Clyde Willis Memorial and Dedication Ceremony
March 24, 2018



   Clyde Willis Scholarship   |  About Clyde





A scholarship was established in Clyde's name in the MTSU Department of Political Science and International Relations. Please consider honoring Clyde’s life and work through a gift to the Clyde Willis scholarship. To make a tax- deductible gift, visit  and type “Clyde Willis Scholarship” in the “other giving preferences” box.  You can also contact Meredith Kerr at 615-898-5223 or for further information on supporting this scholarship.


About Clyde

Clyde taught in the Department from 1999 until his retirement in 2015.  As much as he loved the practice of law, and as proud as he was of his 25 year career in that profession, teaching was Clyde’s clear calling.  Clyde (NOT Professor Willis or Dr. Willis, just Clyde!) was a mentor to countless students, to whom he devoted his boundless energy, leading them in mock trial and mediation competitions at a nationally competitive level.  To the end, Clyde was proudest that his students were more apt to call him friend than professor. He had a great impact on the lives of many students and was well loved.

 Clyde was a native of Rogersville, Tennessee, graduating from Rogersville High School in 1960. After completing a B.S. degree at East Tennessee State University, he received his law degree from the University of Tennessee in 1969. Clyde immediately embarked on his first career, working as an attorney for the Federal Trade Commission in Chicago before returning to Rogersville to practice law with Ed Hyder and then in solo practice.  Clyde also served as mayor of Rogersville from 1975-1977 and briefly as general manager of Holston Electric Cooperative. 

 Clyde and his family moved to Knoxville, where he continued to practice law at Harwell, Baumgardner and Willis (later Harwell and Willis).  During this time in Knoxville, Clyde decided to follow his true calling to teach.  As he practiced law, he also worked toward and completed his Ph.D. from the University of Tennessee in 1991 and, thus, after 25 years of practicing law, embarked on his second career.

 Clyde taught political science and coached the mock trial team at Valdosta State University in Valdosta, Georgia for several years before joining MTSU.   In 1996 he served as Visiting Professor on the Law Faculty of Syktyvkar State University in Russia and the following year received a Fulbright Distinguished Award at the Faculty of Law at Addis Ababa University in Ethiopia. In that strife-torn country Clyde also served as a consultant for the Ethiopian Ministry of Justice.

Clyde E. Willis, age 74, peacefully passed away on July 24, 2017 surrounded by his family at his home in Murfreesboro, Tennessee.   He is survived by his wife Irina, children John Willis (Tonya) and Amy Willis-Becker (Ben), grandchildren Colin, Harry and Leo, all of Knoxville, TN, sisters and brothers -in-law June and Larry Wagner of Mexico, MO and Margaret and Bob Phillips of Richmond, VA, and nieces and nephew Mary Beth Mitchell, Sarah Dawn Hamilton and Matthew Phillips. He was preceded in death by his parents Andy and Evelyn Willis.