Inaugural Give Day exceeds expectations

Give Day donations will support student, faculty and facility needs.

Give Day donations will support student, faculty and facility needs.

This spring, the Clemson family showed its generosity, with more than 3,000 donors giving more than $900,000 to support student, faculty, staff and facility needs during the inaugural Give Day event on April 6, also Clemson Founder’s Day.

“We asked the Clemson family and friends to help support the University on Give Day, and they did that and more,” said Brian O’Rourke, vice president for Development and Alumni Relations. “Their generosity exceeded our expectations. We thank them on behalf of our present and future students who are the ultimate beneficiaries of these gifts.”

The gifts from alumni, students, faculty, staff and supporters — totaling $903,883.76 — helped the University exceed this year’s $105 million private fundraising goal, with a record-breaking $149 million in support of the Will to Lead capital campaign.

Among Give Day donors was a couple who pledged $250,000 and Hubbell Lighting Inc., a corporate leader, with its $10,000 gift that will provide five $2,000 scholarships. More than half of the gifts were made online. There were 1,608 posts on social media — mostly Twitter — about Give Day.
To the donors, O’Rourke said, “Thank you for helping us get one step closer to the end zone of our Will to Lead capital campaign. Your gifts will leave a lasting impact.”
You can find more information about Give Day at

Miller gift establishes endowed chair in medical physics

President Clements with Sheila and Waenard Miller, M.D. The Millers received a platter crafted of wood from a tree that once stood on Clemson’s campus.

President Clements with Sheila and Waenard Miller, M.D. The Millers received a platter crafted of wood from a tree that once stood on Clemson’s campus.

Cardiologist Waenard L. Miller ’69 has spent his career on the cutting edge of medicine, raising the level of care for patients higher and higher. Now the gift that he and his wife, Sheila, of Frisco, Texas, have given will ensure that future Clemson graduates can do the same. The two have donated $2 million to Clemson to establish the Dr. Waenard L. Miller, Jr. ’69 and Sheila M. Miller Endowed Chair in Medical Physics.

“My vision of the medical physics program is a multidisciplinary collaborative endeavor associated with excellence in research, exponential growth in innovation and outstanding educational opportunities for students,” Miller said.

Miller earned his physics degree from Clemson in 1969. He received his medical degree from the Medical University of South Carolina and completed his internal medicine residency and a fellowship in cardiology at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical School. He also holds master’s degrees in nuclear physics, biology and medical management.

The Millers met when they were in high school in Greenville. Sheila’s father, Bernyrd C. McLawhorn, was a Greenville physician with degrees in physics and medicine.

“We had a common language in physics, but I was equally inspired by his knowledge of medicine and his commitment to his patients,” Miller said. “My father-in-law was clearly the role model for my eventual choice of medicine as my vocation.”

Sheila fondly remembers the friendship between her father and her future husband. “When I was dating Waenard, I knew I had to get to the door immediately, because if I didn’t get there right away, the two of them would go off in a corner and start talking about black holes, and we’d be late for wherever we were going,” she said.

Miller, in Air Force ROTC at Clemson, was commissioned as a second lieutenant upon graduation and sent to graduate school in nuclear physics. He then served at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in the foreign technology division as a physicist and later transferred to the Aerospace Medical Research Laboratory. There he became intrigued with the combined concept of physics and biology.

Miller began practicing medicine near Dallas in 1983 and co-founded the Legacy Heart Center (LHC) in 1995. Under his leadership, LHC became renowned for leading-edge cardiovascular care. Texas Monthly magazine named him a “Texas Super Doctor” for eight consecutive years. President Clements described Miller as one of the University’s most accomplished alumni.

“Waenard and Sheila already have established a significant legacy. We are so honored that they have decided to partner with Clemson to enhance their legacy even further,” Clements said. “This wonderful gift will allow us to expand our internationally acclaimed biomedical research program and help meet the demand for medical physicists in the health care industry.”

The endowed position will be a joint appointment in Clemson’s departments of physics and astronomy and bioengineering. While collaborating with medical partners of Clemson University, the research conducted by the endowed chair holder will be at the interface of science and engineering with clinical translation as the outcome.

Mark Leising, former chair of the physics and astronomy department and interim dean of the College of Science, said,  “Dr. and Mrs. Miller’s gift will invigorate our medical physics education and research programs. Bringing more physicists and physical science techniques to medicine will continue to improve patient care and fill an important need of our state.”

Martine LaBerge, chair of Clemson’s bioengineering department, noted that medical physics research is at the forefront of patient care. “With this generous gift,” she said, “Clemson University will continue to lead the field of medical diagnostics and will make a significant impact in basic and applied research to improve patient outcomes.”

The Millers’ gift is a part of the successful $1 billion Will to Lead for Clemson campaign.

Ginn family honors legacy of father, grandfather

Army ROTC Cadet Matthew Grajewski salutes Wilbur Ginn Jr. after presenting a hand-crafted bowl made from the wood of Clemson trees in appreciation for the Ginn family’s gift. Also pictured are Alice Ginn, Will Ginn III and Dotty Ginn.

Army ROTC Cadet Matthew Grajewski salutes Wilbur Ginn Jr. after presenting a hand-crafted bowl made from the wood of Clemson trees in appreciation for the Ginn family’s gift. Also pictured are Alice Ginn, Will Ginn III and Dotty Ginn.



A family with three generations of Clemson alumni has given $1 million to establish the Wilbur N. Ginn Sr. Class of 1911 Unrestricted Endowment in Electrical Engineering; the Captain Wilbur N. Ginn Jr., Class of 1941 Unrestricted Endowment in Mechanical Engineering; the Wilbur N. Ginn III, Class of 1969, Unrestricted Endowment for the Humanities in the College of Architecture, Arts and Humanities; and the Wilbur N. Ginn Family Unrestricted Endowment for the Clemson University Libraries.

Retired Navy Captain Wilbur N. Ginn Jr. and his wife Dorothy of Greenville, along with their son, Wilbur N. Ginn III, and his wife Alice of Florence, made the gift for the Wilbur N. Ginn Family Endowment, established to honor the legacy of their father and grandfather, Wilbur N. Ginn Sr.

The Ginn family’s connection to Clemson goes back more than 100 years. Ginn Sr. graduated in 1911 in electrical engineering and was the second charter member of IPTAY. Ginn Jr. graduated in 1941 in mechanical engineering, and Ginn III graduated in 1969 as an English major.

Ginn Jr. and his wife see the endowment as a gift to all the citizens of South Carolina. “Somewhere along the way I decided that the people of South Carolina paid for my education,” he said. “The amount of money my mother and father paid to Clemson was miniscule compared to what the taxpayers paid. So, I feel I owe the people of South Carolina.”

“I am so grateful for the visionary generosity of the Ginn family,” said President Clements. “The unrestricted nature of their wonderful gift makes it even more important, because that allows for the funds to be used where they are needed the most in each area.”

“I’m overseeing the library and humanities piece,” Ginn III explained, “and Dad is overseeing the engineering pieces. The library is so important to everyone. It is the hub of the other three gifts.” Ginn Jr. said he hopes integrating the library in the gift will promote the learning of writing and communicating among the other disciplines. He realized the importance of communication in his positions in the Navy Reserve Officers Program and regular Navy.

Both Ginn Jr. and Ginn III were ROTC cadets at Clemson; Ginn Jr. served as a Navy Reserve engineering duty officer during World War II, then converted to regular Navy, where his career culminated with his service as head of the Navy’s Shipyard Modernization Program in 1966. He received the Legion of Merit in 1970. Ginn III was commissioned into the U.S. Army upon graduating. After his military service, he had a successful career in banking as the executive director for two large medical groups and as a health care consultant. After 45 years of wearing a suit and tie every day, he decided to spend five years as a barista to avoid boredom in his retirement life. Now, he looks forward to being involved at Clemson.

“Having been able to come to Clemson, get back on the campus and see all that’s going on, and then being asked to be on a Humanities Advancement Board, it reenergized my interest in being involved in the University any way I can,” he said.

Ginn Jr. hopes the money will take some financial burden from students and faculty alike. “The grants from this endowment could enable the schools to accomplish some of the most important extras for students and programs. The three of us — my father, my son and I — are the end of this family. May what we have done inspire some future graduates to also give back.”

Nieri pledges Cornerstone Gift to athletics

Michael and Robyn Nieri

Michael and Robyn Nieri

Michael Nieri, who received his degree in construction management in 1986, has pledged the fifth Cornerstone Gift to Clemson Athletics. His gift of $2.5 million will go to the development of a new student-athlete academic and life skills enrichment area in the Memorial Stadium WestZone.

“I am so thankful to Michael Nieri and his family for their generous support of Clemson athletics,” said President Clements. “Giving our student-athletes the resources they need to be successful off the field is just as important as developing their skills on the field, and that’s what the Nieri family is enabling us to do with their gift.”

The Clemson Athletic Cornerstone Program is a vital part of the new athletics facilities initiative. With new facilities, upgrades and rebuilds planned for or underway at football, basketball, baseball, tennis, soccer and academic support, it is the most comprehensive change to the facilities of athletics ever undertaken at Clemson.

This gift is part of Clemson’s successful Will to Lead campaign to raise $1 billion to support Clemson students and faculty with scholarships, professorships, facilities, technology and enhanced opportunities for learning and research.

Michael is the president and founder of Great Southern Homes, headquartered in Columbia, which specializes in residential homebuilding.

“We’re so appreciative of Michael and Robyn’s commitment to Clemson and this generous donation,” IPTAY CEO Davis Babb said. “Their support of IPTAY through this gift will allow future generations of Clemson student-athletes to continue to achieve at high levels both on the fields of competition and in the classroom.”

Michael is married to Robyn Nieri, and they have three children: Pennington ’15, and Maigan and Patrick, both Clemson students.

Richardsons support Emerging Leaders

Clemson Trustee Mark Richardson and his wife, Kathryn, present a check at the Spring Game representing their $1 million gift in support of Emerging Scholars students.

Clemson Trustee Mark Richardson and his wife, Kathryn, present a check at the Spring Game representing their $1 million gift in support of Emerging Scholars students.

Businessman and Clemson trustee Mark Richardson and his wife, Kathryn, and family have given $1 million for a scholarship fund to help ensure that all Emerging Scholars students accepted into Clemson University can attend with financial aid.

Since 2002, the University’s Emerging Scholars program has made higher education a reality for students at five high schools along the I-95 corridor who may not have seen college in their future. Selected rising high school sophomores, juniors and seniors attend the residential program on the Clemson campus in three separate summer experiences. They enroll in courses and workshops that prepare them to graduate high school and apply for college.

During the academic school year, these students participate in college-access workshops and exercises at a local community college. They also visit colleges and universities in South Carolina, Georgia and North Carolina. To date all of the program’s students have graduated from high school. Ninety percent of them attend college or join the military their first year out of high school. The Richardson gift is designated to help the students who are accepted into and decide to attend Clemson.

“I am grateful to Mark and Kathryn for their support of our Emerging Scholars students,” said President Clements. “This gift will make a Clemson education accessible to generations of students who may not have thought that college was in their reach. The Richardsons are truly making a difference for these students and for Clemson.”

“My family and I believe that every student, regardless of financial need, who wishes to develop their greatest abilities through education should have that chance. This gift is the beginning of an effort to ensure that any Emerging Scholar who wants to come to Clemson University can,” Richardson said.

Thirteen alumni of the Emerging Scholars program have attended and graduated from Clemson. Six more are currently enrolled. With the help of this scholarship, 13 incoming freshmen have been admitted for this fall.

Chuck Knepfle, Clemson’s associate vice president for enrollment management, said, “The Emerging Scholars program does a fantastic job of preparing their students for college. With the help of this gift, we now can recruit them to Clemson without worrying about it being affordable. The Richardson gift, along with a significant scholarship commitment made by the University, greatly reduces, and for some students eliminates, the financial barrier for the next 10 years, but a sizable endowment is needed for the financial support to continue forever.”

Emerging Scholars Program Manager Amber Lange acknowledged the impact of the Richardsons’ generosity. “The goal of Emerging Scholars is not only to change a student’s life but to make college accessible in communities where there is not always a clear path to success,” she said. “This gift from the Richardsons will help our students attain a valuable Clemson degree and make sure the financial burden they often feel is lifted.”

The gift is a part of the successful $1 billion Will to Lead for Clemson campaign to support students and faculty with scholarships, professorships, facilities, technology and enhanced opportunities for learning and research.

Developing leaders by nurturing intellect, courage and service

Ten exceptional students walked across the stage at Commencement this year, sporting medallions hanging on orange ribbons identifying them as Chapman Scholars. They were selected as freshmen for their leadership potential and offered the opportunity to be a part of the Thomas F. Chapman Leadership Scholars Program, designed to enrich their academic preparation beyond the classroom and curriculum. The three-year program also supports the college’s mission to develop leadership abilities in its students.

The program is based, in part, on a leadership theme developed by former Equifax CEO and board chair Thomas F. Chapman ’65 that uses the analogy of The Wizard of Oz characters — the scarecrow, lion and tin man — to communicate the traits of leadership. Chapman characterized
the 10 graduating scholars as “very, very special. This is a culmination of three years of getting to know these young people, watching them grow, develop, learn and hopefully position themselves down the road to make the world a better place.”

A reception was held prior to graduation honoring the Chapman Scholars and recognizing Thomas Chapman’s generosity.

Gantt scholars and donors recognized

Forever-Gantt Scholars1

The 2015-2016 class of Gantt Scholars

Members of this year’s class of Gantt Scholars were recognized this spring at a reception that featured remarks by Jim Bostic ’69, Ph.D. ’72, the first African-American to receive a Ph.D. from Clemson, and Lee Gill, the University’s new chief diversity officer.

The Clemson Black Alumni Council established the Harvey B. Gantt Scholarship Endowment Fund in 1988 to honor Gantt and to recruit and retain African-American students, with special preference to South Carolina residents and entering freshmen.

In his remarks, President Clements said that Harvey Gantt’s admission to the University was a major milestone in Clemson’s transformation from an all-male, all-white military college to a civilian co-educational desegregated public university. “I applaud him for his persistence and his incredible resolve many years ago to fight the battle to attend Clemson,” said Clement. “As a result, Clemson is better and stronger today.”

Donors establish endowment for out-of-state engineering students

Matt Doyle

Matt Doyle

Matt Doyle, a 2016 engineering graduate from Guilford, Connecticut, never dreamed of attending an out-of-state school. However, not long after he decided to apply to Clemson, Matt was notified that he had been awarded a significant amount of financial aid. Thanks to many generous donors like Chuck and Sue Fish, Matt no longer viewed Clemson as just a Southern university where people wear lots of orange. It was now his future.

Chuck Fish graduated from Clemson in 1982 with a bachelor of science in electrical engineering, and in 2012, he and his wife, Sue, made a commitment to establish an endowed fund, ultimately to leave their legacy and provide College of Engineering, Computing and Applied Science students from out of state with a wonderful college experience. This commitment originated with the Chuck ’82 and Sue Fish Annual Engineering Scholarship, which they have funded over a four-year period.

Prior to establishing the scholarship, Chuck reconnected with one of his classmates, Doug Gray ’82, who serves as a development officer for the College of Engineering, Computing and Applied Science. “Because he was in development and in engineering, we talked about doing a scholarship. He was the one who really helped us put it together,” said Chuck. “It’s been great having someone Chuck’s known since college be a part of this with us,” said Sue.

The couple has had the privilege of seeing the impact their commitment has made on students, including Matt Doyle. “He is a wonderful young man, and he was so grateful in having this because the scholarship we did was an engineering scholarship for a student who was out of state,” said Chuck. The couple and Matt have met many times and developed a friendship, ultimately making the scholarship even more meaningful.

Chuck and Sue Fish_008

Chuck and Sue Fish

Chuck and Sue’s financial support has made it more affordable for Matt to attend school in South Carolina than in his home state of Connecticut. “Without support like they’ve given me, I don’t think I’d be here. I don’t know where I would be in terms of financials. College is a big undertaking,” said Matt.

“One of the coolest things was that Matt’s mother wrote us a letter. It was the most beautiful letter thanking us for our financial support of her son. It really meant a lot when she wrote us to let us know how much it meant to their family,” said Sue.

Matt admits he has grown a lot in his technical abilities as a civil engineering major and a member of the American Society of Civil Engineers. “I’ve also grown in my relationships with other people including friends, teachers and, through internships, with other professionals. Overall, I feel really well prepared with moving on into the real world,” he said. And moving on, he is. He has accepted a job in Raleigh, N.C., as a general contractor with one of the nation’s largest construction firms, Brasfield & Gorrie, where he interned during the summer of 2015.

Comporium Inc. partners with Watt Family Innovation Center

The Watt Family Innovation Center

The Watt Family Innovation Center

An innovative South Carolina-based telecommunications company is partnering with the new Watt Family Innovation Center to transform student lives and campus academics. Comporium Inc. has pledged $3 million in financial support and in-kind products and services to the Watt Center and will be a Founding Innovation Partner in the new facility that fosters collaborative research activities, product use and demonstration, and philanthropic support.

“It is wonderful to have another South Carolina-based company on board as a Founding Innovation Partner for this incredible facility,” said President Clements. “Comporium is a world-class leader in telecommunications, and I am grateful for their support.”

Headquartered in Rock Hill, Comporium Inc. is a diversified telecommunications company that embraces innovation to provide voice, video, data, wireless and security products and services. Clemson’s faculty, staff and students historically have collaborated and partnered with Comporium in academic and research areas related to a wide spectrum of interest and business operations. This new relationship centers on a multi-faceted engagement that includes philanthropic support of students, faculty, equipment and operations in the new center.

“Comporium sees a great value in educating students in real-world collaboration to take a technologically advanced idea to the development of a practical application,” said Comporium President and CEO Bryant Barnes ’76. “We believe that the center’s role in fostering entrepreneurship and leadership with an emphasis in STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) will serve the citizens of South Carolina. The Watt Center enables the connectivity of the Technology Incubator at Knowledge Park in Rock Hill and others to this network.”

Charles Watt, executive director of the Watt Center, said, “We are excited that Comporium has joined our elite level of Founding Innovation Partners. It is an outstanding family-owned company with corporate operations in Rock Hill.

“Since its original chartering in 1894, it has embraced delivery of innovative products and services that are provided in its telephones, data centers and connected security systems. The company has received numerous national, state, county and local awards for excellence in the telecommunications industry and for its contributions to academic and community activities in South Carolina.”

The Comporium gift is part of the $1 billion Will to Lead for Clemson capital campaign.

For more about the Watt Family Innovation Center, see the feature story in this CW Spring 2016.

A Plan Designed to Build Futures

Chuck Fish graduated from Clemson in 1982 with a bachelor of science in electrical engineering, and in 2012, he and his wife, Sue, made a commitment to establish an endowed fund, ultimately to leave their legacy and provide College of Engineering and Science students from out-of-state with a wonderful college experience. This commitment originated with the Chuck ’82 and Sue Fish Annual Engineering Scholarship, which they have been funding over a four-year period.