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Faces of PRTM

Founded in 1966, the Department of Parks, Recreation and Tourism Management has grown into a successful and flourishing part of Clemson University. Once called RPA (Recreation Park Administration), the PRTM department remembers its impactful faculty and student leaders from past and present in celebration of its 50th anniversary. 

Dr. Herbert Brantley

Herbert Brantley, Ph.D., Then

As former Department Chair for Clemson University's RPA program, Herbert Brantley realized the need for student representation in the major developments of the growing program. In an excerpt from The Tiger published in November of 1969, Brantley expressed his view of students as "only a brief span away from being fellow professionals" and held that they "should be helped to grow not only professionally but also socially." His ideas of student involvement and care are still part of the foundations of the PRTM department today. 

"Since RPA is basically a people-oriented service, the faculty has to reflect this same orientation... it has to be a student-concerned faculty"  - Herbert Brantley


Bert Brantley

Herbert Brantley, Now

After 33 years of service during his time in the Korean War serving our country, training with the CIA, teaching at NC State, Clemson and Indiana University, Herbert Brantley is now happily retired and lives with his wife in Indiana. Brantley believes his biggest accomplishment from his time at Clemson was starting the graduate and Ph.D. programs, which have progressed into flourishing programs in which students can excel. In his spare time, he loves to golf and jokes that his favorite vacation spot is "wherever he is."


Dr. Jack Stevenson

Jack Stevenson, Ph.D.

Jack Stevenson served in the Clemson RPA department as an ombudsman and professor. In his role as ombudsman, he was responsible for handling any administration or class issues that the RPA students may have encountered. Although he was often presented with the students' troubles, he emphasized that "he sees the student as a whole person, with more than strictly academic problems" and offered countless solutions to better the student's academic careers. Stevenson also served as advisor of the Faculty-Student Committee, a channel of communication between the RPA students and faculty. Because of this and his various other contributions, the PRTM department remembers him as a professor committed to student dedication and service. 


Mrs. Walker

Sarah Walker 

In its developing years, the enrollment of women in the RPA program was largely supported by Sarah Walker, who helped to grow the female population in what was once a male dominated major. In a snippet from The Recker dated November 2, 1970, Walker advertised her "annual open house for women majors" and always had an open door for encouraging new students. She was dedicated to growing the program and invited students to "feel free to bring a friend who might be interested in transferring into RPA" to all of the meetings. Walker also served as Advisor of the Faculty-Student Committee, a channel of communication between the RPA students and faculty. Her positive example and dedication to PRTM's beginnings has helped it to grow into the major it is today. 


Dr. Lawrence Gahan

Lawrence Gahan, Ph.D.

With his extensive experience and interest in the industry, former professor Lawrence Gahan profoundly shaped the RPA program at Clemson. The Recker, the Recreation Park Administration student publication in the 1970s, named Gahan as the first faculty member of the week in February of 1971. When asked in his spotlight what he viewed as the most important aspect of recreation was, he insisted that it was like "asking which is most important - drinking water or breathing air." Along with his role as professor, he served as the Faculty Advisor for the Beta Theta Pi fraternity, Assistant Coach for the Clemson University Fencing Team and Project Director for seminars within the RPA realm. Gahan was heavily involved in enriching student lives in the community. 

Dr. Lawrence GahanLawrence Gahan, Now

Gahan retired from the PRTM department and Clemson University in December 2000 after almost 33 years. A couple of years before retiring, he became more involved in planning, managing and teaching special events and fundraising activities within the department and the Clemson community. He helped start a city festival, Clemsonfest and the festival is still going after more than 20 years. He also sat on the advisory board for Safe Harbor II and helped start a fundraiser to benefit Safe Harbor, the Minister’s Cookoff. It has become a major annual community event usually held in November. He sat on the Clemson Child Development Center Board for five years serving as vice president for four years and president for one year. He joined the Rotary Club of Clemson and served as its chairman of development organizing their fundraiser to benefit local charitable organizations. He worked with the Clemson Area Congregations in Touch to hold a “Walk for Water” event in conjunction with Water Missions International to help fund water purification units for developing countries. Since retiring, he and his wife have done extensive traveling all over the world. He is preparing to finish a two-year term on the board of directors of the Association of Retirement Organizations in Higher Education. He previously served on the Clemson University Emeritus College Advisory Board for four years. He has four granddaughters of which he is very proud.


Mr. Charlie White

Charlie White

Charlie White arrived at Clemson in 1971 with duel faculty challenges of teaching classes and directing existing, but homeless, fledgling summer residential camps. Within three years, the Clemson University Outdoor Laboratory was founded to house existing small camps with a goal to expand the facility to a year-round operation. As director of the Outdoor Lab for over 33 years, he led a multi-million dollar effort in facility and program development that brought national, regional and state recognition. Tens of thousands of special needs citizens were served during his tenure, and thousands of collegiates from around the country received training in various service positions. When White retired in 2006, the Outdoor Lab was home to diverse summer residential camps and had become a significant year-round Clemson University conference center complex. 


Barry Johnson

Barry Johnson

Barry Johnson, who served as the Student President for the RPA department, made a lasting impact on his peers and the faculty at Clemson. While maintaining his standing as a hardworking student and student leader, Johnson was an active weekly contributor and editor of The Recker student publication and was awarded the Greg Schoper Leadership Award. He made a statement to his fellow students in an edition of The Recker published on April 16, 1971: "I wish to sincerely thank you for your vote of confidence in awarding me the Greg Schoper Leadership Award. I hope that I may always retain this honor of confidence and leadership throughout life to benefit my fellow man." His student leadership and dedication are symbols of the importance Clemson places on student empowerment. 


Mary Douglass

Mary Douglass

During her time as a student, Mary Douglass served in many different roles for the benefit of the RPA department. As noted in The Recker published on November 16, 1970, Douglass was elected as junior class representative of the Faculty-Student Committee, a communication channel between the RPA faculty and students. She would later go on to be vice president and continue her duty as a "voice of the RPA student body." Her belief in student and faculty partnership and teamwork drove the department to new heights.


Fran McGuire

Francis A. McGuire, Then

Originally from South Orange, New Jersey, Fran McGuire discovered his interest in PRTM when he worked for four summers as the playground supervisor at Seth Boyden Playground and DeHart Park in Maplewood, New Jersey. After finishing degrees in PRTM from Penn State University and the University of Illinois and working as a faculty member at the State University of New York at Cortland, he came to Clemson in 1981 and has been with us ever since. He was hired to join Ann James as a faculty member in the therapeutic recreation program and has remained through significant changes in the program, now called recreational therapy, as well as many changes in the PRTM department and the university. In spite of those changes, he finds that there are many more similarities than differences in the department over the 35 years he has been with us. Most noticeably, we have retained our student focus and faculty commitment.

Francis A. McGuire, Now

Fran's efforts and leadership advanced him to his current service role as interim department chair. He has had many roles in the department and the university including PRTM graduate coordinator, interim director of the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute, faculty senate president, faculty manual editor and consultant, program director for the Pre-Collegiate Programs Office and an earlier term as interim department chair. Fran's advice for current PRTM students: "Be proud of what you do. We build better people and that is one of the most important jobs there is."


Dr. Gordon HowardGordon Howard, Ph.D., Then

Gordon E. Howard began his Clemson career in 1967, the second year of RPA. Throughout his career, he developed many new courses to meet the demands of the curriculum as it evolved. He believed strongly in the importance of providing challenging, quality courses for undergraduate students; the basis for RPA and PRTM. When the leisure skills program was started, Howard brought his love of the outdoors to that program, initiating and teaching canoeing, windsurfing and alpine skiing courses. On the campus, he founded the Clemson Outing Club and the Clemson Mountain Search and Rescue Team. In 1968, he proposed and mapped a hiking trail between Table Rock State Park and Oconee State Park to be called The Foothills Trail.

Dr. Gordon HowardGordon Howard, Now

After 38 years of teaching undergraduates, his chosen domain, Howard retired as senior professor emeritus. He had served the department longer than any other faculty member. His favorite course was his most recently developed course: risk management. While at Clemson, Howard became a licensed bird bander. In addition to his work in South Carolina, he is now the director of the Crown Point Banding Station at the Crown Point State Historic Site in New York. The station provides educational programs and conducts migratory bird monitoring research. Regarding his career at Clemson, Howard said: "The global recognition, respect and reach that the department and its graduates enjoy today are a direct result of the foresight, hard work and high standards of the early faculty. Everything that is PRTM today has evolved from the foundation constructed by the faculty pioneers and expressed to the world through the high quality performance of our graduates. It was a great experience."