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Leaving a Leagacy

Posted May 30, 2016
Photo: (l to r) Tom Klipstine and Jay Bender at their retirement celebration
Story by Carrington Murray, Reprinted from InterCom


Two faculty from the School of Journalism and Mass Communications retired this year. 

Dr. Thomas Klipstine

After 25 years with General Motors and with three degrees in hand, Dr. Thomas Klipstine made the career-changing decision to enter higher education. This major shift in his life was a result of numerous experiences he encountered, with applicants, both good and bad, while employed with General Motors. With General Motors, Dr. Klipstine has served as Director of Public Relations for GMC Truck
and Director of Communications for GM North American Operations. Dr. Klipstine feels that, for students, “the lightbulb needed to come on earlier.”

Dr. Klipstine said he realized that many students were graduating college and entering the work force unable to adequately apply their knowledge to positions they were seeking. He knew by his entrance into higher education he could help that change. Since he began teaching, his goal has been to offer himself as a resource and to give hands-on experience in writing. He shares his professional expertise with his students, so they are prepared to enter the corporate world and seek the jobs they desire.

Klipstine believes that all students should gain as much practical experience as possible. He believes that, “You shouldn’t get an internship, but several internships.” This is what allows you to understand the profession, the skills and necessities that you need to adequately serve in that role. This is the message that he relays to all University of South Carolina’s Public Relations Student Society of America members, where he serves as faculty advisor.

“He’s one of those professors that makes you feel comfortable to approach them, he’s very lighthearted but focused on helping students succeed based on his own professional experiences,” said Renada Chisholm, one of Dr. Klipstine’s students. Dr. Klipstine has taught courses on both the undergraduate and graduate levels including Introduction to Public Relations, Public Relations Campaigns and Integrated Communication Principles.

Although retiring from the University of South Carolina and leaving the School of Journalism and Mass Communications, he is most definitely anticipating his post- retirement plans. These plans consist of an ample amount of traveling and relaxation. He plans to relocate to Florida following his retirement and take advantage of the endless warm days. This time next year you definitely won’t find him in a classroom, but you will find him on a Florida golf course.

Jay Bender, ESQ.

Jay Bender has had one goal: as a professor in the School of Journalism and Mass Communications, to help mold leaders of the future. He believes that “if you can make a difference in a couple of people’s lives a semester, then you have accomplished your job.”

Bender has had an impact in his intertwined careers in higher education and law. Bender, for the last 40 years, has been a partner at Baker Ravenel Bender, representing broadcasters, newspapers, publications and news outlets on media and first amendment related issues. He is responsible for the most recent interpretations of the Freedom of Information Act, as well as writing the book on laws affecting South Carolina newspapers. Bender has served the South Carolina Press Association, as its attorney for more than 30 years, and is the most recent recipient of the SCPA Lifetime Achievement Award. He has assisted in the development of the joint MMC and JD program, and conducted regular legal seminars for senior semester journalism students. He is also responsible for coordinating the inaugural Media Law School presented by the USC School of Law for journalists from around the country.

Bender has been changing the lives of Law and Ethics students with every opportunity he gets. He not only offers educational experiences, but life experiences as well. From the first day of the course he reminds his students: to be on time for class, to be prepared for class, not “hmmm” before you speak and to stop stealing. Bender has always challenged his students, encouraging them to “do the work” and reap the rewards. However, no reward is greater than the “I survived Jay Bender’s Media Law class U.S.C” mug students receive at the completion of the course.

“I never expected the life lessons I would be taught  in addition to learning about media law when I registered for Bender’s course,” said Jessica Hosey, one of Bender’s former students. “He definitely challenges you as professor, but if you simply come to class and do the assigned work, you will do just fine.”

Bender described his experience as a faculty member in the College of Information and Communications, in one word: “rewarding.” He believes that having the opportunity to aid students in identifying their problems and offering them resources to solve them has been the best part of his job.

With his ample amount of soon-to-be free time Bender has developed quite the bucket list, including new hobbies, traveling and relaxation. He plans to take up wood working and welding courses, while continuing to paint and spend quality time with his wife in New Mexico in their newly- renovated home. Bender also wants to travel to South America, Antarctica and Australia. However he is nervous about his trip to Antarctica, because he will travel by boat and he suffers from sea sickness.