Meet a Tiger: Philip Sikes
A perfect fit
He arrived at Clemson as a student and never left. Having spent 13 years as Clemson’s Men’s Basketball communications director, this Tiger recently transitioned to the university’s Student Affairs division and his hit the ground running as he tells the stories of students’ successes, in and out of the classroom. He’s finding that his experiences in Athletics help him tell those stories.
Meet Philip Sikes.
Title: Communications director for Student Affairs
Years at Clemson: 14
What I do at Clemson: This is my first year in a newly created position. I joined the University Relations team last May, with a focus on communications and marketing within the Division of Student Affairs. Before that, I spent the entirety of my professional career as an associate director for communications with Clemson Athletics. In short, I directed strategic communications efforts for the men’s basketball program, while assisting with a number of other sports — including football during its consecutive appearances in the College Football Playoff National Championship Game. But, I took on this new position to challenge and better myself.
Even though I was well into my professional career, Student Affairs was like learning a foreign language. After the first few months of transitioning into this new role and learning the different areas that make up Student Affairs, I’ve tried to focus every piece of communication on how our division impacts and enhances the Clemson experience for our students. Of course, many students choose Clemson for its great academic reputation, but this experience extends well beyond the classroom. And that’s what we aim to do with our communications. I share human interest pieces on student and staff leaders, as well as donors whose contributions greatly impact the programs and services we offer in Student Affairs. I initiate a number of communications from and work closely with Vice President for Student Affairs Almeda Jacks and her executive team. And I use every available resource through our divisional social media platforms to share our story. We haven’t had that point person in the past, and I’m excited by the work done and the direction we’re headed.
What I love about Clemson: Everything. I earned two degrees from this university, as did my wife, Jocelyn. We have two boys, ages 10 and 7, who don’t know anything other than growing up in the Clemson area. It’s been a blessing in my life. If you had told me when I was a freshman in the fall of 1998 that I’d still be here 20 years later, I’m not sure I’d have believed you. But I went straight into graduate school after earning my bachelor’s degree in 2002, and I never left. I’ve been fortunate to work for and with some great people. Not many can say they’ve reported directly to a pair of Clemson legends like Tim Bourret and Almeda Jacks. But I can, and that privilege and honor is not lost on me.
My defining moment at Clemson: Probably early on in my athletics career, when I had just finished my first year as a full-time employee. I was promoted to sports information director for men’s basketball. I was only 25 years old, which is pretty young for someone working in a league as renowned as ACC basketball. Looking back, I probably wasn’t quite ready for all that came with it at the time. But my boss showed great trust in me, and it led to some of the best times of my life.
On a personal note, I’d have to say meeting my wife. Even though we were from the same hometown (Aiken), we went to rival high schools and didn’t know each other. We met freshman year and hit it off. Somehow, she’s stuck by me all these years later!
Accomplishment I’m most proud of: Graduating from Clemson. My brother went to Clemson before me, and although he is smarter than me in just about every imaginable way, he didn’t end up graduating for various reasons. I surprised myself by sticking it out and earning not just one, but two degrees. And my brother’s gone on to be very successful in life. I share that to say you never know what path you’ll end up taking when you come to college. Hopefully I’ve set a good example for my children.
Where I see myself in five years: Continuing to work with young people. It keeps me young at heart. One of the best aspects of working in sports was seeing young people mature and develop as student-athletes. And it’s the same in Student Affairs. I have an opportunity to learn about and share the stories of the next generation of leaders on our campus and in our community.
Last thing I watched on TV: Obviously, I’m glued to pretty much anything sports-related. Additionally, I watch Designated Survivor, which airs Wednesdays on ABC.
Guilty pleasure: Old music. Way older than me. I listen to a number of different genres, but I’m very much an old soul. I grew up on classic rock and have been fortunate to see some of my favorites — the Allman Brothers Band and Rolling Stones, for example — in concert. My iPod includes a ton of those two, and an endless amount of Led Zeppelin, The Who, Marshall Tucker Band, Eric Clapton, Steve Winwood and much more.
One thing most people don’t know about me: I’m probably going to get absolutely destroyed for this, but I appeared on a game show — Family Double Dare on Nickelodeon — when I was 10. We didn’t win, and I’m still a little salty about that to this day. It would’ve made for a much better story!
Want to nominate a colleague to be featured in Meet a Tiger? Contact Jackie Todd at firstname.lastname@example.org.