The Great-Grandson’s Gift

A man in a blazer holds a Clemson ring beside a wall of mounted Clemson rings.

Last fall, Walker MacKinnon ’23 received an email from the Alumni Association looking for someone willing to donate a 2023 Clemson ring for the ring case in the Alumni Center.

He talked with his mother, Portia Sherman MacKinnon ’92, and she encouraged him to make the gift, partly out of her love for Clemson and partly out of family tradition.

There are many Clemson alumni whose family traditions are intertwined with Clemson, but none quite like this family. Walker MacKinnon is the great-grandson and Portia MacKinnon is the granddaughter of Joe Sherman ’34. You might recognize his name as the author of the much-quoted essay, “Something in These Hills,” which he wrote in 1969 while he was director of public relations and alumni affairs.

Joe Sherman’s imprint permeates the culture of Clemson:


Author of the much-quoted essay “Something in These Hills” 


Established Tigerama in 1957 


Raised $500,000 for construction of the Alumni Center


Created the Alumni Association’s Distinguished Service Award


Funded an endowment for Alumni Association operations


Started the tradition of the ring case

Joe Sherman’s imprint permeates Clemson’s culture. He is credited with establishing Tigerama in 1957, developing the Loyalty Fund and increasing annual private support, and raising $500,000 for the construction of the Alumni Center, built on the site of his childhood home with his office where his bedroom had been. He also created the Distinguished Service Award and funded an endowment for Alumni Association operations.

Sherman made his mark nationally as well. He was twice-elected president of the American College Public Relations Association and was named to the College Sports Communicators Hall of Fame in 1980.

Sherman also began the tradition of the ring case, which displays a ring from every class of Clemson graduates.

Portia MacKinnon missed the opportunity to donate a ring herself when she was a senior but plans to mark 100 years since her grandfather graduated with the gift of a Class of 2034 ring. “I was so excited Walker was able to have his ring in the cabinet,” she said. “It means everything to me and my family.”

It means a lot to Walker MacKinnon as well. “It’s cool to leave my mark here,” he said.

Recommended Articles

1 Comment

  1. If they need a 1957 ring I would be happy to donate it.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Follow Clemson World!