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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.

Bobby Couch named Honorary Alumnus of Clemson University

CLEMSON — James Robert “Bobby” Couch Jr., assistant director of athletics and IPTAY executive director of major gifts, has been named an Honorary Alumnus of Clemson University by the Clemson Alumni Association.

“I’m ecstatic and truly honored to be named a Clemson University Honorary Alumnus,” said Couch. “The day that Brian O’Rourke [director of Development and Alumni Affairs] brought me and my family here, the Clemson family has wrapped its arms around us and never let go. I work and live every day to return that passion I feel exuding from the hearts of all that are Solid Orange.”

Couch came to Clemson in 2005 as assistant director of athletics and IPTAY’s executive director of major gifts. Since then, he led the Clemson University Athletic Department through its first-ever $28 million and $185 million fundraising campaigns, secured the largest major and planned athletics gift in Clemson history and funded the restoration of the “Heisman Bible.”

As current associate athletic director for development for athletics and director of IPTAY major gifts, Couch manages a portfolio of 150 prospective donors and makes 200 visits per year.

“For many years, Bobby has served as a tireless ambassador of the university and he has demonstrated the passion and dedication to see Clemson achieve its goals that is usually only found among our alumni,” said Wil Brasington, alumni relations senior director. “Because of that, we felt it was only fitting to express our appreciation through this high distinction and, in doing so, we declare him ‘one of our own,’ a Clemson alumnus.”

Couch continues to support Clemson University by being a major donor to the Scroll of Honor, a Clemson Forever Fund and IPTAY donor and a children CATs and Cub member. He also serves as a board member for the Scott Hannon Foundation and the Golden Strip YMCA and participates as a member of the St. Mary Magdalene Building Committee, the Council for Advancement and Support of Education and the National Association of Collegiate Directors of Athletics.

“Clemson is our life. Christi and I have watched our four boys grow up here,” said Couch. “I don’t know what life would be like without Clemson.”

Honorary alumni are specially selected by the Alumni Association Honors and Awards Committee for their outstanding service, lifelong devotion and loyalty to Clemson University or the Clemson Alumni Association. To see past honorary alumni or to view the award guidelines, visit the honorary alumni web page.

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Clemson Alumni Association
The Clemson Alumni Association, an open-membership, nonprofit organization since its inception in 1896, connects members of the 140,000-strong Clemson Family, inspiring pride, celebrating achievement, providing service and strengthening relationships with Clemson University and with each other.

Captain Joseph Branch II ’05

Captain Joseph Branch II is a 2005 Clemson graduate and a graduate of the U.S. Army Ranger School. He has been deployed eight times since graduation in 2005. Over the years he has been selected for the most coveted duty positions in his profession and his outstanding performance in the U.S. Army Special Operations command led to his selection as an Army Inter-Agency Fellowship with the National Geo-Spacial Agency where he is assigned today.

He remains active in local veteran affairs initiatives in the military communities where he resides. He was responsible for over 20 community engagement events annually in the Savannah area for Ranger families and the local communities. He and his family are also very active in their church community.  He is an avid supporter of Clemson’s ROTC program and Tiger athletics. He is able to provide both formal and informal mentoring to Clemson alumni in the military. When able, he and his family travel back to Clemson for athletic events.

Jessica Barron Martin ’07, M’09

Jessica Barron Martin is a 2007 undergraduate and 2009 graduate of Clemson University, this honoree is an engaged and active member of her community.  She graduated from Clemson’s Masters of Real Estate Development program and began her career with Wells Fargo as an analyst in the real estate group in Central Florida. When in Florida, she was a weekly volunteer at the Ronald McDonald House Charities of Central Florida, served on the Key Initiative Board for Ronald McDonald House, and was President of the Greater Orlando Clemson Club.

Now serving as Vice President in Wells Fargo’s real estate group and living in Charleston, she is a Board Member of the Carolina Youth Development Center (the oldest publicly funded orphanage in the United States), President of Clemson in the Lowcountry, a Board Member of Clemson University’s Real Estate Alumni Society, and former Co-Chair of Wells Fargo Lowcountry Volunteer Chapter.

Harrison Trammell ’06

Harrison Trammell is a 2006 graduate of Clemson University in Civil Engineering, this honoree is an associate at Womble Carlyle Sandridge & Rice, LLP in Charleston, SC. After graduating from Clemson, he continued his education at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Law. He has numerous professional credentials to his name including his Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) AP credential and he is a part of the U.S. Green Building Council in the South Carolina Chapter.

His dedication to his community is evident in his service to his church, Mount Pleasant Presbyterian, where he is on the Stewardship Campaign Committee and part of the Net Ministry Team.

He was highly dedicated to Clemson as a student and has continued his commitment to Clemson after graduation. During his time at Clemson, he was a member of Blue Key Honor Society and was the Tigerama Director in 2005, one of the nation’s largest student-run pep rallies. He was also a member and President of the Student Alumni Council. After graduating he was an at-large member of the Clemson Alumni Council from 2012-2014 and President of the Clemson Young Alumni Council from 2013-2014.

Dr. Darris Means M’07

Dr. Darris Means is highly committed to post-secondary education and Clemson University. He graduated from Elon University in 2005 with his Bachelor of Arts in political science and sociology, and graduated from Clemson in 2007 with his Master of Education degree in Counselor Education with a concentration in Student Affairs. Following that, he received his PhD from North Carolina State University in Educational Research and Policy Analysis with concentration in higher education.

He then went to work with the Elon Academy, a university based college access and success program at Elon University for high school students with a financial need and no family history of college. He helped gain a 100% rate of the students in the program being accepted and enrolled in college. He is now an assistant professor at the University of Georgia in the Department of Counseling and Human Development Services and College Student Affairs Administration Program. He has received numerous awards over the years including Clemson University’s Outstanding Alumni for the Master of Education/Student Affairs Program. He currently serves Clemson on the Higher Education/Student Affairs advisory board.

Matthew Bundrick ’07

Matthew Bundrick is a 2007 Clemson graduate in Graphic Communications who currently serves as the Director of University Web Services at Clemson, managing a team of talented professionals who design, develop, and support www.clemson.edu. In his previous position as assistant director, he played a critical role in the website’s redesigns and success with strategic initiatives such as the Degrees Site, Newsstand, ClemsonTV and the Master Calendar. He has also been highly involved with the Staff Senate since 2010 and served as President from 2014-2015.

While representing Clemson University staff, he led efforts for Clemson being recognized as a “Mother-friendly Employer” by the SC Breastfeeding Coalition and which contributed to staff giving dollar amount increasing 20% in a single year. He is a certified member of Clemson Young Professionals. He is dedicated not only to his Clemson University community, but also his local community where he serves as a volunteer firefighter in Oconee and Anderson counties.

Matthew Pencek ’10

Matthew Pencek graduated #1 from the Calhoun Honors College in 2010 with a 4.0 GPA in Accounting. He passed his CPA exam immediately after graduation and started post-grad at a Big 4 accounting firm, KPMG. He was later recruited by MorganFranklin Consulting where he now leads teams of consultants that advise businesses who are transitioning from private to public companies.

He is a leader in the field for MorganFranklin and has been an integral part of many high profile IPOs. He has been nominated as a ‘Top Consultant Under 35’ by trade associations. He has a heart for service and works with Habitat for Humanity, Boys and Girls Club, and Junior Achievement where he has served as a fundraising lead for MorganFranklin in order to teach financial literacy to underprivileged youth.

He stays involved with Clemson through the Baltimore/DC Clemson Club where he has coordinated volunteer events. He is also a CBBS mentor through the Tiger Ties program and currently advises a junior business student, putting his mentee in touch with his professional contacts. He also stays involved with Tiger Brotherhood and Blue Key Honor Society, organizations with which he was involved while in Clemson.

Scott Sampson ’08, M’10

Scott Sampson graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Communications Studies in 2008 and received his Master in Human Resource Development in 2010 from Clemson. He started working for Clemson University five years ago where he started as the Phonathon Director in the Annual Giving office for the first 2.5 years.

During this time, he helped to increase the program’s revenue by 32%. He then moved into a position as Young Alumni Annual Giving Officer where he has put together many events that bring young alumni together, teaching them the importance of private giving. Young alumni giving has increased each year while he has been in this position. He volunteers at his local church and is highly involved in the student chapter of the Clemson Fellowship of Christian athletes. He served on the student leadership team as a senior in college and this fall, he will join the Adult Chapter of FCA to better serve this dynamic organization.

After volunteering in the Alumni, Annual Giving, Public Affairs and Donor Services offices while in school, he now serves Clemson University both as an employee and as an ambassador with passion and devotion to the school. He enjoys giving campus tours to prospective students and families.

Stephanie Sox ’07

Stephanie Sox graduated from Clemson in 2007 in Agricultural Education and then began working for the SC Department of Agriculture as a Market News Reporter. She worked closely with Clemson Extension agents across South Carolina to present the program at local and regional Cattemen’s meetings. In 2011, she accepted the position of Executive Director of the South Carolina Soybean Board. She works for the 1800 soybean farmers of the state and is responsible for administering the soy checkoff program. She also serves as the Certified SC Grown Palmetto Series project manager where she acts as the liaison between Clemson and Carolina sports marketing departments and SCDA.

Because of her dedication to the agricultural industry, she was selected as a 2014 National Top Ten Finalist for the American Farm Bureau Excellence in Agriculture Award. She is involved in many philanthropic endeavors including being an active member of Farm Bureau, a member of Spring Hill Young Farmers, and an active member of her church where she plays the flute in the church orchestra. She continues to give back to the university by being a guest lecturer for an agricultural education class each year since graduation. She is also a College of Agriculture Forestry and Life Sciences (CAFLS) Alumni Board member.