OUR Clemson

Otis W. Pickett to join Clemson as University Historian


Otis W. Pickett will become the University Historian when he joins the University July 1, 2022. Pickett will serve as a resource on issues of historic interpretation, representation and commemoration for the Clemson community and is responsible for compiling and disseminating new scholarship relating to Clemson’s past.

Pickett will report directly to Dean of Libraries Chris Cox and indirectly to the Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs and Provost Bob Jones. He will also hold a Clinical Assistant Professor position in the Department of Teaching and Learning, College of Education.  

Pickett will work closely with the Department of Historic Properties, which is responsible for the preservation of Fort Hill, Hanover House and Hopewell Plantation. Historic Properties has recently been moved under the Clemson Libraries, which will allow for greater collaboration with Special Collections and Archives and will bring all efforts to preserve and interpret university history under one division.

“I am excited to welcome Dr. Pickett back to Clemson, and I know that he will do an outstanding job leading our efforts to document and share our university’s full and complex history,” said Libraries Dean Chris Cox. “So much of Clemson’s history now lives in the libraries through our special collections and archives, so positioning the university historian and historic properties within the libraries is a natural fit.” 

Currently an associate professor of history at Mississippi College in Clinton, Miss., Pickett also serves as the institution’s director of undergraduate and graduate programs in Social Studies Education. Prior to joining Mississippi College in 2013, Pickett was a clinical assistant professor of teacher education at the University of Mississippi’s Tupelo campus. He earned his doctorate in U.S. History from the University of Mississippi in Oxford, Miss., and holds Master of Arts degrees in American History from the University of Charleston and the Citadel. Pickett earned his Bachelor of Arts degree in History from Clemson.

Pickett has articles published in The Journal of African American History, the Native South, the Southern Quarterly, the Journal of the South Carolina Historical Association and has contributed book chapters for several books including Southern Religion, Southern Culture: Essays Honoring Charles Reagan Wilson (University Press of Mississippi, 2018). He has taught courses at Parchman Penitentiary and Central Mississippi Correctional Facility through the Prison to College Pipeline Program, which he and Dr. Patrick Alexander (Associate Professor of English and African American Studies at the University of Mississippi) co-founded in 2013. 

“Dr. Pickett’s significant experience with public history, rich multi-disciplinary training, and exceptional skill in working with people make him well suited to help the Clemson community explore and better understand our institution’s historical roots and development” said Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs and Provost Bob Jones. “We are excited by his commitment to join us!”     

Pickett, who spent his youth in Charleston, S.C., comes from a long line of Clemson graduates including his grandfather Robert Alexander Westbrook (Class of 1950) and great, grandfather Albert Hayne McMeekin (Class of 1918). Pickett and his wife Julie Thome Pickett (Class of 2002) of Aiken, S.C. met at Clemson and have three children: Martha Jane, Otis, Jr. and Thomas.