Tharon Howard

Tharon Howard
Image Credit: Ashley Jones / Clemson University

CLEMSON — Clemson professor of English Tharon Howard has won the 2017 Ken Rainey Award for Excellence in Research from the Society of Technical Communication. The award was presented earlier this month at the organization’s annual summit meeting in Washington, D.C.

In bestowing the award, the society cited Howard for his passion for research that has resulted in “significant improvement to technical communication, especially to practice.” The society defines technical communication as the process of conveying complex information in a way people can understand and use.

“Your award recognizes your focused, original and significant research program in usability and user experience that has had a highly significant impact on industry practice and has earned you a well-deserved national and international reputation in the field,” according to the society.

Howard teaches in the Master of Arts in Professional Communication program and the Rhetorics, Communication, and Information Design doctoral program at Clemson. In 2011, he was the recipient of the Society of Technical Communication’s J.R. Gould Award for Excellence in Teaching Technical Communication.

As director of the Clemson University Usability Testing Facility, Howard has conducted sponsored research aimed at improving and creating new software interfaces, online document designs and information architecture for clients including Pearson Higher Education, IBM, NCR Corp. and AT&T. For his work promoting the importance of usability in both industry and technical communication, Howard was awarded the Usability Professionals Association’s “Extraordinary Service Award.”

Tharon Howard receives Ken Rainey Award from the Society of Technical Communication.

Tharon Howard receives the Ken Rainey Award from the Society for Technical Communication. Pictured with Howard are Alyssa Fox (left), current president of the society, and Adriane L. Hunt, immediate past president.
Image Credit: Jason Dixson Photography

“Like Ken Rainey, I believe it’s essential that we conduct research studies which produce actionable findings that have an impact on the work of practicing professionals,” Howard said. “That’s why it’s such a privilege to receive recognition that the academic/industry partnerships I’ve created in usability and user experience research have had an impact on practice in our field.”

Howard is the series editor for the Routledge-ATTW series on technical and professional communication. He also serves as the production manager for Clemson’s Center for Electronic and Digital Publishing where — in addition to producing scholarly journals, books, fliers and brochures — he teaches graduate students to create and maintain digital publications and websites.

He designed and directed Clemson’s Multimedia Authoring Teaching and Research Facility where faculty and graduate students in architecture, arts and humanities learn to develop fully interactive, stand-alone multimodal productions and experiment with emerging instructional technologies, augmented reality devices and interface designs. Howard has written or co-authored four books, the most recent being “Design to Thrive: Creating Online Communities and Social Networks That Last,” published in 2010 by Morgan Kauffman.

“Tharon’s colleagues in the department of English have long known him to be an expert, adviser and advocate for effective technical communication, for students, colleagues and clients alike,” said Lee Morrissey, chair of the English department. “We are delighted that Tharon has now received national recognition for his contributions to the field.”

Tharon Howard joined the Clemson faculty in 1992. He holds a Bachelor of Arts in English from the University of Missouri and a master’s and Ph.D. in English from Purdue.


The Society for Technical Communication
The Society for Technical Communication is the largest association of technical communicators in the world, comprising members on six continents throughout its 100 chapters and 22 special interest groups. STC members work in every industry, producing instructional manuals, online help, multimedia, training resources and other forms of technical communication.