How the Clemson Family went above and beyond to respond to COVID-19
The history books will have something to say about these unprecedented days, when a global pandemic compelled Clemson University’s faculty and staff to evolve, adapt and transform.
The changes transpired moment by moment at first. Then, we found ourselves adjusting day by day until the cadence of college in the age of COVID-19 no longer became a response. It became our reality.
Here are some of the stories of Clemson’s people. We share them as a simple record of deeds great and small that kept us safe, brought us comfort and cared for our community. These acts of service and sacrifice largely went unnoticed while they were happening. Individually, they serve to inspire. Collectively, they remind us of how we rose to some of our greatest challenges, found joy amid tragedy and even overcame our worst fears.
These Tigers brought our students to the finish line of their academic year. And in the weeks and months that follow, their deeds will power our journey forward, toward brighter days when we can all be together again.
Last updated on May 14, 2020.
Associate professor, College of Architecture, Art and Humanities
Robert scheduled a guest lecture for her class that combined career advice and a little bit of humor. Bill Munoz, an industry professional, spoke with her theatre students about managing their careers during a crisis. To add some levity, the Zoom session began with Munoz appearing to be asleep in bed. “It was a commentary on our new methods of engaging,” Robert said. “He got a big laugh – a good start to class.”
Assistant professor, College of Architecture, Art and Humanities
Wilson has relied on her colleagues and family to help transition to online learning. Wilson’s 14-year-old son helped her modify his Xbox headset so that she could record voiceovers on PowerPoint lectures for students. There have been a few bumps in the road, but Wilson has taken them in stride.
Associate professor and director of graduate programs, School of Architecture, College of Architecture, Arts and Humanities
For Harding, one silver lining of online learning has been the opportunity to see his students in their individual, personalized spaces. And that has often included surprise guest appearances from pets and family members. “We definitely have had dogs, cats, rabbits and kids show up at our class Zoom sessions,” Harding said.
Chair, Department of Management
Wallace’s upcoming Leadership Development course, offered during Summer Minimester A, will provide students with a relevant developmental opportunity. Students will explore various leadership models and develop their own leadership action plans and will do so through the ever-changing landscape being shaped by COVID-19. “I think students are really going to run with this material — applying it real-time given the shift in how leaders are being forced to adapt,” Wallace said. The class will be delivered through a combination of recorded lectures and live Zoom sessions. As he’s prepared to teach online, Wallace has reached out to undergraduates on the Management Student Advisory Board to get feedback on what teaching methods have worked best for them during virtual instruction.
Nathan Long, executive director of customer services & Russell Kaurloto, vice president of information technology and chief information officer
With the realization that classes would have to move online after spring break, the Office of Inclusion and Equity recognized not every student would have equal access to online learning. They looked to Clemson Computing and Information Technology (CCIT) to ensure all students would have reliable connectivity and technology. Kaurloto had anticipated the increased demand prior to spring break and ordered additional equipment. As of April 8, Long reports that CCIT had supplied 99 loaner computers, 275 mobile hotspots and 25 headsets to students. Working together, CCIT and Inclusion and Equity were able to meet students’ needs, from sending laptops overnight to practicing social distancing while arranging equipment pickup before campus officially closed.
Associate director of the Social Media Listening Center, Department of Communication
Through a partnership with the South Carolina Emergency Management Division, Henderson has used the technology of the Social Media Listening Center to monitor social media conversations regarding COVID-19 across various platforms. His reports are sent directly to South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster.
Robin Chambers, operations manager, Clemson Libraries
For the past four months, Chambers has served as the emergency operations center liaison, answering phone calls, compiling reports and communicating with members to ensure their success.
Pat Gosnell, general reference assistant, Clemson Libraries
When online instruction began, Clemson Libraries wanted to expand their virtual chat reference hours. Gosnell stepped up to train other librarians and staff members and coordinated scheduling.
Chris Vidas, electronic resources librarian, Clemson Libraries
Accessing online journals and e-books has been critical for students during virtual instruction. Vidas works behind the scenes to troubleshoot problems and ensure that these resources are available.
Executive director, Harvey and Lucinda Gantt Multicultural Center
Even with a closed campus and students scattered across the country, Stewart-Tillman didn’t want to miss the opportunity to continue highlighting and supporting Clemson’s diverse campus community. Instead of canceling planned events for Asian Pacific Heritage Month and Clemson Pride 2020, Stewart-Tillman and her team partnered with other departments and multicultural organizations to move them online. By using virtual platforms like Zoom, Netflix watch parties, GroupMe events, and Instagram and Facebook pages, students were provided spaces for connection, mental and emotional processing, and learning during a time of uncertainty.
Kaitlyn Samons, president, Graduate Student Government
Samons worked with faculty and fellow GSG members to ensure positive outcomes with the transition to online learning. For Samons, it was important students felt protected and heard by the University amid COVID-19 response. GSG was instrumental in helping to advocate for student-centered policies, such as final exam exemption and a pass-fail grading option. Samons, who is teaching English 1030 this semester, said she wanted her students to end the semester feeling that they had a positive experience in her class even with the sudden changes.
Kelly Burgess, Office of Human Resources & Leigh Hurst, Facilities
A number of facilities, housing, dining and other staff members deemed essential have continued to work on Clemson’s closed campus. When the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued a guidance recommending the use of cloth face masks to prevent the spread of COVID-19, volunteers stepped up and began sewing and donating cloth masks to the University for these essential personnel. Burgess and Hurst, together with other family members, sewed and donated a total of 300 masks for Clemson’s essential facilities workers. And some were even emblazoned with a Tiger Paw.
Professor of practice, College of Business
Cauley and her marketing students had to adjust their planned curriculum after moving online. In her social media and marketing class, students are examining how companies are responding to the coronavirus, and local companies and agencies have given virtual presentations to share how they are serving clients during uncertain times. Her nonprofit marketing class had to overhaul the marketing plans they had already developed for 16 organizations as many shifted away from event planning to campaigns soliciting donations and supplies.
Chair, Department of Public Health Sciences, College of Behavioral, Social and Health Sciences; special assistant to the provost; director, Joseph F. Sullivan Center
To help alleviate financial and social distancing concerns about securing non-COVID-19 medical care, the Joseph F. Sullivan Center announced in early April that it would provide virtual clinic visits at no cost to University employees, alumni and families through at least June 30. And in the wake of the April 13 tornadoes that hit nearby Seneca, South Carolina, the virtual clinic service was expanded to all residents of Oconee County.
Senior associate dean of students
When there is concern for a student’s well-being, Clemson faculty and staff can submit a CARE report to set in motion outreach, resources and support. COVID-19 escalated these reports, which prompted Poole to take on additional duties managing and coordinating responses through the Office of Advocacy and Success. She also stepped up to help support Student Emergency Fund outreach efforts, which is part of the Tigers Helping Tigers program designed to help at-risk and in-need members of the Clemson Family. Poole’s work on behalf of the emergency fund directed financial support to students who needed help paying for food, medical expenses, utilities, loss of housing and other immediate needs.
Assistant vice president for campus life
The Division of Student Affairs has been working to meet the unique needs of current, incoming and graduating students in response to the abrupt changes caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. Hays has led the team tasked with moving to an online new student Orientation and graduation alternatives. This summer’s virtual Orientation experience will allow new students to not only meet with their adviser and register for classes but also connect with fellow students in individual and group settings.
Student services coordinator/academic adviser, Department of Forestry and Environmental Conservation
Sanders virtually advised all underclassmen students in the Department of Forestry and Environmental Conservation and guaranteed a timely registration for their Fall 2020 classes. She also stepped up to handle all end-of-semester academic issues for students, particularly those preparing to graduate.
Student services program coordinator, Department of Forestry and Environmental Conservation
Jennings was instrumental in getting courses switched to online in the system and made needed changes due to the midsemester loss of some courses. Throughout this period of online learning, she has continued to monitor and submit graduate student-related processes like defenses and admissions and the various paperwork involved.
Administrative assistant, Department of Forestry and Environmental Conservation
Kesler was instrumental in ensuring that everything from virtual advising to helping students secure necessary equipment went smoothly. She developed spreadsheet information on essential research employees within the department and worked with them to get data correct and to provide essential access to buildings. Additionally, Kessler coordinated with faculty and staff to ensure that employees working from home had all the resources and technology they needed to make the transition seamless.
Lisa Ruggiero Wagner, lecturer, Department of Biological Sciences
Ruggiero Wagner initially held her Keys to Human Biology and Therapeutic Applications of Anatomy and Physiology courses as live Zoom sessions, but after the first week of online learning, she knew plans had to change. “It became apparent to me immediately that these students needed flexibility,” Ruggiero Wagner said, “not just to allow for education and learning but to minimize stress to maximize learning potentials.” Ruggiero Wagner later switched to recorded PowerPoint lectures so students could access the material at their convenience. During the regularly scheduled class time, students could log in to Zoom and ask questions. To mitigate students’ concern about potential technology problems while taking tests, Ruggiero Wagner designed untimed exams that could be taken up to three times. With this format, she created a meaningful learning experience through spaced retrieval practice while also adjusting to students’ needs.
Fredda Owens, circulation manager – Maggie Mason Smith, library specialist – Russell Terry, stacks manager
Owens, Mason Smith and Terry worked to scan materials from Clemson Libraries collections and acquire scans of articles to provide students and faculty with the resources they need for their research.
Sarah Greene, systems support manager, Clemson Libraries
Despite the challenges of new parenthood and having her home and car destroyed by a tornado, Greene has persevered with a positive outlook on work and life. She has ensured that the library’s search system works and helped Clemson Libraries transition to a new statewide shared library services system.
Marianne Herr Glaser
Lecturer, Department of Communication
Glaser helped more than 500 of her students transition to online instruction while also helping her community. Glaser, who resides in Gwinnett County, Georgia, ensured that local children in need at Duncan Creek Elementary School continued receiving the lunches they’d typically have at school. She and another mother, with the help of their children, solicited donations to put together lunch bags and deliver them to families in need.
Assistant professor, Department of Psychology
“Dr. Byrne and her labs right now are really good at making the most of the situation, and if anything, it helps concentrate the TA attention and group work to be better than in class,” said one student. “Her class has been just as effective and has made me feel like there is actually some good structure in this chaos.”
Lauren Duffy, associate professor and undergraduate coordinator – Dan Anderson, senior lecturer – Marieke Van Puymbroeck, distinguished professor and recreational therapy coordinator
Department of Parks, Recreation and Tourism Management
Duffy, Anderson and Van Puymbroeck led the Department of Parks, Recreation and Tourism Management’s efforts to adapt the curriculum to online learning. The trio went above and beyond to help ensure PRTM students continue their on-site internships or are provided with good alternatives for their future careers.
Stephanie Garst, executive director, U.S. Play Coalition – Shawna Cass, strategic communications coordinator – Bianca Schuster, senior proctor – Tequilla Stokes, assistant to the chair
Department of Parks, Recreation and Tourism Management
In just a matter of weeks, Garst, Cass, Schuster and Stokes teamed up to transition the 2020 Play Conference and PRTM Awards Banquet to an online format. Both of these events are highlights for students during the academic year and essential to the department’s outreach efforts.
Research specialist, Department of Forestry and Environmental Conservation
Chao made appointments with several of his graduate students to ensure they had access to the necessary equipment and supplies to help them complete their research-related projects.
Allysa Sutton, academic adviser, College of Behavioral, Social and Health Sciences
Sutton helped coordinate the recall and academic continuity for all School of Nursing students studying abroad in Cyprus. She has also represented the College of Behavioral, Social and Health Sciences on the committee tasked with creating an online version of new student summer Orientation.
Marie Hegler, lecturer & Julie Northcutt, professor and Extension program leader
Department of Food, Nutrition and Packaging Sciences
Hegler and Northcutt collaborated with the Extension Food Safety and Systems Program Team to certify six graduating seniors in the food science emphasis area in the Food and Drug Administration Food Safety Modernization Act “Current Good Manufacturing Practices and Hazard Analysis and Risk-based Preventive Controls for Human Food” (HARPC). Students participated in a blended online course, the first of its kind, with inspectors from the South Carolina Department of Agriculture and food industry participants. This experience provided students with the opportunity to work through real-world issues, current concerns and practical solutions.
Haley Appleby, lecturer, Department of Food, Nutrition and Packaging Sciences
Appleby worked with Clemson Computing and Information Technology (CCIT) to enable students to access all of the Sonoco Institute packaging design software remotely. Prior to online learning, this capability had not been permitted. With access to the software, students enrolled in product/package design and prototyping, packaging design theory, and packaging design and development were able to complete their final design projects.
Daniella Hall Sutherland, assistant professor & Noelle Paufler, assistant professor
Department of Educational and Organizational Leadership Development
Hall Sutherland and Paufler set up and ran a set of courses during the Spring term in which they help the Ed.D. cohort — who are practicing teachers, assistant principals, principals and district office administrators — work through their content and research methods curriculum via online instruction.
Catherine Murton, assistant clinical professor, School of Nursing
Pathophysiology and pharmacology are two high-stakes, historically challenging courses in the undergraduate nursing curriculum, and Murton had never taught them online. She sought help from CCIT and other campus partners to successfully deliver the classes virtually. Murton has earned admiration from students, staff and faculty for her efforts.
Tracy Fasolino, associate professor & Lisa Miller, assistant professor
School of Nursing
Thanks to Fasolino and Miller’s work with clinical partners, all family nurse practitioner and adult-gerontology nurse practitioner graduating students met the required clinical hours to be eligible to sit for the national exam.
Michelle Boettcher, assistant professor – Tony Cawthon, director of graduate studies – Natasha Croom, assistant professor of higher education and student affairs – Rachel Wagner, assistant professor
Department of Educational and Organizational Leadership Development
During the Spring term, 55 first-year and second-year students in the master’s in counselor education program had to complete practicum courses and internships while also working in positions in the Division of Student Affairs at Clemson and in surrounding higher education institutions across the Upstate. Boettcher, Cawthon, Croom and Wagner helped students develop online counseling and logistical support skills for the undergraduate students in these multiple institutions who were transitioning to online learning. These faculty members had as many as eight individual sessions per day with their students and advisees.
Ben Card, IT services team, College of Behavioral, Social and Health Sciences
Card coordinated with CCIT and staff to ensure that faculty and students seamlessly made the transition to online learning. Card has been praised inside the college for his calm, competent and timely responses to inquiries.
Clemson Home staff
The Clemson Home staff swiftly communicated on-campus housing and dining impacts to students prior to and following spring break. In about two days, employees in Clemson Home processed more than 1,000 extenuating circumstance requests for students to remain in on-campus housing after spring break. “Clemson Home staff is at the frontlines doing the work in meeting residents’ needs,” said Leasa Evinger, director of residential living. “We have an excellent team who is responding to messages coming into the Clemson Home main email and phone number and working directly with students and parents who have many questions. They’ve worked hard to ensure from an informational standpoint that we’ve addressed the needs of students who are on campus and particularly those who are away.” Evinger also credits community directors, as well as maintenance and custodial staff, for serving critical roles to meet the needs of current on-campus students. Dining staff have also stepped up to provide meals for this group of students as well as essential campus safety personnel while maintaining proper social distancing guidelines.
Carol Collins, senior lecturer, Department of Performing Arts
Collins’ playwriting, improvisation and honors theatre appreciation courses all relied on Zoom to give students face-to-face interaction and opportunities to collaborate. In playwriting, students met online to act out scenes they had written. Because in-person groupwork was no longer possible, Collins shifted her final project in theatre appreciation from requiring a built set model based off a one-act play to focusing more on themes, character and conflict. Her improvisation students, instead of building an art installation, created items to represent individual characters they had created. While acting out their characters, when everyone but the performer was muted on Zoom, Collins had her students wave homemade “celebration wands” to capture real-time reactions and provide encouragement.
Bob Polomski, Clemson Extension specialist (horticulture/arboriculture) and adjunct assistant professor, Public Service and Agriculture
As COVID-19 has upended everyday lives, Clemson Cooperative Extension Service experts like Bob Polomski have provided tips for people to grow their own home gardens. Not only do gardens serve as a source of fresh and nutritious food, but they also can help keep kids engaged with the outdoors and ease the stress of these uncertain times. Extension agents are sharing their robust gardening knowledge via Facebook (@ClemsonExt) and at https://hgic.clemson.edu/.
Fadi Abdeljawad, Department of Mechanical Engineering
About six months ago, Abdeljawad used dry-erase paint to convert a wall in his home into a free-expression whiteboard wall for his two young children. When classes moved online after spring break, it also became a valuable teaching tool. Abdeljawad, who taught mechanics of materials, a foundational course for mechanical engineering majors, used the whiteboard wall to write equations and diagrams for his students, just as he did when classes were meeting in person in Dillard Hall. Abdeljawad’s approach earned high praise from his students; conducting classes live via Zoom at their regularly scheduled time and using the whiteboard helped to effectively mimic the classroom setting and provide a sense of normalcy during the transition to online learning.
Corrine Grant, director of alumni relations and development, Division of Inclusion and Equity
Grant and other donors have honored essential workers with a small gift of gratitude. Each day via Facebook, Grant has conducted a live drawing for a free lunch. She has received entries from five states, including California, and even from abroad in Belize.
Latinos Unidos, an on-campus group that serves Clemson’s Hispanic and Latinx students, has partnered with Hispanic Alliance for a fundraising campaign to aid members of that community affected by the coronavirus. The economic fallout caused by the pandemic has disproportionately affected the Hispanic/Latinx population, with 49 percent of Hispanic households having experienced pay cuts or job losses, compared to 33 percent of the U.S. population. Only 16 percent of Hispanic workers are able to work remotely, and only 38 percent of Hispanics in low-wage jobs have health care coverage. Shortly after it was launched, the fundraiser, which will remain open all summer, raised more than $14,000, with Latinos Unidos matching the first $2,000 and Southeastern Products matching $5,000.
Academic Success Center
Rachel Anderson (coordinator of Peer-Assisted Learning), John Freeman (graduate assistant for PAL), Jenai Brown (coordinator of tutoring), Brock Stephan (graduate assistant for tutoring) and Laurel Whisler (coordinator of course support programs) in the Academic Success Center transitioned the PAL, tutoring and LearningLab programs online. These offerings served nearly 3,500 students throughout the Spring semester. During the week before spring break and the first two days after break, this group trained approximately 150 undergraduate peer leaders so that the programs could continue seamlessly as sources of academic support and learning community for student success.
The Joseph F. Sullivan Center:
Caitlin Moore, director, outreach and wellness
Thanks to Moore’s efforts, the Sullivan Center has successfully launched the new Clemson Virtual Clinic, which required substantial coordination and planning with key stakeholders. The virtual clinic is now serving Clemson faculty, staff, family members and alumni residing in South Carolina. Moore has also negotiated an expanded mission in virtual women’s health care that has launched for key areas of the state where care is less accessible.
Will Mayo, director, medical surveillance & Angie Reid, registered nurse
Mayo and Reid have teamed up to continue to operate Clemson’s medical surveillance program, which has addressed employee health and planning (with the Emergency Operations Center) on issues related to COVID-19 and employees. This service has included obtaining personal protective equipment and helping to advise employee screening policy.
Michelle Deem, family nurse practitioner – Kristie Boswell, family nurse practitioner – Allison Harrold, registered nurse
Deem and Boswell have continued to see patients in both a virtual clinic environment as well as in physical clinic settings, when necessary, using personal protective equipment. Boswell has been supporting Harrold in a significant rewrite of clinic policies and directives. These new regulations relate to patient safety, quality improvement, accessibility, patient-centeredness, infection control and laboratory management — all required for professional accreditation.
Andrea Thornal, business and health care operations administrator & Christy Gibson, medical administrative manager
Thornal and Gibson have worked together to continue to help shape business arrangements and contracts, collaborate with the Medical University of South Carolina on issues related to financial billing and electronic health records and create various strategies to schedule the Sullivan Center support staff to aid clinicians while reducing exposure to COVID-19.
Logan McFall, health educator
McFall has assisted in updating directories and access information for food banks and distribution points in South Carolina to help serve people in need. He has also been developing digital content for a future Clemson health and wellness broadcast show led by the Sullivan Center.
Kayla Cooley, medical lab specialist
Cooley, a phlebotomist, has worked on new clinical procedures related to blood draws, sample delivery to laboratory support and integration of lab findings into the Sullivan Center’s new electronic health record. These processes are critical in timely clinical care and patient safety.
Connie Quigley, medical administrative specialist
Quigley works in the front office at the Sullivan Center, fielding all calls and scheduling appointments, helping patients (while following social distancing guidelines) with check-in and other issues in the care experience.
Jasmine Townsend, medical administrative specialist and health educator
Townsend has worked with virtual patient scheduling and getting after-visit summaries to patients, perfecting medical referrals processes for patients to see community specialists. She has led the development of outreach to churches in Oconee County to promote the Clemson Virtual Visit program at no cost to county residents (at least through June 30).
Miranda Owens, medical administrative specialist
Owens manages the Best Chance Network referrals for patients, ensuring that female patients are receiving preventive services.
Jeanette Little, medical administrative assistant
Little manages the front office for the Clemson Health Clinic – Walhalla, scheduling and rescheduling patients, continuing to qualify women for Best Chance Network cancer screenings for this year and assisting in scheduling Clemson Virtual Clinic visits.