By Taylor Summey, Class of 2020
Clemson home games aren’t just an opportunity to tailgate and support the football team. They are also a chance to pay tribute to those who make the university the incredible place that it is. This weekend, Lesly Temesvari and Curtis White were honored at Memorial Stadium as part of the Professor of the Game and Staff Member of the Game program, created by President Jim Clements in 2014 as a way to honor faculty and staff.
Temesvari, an alumni distinguished professor of biological sciences, has been at Clemson for 19 years. She researches pathogens that cause deadly infectious diseases, such as the parasite that causes dysentery. Currently, she is studying the properties of this parasite as well as its weaknesses, which is knowledge that may lead to vaccinations or life-saving drug treatments in the future. Temesvari is also part of a team of researchers that founded the Eukaryotic Pathogens Innovation Center, which has received more than $20 million in external grant funding, including $10.5 million in funding that she secured for the Center. On Saturday, she was accompanied onto the field by her husband, Karl Franek, Ph.D.
When asked about the importance of recognizing faculty and staff during football games, she explained that “it’s important to showcase the academic side of Clemson to the fans.”
“At the stadium during a game, the administration has the opportunity to showcase the work that faculty and staff are doing to an audience of [more than] 80,000 people,” she said. “This, in turn, enhances the reputation of the university.”
White agreed with her, explaining that Clemson works as a team. “You have to have everybody as part of a team to make it all work,” he said. “That includes the faculty and staff.”
A Clemson alumnus, White is the faculty professional development and diversity coordinator for the Office of Inclusion and Equity. He is a retired faculty member – before his current position, he researched student learning styles and taught agricultural education at Clemson for 21 years. Currently, he leads efforts to recruit and retain faculty members from diverse backgrounds and coordinates professional development programs for faculty. He also coordinates the Pathfinder program, which gives minority doctoral and postdoctoral students from across the country the opportunity to learn about life as a Clemson faculty member. White’s wife, Eartha, accompanied him onto the field as he received his recognition.
Both honorees enjoyed their experiences immensely. White said that he felt “fantastic” the day of the game and that his wife, who accompanied him onto the field, was “mesmeriz[ed]” by the experience. Temesvari said that she felt “awestruck” by being on the field. She explained that, in comparison to sitting in the stands, standing on the field made it feel smaller.
While the field may seem small when standing on it, the honor that White, Temesvari and every prior participant of the program have experienced is massive. By highlighting the contributions of faculty and staff, the program brings attention to the individuals who make Clemson University an incredible place to study and work.