The phrase “Clemson Family” could not be any truer than it is for the Pyle family.
“The nature of my experience in the first five years at Clemson was having opportunities that I don’t believe are typical for junior faculty,” Professor Andrew Pyle said. He explains his not-so-traditional path as a professor at Clemson University.
Pyle was hired into the Department of Communication and immediately began teaching three classes in his first semester.
“I was hired into a culture where there was just a lot of flexibility. My very first week on campus, I was having conversations about applying for seed funding to start a study abroad program.”
Being lucky enough to have studied abroad in high school, undergraduate and graduate school, Pyle knew the advantages and incredible experiences that studying abroad gave to students.
“I don’t know if it’s ever wise for a first-year professor to launch a study abroad program,” Pyle said. “In hindsight, it all worked out.”
Up until the pandemic, the program ran for years and was based out of Germany, focusing on public relations courses.
Apart from creating a study abroad program, Pyle developed unique partnerships with Clemson’s university housing programs. Starting with the Faculty-Student Dining Initiative, where faculty received a meal plan to eat and talk with students, Pyle was one of five individuals in the pilot program. This program eventually turned into the Faculty Friends program, an initiative that partnered faculty with residence halls that had no faculty in residence.
“It was an opportunity to mentor RAs and it affected the way I approached my teaching,” Pyle said.
They hosted events, ate with students and spent time getting to know their residents in order to foster a healthy living environment on campus. Enjoying the program so much, Pyle moved on to direct it for two years.
“I have gotten to make connections with people all over campus…it’s really easy for that to not happen at a school the size of Clemson,” Pyle said.
The professor’s experience living on campus shaped how he and his family view the university and their relationship with it.
The faculty member in residence elaborates on his wife’s time living in a residence hall saying, “It has really changed the way that she is able to experience campus, that our boys are able to experience campus because now they are part of it.”
“Now campus is something that my whole family is connected to and has roots in. I don’t just think of this as my job. It is part of our life.”