Published: December 14, 2009
CLEMSON — After 44 years on campus, Clemson University historian Jerry Reel has himself become a part of Clemson’s history. Reel’s friends and former students are honoring him and the role he has played at Clemson with the establishment of a scholarship endowment.
The Jerome V. Reel Jr. Endowed Scholarship will provide need-based scholarships for qualified students. The fund was started by a group of alumni of Pi Kappa Alpha fraternity, for which Reel served as faculty adviser for more than 25 years. Alumni from Tiger Brotherhood and other organizations that Reel also advised have made donations as well. The group hopes to raise at least $250,000 for the endowment.
“If I think back on my time at Clemson, there’s no individual that I think of as more closely associated with my experience there," said alumnus Greg Usry of Rye, N.Y. "Jerry was a friend, he was an adviser and he is the central figure that comes to mind when I think about Clemson. Jerry has touched so many students in so many different ways, either because they took his one-hour history of Clemson course or because he was an adviser to them. So many alumni associate part of their Clemson experience with him.”
“Dr Reel had a profound impact on my Clemson experience,” said Jeff Duckworth of Boston, a 1988 Clemson graduate. “He is simply one of the best examples of dedication, love and passion for Clemson University. He has always been willing to put the school, the students and many organizations that he has passionately led above himself.”
Usry said that because of Reel’s strong focus on students, a scholarship endowment seemed like the best way to honor him.
“Jerry has always been a very action-oriented person and he was always very much student-focused, from his position as vice provost to his role as a student organization adviser,” said Usry, who graduated in 1985 with a degree in financial management. “It is fitting that something done in his name should also be very student-focused. Giving a worthy student the opportunity to attend Clemson when they might not be able to do so otherwise is a great way to honor Jerry and his years of service."
Reel received his education at Tulane University, the University of Southern Mississippi and Emory University. He joined the Clemson faculty in 1963 and in 1979 became the dean of undergraduate studies. In 1992 he was named senior vice provost and in 2003 university historian. He was named an honorary alumnus by the Clemson Alumni Association and was the second professor to be named Alumni Master Teacher, in 1975.
Reel is the author of “Women and Clemson University: Excellence — Yesterday and Today” and was a contributing author to the biography “Thomas Green Clemson.” Other publications and research emphases include 14th-century English parliamentary history and Arthurian legends.
Reel has been active with Fort Hill Presbyterian Church, serving as elder. He has been president of the National Opera Association, the Association of University Summer Sessions and the national Pi Kappa Alpha fraternity. On the Clemson campus, he has worked with a number of student groups, including Tiger Brotherhood, Blue Key, Golden Key, Omicron Delta Kappa, Order of Omega, Kappa Sigma Nu Fraternity and Sigma Beta Chi sorority.
Reel’s wife, Edmee, holds a master’s degree from Clemson, and all three of his children are Clemson alumni, as are two sons-in-law and a daughter-in-law.
“Dr Reel has always believed everyone should be able to have the opportunity for a great Clemson education and this scholarship will help make that happen,” said Duckworth.
Donations for the endowment can be sent to the Clemson University Foundation, Attn. Jerome V. Reel Jr. Endowed Scholarship, P.O. Box 1889, Clemson, S.C. 29634-1889.