Testimonials: Clemson, Calhoun Honors College Faculty

Editor’s Note: From time to time, we publish testimonials from honors program faculty and students. Below are two contributions from faculty members who teach at Clemson’s Calhoun Honors College, which received a five-mortarboard rating in our recent book, INSIDE HONORS. Emphases are added.

From Michael LeMahieu,
Associate Professor
Department of English
Director, Pearce Center for Professional Communication
Faculty Fellow, National Scholars Program

I have been involved with the Calhoun Honors College for 11 of the 12 years I have taught at Clemson University. My experiences with the Honors College have been hands down my single most rewarding pedagogical experience at Clemson. I became involved with the Honors College so quickly after arriving on campus thanks to the recommendation of a student. Here’s a first point to emphasize: the Calhoun Honors College not only provides students with a superior educational experience but it also allows students to shape the vision for that educational experience.

In my various efforts, I try to put the voices of the students first; it’s a lesson I learned from the Honors College and one that remains best exemplified there. I have also worked in several different capacities with the College, from teaching first-year seminars to advising senior theses to facilitating book discussions to serving on selection committees, scholarship committees, advisory committees, and as a faculty fellow for the National Scholars Program.

I highlight these areas because they instantiate the range of opportunities for faculty members to be involved with the honors college. The Calhoun Honors College benefits from the stable yet nimble vision and leadership of its director and from an ace staff that is fully invested in student success and that exhibits unwavering professionalism.

Discussions are held, books are read, and essays are written at Clemson University that would not be were it not for the honors college. Students learn more, better, and differently as a result of their work in the honors college, which continues to provide models and opportunities for my own thinking and learning. It’s the jewel in the crown at Clemson.

From O. Thompson Mefford,
Dept. of Materials Science

In evaluating the Clemson Calhoun Honors College, I have the unique prospective of being both a student and a faculty member. As a student, I enjoyed many of the honors programs including living in the honors residence hall, the Dixon Fellows Program, and the opportunity to complete a departmental honor thesis. The biggest takeaway from my experience as a student was the unique ability for the honors college to connect students and faculty in meaningful activities. What I am most grateful for is is the rich exchange of ideas and mentoring that made my “Clemson Experience”.

Since returning as a faculty member, the Honors College has been my vehicle to connect with students. My involvement to the honors college has spanned the entire student experience at Clemson, starting before the student arrives and beyond graduation. I have aided in the selection of honors students and National Scholars, where was able to have thought provoking discussions with the amazing students the College is attracting. I have assisted in the transition to Clemson through participation in the EUREKA! Program, where mentorship in research practices begins before the student even starts their Clemson academic career.

I have had the opportunity to develop curriculum including special course on nanotechnology and honors contracts to push students to explore areas beyond what is covered in the classroom. Finally, I have mentored students throughout their time at Clemson on to careers and graduate school.

Nonetheless, the greatest educational moments of my career have occurred while mentoring honors students and working with small groups in the lab. These opportunities to have a direct impact on the lives of the students have occurred through working with honors students. It is these types of interactions that are the most rewarding part of my career and keep me focused on bettering myself as an instructor.