August is one of my favorite months of the year. The beginning of the fall semester brings such excitement and energy to our main campus, with the beginning of a new academic year, a class of brand new students to welcome, a variety of events to enjoy and the start of fall sports such as football, soccer and volleyball.
It is a joyous time and I missed the full experience last year with the changes that COVID-19 brought to college campuses across the country. I am really excited this year to welcome people back to Clemson as we continue to take the necessary precautions to keep people safe.
I am incredibly grateful that we had the technology and the resources to pivot to online learning when the pandemic started and that we were able to offer a hybrid learning model in the fall and more in person classes last spring, which allowed our students to continue to receive the high-quality education that Clemson is known for.
I am also appreciative of our excellent faculty and staff who worked so hard to make all of that happen. However, there is so much value for our students that comes from being together, in-person on campus. From the more than 500 student organizations they can join to bumping into a favorite professor at the campus dining hall, nothing can replace the opportunities that arise when we are all together. All of this will be possible only if we all do our part to curb the ongoing COVID surge by getting the vaccine, wearing a mask when needed and testing when suggested.
I am also excited that our athletic events will be back to full capacity this fall. There is nothing like Death Valley on a Saturday in the fall full of cheering fans. Not only will it be wonderful to see more alumni and fans back on campus, but it will also be great to have them back in our community, supporting local shops, restaurants and hotels.
I have a more personal reason to be excited for this new academic year as well. My youngest daughter, Grace, is entering ClemsonLIFE, a program designed to give young people with intellectual disabilities a residential college experience so that they can learn the skills they need to live independently. It is one of the programs that makes Clemson special and I am thrilled that Grace will be a part of it. I am proud to once again be a Clemson dad!
I want to wish everyone the best of luck this school year, whether you are a K-12 student in an Upstate school district, a teacher preparing for your students to return, a parent sending your child away to college or one of our outstanding Clemson students. I believe we have so much to look forward to this year, and I am grateful for the opportunity to play a role in advancing lives here in Upstate South Carolina.
President, Clemson University
Clemson Corner is a bimonthly column on all things Clemson University. From individuals reaching new heights, research breakthroughs and discoveries, or events that can bring us all together, you’ll be able to learn more about the people who make Clemson, Greenville and South Carolina such a special place.