Gov. Henry McMaster presented the Order of Palmetto on Wednesday to Clemson University Trustee and former Board Chair Smyth McKissick for his extraordinary lifetime of achievement, service and contributions on the state and national stage.
The governor presented the award – South Carolina’s highest civilian honor – at the Leadership Reception in celebration of Clemson’s fifth year of the Men of Color National Summit. McKissick is a longtime advocate for building pathways to higher education and a supporter of the Summit, dedicated to optimizing educational opportunities for African American and Hispanic males.
“As an alumnus of Clemson, Smyth has been a devout supporter of the university for most of his life and is passionate about enriching the state through higher education. Apart from his service to Clemson, he has also shown his commitment to education through his decades working in the textile manufacturing industry, establishing scholarships for more than 80 employees of Alice Manufacturing Company and their families,” said Governor Henry McMaster.
A 1979 Clemson graduate, McKissick joined the university’s Board of Trustees in 1998. From 2010-16 he led Clemson’s historic $1 billion Will to Lead Capital Campaign that led to the creation of 682 scholarships and fellowships, established 26 professorships and endowed chair positions, and renovated numerous academic and athletic facilities.
“This is such a well-deserved honor for Trustee McKissick,” said Clemson University President Jim Clements. “Clemson experienced unprecedented success during Smyth’s six-year term as Chair of our Board of Trustees, and he has made an impact in so many ways for the textile industry and for the economic development of South Carolina.”
He chaired the University’s presidential search committee that brought President Jim Clements to Clemson in 2013, and in 2015 the Board of Trustees unanimously elected him chairman, a position to which he was reelected twice. He completed his final term as chairman earlier this year.
During the six years McKissick served as Board Chair, Clemson increased research funding by 63 percent; was designated an R-1 research institution for the first time; and constructed more than $1 billion in new or renovated facilities.
Since 1988, McKissick has served as the fourth-generation leader of his family’s business. With a 95-year history of producing world-class apparel and home furnishings, Alice Company has transformed into a diversified holdings enterprise and located in Greenville. He remains chairman of the company while his son, E. Smyth McKissick IV, serves as president and CEO.
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