Family Business

Thomas and Anna Calhoun Clemson believed that quality education could change lives. Their endowment was the foundation upon which Clemson University was built. James “Eddie” Edwards ’74 and Patricia “Trish” Creighton Edwards ’75 also know a little bit about the value of education. Their recent gift to the College of Education is based on values learned from their mothers and carried forward through their own careers and into the next generation.

The James M. and Patricia C. Edwards Endowment for Education is being established in memory of their mothers, Margaret Dawes Edwards and Patricia Kenney Creighton, who devoted their lives to teaching. Margaret Dawes Edwards, from Johnston, South Carolina, served her community as a math educator. She considered teaching to be a profession of the very highest calling, affording unlimited opportunity to serve others. Patricia Kenney Creighton, from Charleston, South Carolina, shared her love of teaching that made everyone feel special, greatly impacting the lives of students she taught from Virginia to Aiken, Florence and Charleston, South Carolina.

Although Eddie Edwards earned his Clemson degree in political science, he has spent the past 34 years growing his family-owned construction company, Edcon Inc., into one of the most well-known contractors for schools and athletics facilities in South Carolina. The couple’s two sons, Josh ’01 and Chase, work in the business. While her husband and sons have been out building schools, Trish Edwards has spent her career inside them, carrying on the family tradition as an educator. Not surprisingly, their daughter, Emily Edwards Berry, is also a Clemson graduate and teacher. She is set to finish her Ed.S. in educational leadership at Clemson this summer.


“Their visionary leadership, thoughtfulness and generosity, to support young people, many of whom they will never meet, in becoming high-quality teachers is at the nexus of why Clemson’s Teacher Residency program is so remarkably successful.”


The family’s $500,000 gift will support Clemson’s teacher residency program, a combined degree program across disciplines. The MAT in teacher residency is a 30-credit program that can be completed in three semesters. It consists of a mix of face-to-face and hybrid courses along with an immersive field experience component. Students will be recommended for initial teaching certification after successfully completing their graduate teacher residency field experience.

“Nothing is more important in our state than providing high-quality education for our children,” said George J. Petersen, founding dean of the College of Education. “The Edwards family’s gift says to other people, ‘We understand this and are willing to invest because we recognize the significant impact on the quality and retention of high-caliber teachers.’

Their visionary leadership, thoughtfulness and generosity, to support young people, many of whom they will never meet, in becoming high-quality teachers is at the nexus of why Clemson’s Teacher Residency program is so remarkably successful.”

Trish and Eddie Edwards were recently named the 2022 Distinguished Friend of the College of Education. The formal celebration will be held at the college’s annual awards event later this year.


The Wedding Gift

The bride and groom had no direct connection with Clemson when they decided to use their wedding as a fundraiser for an endowment here. What the couple did have, however, was a powerful wish to contribute to the legacy of their late friend, Clemson alumnus Tyrone Gayle ’10, who passed away in 2018 at the age of 30.

Gayle launched an impressive career in politics that touched some of the most notable names in the Democratic Party. He logged thousands of miles as a driver and aide for Sen. Tim Kaine of Virginia. He was a spokesperson for Hillary Clinton during her 2016 run for the White House. It was during that campaign that Gayle was diagnosed with stage IV colon cancer. At the time of his death, he was press secretary for then-Sen. Kamala Harris. Gayle has been described as making a remarkable impact on the campaigns and causes he served during the eight years he spent in politics. Along the way, he made hundreds of loyal friends who supported him through his challenge. They are known as Gayle Nation.

To honor Gayle and continue his legacy, his family established the Tyrone Gayle Scholars Program at Clemson in Spring 2019. Upon learning of the opportunity to honor their friend’s memory in a meaningful way, Gayle Nation stepped up. The couple’s wedding gift idea was only one example. Their efforts have helped the program surpass its original five-year fundraising goal. So far, more than $200,000 has been raised.

The program creates pathways for underrepresented students to get their start in politics. Each year, two students are selected as Tyrone Gayle Scholars and receive a $3,500 stipend to pursue a summer internship in a political field. This could be on a local or national campaign, at an advocacy organization or in other government sectors. In addition to the stipend, students are matched with mentors from Tyrone Gayle’s network, who guide the students through the often-insular political world, help them make the most of their internships and help them build their own networks.

Tyrone Gayle’s life may have been short, but his influence and work will live on through his family, Gayle Nation and the Gayle Scholars.


Inspired to Lead

Since 2014, Clemson has been home to a first-in-the-nation program offering a Bachelor of Arts in women’s leadership. While other top universities offer a major in women’s and gender studies or a certificate program in leadership, Clemson’s program combines these in an interdisciplinary degree program designed to close the leadership gap for women.

The program recently received a major boost through a $500,000 gift from Georgia A. Callahan ’73, M ’77, with intentions of making additional contributions to achieve a $1 million investment over the next decade. The initial funds will be used to establish an endowed professorship and an unrestricted endowment for excellence. The endowments will bear the name of the donor, whose trailblazing career in government and business began here in Clemson.

After becoming the City of Clemson’s first community development director while in graduate school, Callahan spent the next dozen years working in the newly formed U.S. Environmental Protection Agency in D.C., a job that resulted from her acceptance into Jimmy Carter’s Presidential Management Intern program. Over the next 24 years, she worked for Texaco in New York and Chevron in California.  During her tenure in the energy industry, she rose to the top, becoming one of a handful of women to achieve the rank of vice president. Her work focused on legislative and regulatory affairs, global policy and strategy, and environment and climate change. During her career, Callahan traveled to more than 100 countries across the world.

“Having Georgia Callahan as a benefactor and mentor has been invaluable,” said Diane Perpich, director of the women’s leadership program. “In fact, lessons from Callahan’s experience with program management were important in the development of our program.”

The students who benefit from these endowments will not have to look very far to see an exemplary role model of women’s leadership and accomplishment.


They Found Their Passion

The Stanzione family is a Clemson Family to the core. Robert J. “Bob” ’69 and Kaye Stanzione began their married life in Clemson housing, and all three of their children, Marie, Jennifer and Bobby, attended Clemson. But their passion for the University didn’t end with graduation.

The Stanziones have given back to Clemson for many years. Their most recent philanthropic endeavor is a $2.5 million gift to Clemson’s College of Engineering, Computing and Applied Sciences. The gift includes support for scholarships for CECAS students, unrestricted funds for the Dean’s Excellence Fund and faculty support to the Department of Mechanical Engineering. The funds will be crucial for the department’s recruitment and retention of outstanding faculty and providing our students with unique experiences that will prepare them for their future.

Bob Stanzione put his own engineering degree to good use, eventually growing ARRIS International from a start-up company to the world market leader in cable networking products. He has an understanding and appreciation for the wide spectrum of career opportunities that mechanical engineering affords Clemson students. They create the products we use every day: automobiles, clothing, building products, aircraft and computers. Contributions from mechanical engineers benefit the world.


“We believe that education is the most powerful tool you can use to impact and transform your life.”


The couple’s support of Clemson includes Bob Stanzione’s role as a director of the Clemson University Foundation, including past-chair of the foundation’s investment committee, and his work as an ambassador for the foundation’s Order of the Oak. Kaye Stanzione is an active volunteer and serves on the ClemsonLIFE advisory board. In honor of their support to the College of Education and ClemsonLIFE, Bob and Kaye Stanzione were awarded the Distinguished Friends of the College Award in 2021 during the College of Education’s third annual awards celebration.

Kaye Stanzione says, “We really both strongly feel that education is so important. It’s not just what you learn in class. It’s what you learn about life. We believe that education is the most powerful tool you can use to impact and transform your life.”

The Stanziones’ support of Clemson, both to the College of Engineering, Computing and Applied Sciences and the College of Education, reflects their dedication and commitment to providing exceptional education and experiences to future generations. Bob Stanzione says, “I think we all share a belief that the investments we’re making in students and professors in the University facilities here are going to pay off in a multitude of ways.”

And the family tradition continues. This Fall, the Stanziones will have three grandchildren enrolled here at Clemson — Emma will be starting her senior year, and Owen and Alex will be first-year students.