Welcome to Clemson, South Carolina!

October 16, 2019

Many thanks to our hosts at Clemson University for putting together this overview of the community where we’ll gather for the 6th GSL Summit from Nov 3 – 5 – One World: Inclusion and Transformation in Global Service-Learning. Registration is open until October 24.

Clemson University is located at the foothills of the beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains in the town of Clemson. With a population of approximately 16,649, the town, in large part, revolves around the presence of the University. Yet, the area also boasts one of the Southeast’s largest and most popular recreational areas with Lakes Hartwell, Keowee and Jocassee. A number of nearby small towns such as Seneca, Pendleton and Central comprise a network supporting our community.

The closest city, 30 minutes way from Clemson’s main campus, is Greenville. One of the largest cities in the state of South Carolina and home to over 68,000 residents, Vogue Magazine recently called Greenville, the South’s Newest Food City. The city serves as the “hub” of the Upstate region of SC and has recently been ranked by CNN as one of the “Top 10 Fastest Growing Cities in the U.S.” , by Forbes as the “13th Best City for Young Professionals” and received the number 3 spot by Conde Nast Traveler’s “Best Small Cities in the U.S.”.

The Upstate of South Carolina is a wonderful mix of rural and urban communities which exemplify the charm of the region. Clemson University was founded in 1889 through a bequest from Thomas Green Clemson, a Philadelphia-born, European-educated engineer, who married John C. Calhoun’s daughter, Anna Maria, and eventually settled at the family plantation in South Carolina. As an advocate for an agricultural college in the Upstate, Clemson left his home and fortune to the state of South Carolina to create the institution that bears his name.

Community members at Clemson work to name and wrestle with the institution’s complicated history. Calhoun Lemon Professor of Literature Rhondda Robinson Thomas has spent the last several years researching African American laborers at Clemson University, starting with individuals who were enslaved and continuing generation by generation to the present day. Professor Robinson Thomas’ work was recently featured in Clemson World Magazine, through a feature: The Power of Calling a Name.

In November 1889, Gov. John Peter Richardson signed a bill accepting Clemson’s gift, which established the Clemson Agricultural College and provided for agricultural education and research purposes by federal legislative acts. Initially an all-male, all-white military school, Clemson Agricultural College opened in July 1893 with 446 students. Clemson became a coeducational, civilian institution in 1955.

In 1963, with the admission of Harvey Gantt, Clemson became the first traditionally white institution in South Carolina to desegregate since Reconstruction. With academic offerings and research pursuits, the institution became Clemson University in 1964. As South Carolina’s land grant university, Clemson has long been committed to serving the people and communities of South Carolina. This mission has created a network and legacy across the state through which our research and educational capacities are activated to improve the lives and opportunities of South Carolina residents.

The Extension network supporting this mission includes everything from agricultural research to disaster response; from health education to work force development. The resulting emphasis on applied and translational research, as well as community engagement, has more recently been extended to many of our international engagements as well.

You will find our agriculture students and researchers focusing on food security and crop resilience. Our nursing and global health students partner with communities around the world to improve health outcomes and our engineers work across the Global South on infrastructural resilience, clean water projects and low-cost medical devices. Of course, an introduction to Clemson University would not be complete without reference to our football team and traditions. The Clemson Tigers have won three NCAA Division I Football National Championships, in 1981, 2016 and 2018. On football weekends, the campus becomes a sea of orange and purple.

Sports reporters commonly reference “the most exciting 25 seconds in college football”, as running down “The Hill.” The football team runs down the grassy hill onto the field at the start of each game. In 1942, student band director Dean Ross began the tradition of “Tiger Rag” as a musical selection to play at football games. In 2003, “Tiger Fanfare” by Band Director Mark Spede was added. Today, the band has more than 15 ways to play what’s known as “the song that shakes the Southland.” We love our Tigers and look forward to stimulating conversations while sharing our traditions with you at Clemson University for the 6th Global Service Learning Summit. Welcome to South Carolina! Go Tigers!

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