OUR Clemson

Clemson leaders present in force at SC CUPA-HR conference 


Leaders at Clemson, leaders in their community, and leaders in the state of South Carolina. 

For Joy Patton, Clemson’s director of staff and faculty relations, leadership doesn’t stop when she leaves her office on campus. It continues as she shares her time as the current president of the South Carolina chapter of the College and University Professional Association for Human Resources (CUPA-HR). 

CUPA-HR is the national organization for human resource professionals in higher education. CUPA-HR provides research, tool kits, webinars and more to further organizational and workforce excellence in higher education. 

Patton and a team of Clemson Office of Human Resource professionals attended in mid-September to SC CUPA-HR’s annual conference. The event is an opportunity for HR leaders to benchmark best practices, meet new members and develop professionally to better deliver world-class HR services to institutions of higher education. 

“I am proud to be part of SC CUPA-HR,” said Patton. The opportunity to learn more about the ever-changing field of human resources from other professionals in higher education and sponsors who support higher education is invaluable.” 

With more than twenty presentations throughout the three-day event, Clemson was well-represented. Clemson staff members delivered nearly a third of those presentations on topics ranging from leadership effectiveness to accessible recruitment processes. 

Patton is not alone in her dedication to CUPA-HR. Of the ten SC CUPA-HR chapter board members, three are Clemson staff members. Laurie Haughey, executive director of operational communications, serves as the at-large director, and Derek Ekaitis, staff and faculty relations manager, is a committee member. 

Leadership and service to human resources in higher education don’t stop at the state level at Clemson. Ale Kennedy, AVP and chief human resource officer, is serving her second term on the CUPA-HR National Board of Directors. Vivian Watson-Paul, director of training, development and retention, is serving her second term on the CUPA-HR Southern Region Board of Directors. She is also the southern region liaison for the state of South Carolina. 

“I am thrilled to have Clemson HR team members involved in the CUPA-HR boards and attend the state conferences,” said Ale Kennedy. “This is an excellent opportunity to share best practices and learn from other HR leaders.” 

Clemson-led presentations and discussions at the SC CUPA-HR Annual Conference are listed below: 

  • Best Practices in Higher Education discussions – Vivian Watson-Paul, Director of Training, Development and Retention (facilitator): 
    • Leadership Effectiveness – Katie Papakostas, HR Strategic Consultant 
    • Employee Relations Roundtable – Joy Patton, Director of Staff and Faculty Relations 
    • Remote Work – Jennifer Ray – Staff and Faculty Relations Manager 
    • “We Hear You”: Ways to Update Supervisor Training to Inform and Execute on How to Provide Accommodations – Priscilla Harrison, Director of ADA Services and Compliance, and Mary Boyles, Interim Talent Acquisition Manager 
    • Mastering Question Intake:  Strategies for Streamlined Insurance Processes – Shannon Wilds, Director of Workplace Benefits and Well-being 
  • Effectively Equipping Employees with Tools to Improve their Overall Well-Being and Reducing Burnout across Campus – Derek Ekaitis, Clemson Staff and Faculty Relations Manager 
  • CUPA-HR National Update – Ale Kennedy, Associate Vice President and Chief Human Resource Officer