By Phil Batson
Two former Clemson University leaders were recognized recently as an anonymous donor made an IPTAY Endowment contribution in honor of the two.
Former Clemson President Dr. Robert F. Poole and former Clemson Athletic Director Bill McLellan were the designated honorees by the gift.
Dr. Poole served as seventh president of what was then known as Clemson Agricultural College from 1940-1958. His son, Dr. Frank Poole of Raleigh, NC, said a luncheon recognizing the Endowment that “the family is very honored by the contribution. And I know it would have meant a great deal to my father.”
In the book Tradition: A History of the Presidency of Clemson University, Poole is noted as a “scholar and gentleman whose style of leadership made him more akin to the Old South rather than the new, he presided over the college’s survival of World War II and its aftermath.
“The school changed quickly from military to a civilian , coeducational one, but without the serious unrest of previous times.”
A 1916 Clemson graduate, Poole came to the college on a scholarship to study botany. After serving in WWI, Poole received a doctorate degree from Rutgers in plant pathology. Poole died in 1958 after suffering a heart attack.
In the book Tradition: A History of the Presidency of Clemson University, the college under Poole “weathered the the crisis of WWII and its aftermath and emerged academically stronger with an enhanced reputation in the state and region.”
McLellan was Clemson’s Athletic Director from 1971-1985. In the book Clemson: Where the Tigers Play, McLellan is described as “probably the main driving force behind Clemson’s rise to national prominence, its facility improvement in the 1970s and 80s and the growth of IPTAY.”
McLellan came to Clemson as a football player and earned two letters as a center. He was a member of the 1952 Gator Bowl team. he graduated in 1954 and went on to receive a Masters degree in agricultural economics in 1956.
He then served in a variety of tasks at Clemson from assistant football coach to ticket manager before becoming assistant Athletic Director.
In 1971, IPTAY was providing $400,000 annually for scholarships. When McLellan left in 1985, IPTAY was contributing more than $5 million. The organization was ranked no. 1 among athletic fund raisers.
With McLellan’s leadership, all of Clemson’s athletic facilities underwent new construction or major renovation.
In June 1982, the Clemson Alumni Association recognized him with its highest honor, the Distinguished Service Award.
“I’ve been very fortunate to come to Clemson and then serve as Athletic Director,” McLellan said.
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