Clemson president reflects on issues, achievements at year-end meeting
CLEMSON – Clemson University President James P. Clements lauded the accomplishments of faculty and staff and acknowledged work to be done to move Clemson forward during the May 6, year-end general faculty meeting.
“Thanks to our increasing academic reputation and the national exposure of our recent success in athletics, the value of the Tiger Paw has never been higher,” Clements said.
Outstanding faculty members were honored, and the president cited achievements driving Clemson to new heights in the world of academics. He also noted the progress of the largest construction program in the history of the university, one highlight being the opening of the Watt Family Innovation Center.
As the university moves ahead with the Clemson Forward strategic plan, Clements said diversity and inclusive excellence are significant factors in it.
“I was truly moved by the passion that we all saw for making Clemson a more inclusive place,” he said. “The (recent) sit-in led to several open forums and many conversations about campus climate, diversity and inclusion. In response to the sit-in, I issued a list of specific actions – with timelines – as we continue to strive to create an environment of inclusive excellence.
“We have made some tangible progress in terms of diversity in our student enrollment numbers and our faculty numbers over the past few years,” he said. “Since 2013 we have seen an increase of nearly 13 percent in our African-American undergraduate enrollment and an increase of nearly 31 percent in Hispanic undergraduate enrollment. In the graduate school, we have also seen increases. African-American enrollment has increased more than 7 percent, and Hispanic enrollment has increased more than 36 percent since 2013. Also since 2013, the percentage of minority faculty has increased 15.1 percent to 18.8 percent.”
Clements also cited private funds received in the past year to support diversity initiatives.
“We know that we have a lot of work to do in this area but I honestly believe we are moving in the right direction,” he said.
The president also touted the school’s new designation as a Tier 1 research university in the Carnegie Classification for Institutions of Higher Education.
“This puts us among universities with the highest level of research activity, and this recognition raises our national profile which will help us recruit more world-class faculty and compete for more research funding,” Clements said.
“This, in turn, will support our core mission of education and helps us to fulfill our land-grant mission to South Carolina, drive economic growth and help solve real problems. This classification was a huge achievement for Clemson and it was all due to the incredible work of our faculty and staff over a number of years.”
Clements also mentioned the record number of admission applications, the higher-than-ever academic profile of accepted students, and the approaching end of The Will to Lead $1 billion capital campaign.
“I am incredibly grateful to our donors, who have done so much to support our faculty, staff and students,” said Clements. “On April 6, we held our first ‘Give Day.’ The Clemson Family came together in an incredible way to donate more than $900,000. I was so proud to see all of this come together on very short notice.”
Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs and Provost Bob Jones presented awards of achievement to four outstanding faculty and staff members:
— Chris Heavner, a faculty adviser to Clemson’s Habitat for Humanity chapter and head pastor of Lutheran Campus Ministry, received the Frank A. Burtner Award for Excellence in Advising. The award honors Burtner, who served Clemson University for many years as a professor and student organization adviser. The annual award is given for contributions to student development in leadership, devotion to duty and service to students.
“Working with Clemson’s chapter of Habitat for Humanity [Heavner] has dutifully overseen the building, moving and completion of 23 homecoming houses, led dozens of student groups across the United States, and also has built Habitat houses around the world,” said Almeda Jacks, Clemson’s vice president of student affairs. “Pastor Heavner shows a commitment and devotion to leadership and service. He is what I call your go-to person, whether minister or not!”
— Bruce Martin, professor of turfgrass pathology in the department of entomology, soils, and plant sciences, received the Godley-Snell Award for Agriculture Research, which is awarded by the Clemson University Experiment Station for outstanding contributions to science and public service supporting South Carolina citizens and economic development.
“During his 28-year Clemson career as one of the world’s top turfgrass pathologists, Bruce has embodied Clemson’s land-grant mission of teaching, research and extension,” said George Askew, vice president of Public Service and Agriculture and dean of the College of Agriculture, Forestry and Life Sciences. “He spearheaded the development of the state-of-the-art applied turfgrass research center at our Pee Dee Research and Education Center, and he has had a profound positive impact on a golf industry that was responsible for more than 33,000 jobs and $2.705 billion in economic output in the state in 2015.”
— Psychology professor Thomas Britt received the Alumni Award for Outstanding Achievement in Research, given by the Alumni Association and the Provost Office to tenured or tenure-track faculty members who have conducted research in residence for at least five years.
“[Britt] has published 70 empirical articles since his arrival here at Clemson, as well as nine books and 40 book chapters. Dr. Britt has 11 different papers that have been cited at least 100 times and his total research program is now approaching 5,000 total citations,” said Wil Brasington, Clemson’s executive director of alumni relations. “[His] research moves us forward as an institution and makes us better as a society.”
— Michael Sehorn, an associate professor in the genetics and biochemistry department, received the Phil and Mary Bradley Award for Mentoring in Creative Inquiry, which is presented each spring in recognition of outstanding work with undergraduate students. Creative Inquiry students make the nominations.
“Dr. Sehorn’s work in creative inquiry is outstanding and he is richly deserving of this award,” said Jones. “His work provides the kinds of high impact academic engagement experiences that make a Clemson education so special.”