‘Eclipse Over Clemson’ viewing event wins highest honors in international contest

CLEMSON, South Carolina – The Council for Advancement and Support of Education (CASE) has awarded Clemson University a grand gold for “Eclipse Over Clemson,” a mega-viewing party for the 2017 total solar eclipse.

CASE announced its international 2018 Circle of Excellence Awards on June 13, giving Clemson highest honors in the category “Single-Day Events,” which drew 70 total entries from around the nation and world. All told, the entire contest attracted more than 3,200 entries.

“Wow! We were so impressed with every detail of this mega-event,” the CASE judges said. “They brought together the university community and the surrounding area. They made it easy and fun for people to participate. They incorporated the university’s mission. And it was free to all. This was truly worthy of the Grand Gold Award.”

“Eclipse Over Clemson” was a free event that celebrated the Aug. 21, 2017, coast-to-coast solar eclipse. About 50,000 people came to the campus — which was virtually dead center in the path of totality — to witness the celestial spectacle. Tens of thousands of pairs of eclipse glasses were distributed free to spectators. In addition, more than 25 local, national and international media outlets converged on Clemson’s campus and broadcast their coverage to millions worldwide. National crews from NBC, CBS, FOX, The Weather Channel, C-SPAN, National Public Radio, British Broadcasting Corp., the Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal, The Atlantic, The Associated Press, USA Today and RFD-TV were among those who provided advance and live coverage.

More than 500 faculty, staff and students from across the university – including scientists; media strategists; student volunteers; and facilities, security, medical and parking personnel – played significant roles in planning and executing the extravaganza.

“‘Eclipse Over Clemson’ was a complex endeavor that took months of preparation,” said Jim Melvin, director of communications and marketing for the College of Science and a co-coordinator of the event. “Yet, on Aug. 21, 2017, everything came together seamlessly. We had clear skies, the perfect totality – and the perfect crowd.”

The article that was published on the Clemson website in advance of the eclipse was viewed nearly 45,000 times. On the day of the event, there were 59 posts to university Instagram, Facebook and Twitter accounts, along with 17 videos and 550 photographs. Within 24 hours, these posts received more than 7,261,974 impressions (people reached), 705,695 views of photos and videos, 240,829 likes and comments and 29,088 shares.

The College of Science partnered with Clemson University Press to produce a book titled “Eclipse Over Clemson: The day Tigertown will never forget.” The hard-cover, keepsake book chronicled the day and can be found in more than two dozen public and school libraries throughout South Carolina, North Carolina and Georgia. It includes a poem – written specifically for the book – by renowned Southern author Ron Rash.

“‘Eclipse Over Clemson’ is a spectacularly illustrated commemorative book, which includes 15 chapters chronicling the planning, experience and reception of one of the most memorable events ever held on Clemson’s campus,” said John Morgenstern, publisher of Clemson University Press.

To celebrate the CASE award, Morgenstern announced that the book would be discounted $10 from June 14 until 2:37 p.m. Aug. 21, 2018 — exactly one year after the eclipse reached totality over Clemson. The discounted book will be available on the Clemson University Press website. Proceeds go directly to the College of Science.

In addition to Melvin, the winning entry’s team included:

  • Amber Porter, a lecturer in the department of physics and astronomy who played the lead role in community outreach;
  • Mark Leising, a renowned astrophysicist who was then interim dean of the College of Science;
  • Media strategists Wanda Johnson, Pete Martin, Hannah Halusker and Clinton Colmenares.

The Council for Advancement and Support of Education
CASE is a professional organization that serves educational institutions and the advancement professionals — those in alumni relations, development and communications — who work on their behalf. It includes more than 3,670 colleges and universities, primary and secondary independent and international schools, and nonprofit organizations in more than 82 countries around the globe. The Circle of Excellence Awards honor outstanding work in advancement services, alumni relations, communications, fundraising and marketing at colleges, universities, independent schools and affiliated nonprofits.