Advancement; Clemson University Honors College

How Marty Duckenfield created an enduring community within the Clemson family


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Marty Duckenfield (first row, center) surrounded by 2019 Duckenfield Scholars Ashley Girvin and Emily Godbold, as well as her and their families.
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In memory of her late husband and with the help of her family, Clemson alumna Marty Duckenfield worked with the Clemson University Honors College to create an enduring legacy through the Christopher J. Duckenfield Scholarship Program, which has sent more than 30 Honors students to travel to, study at and experience Oxford University in England since 2005.

In the five weeks students study at Oxford, they take classes with different teaching approaches, attend lectures covering a wide range of topics and take a four-day trip around Wales. The experience is led by Ken Addison, director of St. Peter’s College Summer School at Magdalen College, Oxford.

For Duckenfield, the scholarship is about more than Oxford; it is about community. She knows all the scholars by name, their stories and what they’ve done beyond their Oxford experience. She has been to three of their weddings, welcomed them into her home and considers them her extended family.

The program’s scholars feel the same way about Duckenfield, referring to her as an additional grandmother and lifelong cheerleader, even after they graduate from Clemson.

Once you become a Duckenfield Scholar, Marty takes you under her wing, and you get this additional grandmother in your life. She is such a nurturing figure, and I love her to death.

2023 scholarship recipient and political science and economics major Caroline O’Neal

In addition to studying at Oxford and the relationship they gain with Duckenfield, students who participate in the program return to Clemson as part of an almost two-decade-spanning community of scholars within the Honors College.

For O’Neal, part of belonging to that community meant becoming an ambassador for the program after her studies at Oxford. She now helps other Honors students explore applying to the program, so they can also share in that “special” experience.

Many former scholars refer to their summer in Oxford as life changing. For example, 2022 scholar Sergio Gonzalez Varela (’23), who is now studying politics and international studies at the University of Cambridge, said his time at Oxford was “an unbelievable development in my life” that gave him “a new sense of independence.”

Program History

Christopher and Marty Duckenfield in 2002.

The scholarship serves as a tribute to Duckenfield’s late husband, Christopher J. Duckenfield, and was inspired by the experience the couple shared while studying at Oxford, where they met in 1965.

Duckenfield and her husband both worked at Clemson University. She first worked at the National Dropout Prevention Center and later at Clemson Broadcast Productions. Her husband last served as the Vice Provost for Computing and Information Technology.

In 2005, a year after her husband’s passing, Duckenfield worked with the University to create a scholarship that sends students to Oxford for a summer session to study environmental studies, English and English literature studies or medieval studies.

When Duckenfield initially presented the idea to Oxford, the university had never heard of Clemson. Duckenfield promised Clemson University students would not disappoint, before meeting with then-director of the Honors College Stephen Wainscott to create a program focused on selecting Clemson students who demonstrate extraordinary talent, motivation, commitment, and ability. The program sends up to two scholars to Oxford every year.

The First Scholar: Lindsay Green-Barber (’05)

In 2005, the Duckenfield Scholarship program sponsored its first scholar, Lindsay Green-Barber, a political science Honors student from New Hampshire, who Duckenfield felt exemplified the academic strength and intellectual curiosity of Clemson students.

In every way, shape and form, Lindsay showed exceptionalism to the Oxford people, who are used to seeing excellence. She proved that, at the Clemson University Honors College, we have students who could match anything they have at Oxford.

marty duckenfield

Green-Barber, who studied environmental studies at Oxford, said the learning component of her Oxford experience was transformative.

“In terms of my professional trajectory, it was a huge influence,” said Green-Barber. “It was the kind of thing I wouldn’t have been able to do without the scholarship.”

Almost 20 years later, Green-Barber is principal and founder of Impact Architects in San Francisco. She said that Duckenfield is a consistent cheerleader for everyone in the Duckenfield scholar community – always checking in and wanting to know how and what they are doing while also sharing encouragement. “Even though I’m far away in both time and space, she’s always sharing who’s doing what, and it’s just really nice to be part of that network.”

If you are interested in contributing to the Duckenfield Scholar Program, creating your own scholarly community or sponsoring a scholarship program, please get in touch with the Honors Director of Development, Brian Sisco, at

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