CU Board of Trustees

February 10, 2014

Report of President James P. Clements  •  Clemson University Board of Trustees

Friday, February  7,  2014

Thank you, Mr. Chairman.  It’s a pleasure to make my first official report to the Board.

As you know, I’ve been on the job for about 6 weeks now and it has been a great experience.   Beth and I want to thank the entire Clemson family for their very warm welcome.

Beth, Grace and I are settling in at the Clemson House, which also happens to be a student residence hall. That makes for some very interesting elevator conversations with the students!

Beth and Hannah Clements doing laundry at Clemson HouseOur daughter Hannah transferred to Clemson and is, ironically, also living at the Clemson House. Her rule is that she can drop by our apartment anytime she wants to, but we can’t go anywhere near her floor!

Living in the same dorm, however, gives Beth and Hannah some interesting mother-daughter bonding opportunities — like being in the laundry room in the basement late at night.

Here’s a Quick Recap of January:

I had the best campus tour any newcomer could ever ask for, thanks to President Kayley Seawright and an outstanding group of almost 300 students.

Clemson cheerleaders join together and hold up President Clements

They literally took me all over campus – from the bell tower in Tilman Hall to Howard’s Rock and down on the football field! I think we actually made 10 stops in a 3-to-4 hour period!

I was so impressed by how much the students know about Clemson’s traditions and our heritage.

The tour was well-documented by student interns De Anne Anthony, Savannah Mozingo and Ellen Meny. You can find videos and photos our University YouTube and Flickr sites.

A lot of people commented to me about the photo taken with the Cheerleaders and the Rally Cats.

This was a perfect example of teamwork because there is no way I could be standing up there without the help of those two very strong guys – Daniel Stack and William Morgan! If they weren’t there, it would have been a very painful experience for me!  And, trust me, that is a lot harder than it looks!

State Funding

In terms of State funding, I had the opportunity to present our state budget requests to the House, and I was encouraged by the positive response.

I do want to point out that Kayley presented with me and did an outstanding job! In fact, she was so good I don’t think it mattered what I said because she literally stole the show!  She was great!

I was also honored to speak to the Textile Council of the South Carolina Manufacturers Alliance! Thank you, Mr. Chairman, for making that happen. And thank you Trustee McKissick for being there and introducing me to some very important leaders in that industry.

One industry leader who was there stopped me at our basketball game this week to tell me because of that event he entered into a new applied research agreement with the university!

We also officially opened our new facilities for graduate business programs at Greenville ONE last week. During that event we named the first-ever winners of the Innovative Spirit Awards – Joe Erwin and Greg Smith – who are both very successful entrepreneurs.

Barker, WIlkins, Clements at orange bowlclements-rion

And, in terms of athletics, we had an impressive victory in the Orange Bowl over Ohio State and an exciting win in basketball at home over Duke.

Some of my favorite pictures from the Orange Bowl show us with Chairman Wilkins and his wife Susan, and Jim and Marcia Barker.

I was also honored to meet Rion Holcombe – the Ultimate Clemson fan – who will be in our Clemson Life program next fall.

gracie-tigerBy the way – I am not the Tigers good luck charm.  It is actually my daughter Grace, who is undefeated at all Clemson athletic events she has attended, including football, men’s basketball, women’s basketball, and diving!

Cannon Smith

We also had a very strong football recruiting class, including Cannon Smith (Bill Smith’s son) who we welcome to the Clemson family!

At the recruiting celebration Wednesday night, Coach Sweeney said that Cannon is one of the Top Tight Ends in the country. We celebrate the fact that our recruiting class ranks among the best in the nation!

Recent Recognitions and Achievements

It’s hard for me to talk about Clemson without bragging, so I’d like to share a few recent accomplishments.

Our value and efficiency has recently earned national recognition from Princeton Review, from Kiplinger, and from U.S. News and World Report – which ranked us #7 in the country among all national universities for efficiency.

This is a measure of cost and quality, which is a very powerful combination!

And this is on top of our  #7 return-on-investment ranking – among public and private universities – earned recently from

Once again, we’ve earned a Top 5 national ranking for high-performance computing systems for public universities. The infrastructure that Jim Bottum and his team have built is the envy of many universities and even private-sector research labs.

Our Will to Lead campaign is progressing very well, under the capable leadership of Trustee McKissick.

We will have several major gift announcements in the next few weeks. We raised more than $10M during the month of January.

Clemson faculty and staff are all over the news these days:

Dr. Zoran Filipi, with CU-ICAR, was recently interviewed about automotive innovations for a story that aired globally on the Voice of America. We were the only university mentioned in the video.

In a recent Forbes Magazine article, psychology professor Dr. Philip Roth cautioned employers about putting too much stock in the Facebook sites of prospective employees. His research shows there’s not much correlation between social media posts and job performance.

We’ve seen a lot of media coverage about research led by Dr. Raja Rao on the use of aluminum foil to improve battery storage capacity.

In addition, the voting technology being developed at Clemson was featured in USA Today, and since I’m now a faculty member in Dr. Juan Gilbert’s department I had to mention that one.

Kevin McKenzie, our chief information security officer, works diligently to protect us against hacking, phishing and other cyber-attacks that could bring down the network or cause personal information to be compromised, possibly leading to identity theft. For his great work, Kevin was recently named the Information Security Executive of the Year for North America by the Tech Exec Network.

DeDe Norungolo, a staff member in our disability services office, was recently elected as the Chair of the South Carolina Universities College Council of Educators Empowering Disabled Students – or SUCCEEDS.

And the faculty, staff and students who operate the outreach programs at the Outdoor Lab helped our Parks, Recreation and Tourism Management Department earn a Special National Recognition Award from the American Camp Association.

My Top Priorities

Looking ahead, here are some of my priorities for the next few weeks and months.

First — my number one priority is to recruit outstanding leaders to fill the key positions that are currently vacant or filled on an interim basis.

Even if we have very capable and effective interim appointments – and we do – there is a sense of uncertainty about long-term planning and direction until we have permanent leaders in place.

With the help of Faculty Senate President Kelly Smith, I am finalizing a search committee to begin the search for a permanent Provost.

As you know, we will soon have another major leadership hole to fill when John Kelly assumes his new post as president of Florida Atlantic University. Congratulations once again to Dr. Kelly!  You have left a tremendous legacy at Clemson and we know you’ll do great things at Florida Atlantic University.

I have spent the past few weeks gathering information related to our Economic Development efforts to help determine the next steps regarding Economic Development and PSA – both of which are very important parts of the university.

We need to continue to build Clemson’s national reputation by hiring some high caliber of leaders.

We want nothing but A players who think BIG, who understand the importance of collaboration and can also act with a sense of urgency.

Secondly — I’m doing a lot of listening and learning as I meet with groups on campus, tour off-campus facilities and visit with legislators, alumni, business leaders and colleagues around the State.

Third — I’ve been studying and assessing the 2020 Road Map. The Administrative Council gave me a thorough overview and I’ve had a chance to go over the Report Card metrics with Dr. Debbie Jackson.

Here are some of my initial takeaways:

We’ve made substantial progress in student quality, in overall academic performance and in outreach and engagement. We need to continue those efforts.

We also are making good progress on our capital plan and we have a number of student housing and athletics projects on your agenda today.

One area that probably needs greater focus is on building the research and graduate education culture and capacity on our campus.

Finally — one of my priorities is to continue building Clemson’s academic reputation.

We have a lot of outstanding faculty and staff who are doing great work. We’re in the Top Tier in student quality and in retention and graduation rates. We have several truly innovative programs, from Creative Inquiry to Deep Orange.

Part of my job is to help spread this word.

As you know, I am fortunate to hold several national leadership positions with the American Council on Education and the Association of Public and Land-Grant Universities.

Those opportunities give me a national platform to talk about the great things that are happening at Clemson and I intend to use the platform.

Academic reputation is key to recruiting world-class faculty, staff, students and academic leaders.

Latest Economic Impact Report

In terms of our economic impact, I’d like for the Board to be the first to hear the results of a report to be released next week.

There are many ways to measure the positive impact that a university has on its state – and — one way is by our economic impact on South Carolina’s bottom line.

A new report from Clemson’s Regional Economic Analysis Laboratory offers the following results:

In the Fiscal Year 2013 — Clemson generated approximately $1.9 billion dollars in economic output for the great State of South Carolina.

In addition, our activities account for:

  • nearly 25,000 jobs
  • more than $1 billion in disposal income for South Carolina households, and
  • A net return to state taxpayers of $81.8 million.  That is the difference between our net impact on state government revenue and our appropriations from the State;

In addition, we contributed a net return to local governments of $128.2 million. In other words — Clemson is a net funder of local and state government.

These are also very conservative estimates. The study does not count the contributions of the nearly 60,000 Clemson alumni who live in South Carolina. It does not count private-sector jobs created through our economic development activities.  And it doesn’t put a dollar value on the contributions to quality of life through research and outreach.

Clearly, Clemson University is vital to the economic health of the State.

Report Card

For a more detailed assessment about how we’re doing, I will ask Debbie Jackson to distribute the Report Card.

In closing:

I know that President Barker always started his presentations with a story about Life in the President’s House. I would like to end my presentation with a story about one of our students, Emily Howard,  who’s here with us today.

She’s also been pretty busy the past few weeks setting new school diving records at the pool … making the Fall President’s List with a 4.0 grade-point average … and earning awards for her incredible commitment to outreach and public service.

Emily Howard Clemson DivingEmily is a senior from Newtown, Pennsylvania, majoring in Psychology. She’s Clemson’s record-holder in 2 diving events and is the team’s points leader so far this year.

She made the ACC Academic Honor Roll 3 times and she received the honorable mention Scholar All-America award from the College Swimming Coaches Association of America.

Just a few weeks ago, she added another accomplishment to that long list when she was named the student recipient of the Martin Luther King Jr. Excellence in Service Award.

Emily has compiled more than 100 hours of community service in just the past 2 years. She:

  • helped organize our student-athletes participation in the University’s Relay for Life event for the past two years.
  • chaired the “Be a T.I.G.E.R.” Field Day for Children, which teaches kids about character development through fun and engaging activities.
  • organized the university’s Run for Boston this past spring to raise funds for families victimized by the Boston Marathon bombing.

Emily is a frequent speaker at area elementary and middle schools for the athletic department’s character building program.

She is involved in Clemson’s Community Care Secret Santa project, Empower Clemson, Special Olympics and she volunteers at Moses Cone Memorial Hospital. She also actively participates in programs to discourage irresponsible alcohol use.

The only other thing I can say is: We are so blessed to have such an incredible young lady like this at Clemson.

Emily, you are a tremendous person — a dedicated student-athlete and a great ambassador for this great university!  Would you please stand and allow us to recognize and thank you for your leadership and commitment to public service?  You make us all very proud to be Clemson Tigers.

Let me also welcome Dr. Loreto Jackson, Associate Athletic Director for Student-Athlete Services, who helps all of our athletes reach their potential. Thank you, Dr. Jackson, for helping Emily arrange her schedule so that she could be here today.

That is what it is all about.  Making a positive difference in the lives of our student and in the lives of others!

I want the Board to know that I am very thankful for the opportunity to serve here with you, and I promise to do my best to make a positive difference on the campus and in the community!

Mr. Chairman, that concludes my report.

Clemson University's 15th president, James P. Clements