Dr. Mark Spede was honored by the Clemson Alumni Association (CAA) with the prestigious title of Honorary Alumnus of Clemson University. This distinction is reserved for dedicated supporters of Clemson whose profound passion for the institution shines brightly, even though they never officially enrolled as students at Clemson.
Dr. Spede’s fervent devotion to Clemson has been evident in every facet of his role since he joined Clemson University over two decades ago as a professor and Director of Bands. During his tenure, he crafted several original compositions, some of which have become iconic Clemson anthems, including “Tiger Fanfare,” “Rage Defense Cheer,” and the introduction to Clemson University’s alma mater. Under his guidance, the Tiger Band has witnessed a remarkable surge in interest. In 2002, the band consisted of 160 members, but today, they consistently receive over 400 auditions for the limited 356 available positions.
In addition to his musical contributions, Dr. Spede has established several beloved Clemson traditions, such as the pre-game concert and pep rally held 90 minutes before each home game at the campus amphitheater. He also plays a pivotal role in connecting students with the Clemson University Tiger Band Association (CUTBA), an official alumni group composed of Clemson and Tiger Band alumni. Dr. Spede has been instrumental in fundraising for the construction of the Tiger Band Plaza and has actively supported CUTBA in their efforts to raise scholarships for future band students.
In a letter of support for Dr. Spede’s nomination, President Emeritus of Clemson University, Jim Barker, expressed, “Very few people arrive on our campus as a Tiger. Mark Spede is one of the few. His energy, commitment to excellence, and his skills as a teacher have shaped thousands of Tiger Band members and Clemson Alumni.”
Before joining Clemson, Dr. Spede completed his undergraduate degree at the University of Michigan, received his master’s degree at Ball State University, and earned his doctorate at the University of Texas at Austin. Beyond his dedication to Clemson, Dr. Spede has generously shared his expertise with various organizations, including serving as the president of the College Band Directors National Association (CBDNA). He also initiated the International Coalition Performing Arts Aerosol Study as Co-chair, is an honorary member of the Minority Band Directors National Association and serves on the board of the National Music Council. Additionally, he has held the roles of Co-Director of CBDNA Intercollegiate Marching Band, president of the ACC Band Directors Association, and president of the Southern Division of CBDNA.
Wil Brasington, the Chief Executive Officer of the Clemson Alumni Association (CAA), commended Dr. Spede’s unwavering commitment, remarking, “Dr. Spede has embraced Clemson as though it were his very own alma mater, and his unwavering support ensures that our university will leave a lasting legacy for generations of Tigers to come.”
The Honorary Alumnus title was bestowed upon Dr. Spede during a special moment at a Tiger Band practice, with his students, family, and friends in attendance. Jeff Duckworth, Chair of the CAA Board of Directors, and Wil Brasington, CAA CEO, presented the award to Dr. Spede alongside Jim Barker, and former Clemson Athletic Director, Dr. Terry Don Phillips.
Honorary alumni are carefully selected by the Alumni Association board of directors based on their exceptional service, lifelong devotion, and unwavering loyalty to Clemson University or the Clemson Alumni Association. Nominations for the 2024 Honorary Alumnus/a designation will be open from October to January 31. To nominate a deserving individual, review past honorees or access award guidelines, visit the Clemson Alumni website at alumni.clemson.edu/honoraryalum.