Donor spotlight: Ronald Moran

Ronald Moran could be considered the father of the Clemson University Press. Even though he had already retired from the University by the time the Press was established in 2000, he was serving as interim dean of the then College of Architecture, Arts and Humanities when he established a committee to explore the possibility of starting a university press. Since that time, he has published with the Press and he continues to support the Press as a donor to this day.

Moran came to Clemson in 1975 to be the head of the English department. What he found when he got here was what he calls “God’s country,” and he has been here ever since.

The Connecticut native had lived a number of different places on his way to Upstate South Carolina. He attended Colby College in Maine, where he earned a bachelor’s in American literature. Looking to escape the cold New England winters, he went to graduate school at Louisiana State University, earning a master’s in English literature and a Ph.D. in English with an emphasis in American literature. After finishing his Ph.D., he joined the faculty at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He rose to the level of assistant dean and was starting to attract interest from other institutions.

“The job that seemed to be most attractive to me was Clemson,” he said. He and his wife Jane quickly fell in love with the Upstate of South Carolina.

Moran is a poet, and he credits the Upstate for inspiration for many of his poems.

“This area in South Carolina has served as a catalytic agent for me and my writing immensely. I couldn’t have written unless I lived around here,” said Moran. “From 1988 to 1998, I spent most of my time writing poems about a small mill town I made up in the Carolinas. I published several chap books on the subject of this mill town. The ambiance here of the mill-working past was very important to me. I just feel comfortable writing here.”

The other inspiration behind his poetry was his wife of 50 years, Jane, who passed away in 2009. He says his best book is “The Jane Poems,” and that he is still writing about her.

Moran has published six books with the Clemson University Press, the most recent in 2016. At age 87, he is still an active writer, though he has no plans to publish another book. He has published more than 70 poems in magazines since 2016.

Moran said he wanted to establish a university press all those years ago because at the time, there was no press in this area. The closest one was at the University of South Carolina, and he wanted to give writers at Clemson and across the Upstate a way to publish their work.

“Sometimes the best scholarship and creative writing done by an individual at a university or college was printed by somebody else. Therefore, the glory and recognition that was a part of that person’s work went to some other institution,” he said. “I decided to see what I could do to keep some of that at Clemson.”

Today, the Clemson University Press publishes around 25 books and journal issues each year. Moran said he has been proud to see the growth of the Press over the years.

“The Press is honest. They’re nice people, and they love literature of all sorts. They are very positive, open and easy to work with,” he said. “They have a good business arrangement and a good intellectual arrangement.”

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