Whereas traditional student teaching provides a snapshot, teacher residencies give students the whole picture of teaching as a career. This is proven in other states with similar programs where teacher retention rose to as high as 90 percent over three years.

Cost to Replace a Teacher in SC is $18,000Petersen said the development of an Upstate pilot program is only the first step in a campaign he hopes to expand to the Lowcountry and across the state to reach areas hardest hit by teacher attrition and lacking student outcomes.

Jeff Marshall, chair of Clemson’s teaching and learning department, said college leadership and district representatives are hard at work fleshing out the master teacher selection process and the teacher resident-school district matching process. They also plan to develop an approach to research and ongoing evaluation of the program.

“The faculty and districts don’t want to just hope this will make a difference,” Marshall said. “We want to be able to measure this program’s impact with hard data that shows we’re making a positive impact on teachers and, more importantly, on students.”

Call Me MISTER Encourages Childhood Reading at Barbershops

Student Deakin Rencher teaches reading to Tydarius Cobb

Tydarius Cobb, 9, poses with Clemson University student Deavin Rencher, a sophomore studying special education and member of the Call Me MISTER program, at the Uptown Barbers barber shop in Central, S.C., after reading the book he’s holding as part of the Razor Readers program.

DeAvin Rencher is a fixture at Uptown Barbers in Central. But he’s not a customer or barber. He’s a special education major at Clemson and Call Me MISTER® student who works with kids through the Razor Readers program.

The Call Me MISTER program is sending its students to local barbershops each week to educate school children and their parents on the importance of reading early and often. These weekly sessions are the focus of Razor Readers, a program funded by the United Way of Pickens County that aims to increase children’s access to reading materials and individuals who can serve as educational role models.

Call Me MISTER works to increase the pool of available teachers from more diverse backgrounds, particularly among the lowest-performing elementary schools. The MISTERs play a key role in Razor Readers as role models, according to Amity Buckner, executive director of Pickens County First Steps. “When you realize that a MISTER may be the first African-American male these young learners meet who values education,” she said, “you realize the potential impact of this program.”

Rencher verified Buckner’s statement with his own experience. “I didn’t see an African-American male teacher until high school, and many of these young kids think it’s cool that I’m doing something positive through education.”

Children can read while waiting in line for haircuts or in their free time. Barbers have punch cards for each child that when filled qualify them for a free haircut. Before and during haircuts, MISTERs guide parents through early education tools that will help parents engage with their children and encourage reading at home and school.

“I like to talk to parents first to get their consent and also get them on board, and many of them have really gotten involved,” Rencher said. “We want to use every tool we can to get kids more engaged with reading, and coaching the parents to encourage it just increases the odds we’ll succeed.”

Smiley Garvin, owner and operator of Uptown Barbers, replaced an unused barber chair with a table and chairs for Rencher and the kids. He believes kids who come in and out of the shop are quicker to embrace reading in a setting that isn’t school, home or library.

Levi “T” Robinson owns D’s Diamond Cuts, another participating barbershop, in Easley. He has created flyers for the program that he distributed via local churches and has been thrilled to see kids returning to the shop not for another haircut, but for more books.

Call Me MISTER began at Clemson in 2000. Since then, the program has graduated 203 MISTERs who are now teaching in South Carolina schools and has expanded to include 19 other universities and technical colleges in South Carolina, as well as programs in eight additional states.

Supreme Court Justice Sotomayor inspires during Clemson visit

Sonia Sotomayor speaks at Clemson

When Sonia Sotomayor came to Clemson on Sept. 14, President Clements noted that it was the first time a sitting justice of the U.S. Supreme Court had spoken on campus.

But Justice Sotomayor made sure there was very little sitting. She moved through the packed house of more than 900 members of the University community, stopping several times to organize group photos as she candidly answered questions submitted in advance by students.

Vernon Burton, professor of history and director of the Clemson CyberInstitute, introduced Sotomayor as “not only my friend, but a true American hero.” The two have known each other since their days at Princeton University, where Sotomayor was once his research assistant.

Sotomayor spent an hour answering questions while weaving in personal anecdotes, inspiration and advice. Philosophy major Chiodera “ChiChi” Drayton-Smith asked Sotomayor what parts of her journey to becoming a Supreme Court justice were unexpected. Sotomayor responded that every turn was unexpected.

Sotomayor, who has served on the U.S. Supreme Court since 2009, grew up in public housing in the Bronx, New York. As a child, she never dreamed of being a lawyer or a judge, much less a Supreme Court justice. “To dream about something you don’t know is impossible,” she said.

Sotomayor went from the Bronx to Princeton, where she won the university’s highest academic honor. She attended law school at Yale and was editor of its law journal. After graduation, Sotomayor worked in the public and private sector, serving as an assistant district attorney in New York and was a partner at the law firm Pavia & Harcourt.

She was appointed to the U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York, then served as a judge on the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit before President Barack Obama nominated her as an associate justice of the Supreme Court in 2009.

Haley McKay, who is studying women’s leadership and communication and minoring in Spanish, wanted to know Sotomayor’s philosophy on leadership.

“Find the best in people, and appeal to that,” Sotomayor said. “Make people you are working with give you their best. Challenge them to be the best person they can be. Once you do that, they can rise to your expectations.”

Students were clearly taken by Sotomayor’s dynamic talk. “As a Latina, to see someone like me presented on this campus, that’s so important to see,” said Amanda Arroyo, a graduate student in the department of history. “It’s nice to see someone that’s made it so far,” she said.

Sotomayor closed her appearance by talking about the difference between law and justice. William Powell, a student in modern languages, had asked what young people should know about the field of law.

“Let me start with what the law is not. It’s not about moral justice,” Sotomayor said. “One person’s justice is another person’s injustice.” In her field, there must be a steadfast belief in the rule of law, and Sotomayor has faith in the system she’s chosen.

“We’re not God. As judges, you can’t ask us to play God,” she said. “Laws are made by people. They can be changed by people.”

Sotomayor’s visit was sponsored by the President’s Forum on Inclusive Excellence in partnership with the Humanities Advancement board of the College of Architecture, Arts and Humanities.

View the full event: