Great Smoky Mountains National Park superintendent recognized by Clemson Institute for Parks for conservation leadership

October 29, 2021

Cassius Cash, Superintendent of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, was recently honored with the Walter T. Cox Award by the Clemson University Institute for Parks in recognition of his sustained leadership and achievement in public service and conservation.

The Institute for Parks presents the annual awards program, which is named for George B. Hartzog Jr., the seventh director of the National Park Service (NPS), to showcase leading figures in the field of conservation. Specific awards were named after visionary leaders that Hartzog respected and admired. Award recipients are following in Hartzog’s footsteps by making significant contributions to the management of parks and preservation of our natural, historical and cultural heritage.

The Walter T. Cox Award recognizes park administrators that exemplify Dr. Cox’s distinguished career in education and public service, which included his tenure as President of Clemson University and as the Director of the Santee-Cooper Authority.

For the last five years, Cash, a native of Memphis, TN, has been back on his home turf serving as superintendent of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park – an accomplishment of which Jeff Hallo, Interim Chair of the Department of Parks, Recreation and Tourism Management at Clemson University, recognizes as no small feat.

“In his role as superintendent, Cassius has proven himself to be a devoted steward of the land,” Hallo said. “Managing a park of this size is not without its own set of challenges, but his vision for the park’s land and programs has visitors’ best interests in mind.”

Since his arrival in the Great Smoky Mountains in February of 2015, Cash continues to meet the demands of more than 11.4 million park visitors annually. Most recently, he supervised the opening of the newest 15-mile section of the Foothills Parkway which extends from Walland, TN, to Wears Valley, TN.

Cash has been an in-demand speaker for nearly four years, sharing his passion for leadership, wild places, and inspiring youth to become tomorrow’s leaders. He has spoken to the Knoxville Bar Association, National Boy Scouts of America, and to the Congressional Black Caucus, to name a few. He has also been interviewed and featured in several magazines and news outlet such as Knoxville’s CityView magazine, Huffington Post, Blue Ridge Countrymagazine and CBS News.

As Cash leads the Great Smokies Park into its 103rd year, his message about the importance of embracing challenges and taking risks, the power of relationships and community and the importance of knowing yourself is just as relevant now as it was at the park’s conception.


The Clemson University Institute for Parks (CUIP) provides research, education, training, and outreach that enhances the management of the world’s parks and protected areas. It accomplishes this by providing park and protected area managers with innovative research to support science-based decision-making; and by developing current and future leaders in the park movement by providing interdisciplinary and transformative education and training programs. The Institute currently consists of 35 Fellows and 10 Scholars working on park-related research.

Visit the CUIP website for more information about the George B. Hartzog, Jr. Environmental Awards program and its recipients.