Thomas Green Clemson came to South Carolina when he married the daughter of John C. Calhoun, one of America’s most famous senators and a two-time vice president. Clemson had always been interested in agriculture and farming, and when the Confederate States of America attempted to secede from the Union, he declared that new nation would need a place for students to learn about agriculture. Calhoun spent the war working towards this goal.
When the Civil War ended, Clemson saw the South in ruins and decided that the need for an agricultural college was more acute than ever. Since he had already outlived his wife and children, he wrote up a new version of his will calling for the establishment of “The Clemson Agricultural College of South Carolina” built on his plantation with his money.
The school was all-military and all-male until 1955, when the school became civilian and co-ed. In 1963, Clemson admitted its first Black student, Harvey Gantt, who later went on to be the first African-American mayor of Charlotte, North Carolina. The school diversified not only in population but also in its academic offerings and subjects of research, and in 1964 the college shortened its name to Clemson University to reflect the broader curriculum.
The Clemson campus is big, grassy, and beautiful. It has fourteen dining facilities and over 400 spots for a WI-FI connection. The campus is especially notable for its nearly-300-acre botanical garden, its bell tower with 47 bells, Tillman Hall, an amphitheater that’s perfect for lounging, and a reflection pond. Perhaps the most prominent place on campus, especially during the fall, is Death Valley, the football stadium.
The campus is also notable for what’s not there—Greek houses. Though frats and sororities have specially-designated residence halls, they do not have the usual letter-covered houses that one sees at many other colleges. Instead, there’s a newly-renovated Fraternity Quad, which includes six fraternity halls, and soon there will be some new sorority housing.
There is barely any ‘town’ to Clemson other than a tiny strip of bars and restaurants. It's still a nice area though.
Downtown Clemson, South Carolina is very near the Clemson campus, so students tend to spend a lot of time there. Clemson has a modest number of restaurants, coffee places, bars, and stores, but it offers the most to students interested in the outdoors: students can easily access beautiful, man-made Lake Hartwell and the Blue Ridge Mountains where they can enjoy boating, hiking, biking, and camping.
Town-gown relations are quite good in Clemson. Many local government figures are Clemson alums, and they show their appreciation of Clemson University and the Clemson Tigers with the tiger paws that cover the town streets, leading drivers to Death Valley, the football stadium.
Running Down "The Hill" has been called “the most exciting 25 seconds in college football.” The Clemson Tigers run down a hill and onto the field of Death Valley, the band plays “Tiger Rag,” a cannon fires, and the crowd goes insane, but it has to be seen and heard to be truly understood.
Tigerama is one of the nation's largest student-run pep rallies. Held on the Friday night of homecoming every year, Tigerama includes skits, floats, fireworks, and the coronation of Miss Homecoming.
The First Friday Parade celebrates the first football game of the season with a parade of floats through campus that leads to a pep rally.
At Clemson Rave, students clad in neon dance and make music on the bridge outside the library before exams.
Aquilla James “Jimmy” Dyess (1932) was a Marine Corpsman and the only American to receive both the Carnegie Medal for Civilian Heroism and the Medal of Honor.
Harvey Gantt (1966) is the first African-American mayor of Charlotte, North Carolina.
Gary Parsons (1978) is chairman of the board and former president and CEO of XM Satellite Radio.
William “the Refrigerator” Perry (1984) was a pro football player most famous as a defensive lineman for the Chicago Bears.
Strom Thurmond (1923) was a senator from South Carolina and segregation proponent.
David H Wilkins (1968) became the first Republican speaker in the south since Reconstruction when elected to the position in the South Carolina House of Representatives in 1994.
Clemson Tigers football is definitely the most popular sport and team on campus. The Tigers compete at the NCAA Division I level and are members of the Atlantic Division of the Atlantic Coast Conference. They are the current leader in their conference for total championships won, with 13. They won Clemson’s first national championship in 1981, and continue to excel—last year, they went 9-3 and received a bid to play in the 2007 Chick-fil-A Bowl, and they’ve won nearly 60% of their games all-time. Tiger pride is very strong at Clemson and in the surrounding area.
Although no sports following matches football’s, Clemson is also notable for its basketball programs, volleyball programs, and especially golf, at which the Tigers are frequently among the best in the region and the nation.
Life sciences professors at Clemson must be super-happy: According to The Scientist magazine’s annual survey of its readers in 2005, Clemson is the Best Place to Work in Academia.
Clemson is teaming up with BMW Manufacturing and the state government to create the Clemson University International Center for Automotive Research.
Traditional residence halls are scattered around the Clemson campus. About half of the students live on campus, especially during their freshman and sophomore years. There are also apartment-style complexes for upperclassmen, on East Campus. Here are some brief descriptions.
Bryan Mall on East Campus is primarily for first year students. Rooms are shared by two students each, with a communal bathroom in the hall. The building has its own dining hall. Clemson House has 2 or 4 person units with bathrooms, while Johnstone Main and Annex feature the 2 per room/communal bath model. The Shoeboxes on West Campus also have the same layout.The Stadium suites and the Suites on West Campus have suite-style units, with 4 students sharing two rooms and a bath. The Stadium Suites are located very close to Death Valley, great for game days.
Apartment options are primarily on East Campus: they range from two to four students per unit and are a nice alternative to the traditional residence hall. There are five different complexes: Calhoun Courts, Clemson House, Thornhill Village, Lightsey Bridge I, and Lightsey Bridge II.
There is also fraternity and sorority housing on the quad, but no traditional Greek houses.