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During the October 2015 Board of Trustees meeting, President Clements provided an update on the 2020Forward Strategic plan and the administration presented the plan for college reorganization. The strategic plan was well-received, and official approval for reorganization was given.

The new colleges are:

  • College of Agriculture, Forestry and Life Sciences
  • College of Architecture, Arts and Humanities
  • College of Behavioral, Social and Health Sciences
  • College of Business
  • College of Education (including the Eugene T. Moore School of Education)
  • College of Engineering, Computing and Applied Sciences
  • College of Science

In the coming weeks, we will ask for more feedback on the strategic plan and initiate many activities essential for reorganization. Every college on campus will be impacted by reorganization, even if the college name hasn’t changed. Reorganization teams are already in place and are diligently working and creating committees that will focus on the many details associated with such an important move.


The ultimate vision of Clemson’s 2020 Road Map was achieved in October 2014, when U.S.News & World Report ranked Clemson a Top 20 Public University as part of its annual guide to “America’s Best Colleges.” This is an especially impressive achievement in light of precipitous declines in state funding the past several years. Clemson reached this goal through its dynamic leadership, excellent faculty and staff, a strong central focus on undergraduate learning, and an internal “divest to invest” strategy that prioritized undergraduate learning and made small but highly strategic investments in attracting, retaining and rewarding talent. However, the limited availability of resources allowed for only modest investments in research, graduate studies and outreach.

President Clements has charged the institution to refocus the priorities within the 2020 Road Map, and as a reflection of this shift, the planning process will be called 2020Forward.

Phase I Comment Period

The initial 2020Forward comment period lasted two weeks, from Feb. 9-20, and was just the first of many opportunities to offer feedback on the direction of 2020Forward.

All three implementation reports — undergraduate learning, graduate learning and research — have been posted to this website (Clemson login required). Each lists the proposed vision, major implementation strategies and examples of potential metrics. In addition, your peers identified a small set of “overarching strategies” that are relevant to all three areas, and these are also available.

Phase I Town Hall Meeting and Preparing for Phase 2

Provost Bob Jones and 2020Forward Co-Chairs Ellen Granberg and Brett Dalton answered questions and gave an update on where 2020Forward is headed during a March 24 Town Hall meeting. If you were unable to attend, you can watch a recording on ClemsonTV.

During Phase 2, the focus will be on deepening and developing the Phase I recommendations and producing an initial draft of the strategic plan. Feedback from Phase I as well as other data will be used to inform this process. In selected implementation areas, small taskforces comprising faculty, students and staff will provide additional guidance regarding implementation. Some of these Phase 2 committees have been announced and are beginning their work, and the final committees will be announced soon.

Phase 2 Town Hall

Provost Bob Jones and 2020Forward Co-Chairs Ellen Granberg and Brett Dalton took questions and gave an update on where 2020Forward is headed during a Town Hall meeting on June 16. Specifically, they discussed college re-organization and the 2020Forward Phase 2 reports. If you were unable to attend, you can view a recording of the event on ClemsonTV.

July Board of Trustees Meeting

On July 18, 2015, the administration presented Clemson’s draft 2020Forward plan and the most strongly supported college organization model to the Clemson University Board of Trustees. The Board appreciated the logic of the strategic and college reorganization plans and offered tentative approval for both pending some further refinements. The Board understands that college reorganization can be quite challenging, and they encouraged continued work on determining a reorganization plan that will not only provide optimal academic structures, but also minimal impact on administrative costs.

As a next step, the Provost will appoint some small leadership teams to refine the plans for board review in October. With their final approval, we anticipate launch of the 2020Forward strategic plan January 1, 2016, and college reorganization July 1, 2016.


2020Forward Chairs
Ellen Granberg, Associate Professor & Chair, Department of Sociology & Anthropology
Brett Dalton, Vice President, Finance and Operations

Phase I
Provost Jones outlined Phase I of the 2020Forward plan at a town hall held in November 2014.

Three teams have been created to define three aspirational goals to supplement the existing 2020 Road Map goals:

Note: To view committee updates (as they are available), please visit the links above.

Phase I Milestones
State of the University and Town Hall: November 19, 2014
Committees Receive Charge: December 9, 2014
Phase I Deadline: February 1, 2015

Phase II
In the second phase, different teams will be established to create an implementation plan, which include:

  • Restructuring of the institution
  • Setting investment priorities

Deadline: April 1, 2015


To successfully implement 2020Forward, Clemson’s leadership is seeking input from faculty, staff and students. All members of the university community are invited to read the provost’s charge and to offer feedback. You can post your comments below or email All comments and questions are welcome, but as you read the charge consider providing feedback on the following areas in particular:

  1. Are the visionary goals outlined in the charge the right ones?
  2. The committees are currently considering a focus on creativity, innovation, leadership and digital information as areas within which Clemson can produce distinctive and high-quality research and teaching programs. Are these the right focus areas? Are there other themes that should be considered? (For more information about these themes, see page 2 of the charge.)
  3. From your point of view, what are Clemson’s best opportunities to lead higher education in undergraduate studies, graduate studies and research?




  • Scott Templeton says:

    The three goals are probably the goals of most teaching-research universities in the world. Is there a way to make them more specific to Clemson and what we want to accomplish? What do we want to accomplish? Do Clemson students, faculty, and staff engage in more public service than those at other universities? Are Clemson students, faculty, and staff more involved with businesses, policies, and recreation related to natural resources than those at other universities? Also, can attainment or progress toward attaining these goals be objectively measured?

  • Curtis White says:

    Who are we? What is our brand in Higher Educ? Focus on hiring individuals that can be creative given the time & resources. Rethink our process in deciding who goes and who stays (T&P). Provide opport. For students to experience diversity in all aspects of their tenure: classroom (curriculum / faculty ) to research to intramural. Decisions should be made AFTER family members have had a chance to give input. Find a way to bring leadership stability to our colleges & educational units. Reward/recognize individuals that excel in teaching/research/service. We need to find a structural model that works for Clemson. I believe that if it does not work, change it. But, let’s be sure we give it ample time, resources, & the right leadership. Let us not change the plan by eliminating what is called insignificant priorities. All pieces are important if the plan is to work. Let’s make sure the One Clemson is intact when resources decrease.

  • kmc says:

    In the frequently asked questions, under the 2020 Forward Links, a great question was asked about not having a committee for extension/outreach, with an evasive answer. I do not see having a 2020Forward without it.
    Clemson was established as a land grant university, which continues today, and receives appropriations of federal funds to the state for the maintenance of land grant institutions. I believe a land grant university has a major responsibility for “outreach” to the general public. No other educational institution has such diverse support from so many different funding sources.
    From a Clemson University’s Presidential Colloquium in the Fall of 2000, that should still hold true today, James R. Fischer, Ph.D., P.E., who was in 2001 Dean of Public Service Research and Director, Agriculture & Forestry Research, Clemson University, is quoted in his speech, the following:
    “…The tri-partite mission of a land-grant university is teaching, research and extension. But the basic business of a land-grant university is knowledge: knowledge that is transferred through teaching, developed through research, and utilized through extension. These three functions represent a dynamic continuum of knowledge that connects, or engages, land-grant universities with the people of the state and to the needs of society.”
    “…Being engaged means that a land-grant university serves as a change agent in society. As faculty members anticipate the issues that will affect individuals, businesses, and society, they develop the knowledge needed to address those issues. They then share that knowledge with decision-makers in both the public and private sectors.”

    I believe the 2020Forward vision cannot be mutually exclusive to the purpose of a land grant university. Clemson University has so many resources to provide outreach services to the community. For example, a day care for children of employees that educational majors could interact with, an infirmary for the children, who might be sick, that nursing students could learn and obtain hands on experience, and the graduate students in mental health counseling, under the supervision of a professor, could offer services to the community on a sliding scale. The last service was offered at Clemson University years ago and a day care on campus was talked about since I have been here (over 30 Years).
    Thank you for the opportunity to give input.

  • Jacqueline Stephens says:

    What will be the make-up of the committee members for Phase II? Will there be any people with financial experience dealing with Clemson’s financial structure to better break down if a particular department is moved to a different college or vp area and what the bottom line dollar transfer will be?

  • ergrey says:

    I believe there should be more undergraduate opportunities available at Clemson University. When students are given the opportunity to work independently on research they choose based off their interest, there are multiple potential benefits; grades will improve, resumes will be boosted, and students will be exposed to better job opportunities, that in turn, reflect well on the education Clemson University provides.

  • ergrey says:

    In my experiences with Clemson thus far, I believe this school would really benefit from more undergraduate research opportunities in all different academic fields. There are all different kinds of students at Clemson, many of whom do not necessarily excel in exam based courses. If given the opportunity to do research in their given fields, I believe students who are interested would gain a lot of benefit; grades would improve, academic interest would increase, and finding a focus in their major would allow them a better focus on what career path they would most enjoy and excel in. If students find a career path that interest them earlier in college, the sooner they can look for and apply to jobs of high quality; high quality jobs that will be impressed by all the benefits offered by undergraduate research opportunities.

    Furthermore, if students are able to pair with a professor, or graduate student for research purposes, there would be more mentor/mentee relationships available, as well as improve the employment opportunities for graduate student; when graduate students or professors go into the job market, many employers value the relationship of working with undergraduate students with research; therefore improving their job opportunities.

    Therefore, when undergraduates are given opportunities to do research, their grades and academic interest improve, which improves the quality of job they attain, which then reflects well on the quality of education provided at Clemson University. The same is also true to graduate students who work along side undergraduates.

  • Linda Nilson says:

    Our classes keep getting larger and larger, and this inevitably undermines the quality of our undergraduate education — in particular, the smaller university feel that Clemson has been so proud of in the past. We need to build brick-and-mortar classrooms, hire more faculty, and slow (if not halt) our growth until we can made education as personal as it used to be.

  • Scott Pigeon says:

    Ensure we are aligned with the State’s Higher Ed law re: goals, in addressing the following:

    high academic quality;
    • affordable and accessible education;
    • instructional excellence;
    • coordination and cooperation with public education;
    • cooperation among the General Assembly, Commission on Higher Education, Council of
    Presidents of State Institutions, institutions of higher learning, and the business community;
    • economic growth;
    • clearly defined missions.

  • Paul Merritt says:

    If the unoversize truly wants to make undergraduate learning a priority then there needs to be a dramatic change in how teaching is valued. We should have a fully staffed office of teaching and learning and rewards for high quality teaching. There are very few undergraduate teaching awards compared to graduate teaching, graduate mentorship and research awards.

    • Linda Nilson says:

      Thank you, Paul, for pointing out that OTEI is much too small to have the impact that it could on the Clemson teaching community. It needs a full-time staff of at least five or six just to be on par with the smaller teaching and learning centers at universities the size of Clemson.

  • Cornelia A. Robinson says:

    1. Hire top quality faculty who have national awards and fellows. Hire faculty that have connections with other institutions nationally and internationally. This type of collaboration amongst faculty that network will build a stronger alliance nationally and internationally.
    2. Target the disciplines that are strong in research and grant writing and make them stronger by giving them support and rewarding their success. Release public announcements that acknowledge their achievements.
    3. Target federal funding aggressively.
    4. Build a strong faculty team mentality campus wide. Rally the idea that ‘No Man is an Island.’
    5. Create an environment of trust, and the importance of striving for excellence.
    6. Hire administrators who are in tune with the challenges of governing and managing others in a positive direction with candor, understanding and accessibility. Administrators should be open to viewpoints as well as offer ideas toward campus growth and initiatives.
    7. Look beyond the status quo for energizing faculty to seek more grant opportunities.
    8. Target international students for the purpose of enrolling in the undergraduate & doctorate programs
    9. Target full-bright students
    10. Be aggressive initiating good-will amongst faculty and administrators of other colleges on campus in order for collaboration and brain-storming to become creative for the purpose of having a proactive attitude toward opening doors of possibilities.
    11. Look toward “Hollywood” and other industries that offer – film grants, film production and movie grants; etc..

  • Kelly Smith says:

    Pursuing a national reputation as a research institution is a laudable goal, as is pre-eminence in undergraduate education. And it is possible to pursue them both at the same time, though there are very few institutions who can claim to have actually accomplished both, and all of them have advantages Clemson lacks. It seems reasonable to conclude then that if we truly wish to attain both goals, we will either have to 1) develop a truly innovative new model for making this happen and/or 2) engage in some very complex tradeoffs that must be carefully balanced. So let’s not talk about this as if it will be easy. Let’s not substitute comforting platitudes like “Excellent research leads to excellent education” for serious debate. Instead, let’s have an open and honest discussion across the entire campus of just how we plan to accomplish this, including careful and transparent analysis of tradeoffs. This will be messy and perhaps painful, but in the long run it’s our only realistic option because only be securing campus wide buy in can we have any chance of pulling off such a daunting challenge.

  • Jason Thatcher says:

    1. That teaching goals are the leads in the aspirations is telling – it signals that research is relegated to a tertiary goal. I would love to see goals that somehow signal how research leads teaching excellence at Clemson.
    2. Why are our goals so generic? They could be used at Wofford or USC-Upstate. Could we have more differentiated goals for Clemson? That reflect our history? That reflect our experience?
    3. If these are aspirational goals, they are not inspirational to faculty and staff. They beat the same tired drum that we’ve heard for years. I’d love to see goals that reflect the spirit of excellence that are more focused to our context and that are consistent with our abilities or potential abilities as a university.