By Mark Sublette

CLEMSON — A newly established endowment at Clemson University will fund graduate student research on children’s play, creativity on playgrounds and playground safety.

The Dr. Herbert and Juanita G. Brantley Graduate Assistance Endowment honors Herbert Brantley of Bloomington, Ind., the first leader of the Clemson department of parks, recreation, and tourism management (PRTM) who served in that capacity for 21 years, and his wife, Juanita “Johnnie” Brantley, who spent more than 30 years in public education.

The endowment is earmarked for graduate students studying children's play and creativity at Clemson, which focuses on the value of play and the deficit of play activities in modern society. The safety of playground equipment also is scrutinized as more than 46,000 visits to emergency rooms by children under the age of 15 are recorded each year.

Initial funds for the endowment were provided by the couple's son, Stephen Brantley, attending pathologist and former chief of staff at Tampa General Hospital in Tampa, Fla.

“We are overjoyed and humbled that Dr. Brantley elected to honor his parents' lifetime of work in the education field by establishing this endowment within our college,” said Larry Allen, dean of the College of Health, Education and Human Development at Clemson University. “Graduate students in PRTM will benefit from this effort for generations to come, and the ultimate impact will be with our children on the nation's playgrounds.”

Brett Wright, chairman of the department of parks, recreation, and tourism management, explains that the loss or elimination of playtime has had a negative impact on our society, including obesity, attention deficit disorder and limiting of creativity.

“The Brantley endowment will allow students to do research that addresses the measurable benefits of play; highlight the current political, economic and social barriers that stifle play; and identify existing and new opportunities to overcome these barriers,” said Wright.

Herbert Brantley focused on the ethics of resource allocation and environmental management. He is a founding member of the Academy of Leisure Sciences and has served as a member of the Health Education Authority of the South Carolina Commission on Higher Education; a member of the South Carolina Commission for Parks, Recreation and Tourism; and a member and chairman of the Pendleton District Historical, Recreation and Tourism Commission. He also held posts at North Carolina State and Indiana Universities.

Johnnie Brantley's career in education included stints as an elementary school teacher and librarian and later as supervisor for library services for Anderson public schools.

“The Brantleys have been an integral part of the PRTM family for decades,” said Wright. “I am so proud they will continue to be part of this program by way of this incredible act of generosity by their son.”

Anyone interested in supporting the endowment can contact Msiba Dalton, director of development for the College of Health, Education and Human Development, at 864-656-4495.