Ronnie D. Lee ’76

The Clemson Alumni Association presented Ronald D. Lee, D.M.D., of Aiken with the 2017 Distinguished Service Award, the association’s highest honor for a Clemson graduate.

“Ronnie Lee sets an extraordinary example of what a Clemson graduate can accomplish,” said Clemson University President James P. Clements. “He is a leader in his career, he is a dedicated public servant who gives back tirelessly to his community, and he is a loyal and devoted Clemson supporter. We are exceedingly proud to call him part of the Clemson family.”

Lee graduated Clemson with honors in microbiology in 1976, then earned an M.S. in environmental science and engineering at UNC-Chapel Hill. After working several years as an engineer, he enrolled in dental school, earning a Doctor of Dental Medicine from the Medical University of South Carolina (MUSC) in 1988, having served as president of his class all four years. As a dental student, he earned three prestigious awards for scholarship and leadership. Having practiced dentistry in Aiken for 28 years, Lee has been recognized for leadership and excellence in his field, including being named a Fellow of the Academy of General Dentistry, a title given to only 7 percent of practicing dentists nationwide.

Lee has donated significant time and talents to Clemson University. He is active in the Aiken County Clemson Club and, as a member of the Clemson board of visitors, he hosted new student receptions in Aiken. In 2010, the South Carolina General Assembly elected Lee to the Clemson board of trustees, where he currently serves on the committees for Educational Policy, Finance and Facilities, and Student Affairs. He served on the presidential search committee that recommended James P. Clements, and he currently is serving his sixth year as trustee liaison to the board of visitors.

For 45 years, Lee has been an active member, past deacon and volunteer at Millbrook Baptist Church and has served as a medical missionary to Honduras. He has served on the board of Dollars for Scholars, a college scholarship program for local students. In 2015, he was named one of six trustees for the Sage Valley Golf Club Foundation, which hosts the world’s premier international junior golf tournament.

The prestigious Clemson Alumni Distinguished Service Award is based on three main criteria:  personal and professional accomplishments; dedication and service to Clemson University; and devotion to community and public service. Members of the Clemson family nominate potential winners, who are then selected by the Clemson Alumni Association as outstanding alumni, public servants and examples to others.

“Dr. Lee has my highest recommendation for this prestigious recognition,” wrote S.C. State Senator Tom Young Jr. “Few have served Clemson or will serve Clemson with as much passion and commitment and in as selfless a manner as Dr. Lee.”

Lee is married to his high school sweetheart and ’76 Clemson graduate Debra Crawford Lee, who worked with other Clemson board of visitors’ spouses to establish the Grace Catherine Clements ClemsonLIFE Endowed Grant-in-Aid. Together the Lees also support an annual scholarship at Clemson in their names, the Emerging Scholars Program and the Barker Scholars Endowment. They have three children, Meredith Pricket, Allison Nelson, and Ryan Lee, and seven grandchildren.