Dr. Jerry Reel, HA ’00

Clemson’s historian since 2002, Jerry Reel has quite a history with the university himself. His career at Clemson went from potentially short-lived to one as honored professor and academic leader for 50 years. The New Orleans native began putting down his roots in Clemson when, shortly after earning his bachelor’s degree in art history and literature and master’s in history from Mississippi Southern College (now the University of Southern Mississippi). He accepted a faculty position with Clemson in 1963. He was an instructor, then quickly advanced to assistant and associate professor, before being named professor of history in 1971. By then, he had become hooked on Clemson life. He is active in Fort Hill Presbyterian Church and served as adviser to Pi Kappa Alpha fraternity for more than 25 years. Students nominated him as a Clemson University Alumni Master Teacher in 1975.

“Our plan was to just stay here long enough to get my research for my Ph.D. finished,” Reel recalled. “I was going to go to England in 1964, do my research there, come back, do writing and translating, and then, hopefully, get my Ph.D. and go off to some other place. And here we still are.”

He earned his doctorate in British medieval history from Emory University in 1967. Reel was named dean of undergraduate studies in 1979 and two years later was promoted to vice provost and dean of undergraduate studies, a position he held until 1992 when he became senior vice provost. Reel stepped down from that position in 2003 and became professor emeritus. He earned the South Carolina Governor’s Award in the Humanities in 2011.

Since 1978, Reel has taught a freshman one-hour-per-semester class and given more than 500 speeches about Clemson University’s history to various groups and organizations. It is his love for Clemson that has led the Medallion winner to write a monograph and two books detailing the history of the university. He also contributed to two others. An honorary Clemson alumnus, Reel has direct Tiger “orange bloodlines” throughout his family. His wife, Edmee, holds a master’s degree from Clemson, and all three of his children, two sons-in-law and a daughter-in-law are Clemson alumni. One grandson is a current Clemson student.

“I am overwhelmed, and slightly embarrassed, by this honor,” Reel said. “Typically, very important alumni win this award. It’s not something that a college teacher normally wins. So I am very honored, on behalf of all the people who have contributed to the history of Clemson University.”

Smyth McKissick ’79

Smyth McKissick has played many roles in his association with Clemson University through the years: student, alumnus (having graduated in 1979 with a Bachelor of Science in administrative management), benefactor and trustee. University officials have now bestowed the school’s highest honor on the Greenville native.

McKissick has been engaged with the university continuously. He has been a trustee since 1998, chairing or serving on numerous committees, including Finance and Facilities, Educational Policy, Institutional Advancement, Student Affairs, Research and Economic Development, Executive and Audit, and Agriculture and Natural Resources. He served as chairman of the presidential search committee that, along with the board of trustees, selected Clemson’s 15th president, Clements, last fall. He also served as a member of the search committee that, along with the board of trustees, named Clemson’s 14th president, James F. Barker, in 1999. He is an IPTAY member, served as Clemson University Foundation director, and currently chairs the university’s $1 billion capital campaign, The Will to Lead.

In 2012, he received the Clemson Alumni Association’s highest honor: the Distinguished Service Award.

McKissick is the fourth generation of his family to lead the family-owned textile business, Alice Manufacturing Company, where he has served as CEO since 1998. Smyth and his wife, Martha, have three children. Their daughter, Holly, is a Clemson graduate. “Clemson University is still that student-centered university that cares most about students and the faculty and provides a student experience that affords young people the opportunity to be the best they can be. I’m proud of Clemson for putting that at the nucleus of all we do,” he said. “One of the great joys of my Clemson experience has been working with wonderful volunteers and serving next to great leaders who are all committed to the betterment of our university.”

Thomas B. McTeer ’60

William Shakespeare said, “When words are scarce they are seldom spent in vain,” and Thomas B. McTeer’s more than 35 years of service to Clemson as a man of few words but great action are a testament to this statement.

And to think this longtime Tiger fan almost became a Gamecock.

McTeer was set on playing Carolina football when Coach Frank Howard offered him a last-minute scholarship. He would go on to become one of the longest-serving members of Clemson’s Board of Trustees, his passion for teamwork and unity evoking a drive that would see the University through challenge and triumph, from integration to winning a national football championship and becoming a top-25 public university.

As an industrial management major, McTeer played football and ran track; was involved in student government, Tiger Brotherhood and Blue Key Honor Society; and served as vice president of the Central Dance Association and the senior class.

President of McTeer Real Estate since 1964, McTeer also has served on the Columbia Board of Realtors and the Columbia Zoning Board of Adjustment Appeals, and offers his skills and expertise to Clemson as a member of the Real Estate Foundation Board.

McTeer’s Clemson legacy has also continued through family ties. All three of his daughters are Clemson graduates as well as one of his grandchildren; two grandchildren are current students. An IPTAY and Clemson Fund donor, McTeer established the Sandra B. McTeer Memorial Scholarship Endowment in memory of his late wife. Chair of the board from 1981 to 1983, he was named Trustee Emeritus in 2012 after retiring from his tenure that began in 1976.

Joseph D. Swann ’63

When he took part in student government’s efforts to welcome Harvey Gantt to Clemson in 1963, Joseph D. Swann demonstrated the self-discipline and leadership skills he would later use to help guide the University to national and international acclaim.

A Clemson University trustee for 23 years and two-term vice chair of the board, Swann demonstrated a passion for service throughout his undergraduate career as a ceramic engineering major. He was involved with student government and Blue Key Honor Society and served as vice president of the junior and senior classes. He also lent his talents as a writer to the engineering magazine Slipstick and The Tiger student newspaper.

Swann began his career in the ceramics industry by working as a development engineer for the Ferro Corp. in Cleveland, Ohio. He went on to become the division materials manager and earned an MBA from Case Western Reserve University.

After taking a job with Reliance Electric in 1969, he moved his family back south, eventually settling in Greenville and becoming vice president and general manager of the company. He was named senior vice president in 1995 when Rockwell Automation acquired Reliance Electric, and he became president in 1998. Though he retired in 2007, he continued to serve as chair of the board of directors for integrated power services.

A recipient of the Clemson Alumni Association Distinguished Service Award in 1995, Swann has served as an IPTAY representative and is a past member of the Board of Visitors. All three of his children are Clemson graduates, and his family left a permanent mark on the University in 2003 when the Swann Fitness Center was dedicated after their generous donation.