Office of the President

President’s Update: Changes to mask, testing guidelines; new Academic Cornerstone gift


Dear Clemson Family:

I hope your summer is off to a great start. I am excited that things are starting to return to back to normal on campus, and we are working hard to plan for a very active fall semester. We are welcoming hundreds of kids to campus over the summer for academic and athletic camps, and about 400 incoming students will be here for our Tigertown Summer Bound program. We are also resuming our study abroad program in a limited capacity in the fall as well, which is another sign of a more typical fall semester for our students. Earlier today, we announced updated guidance related to masks and testing. Face coverings are now optional on campus but remain strongly encouraged in classrooms and lab spaces. They are still required in medical facilities and on public transportation. We are also moving to monthly testing instead of weekly testing. You can read the full announcement of those changes here.

We also made the decision to have SAT and ACT tests optional for admissions for one more year, due to the disruption in testing schedules and availability that have impacted many high school students over the past year. We do not want the lack of testing availability to hinder any student from applying for admission this year, so we felt it was the right thing to do for another year.

Much to celebrate: Academic Cornerstone for architecture; faculty awards; CHRO search completed

A few days ago, we celebrated our latest Academic Cornerstone Partner gift — $3 million from Bill and Laura Pelham to support scholarships for architecture students and to establish an architecture track for our Emerging Scholars program. This gift will help create more opportunities for students to study architecture at Clemson, especially for students who may not be able to otherwise. The Pelhams have a long history of generous support for our School of Architecture, and I am incredibly grateful to them.

I was excited to celebrate with the Pelham family – (L-R) Ana, Laura, Bill and Mary Catherine.

As always, I am proud of the outstanding work of our faculty and staff, and I want to extend my congratulations to several faculty members who have recently earned recognition for their work:

Two of our faculty were recognized by Gov. Henry McMaster with awards — Dr. Tanju Karanfil, vice president for research and professor of environmental engineering and earth sciences, received the Governor’s Award for Excellence in Scientific Research, and Dr. Marco Ajello, associate professor of physics and astronomy, received the Governor’s Young Scientist Award for Excellence in Scientific Research.

Dr. Trudy Mackay, director of the Clemson Center for Human Genetics and the Self Family Endowed Chair of Human Genetics, has been elected to the American Philosophical Society, making her the first professor in Clemson history to become a member of that prestigious group. She is the only elected member in the field of biological sciences from either of the Carolinas.

Dr. Rhondda Thomas, the Calhoun Lemon Professor of Literature, was named Senior Researcher of the Year for the University, and Dr. Lior Rennert, assistant professor of public health sciences, was named Junior Researcher of the Year at our annual Research Symposium. Seven other faculty members were also recognized with University Research, Scholarship and Artistic Achievement Awards at the event last month.

Recipients of the University Research, Scholarship and Artistic Achievement Awards.

I also want to congratulate Dr. Ale Kennedy on being named our new associate vice president for human resources and chief human resources officer. Ale has done an amazing job serving in the interim role the past 10 months, and I know she will continue to serve the university well in this role.

Important updates: Woodland Cemetery; strategic planning refresh

As we announced in OURClemson on Wednesday, work continues on the preservation of unmarked African American graves at Woodland Cemetery. I appreciate the hard work and dedication of the team working on this important and complex project. You can read the latest announcement here or learn more on the Woodland Cemetery Historic Preservation website.

In closing, I want to provide a brief update on where we stand with the refresh of our strategic plan. We brought in two experts to guide us through the strategic planning process – David McNair and Dr. Ray Greenberg. David, founder and president of The McNair Group, has been involved in strategy development for more than 35 years in both the public and private sectors. Dr. Greenberg is a professor at the School of Public Health at the University of Texas Health Science Center in Houston where he also previously served as Executive Vice Chancellor for Health Affairs. He is also president emeritus for the Medical University of South Carolina and retains an adjunct appointment there in the Department of Public Health Sciences. David and Ray have been gathering input for many constituent groups across the university and reviewing many materials and documents from our Clemson Forward plan.

I am proud of the progress we have made towards our Clemson Forward goals since the plan was launched in 2016, and I am excited about the opportunity to refresh and refocus our efforts as we look towards the future.

I hope you all have an enjoyable and safe summer. Take care of yourselves and each other and thank you for everything you do for Clemson.

Go Tigers!