CLEMSON — James P. Clements addressed faculty and staff at his first-ever general faculty meeting as Clemson University president, recapping his first semester while also lauding the award-winners announced at Thursday’s event.

Clements spoke of the whirlwind that his first few months at Clemson has been, from speaking to business and alumni groups in Greenville, Columbia, Charleston and Washington, D.C.; meeting with top CEOs of such companies as BMW and Boeing, as well as U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker; testifying at three budget hearings in Columbia; and addressing  the top-three priorities on his initial “to-do list”: filling key positions, addressing facilities needs and completing The Will to Lead campaign.

Clements introduced newly promoted vice presidents George Askew of Public Service and Agriculture and John Ballato in Economic Development, announced the appointment of George J. Petersen as founding dean of the Eugene T. Moore School of Education and reiterated that the search for a dean for the College of Business and Behavioral Science will continue. He also reported that the search for an executive vice president for academic affairs and provost has entered into its second phase.

“We have also had several searches for leadership positions, and I want to thank you for participating in these searches,” said Interim Provost Nadim Aziz. “We continue to work to fill these key positions with a sense of urgency, as President Clements indicated. I view this as a unique moment in Clemson’s history where we have the opportunity to mold what Clemson will look like for many years to come.”

Clements said he was pleased to announce that the university has begun working on new or to improve academic facilities, and how it is moving forward with two key projects for student facilities: the Core Campus and Barnes Center.

He then spoke of Clemson’s The Will to Lead campaign.

“We all know that there is pressure to hold tuition down. Private support is becoming more and more important so we can get the resources that you need to be effective to continue delivering high-quality education to our students,” Clements said. “I am pleased to report that the campaign is on track.

“We have raised almost $800 million as of May 1 towards our $1 billion goal. This past Monday, we announced a $3 million gift from Haworth to furnish and equip the Watt Family Innovation Center. Recently, we announced two new gifts from Joe and Gretchen Erwin of Greenville — totaling more than $1 million — for scholarships and programs. And the Call Me MISTER program received $1.3 million from the Kellogg Foundation to expand its program.”

Clements ended his remarks by reading from an email he received last week, sent from the father of an international exchange student — Hannah Scott from Scotland — who spent her junior year with Clemson.

“Her family had actually never heard of Clemson before her university in Scotland recommended us to her,” he said. “… He mentioned the kindness and genuine hospitality of the faculty, staff and students at Clemson, and how it made a really big difference in Hannah’s experience; he mentioned that Hannah felt that Clemson offered a wonderful and very supportive environment; he mentioned that Hannah had a very rewarding academic year which, he said, will put her in good stead when she returns to Scotland; and that her year was immeasurably enriched by the total Clemson experience. He ended his message by saying that he genuinely believed that Hannah could not have received such positive input into her personal and academic development anywhere else in the world, and he reinforced his comment by saying, ‘and I mean anywhere else in the world.’

“His praise and gratitude was for you — for the great and important work that you do for this university. I want to end by saying thank you; thank you for making a difference, not just for Hannah Scott, but for all of our students.”

Several awards to recognize faculty staff were also given during the meeting.

  • Jeffrey Fine, associate professor of political science, won two awards: the Frank A. Burtner Award for Excellence in Advising and the Class of 1940 Bradbury Award for outstanding contributions to the Calhoun Honors College. Fine teaches courses in American politics and research methods, including courses on the U.S. Congress and elections. His primary expertise is in American political institutions, with a particular focus on the U.S. Congress.
  • The Alumni Award for Outstanding Achievements in Research was awarded to Linda Gambrell, Distinguished Professor of Education in the Eugene T. Moore School of Education who teaches graduate and undergraduate literacy courses. She has served as a consultant in the area of reading and literacy development throughout the Unites States and internationally, and also serves as an expert for Scholastic Inc. and ePals. From 1999 to 2006, she was the director of the School of Education at Clemson.
  • Heather Walker Dunn, research assistant professor in the department of animal and veterinary sciences, received the Phil and Mary Bradley Award for Mentoring in Creative Inquiry. Through her efforts, Clemson has gained media coverage and interest from outside observers. She has given her undergraduate students unique experiences that contribute to their Clemson education and future careers: everything from developing fine-needle biopsy techniques to book publishing. In the past year, her Ruminant Anatomy Creative Inquiry project produced a photo atlas that is distributed globally in three languages. Her newest Creative Inquiry project, Companion Animal Anatomy, is producing another photo atlas that students will market, with all proceeds going to increase undergraduate educational experiences at Clemson.
  • Graduating senior Kate Gasparro received the Norris Medal, which is awarded to the best all-around graduating senior. It is considered the highest undergraduate honor.