CLEMSON — It was standing room only as students, faculty and staff gathered at the Watt Family Innovation Center Tuesday, May 7 to celebrate the 2018-19 award winners during the annual spring awards ceremony. President James Clements and Provost Robert H. Jones were among those presenting awards.

Kelly Smith, associate professor of philosophy and biological sciences, named this year’s Alumni Master Teacher, was selected by the Student Alumni Council from among more than 180 teacher nominations. Kelly’s highly interdisciplinary research has led to consulting work with NASA. He first learned he had been awarded this prestigious honor when a large contingent of students from the Alumni Counsel walked into his classroom with balloons and cake.

“When I think of the faculty who have been named Alumni Master Teacher, like Jerry Waldvogel, someone who I admired greatly, I never understood until now how humbling winning this award would be,” said Kelly. “Many universities promote research and teaching, but as an environment, what makes Clemson unique is that it promotes a sense of entrepreneurialism too. At Clemson, collectively we punch above our weight class all the time.”

Annually, one staff and one faculty member receive the Thomas Green Clemson Award for Excellence, recognizing exemplary teaching, research or service. Staff recipient, Serita Acker, executive director of Women in Science and Engineering, has proven to be instrumental in directing programs to increase the number of unrepresented minorities.

“My career has taken me on a really great journey,” said Acker, who has served the University for 29 years. “I am standing on the shoulders of great people like Sue Lasser who was a strong mentor and who helped build the program.”

Professor winning award

The Thomas Green Clemson Award for Excellence was awarded to faculty member Margaret Ann Wetsel, associate director and associate professor in the School of Nursing
Image Credit: University Relations

The Thomas Green Clemson Award for Excellence was awarded to faculty member Margaret Ann Wetsel, associate director and associate professor in the School of Nursing. Representing the very best in the School, CBSHS and the University as a scholar, teacher, practitioner, administrator and community leader, Wetsel was recognized for holding dual roles within the healthcare system and the School of Nursing.

The Class of 1956 Award for Staff Excellence, an award recognizing a distinguished staff member making outstanding contributions in the area of undergraduate student success, went to Londan Means, director of Academic Advising in the Department of Biological Sciences. A respected academic advising leader, student advocate, and member of the CU Navigate advising platform leadership team, Londan has been described as someone who shows a willingness to go above and beyond the call of duty for students.

“Clemson has wonderful people,” said Londan. “So many people have positively influenced me during my time a Clemson, including Julie Pennebaker and Altheia Richardson, and Calvin Williams, Robert Cohen and Saara DeWalt from my college.”

Staff member receiving award

Londan Means (center) receiving the Class of 1956 Award for Staff Excellence

Andrew Mannheimer, lecturer in the Department of Sociology and Anthropology, was recognized with the Phil Prince Innovation in Teaching Award for his innovative teaching methods and dedication to the University’s students by Clemson’s Student Government. Mannheimer engages his students in the learning process by marrying his research interests of education, race, ethnicity, and culture with hip hop, and his innovative teaching style affords students the opportunity to ease into deeper discussion on controversial topics. Even USA Today covered one of his interesting courses.

He is pleased his efforts to get through to students is working, but is quick to share the honor with fellow department members.

“Katherine Weisensee, our department chair, observes my classes and provides helpful feedback. Andrew Whitehead is is an excellent teacher, a prolific researcher, and has been a true friend since I came to Clemson,” said Mannheimer. “Observing Jennifer Holland caring for students through her teaching and advising is an inspiration, and Rosa Grayden and Alexandra Fant are often the first people I see each morning, which is a wonderful start to the day!”

The Ted G. Westmoreland Award for Faculty Excellence honoring outstanding contributions in the area of undergraduate student success was awarded to Xiaobo Hu, professor of Political Science and director of the University’s Center for China Studies. Student-centered in his teaching style, Hu was recognized for his passion for fostering student engagement and for encouraging students to become knowledgeable global citizens.

Boyd Parr, director of Clemson Livestock Poultry Health, was winner of the Rowland P. Alston Sr. Award for Excellence in Public Relations. As the state’s veterinarian, Parr interacts with state and federal officials and veterinarians from the other 49 states. He was recognized for his tireless efforts to promote the University, animal health, agriculture and smart farming, and for the network of colleagues he welcomes to contact him with any concerns and issues.

“I have the privilege of working with a wonderful team of distinguished veterinarians that includes my colleague, Dr. Patty Scharko. I think as a team we all make each other better and there is a unique synergy within our group,” said Parr.

Victoria Sellers, a doctoral student in Engineering and Science Education was awarded the Frankie O. Felder Graduate Student Award for performing admirably in her research and academic pursuits while navigating chemotherapy. Sellers was quick to acknowledge the positive effects of having ongoing contact with two Class of ‘39 award-winning faculty as mentors—Lisa Benson (Engineering and Science Education) and Catherine Mobley (Sociology).

Despite being located far from campus at Clemson’s Pee Dee Research and Education Center near Florence, Francis Reay-Jones, awarded the Godley-Snell Award for Excellence in Agricultural Research, is active in his home department of Plant and Environmental Sciences and has mentored countless students who have gone on to careers in private industry, government and academia. An international expert in entomology and a research innovator in the use of spatial analysis to understand and combat pest damage in field crops, Reay-Jones has been awarded 13 USDA grants totaling over $4 million and 110 additional grants. Reay-Jones is quick to point out the important, successful research partnership he has with Jeremy Greene, a professor in Plant and Environmental Sciences.

The 2018-19 winner of the Alumni Award for Outstanding Achievements In Research, is the Ernest R. Norville Endowed Chair and Professor of Bioengineering and Professor of Oral Health Sciences at the Medical University of South Carolina, Hai Yao. Yao is working to advance the biomechanical function, degeneration and regeneration of skeletal systems, specifically the temporomandibular joint (TMJ). Yao’s group established the first multi-scale TMJ model, integrating joint imaging and kinematics, tissue mechanics, cell metabolism, and genetics, to determine the path of normal TMJ remodeling or degeneration. He is serves on the committee for a consensus study on TMJ disorders at the National Academy of Medicine.

Named by Princeton Review as one of the best 300 professors in the nation, Robin Kowalski, professor of Psychology, was this year’s winner of the Centennial Professorship. Kowalski’s research on cyberbullying has been supported by a grant from the National Science Foundation.

Faculty member receiving award

Anastasia Thyroff, winner of the 2019 Phil and Mary Bradley Award for Mentoring in Creative Inquiry
Image Credit: University Relations

Anastasia Thyroff, assistant professor of marketing, received the Phil and Mary Bradley Award for Mentoring in Creative Inquiry. Thyroff provides mentoring support to two long-running and productive creative inquiry projects. Her support led to Clemson’s first Corporate Creative Inquiry, a three-year exploration of the transfer of knowledge between generations of workers at the Siemens Corporation featured in Business Education Magazine (BizEd).

William Ferrell, Jr., Fluor Professor of Industrial Engineering and associate dean of the Graduate School, was awarded the Ralph D. Elliott Award for Outstanding Service to Off-Campus, Distance and Continuing Education for his model service in monitoring each student’s progress in the Master of Engineering in Industrial Engineering.

John DesJardins, Hambright Leadership Associate Professor, Bioengineering, was awarded the Frank A. Burtner Award for Excellence in Advising for dedicating his career to the mentorship and support of students through collaborative research and design projects, Creative Inquiry, study abroad, and international student research and outreach programs. DesJardins’ support and advisement has directly impacted more than 1000 Clemson students.

The Algernon Sydney Sullivan Non-Student Award, given to recognize an individual’s influence for good, excellence in maintaining high ideals of living, and service before self was awarded to Rev. Chris Heavner. Heavner has served the campus community in various ways including active membership in Campus Ministers to Students and Clemson University’s Martin Luther King Enhancement Committee. He was also the key initiator and sustainer of the annual Habitat for Humanity Homecoming Build on Bowman Field, which has brought thousands of students, faculty, staff and community members together for positive change for the past 25 years.

Student Spring Award Winners

  • The Norris Medal, awarded to the top all-round graduating senior – Rami M. Major, Genetics
  • Algernon Sydney Sullivan Student Award – Hannah Connelly, English
  • Algernon Sydney Sullivan Student Award – Antonio J. Harrison, Management
  • Phil and Mary Bradley Graduate Student Award for Mentoring in Creative Inquiry – Kylie Smith, Ph.D. student in Biological Sciences