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On May 9, 2014, the Clemson University Board of Trustees installed President Jim Clements as the University’s fifteenth president. During the commencement ceremonies, he received the articles of office, cornerstones of Clemson University’s mission and legacy to the State of South Carolina: academic regalia and chain of office, the Will of Thomas Green Clemson, and the Act of Acceptance.
President Clements addressed the graduates and their families and friends at each ceremony.
The Robe and Hood.
The wearing of academic regalia is an ancient practice, dating to medieval times. The president of Clemson University wears a purple robe with four velvet bars, piped in orange, on each sleeve and the University seal embroidered on the panels. The Clemson University hood is lined with purple with an orange chevron.
The Presidential Chain and Seal.
The Presidential Chain and Seal is symbolic of the authority vested in the Office of the President by the governing body of the University. Only the University President may wear it, and while wearing it he speaks for the whole body of the institution. The President is invested with a chain of office to show his civil, rather than his academic, status.
The Clemson chain is made of silver with a purple amethyst set into one shoulder link and an orange carnelian into the other, the symbolic colors of the University. The pendant is a silver and gold relief of the University seal. The Presidential Chain and Seal were presented to President R. C. Edwards and used for the first time at the May 1971 Commencement ceremony.
The Will of Thomas Green Clemson
In 1886, Thomas Green Clemson signed his will, leaving his 814-acre Fort Hill plantation and $80,000 of his personal estate to the state of South Carolina to establish a “high seminary of learning.” That institution, originally known as Clemson Agricultural College, opened in July 1893 with 446 students. In 1964, the college was renamed Clemson University.
The Act of Acceptance
Even after Thomas Green Clemson’s death in 1888, the establishment of the University was not assured. The South Carolina legislature had to accept the bequest and the stipulations placed within it. On November 27, 1889, Governor John P. Richardson signed the bill accepting Thomas Green Clemson’s will, thus establishing the college. That bill has come to be known as the Act of Acceptance.