Phil Landreth stepped into his mentor’s role on an interim basis and carved out a new and challenging position for himself
When John Finn unexpectedly passed away in January, Phil Landreth was asked to take on his responsibilities as interim director of administrative and external affairs in the College of Engineering and Science.
“He was a special person in my life, a mentor, during the years I worked with him,” Landreth said. “His example helped me develop the skills that have helped me in this new position.”
After five months of juggling the interim position with his full-time duties as director of machining and technical services, Landreth had proved he was up to the challenge. Dean Esin Gulari created a new comprehensive position of director of instructional and research support and made the assignment permanent in May. It was a win/win move, resulting in cost savings to the college and the perfect job for Landreth.
Landreth graduated from Clemson with a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering technology in 1984 and has been working at Clemson for 23 years. He was drawn away from his job in the private sector working for Frito-Lay Inc. when a former professor, and then department chair, suggested he apply for an open position in the engineering services department.
“My wife, Debbie, and I had just purchased a house in Rock Hill six months before this call, but once I came back for an interview, I was hooked,” he said.
After so many years on campus, Landreth is a vital part of the Clemson Family and is instrumental in helping the University progress into the next decade.
Landreth is now responsible for keeping the College of Engineering and Science facilities on the cutting edge of technology and functionality. Some of his new duties include planning for facilities upgrades and renovations, including buildings, space inventory and utilization. He also performs the same duties for the provost’s office as it pertains to the Clemson University academic facility plan.
“I really enjoy the new challenges and opportunities that each new day brings,” he said. “The best part of my job is dealing with people and trying to help them resolve problems.”
Even with these new responsibilities, he hasn’t lost his enthusiasm for machining and technical services, a position he held for 12 years and fondly described as going to work at “Monster Garage” — a reference to the former Discovery Channel television show that focused on transforming a variety of vehicles into “monster machines.”
“We have five precision machinists, three fabricator/welders and an electrical engineer who can make anything,” he said. “We design and build research projects after determining what the faculty and/or graduate students are trying to accomplish.”
Graduate students and faculty are not the only beneficiaries of Landreth’s work.
“We also help out on the undergraduate level by making lab specimens, helping out with the Formula SAE race car, Baja vehicle and concrete canoe teams,” he said, “and for the past two years we were the support facility for FIRST robotics competition.”
Landreth’s résumé also includes three terms in the Clemson University Staff Senate, serving as membership chair, secretary, president-elect and president.
“The Staff Senate represents the interests and concerns of Clemson staff to the administration,” he said. “I wanted to be a senator because I care and wanted to represent the staff well.”
All of these responsibilities may seem daunting for one person to take on, but Landreth hasn’t backed down from any challenges at Clemson. His devotion to the Clemson Family is instrumental to its success.
“I help Clemson students achieve the best education that they can by providing a nice, clean, up-to-date learning environment in the classroom and by challenging their thinking when dealing with them on their research projects,” he said.
Clearly, Landreth’s ability to take on a number of tasks that benefit students, faculty and the Clemson community is a huge asset for the University — one John Finn would surely approve.
Written by Alex Urban and Beth Jarrard, Media Relations