Change is a tradition at Clemson


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CLEMSON — President James F. Barker opened Clemson University’s 121st academic year Tuesday saying, “Clemson must pay special attention to our relationship to both tradition and change.”

Addressing the Victor Hurst Convocation for what is likely to be his last time as president, Barker said, “A commitment to bold, even radical change is a true Clemson tradition.”

Higher education is being remade by digital communication and technology, with more learning predicted to move into cyberspace, with uncertain effects on the physical campus.

“Faced with this reality, Clemson must embrace its covenant with and its tradition of change,” he said, noting that the university offered 707 courses online last year.

“I do think there is great value in place-based higher education, and there will always be a need for it and a market for it. And Clemson will continue to be one of the best at providing that superior learning environment and residential college experience,” he said.

“Finding the proper balance becomes ever more important.”

Thanking the faculty and staff for their support in the nearly 14 years he’s been president, Barker said, “Whoever is chosen as our next president will have my respect and support, as well as my willing ear and best advice — only if he or she asks me for it.

“I’m counting on you to give Clemson’s next leader the same encouragement and support you gave me.”

During the convocation, the Philip Prince Award for Innovation in Teaching, named for Clemson President Emeritus Philip Prince, was awarded to Steven Schvanaveldt, a lecturer in the chemistry department. Presented by the undergraduate student government president, the award recognizes outstanding teachers who demonstrate creative and novel teaching methods in the classroom.

The graduate student government vice president presented its Excellence in Mentoring Award to biophysics professor Emil Alexov.

Interim Provost Nadim Aziz also recognized 83 faculty members who received tenure and/or promotions.

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