Leave Your Legacy with a Clemson Ring

The Clemson Alumni Association celebrates the tradition of the Clemson ring with a collection of class rings that dates back to the very first graduation class in 1896. This collection is possible due to the generosity of alumni who are willing to donate rings, many of which are in honor of, or in memory of a loved one who cherished their connection to their alma mater.

We are currently in need of several rings to ensure our collection stays up-to-date, including 2020, 2021 and 2022. If you are interested in donating a ring, please contact Randy Boatwright at 864-656-5671 or sending an email to brandol@clemson.edu. Leave your legacy and help keep the Clemson Ring tradition alive!

All-In the Family

“WHAT YOU DO FOR ONE CHILD, you have to do for the other,” Louis Herns ’81* said about his most recent gift to the Alumni Association. It wasn’t money or time but a class ring — the second one he’s donated. The first ring he donated was in honor of his daughter Abbie’s graduation in 2016, and the most recent ring was in honor of his son Patrick’s graduation in 2019.

The Alumni Association’s collection of Clemson class rings can be found in the alumni center on campus and includes rings from every year since the tradition began in 1896, relying on the generosity of alumni willing to contribute. Rings come in traditional and dinner ring styles and are often instantly recognizable between alumni.

For many alumni like the Hernses, the ring is a family tradition as much as it is a school tradition. Herns’s father, his wife, Robin, and his two children all went to Clemson. “It just seemed destined for [the kids] to go to Clemson since they went home in orange from the hospital,” Herns laughed. For him, donating the rings to the Alumni Association’s collection was a way to honor his family and the University at the same time.

“It takes a lot of hard work to earn the ring,” he said, “and it lets people that you meet see that you’re proud of your diploma, you’re proud of your education and you’re proud of your university.”

On the traditional ring, there’s a little-known inscription beneath the palmetto tree in the South Carolina coat of arms, a phrase that sums up what the ring really means to the Hernses and all of the other alumni who wear the ring: “Who shall separate us now?”

Preserving Her Memory

“We lost my mom four years ago in July,” Frances Mann Medley ’10 says.

In February 2020, the Mann family — including Frances and her family, her father, Stephen Mann ’78, and her brother, Thomas Mann ’06, M ’07, and his family — donated a 2020 Clemson class ring in the ladies dinner ring style to honor their wife and mother, Eleanor Hightower Mann ’78, who passed away in 2017. The donated ring also includes Eleanor’s sorority, Pi Beta Phi, which recently returned to the University’s Greek life.

Stephen and Eleanor met and fell in love when they were both students at Clemson. He was an agricultural mechanization and business major, and she was an elementary education major. After graduating, the couple got married and “put their roots down” in West Columbia, where they raised Frances and Thomas. Eleanor taught elementary kids for 33 years in the area and eventually saw both of her children graduate from her alma mater.

“We have a picture from my graduation day with all four of us with our rings turned,” Frances says. “Sweet memory.”

When asked about the donation, Stephen says it was something that would “last forever. [Clemson] was something that Eleanor was very involved with as a student and as an alumna. It is just a way to preserve her memory.”

Frances says donating the ring was the first time her whole family had been back to Clemson since her mother’s passing. It was a special trip. “When we come back and visit for years to come, when I take my kids as they get older and hopefully my grandkids,” she says, “they can visit the Alumni Center and find their grandmother’s name.”