Stephen F. Austin State University's Dr. Tim Clipson, SFA 101 Freshman Success coordinator and professor in the Rusche College of Business, is retiring after 36 years of service to the university.

NACOGDOCHES, Texas - Skillfully carved into a fishhook, the Hei Matau bone necklace dangles around his neck making a simple yet profound statement. At first glance, it seems out of place - a natural artifact juxtaposed against his business attire - but after a quick conversation with Dr. Tim Clipson, professor at Stephen F. Austin State University, the meaning of the symbolic ornament is revealed.

"I wear this necklace to represent the fact that I'm hooked. I'm hooked on my faith, family, friends, fun, food and being fearless," Clipson said.

While presenting research in Hawaii two years ago, Clipson discovered the hook necklace in a store and asked a local what it symbolized.

"He said if you wear it, you'll catch a lot of fish. I don't fish much, but I love the water," Clipson said. "I researched it more and found the Hei Matau had a deeper meaning."

Hei Matau originated from the Maori of New Zealand and represents strength, good luck and safe travel over water. Being a sailor, Clipson adopted the necklace as part of his wardrobe and decided to name his sailboat Matau.

At the end of May, Clipson will be spending more time on the open water as he enters his retirement after 36 years of service to SFA.

"I often say being a university professor is by far one of the best jobs anyone could have. It has allowed me to fulfill what I believe I was called to do," Clipson said. "My personal mission is to do as much good for as many people as I possibly can in my life. Teaching became the vehicle to live my mission. Whether in public school, at the university or in corporate training, I have been blessed to help others during my life as a teacher."

Prior to joining SFA in 1981, Clipson taught public school at the junior high and high school levels. He also is president of a corporate leadership company, Leadership Is For Everyone (LIFE!).

During his tenure at SFA, Clipson has held the ranks of assistant professor, associate professor and professor in the Rusche College of Business' Department of Business Communication and Legal Studies where he teaches specialized courses on executive leadership. Recently, Clipson was named professor emeritus for the Department of Business Communication and Legal Studies.

"Dr. Clipson's innovative undergraduate and graduate courses on executive leadership have been highly sought after and widely acclaimed by current and former students," said Dr. Marsha Bayless, chair of the Department of Business Communication and Legal Studies at SFA. "Successful alumni serving on our department and college advisory councils comment on the courses' value to their careers and inspiration to their personal lives."

Clipson developed many of the courses he has taught at SFA as well as the training development course and leadership courses for the College of Business. He views his classrooms as non-threatening learning laboratories where students aren't afraid to make mistakes.

"I believe the more students enjoy the learning experience the more they tend to take away from the classroom," Clipson said. "The toughest thing about retirement is thinking about leaving the classroom."

Clipson may be embarking on a new journey, but his contributions to SFA will have a lasting impact on future generations.

Since 1998, Clipson has served as the SFA 101 Freshman Success coordinator. SFA 101 is a specially designed course introducing new students to life at SFA. With approximately 75 sections offered a year, SFA 101 has served thousands of students and is proven to raise GPA and college retention.

"An outstanding experience for me was helping build the SFA 101 program and seeing how it has made a positive difference in the lives of thousands of young people. I've also enjoyed working with the program instructors and staff members," Clipson said.

Additionally, Clipson has served as chapter president of the international business honor society Beta Gamma Sigma for 16 years and is currently the Alpha Tau Omega national president.

His accolades include the Meada Gibbs Outstanding Teacher-Scholar Award for the Association for Business Communication, Outstanding Educator Award in 2016 for the Federation of Business Disciplines, Distinguished Paper Award for the Association for Business Communication-Southwestern United States, Teaching Innovation Award from the Rusche College of Business, Marlin C. Young Teaching Excellence Award, SFA Teaching Excellence Award and Distinguished Professor.

"Dr. Clipson is the epitome of sincere dedication to his students, colleagues, SFA, the profession and all who come in contact with him," Bayless said. "His impact has been and is tremendous, and his profound influence enduring."