College of Architecture, Arts and Humanities

Dean’s Corner: December 2021


Dear Faculty, Staff, Alumni and Friends,

As we head towards a much-needed Winter break, I thought it might be nice to look back over this past semester and review some of the highlights.

While we continue to labor in the shadow of COVID-19, we were nevertheless able to reopen and restart a lot of programs that had been shuttered immediately following the outbreak and the lockdown. As I reported last month, our Fluid Campuses in Genoa and Barcelona began operating once again. The Brooks Center, dark for over a year, was once again filled with music, drama, and light. Audience attendance grew steadily, culminating in the Sounds of the Season concert which was SOLD OUT. Lee Gallery was open once again, and our donor groups—Clemson Architecture Foundation and Humanities Advancement Board—were once again able to meet in person.

We have continued to build the leadership team in the College, starting with our new Interim Associate Dean for Graduate and Undergraduate Studies, Mike LeMahieu, who replaced James Burns who, in turn, took on the leadership of the Humanities Hub. I also take this moment to announce Michael Carlos Barrios Kleiss as our new Director of the Ph.D. program in Planning, Design and Built Environment (PDBE), succeeding Mick Lauria, who retired in June after building the program from the ground up. We also welcomed Kaifa Roland, who joined us from the University of Colorado, to become Director of the Pan African Studies program and Dustin Read from Virginia Tech to lead our Master of Real Estate Development program. Their energy and vision are already being felt and we are delighted they decided to join us.

Our faculty continue to shine. Out front as always is Rhondda Thomas from English, who just won the Class of ’39 Award. This is the highest distinction a Clemson faculty member can receive from the university. Vernon Burton (History) has received national attention for his book Justice Deferred co-written with Peter Eisenstadt. Mark Spede (Performing Arts, Tiger Band) was elected to the Board of the National Music Council. Jason Hurdich (Languages, ASL) was elected to the National Executive Board of Registry of Interpreters of the Deaf.

As far as our students are concerned, the historic achievement was Louise Franke being named Clemson’s very first ever Rhodes Scholar. Although she is a biochemistry major, her minor is philosophy, which is the field she has chosen to study at Oxford. My point: no one is awarded a Rhodes without a strong background in the Humanities, and Louise eloquently explained the impact of her Humanities studies in an interview you can read here.

Additional student achievements: Architecture Major Jennifer Jonson was honored with an AIA Greenville Student Design Award for her project “Interlace.” Architecture graduate students Gabriele Bernier, Cora Butler and Garrett Schappell received a national student design award through the Society of American Registered Architects (SARA) for their project, “Subscale Drone Facility.” History major Matthew Ployhart was selected to the University’s National Scholars program.

Last, but not least, rapid progress is being made on our new Humanities Hall building, nestled between Strode and Daniel. The projected completion is this Spring, and the building will be open for classes starting this coming Fall 2022. The topping off ceremony was just held as I write this column. Enjoy the view!

Happy Holidays to all, and may the New Year bring health and happiness.

“Go Tigers!”

Nicholas Vazsonyi, Dean
College of Architecture, Arts and Humanities

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