John Komo named Honorary Alumnus at Clemson University

A Clemson University professor emeritus who is credited with helping students succeed in life is among the latest group of university faithful to be named Honorary Alumnus.

Dr. John J. Komo served as a professor in the Holcombe Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering for 34 years before retiring. His latest honor puts him in the same club as Charles Daniel, Frank Howard, Buck Mickel, Hugh Leatherman and more than 200 other honorary alumni, according to the Clemson Alumni Association.

Komo thanked family, friends and colleagues as they gathered in Riggs Hall to help celebrate the honor.

“It’s wonderful to be recognized, but for me, it’s always been about providing the best education for the students,” Komo said. “That was always my favorite part of the job. ”

Komo, who still lives in Clemson, established an endowed fellowship in 2007 for graduate students in his department. Many of his former students and colleagues have given to the fund.

Komo’s colleagues said he served as a teacher, mentor and friend to thousands of students in the College of Engineering and Science. Former students hold Komo in high regard, crediting him with their success in life, colleagues said.

Dr. Dan Noneaker, chairman of the Holcombe Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, said he worked closely with Komo, mentoring students and planning course offerings and content.

“Over the past 21 years, it has been consistently apparent to me that the university and Clemson’s students have had a rare friend and treasure in Dr. Komo,” Noneaker said.

The Clemson Alumni Association awards Honorary Alumnus status based on outstanding service to the university or association, lifelong devotion to the university and demonstrated loyalty to university and the association.

Ann Marie Alexander, the university’s senior director of Corporate and Foundations Relations, said she was extremely impressed that Komo would be so generous and gracious not only with his dedication to students but also with his support of Clemson University.

“I could see how proud Dr. Komo was of the students and the department to which he dedicated his professional career,” she said. “His passion was, and is, the students. He is a humble person and never sought public accolades for his activities over the decades to support the students, department and College of Engineering and Science.”

Komo has served as an outstanding teacher of critical undergraduate and graduate courses, providing the fundamental engineering underpinnings for multiple generations of graduates, Noneaker said.

After his retirement, Komo continued to teach core undergraduate courses to ensure students had access to experienced instruction in key topics. He has also shared his expertise in communication systems with many graduate students over the decades.

“Many Clemson ECE graduates who have gone on to high-impact engineering careers attribute their success in no small measure to Dr. Komo’s commitment to their development as engineering professionals,” Noneaker said.

Here is what former students had to say about Komo:

Noland Suddeth, director of energy management and process controls at Duke Energy, said, “He was a professor of mine in the late ‘70s, and he was great. He and Dr. Gowdy had a huge influence on my return to grad school. In the last 31 years, he has been a good friend and mentor. He always put the students first.”

Laurie Joiner, an associate professor of electrical and computer engineering at the University of Alabama in Huntsville, said, “Dr. Komo has been my wonderful teacher, advisor, and friend. As a student it was obvious how much he loves teaching and working with students. Through him I learned what a fulfilling career academia can be, and he has continued to mentor me in my academic career.”

Bruce Churchill, who works in the Office of the CTO at Ericsson, said, “Dr. Komo’s passion for teaching and nurturing of students and constant encouragement are major contributors to my professional success. He always took whatever time and resources required by the student for issues, both professional and personal. I began my interaction with Dr. Komo initially in the professor-student relationship during my undergraduate years at Clemson, which progressed to mentor as Dr. Komo functioned as my lead advisor during my graduate career and ultimately to close friend during my professional career.”

To honor Komo with a contribution to his endowment, go to http://cualumni.clemson.edu/give/john-komo.