Celebrating the Women of Clemson; Finance and Operations

Tracy Arwood’s life philosophy: Let’s build a community

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Visit one of Clemson’s gyms at 5:15 a.m. and you will likely meet up with Tracy Arwood, Clemson’s chief ethics and compliance officer & associate vice president. Arwood’s early workouts started more than two decades ago when son, Garrett, was an infant and she didn’t want to miss his waking hours. Her friends and family call her ‘Grandma’ due to her daily regimen of a late afternoon dinner and bedtime by 9:30 p.m.

A runner with earbuds in and a race bib number.
Arwood listens to her favorite jams while participating in local charity 5 km run.

Particularly throughout COVID-19 when she and her workout buddies meet before dawn outdoors, Arwood has found her sense of balance through exercise as  a form of therapy. “This group of men and women are my fitness community. We look forward to seeing each other and have accountability and support for each other.”

Building community is a running theme for Arwood—a life philosophy.

Today, tapped to lead an enterprise-wide compliance model enhancing the University’s culture of compliance and ethics, Arwood is building a sense of professional community among Clemson’s compliance leaders—from athletics to research and everywhere in between. Together they have created the compliance partners network to leverage the synergies between ethics and regulations, apply best practice solutions to similar problems and remove the sense of isolation often felt in the world of compliance.

The entire endeavor satisfies elements of effective compliance and ethics programming required by the Federal Sentencing Guidelines.

More important to Arwood, it’s an investment in building a community of ethics and compliance as part of Clemson’s culture. It’s just the right thing to do.

Arwood recognized the potential isolation and emotional tax felt by those working in similar positions.

“Understanding Clemson’s culture is important to our overall success,” said Arwood. “At the foundational level, all compliance is the same. It’s about accountability and helping people meet expectations. It’s about building relationships—establishing community and eliminating silos. Together, the University’s compliance partners can remove the headwinds that slow them down.”

Arwood’s husband, Lowell, is the IT director for the City of Clemson and was the 2020 employee of the year. Son, Garrett, studies music at Belmont University in Nashville, TN and is earning some notable gigs—most recently opening up for Cole Swindell in Florida.

“For me it’s always been about what’s the next best way I can add value to the University? It’s about passion. Most everyone approaches things that are important to them in similar ways. When people feel something is important, or it’s their passion, they will give the job the attention it deserves.”

Tracy Arwood
Tracy Arwood and husband Lowell.

Arwood is happy her son can follow his passion, something she knows a little about herself. Her career in higher education started as a paralegal at Mississippi State. Arwood’s legal background, degrees in Criminal Justice and Corrections and her past experience serving as an ombudsman made her a perfect choice to collaborate on a special committee formed to review research taking place in a prison population.

Recognizing the importance of having a supportive and engaged life partner, Arwood says Lowell told her to go find her dream job and he would follow, fortunate to have IT skills in constant demand anywhere. Balancing dual professional careers has been a challenge and has included some months-long separations with Tracy forging ahead on a career she was passionate about.

Since joining Clemson in 2006, Arwood has worked for five vice presidents and now serves on Executive Vice President Tony Wagner’s leadership team. In the past 23 years, Arwood has only had to apply for two positions, being tapped to lead when opportunities presented themselves. She was once asked by her supervisor to talk about her professional ambitions and interestingly declared she did not have any per se.

Professional photo of Chief Ethics and Compliance Officer & Associate Vice President Tracy Arwood smiling and dressed in a dark, single breasted suit.
Chief Ethics and Compliance Officer & Associate Vice President Tracy Arwood

“It doesn’t work that way for me,” Arwood said referring to traditional career ladders. “For me it’s always been about what’s the next best way I can add value to the University? It’s about passion. Most everyone approaches things that are important to them in similar ways. When people feel something is important, or it’s their passion, they will give the job the attention it deserves.”

Sometimes it’s easy to become cynical in light of the sorts of behaviors often employed to climb career ladders. Arwood’s professional and personal drivers offer a refreshing perspective that remedies such cynicism.