Clemson University Feature Stories

Tharon and Wendy Howard are familiar with the term “Clemson Family.” In fact, they live it.

A true Clemson family works to advance each other and the University

By Taylor Reeves
Media Relations

Tharon and Wendy Howard are familiar with the term “Clemson Family,” as theirs has been called one before. Tharon is a professor in the Department of English, and Wendy works as an accountant and fiscal analyst for the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering. The couple has two sons: Bryce, a Clemson grad, and Logan, a current student.

Tharon and Wendy met in high school in Shawnee Mission, Kan., when she came to his class to recruit contributors for the school’s literary magazine. After high school, Tharon attended the University of Missouri, Kansas City and worked toward a B.A. in English while Wendy completed a degree in court reporting.

The couple moved to Indiana where Tharon worked toward a Ph.D. in rhetoric and composition at Purdue University. After Tharon finished his doctoral work, the Howards made the move to Clemson and have been here ever since.

Wendy took classes part time at Purdue while the family was in Indiana and continued taking classes at Clemson. After 19 years of balancing course work and full-time employment, she received a B.A. in psychology from Clemson in 2005.

“It was stressful trying to handle family responsibilities while doing well in my classes and working full time,” she said, “but because I was more mature, I was able to understand how important my education was and to truly appreciate the opportunity.”

Wendy is now working toward a master’s degree in human resource development at Clemson.

The Howards have enjoyed raising their family and working together in the Upstate. Their sons are die-hard Tiger fans. While Bryce initially swore he would not attend college where both his parents worked, after completing a research project at Clemson during high school, he fell in love.

“He compared every college we visited to Clemson,” Wendy said. “His decision was already made.”

Influenced by his older brother, Logan was determined to be a Tiger and did not apply to any other schools.

Working together has allowed Tharon and Wendy various opportunities for travel and new experiences. They co-wrote and presented an article for the 2009 IEEE International Performance Computing and Communications Conference in Hawaii. Taking advantage of the location, they made the trip a family vacation and brought along their sons and daughter-in-law.

Tharon and Wendy also traveled to Munich, Germany, in 2010 to present at the Usability Professionals’ Association conference. This trip coincided with the couple’s 30th wedding anniversary, so they took the opportunity to do some traveling around Europe, visiting countries such as Switzerland and Greece.

Embracing the tradition of the Clemson Family, Tharon and Wendy work together within their respective roles at the University. Wendy is the chair of Clemson’s Staff Development Program, which is an opportunity for staff members to take part in professional development, personal development and service activities. Tharon has involved his students in creating Web content, such as logos and videos, for the program’s website and promotional content, such as newsletters and fliers. The work his students put into these projects not only benefits the Staff Development Program but also helps prepare them for an actual work environment.

“It’s a very positive experience for the students, and it simulates the corporate environment that they will be faced with in their future jobs,” Tharon said. “They have to deal with ethical and political concerns just as they would at a large company.”

“Working together with Tharon’s students really drives home the concept of the Clemson Family,” Wendy said. “It gets both the students and the faculty involved to help better the University.”

Tharon and Wendy continue to support each other and strive for professional success. For his outstanding academic mentorship, Tharon received the 2011 J.R. Gould Award for Excellence in Teaching from the Society of Technical Communication. Wendy was given the 2010 Clemson University Outstanding Woman Staff Award, sponsored by the President’s Commission on the Status of Women.

The Howards credit their support for one another for their accomplishments and are happy that their personal and professional lives have led them to Clemson.

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