College of Engineering, Computing and Applied Sciences

In retirement, Cindy Lee leaves the college with a legacy of service and leadership


Cindy Lee will bid farewell to her role as chair of the Department of Engineering and Science Education, marking the end of a 34-year journey as both a faculty member and administrator within the College of Engineering, Computing and Applied Sciences.

Cindy Lee

Lee’s tenure at Clemson stood out for her unwavering dedication to service and leadership. She seamlessly stepped into various leadership roles when the need arose.

Notably, she served as the college’s interim associate dean of research and graduate studies from 2012 to 2013, filling a crucial vacancy and helping ensure the continued smooth operation of the college.

Lee assumed the role of interim chair of the Department of Engineering and Science Education later in 2013, with the interim tag removed in 2015. She also served on search committees when the University needed to find a new vice president of research and a new associate provost and dean of the Graduate School.

“Cindy is the epitome of a dedicated steward who not only leads but also selflessly serves the needs of others,” said the college’s dean, Anand Gramopadhye. “Every time there was a leadership vacuum, Cindy stepped in to keep operations moving efficiently. She is an exemplary researcher and mentor to faculty, students and staff. She will be missed, but we know that she will stay in touch.”

Family, friends and colleagues celebrated Lee’s career on April 17 with a send-off at the Barnes Center. They described it as a bittersweet moment and thanked her for her service, vision, guidance and determination to build the department.

Lee thanked her well-wishers, who included her daughters, college leadership and several faculty members and students.

“I really appreciate all that you have given me over the years,” she said. “Clemson has given me amazing opportunities. I couldn’t have imagined being a part of so many different programs and working with so many graduate students and wonderful colleagues in so many different departments. I think at a different university, I would not have had this opportunity, so I really appreciate that. I hope that Clemson will continue to give people those kinds of challenges and opportunities.”

Lee’s journey at Clemson began in 1990 when she joined as a research assistant and assistant professor in environmental systems engineering. Over the years, she ascended through the ranks, becoming a professor and assuming various administrative responsibilities that shaped the trajectory of the college.

In addition to her administrative duties, Lee is recognized for her pioneering research in environmental science, particularly her studies on the dynamics of PCBs, pesticides, and petroleum within ecosystems. Her research, including extensive work on Town Creek, a tributary of Lake Hartwell, has contributed significantly to the understanding of environmental contamination and its implications.

Outside of Clemson, Lee’s contributions extend to the broader academic community. She has served as the founding program manager for the National Science Foundation Environmental Sustainability Program and as a member of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Science Advisory Board. She also served on the board of directors for the Association of Environmental Engineering and Science Professors and an associate editor for Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry of the Society of Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry (SETAC).

Lee’s retirement from Clemson is effective June 28.

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