Claire Dancz, Ph.D., M.P.A.

Claire L.A. Dancz, Ph.D., M.P.A., Clemson University

Claire L.A. Dancz, Ph.D., M.P.A.

Research Associate, Watt Family Innovation Center
Faculty Director, Grand Challenge Scholars Program
Clemson University

Dr. Claire Dancz, M.P.A. is a higher education thought leader, administrator, and faculty member recognized for engaged learning and creative problem solving in real-world contexts, the integration of technology in learning environments, and developing the next generation of engineering leaders.

Dr. Dancz is the Research Associate for Education Systems at the Watt Family Innovation Center at Clemson University. Dr. Dancz provides strategic recommendations for technology planning, acquisition, and refresh for learning and collaboration systems, evaluates the application of technology for sustaining technology-rich learning environments, conducts assessments on instructional technology, support, and its impact on academic engagement, develops and leads technology training programs, and drives external funding activities with donors and sponsors for teaching innovation. 

Dr. Dancz is the Faculty Director of National Academy of Engineering Grand Challenge Scholars Program. Recognized as the 2022 Clemson University Student Organization of the Year, the Grand Challenge Scholars Program produces well-rounded scholars who strive to be ethical thought leaders and put scholarship into action to create value and address the challenges facing society. Scholars build their skillset and mindset in five competency areas of Research, Multidisciplinary, Entrepreneurship, Multicultural, and Social Consciousness. Under Dr. Dancz’s leadership, the Grand Challenge Scholars established a national Entrepreneurship Speaker Series, leading institutions across the nation in an engaged learning experience with entrepreneurs addressing global challenges.

The Grand Challenge Scholars also founded Clemson Design-a-thon, a pitch-style competition that brings together students from all majors and experience levels to apply the Design Thinking process to create innovative solutions to grand challenges facing society. Students compete as a team in one of the competition tracks of Sustainability, Security, Health, and Joy of Living. Teams who are successful clearly communicate their design solution, demonstrating that they sought to develop an empathetic understanding of the problem, used observation and discovery to define the problem, challenged assumptions to current problem approaches, and identified alternative strategies. Deb Conklin, CEO of Reddy Ice, delivered the keynote address for Design-a-thon 2022: The Future of Food.

Dr. Dancz is an Adjunct Faculty in the Department of Engineering and Science Education within the College of Engineering, Computing and Applied Sciences. She has funded research projects on enhancing the transfer experience for underrepresented minorities moving from community colleges to a four-year institutions, teaching STEM in an online modality, conation and the application of striving instincts in team settings, and integration of grand challenges within civil engineering, sustainable engineering, and the general education curriculum. Dr. Dancz is a Kolbe™ Certified Consultant and consults on team dynamics and leadership for higher education and has developed and teaches an interdisciplinary Creative Inquiry course, Conation and Creativity in Engineering. 

Dr. Dancz is a core technical member of Clemson’s Emergency Operations Center and was essential to the University’s COVID-19 response operations. Dr. Dancz built and led the system that become the publicly visible COVID-19 dashboard and the system used by University Housing & Dining for student isolation and quarantine. Dr. Dancz’s technical contributions have enabled hundreds of hybrid collaborations in support of emergency operations.

Dr. Dancz holds a B.S. in Environmental Microbiology and Biology from Michigan State University, a M.S. in Civil Engineering from University of Pittsburgh, a Ph.D. in Civil Engineering from Arizona State University, and is one of the first two people at Clemson University to earn an M.P.A. in Emergency Management.