Building for the Future

Pelhams’ longtime generosity supports Clemson’s School of Architecture and Emerging Scholars

In 1972, Clemson became one of the first architecture programs in the country to establish a satellite center in Europe. Since then, the Fluid Campus™ model with semester-long opportunities for students to study and gain greater understanding of architecture and urban cultures has gained international recognition.

That experience was life-changing for Bill Pelham, who graduated from Clemson in 1977 with a bachelor’s in pre-architecture and in 1981 with a master’s in architecture. In 1978, he spent a semester in Genoa, Italy, studying at Clemson’s Charles E. Daniel Center for Building Research and Urban Studies, an experience that influenced his worldview and inspired lifelong charitable giving. Pelham describes that time as eye-opening and confidence-building, as he navigated his way through Western Europe to sketch, study and admire what he calls “phenomenal architecture.”

Bill and Laura Pelham recently became Clemson’s newest Academic Cornerstone partners when they awarded the School of Architecture a gift of $3 million. With this donation, Bill and Laura Pelham hope to provide more experiences like his for talented architecture students.

The Pelhams have generously given back to Clemson and the School of Architecture over the years. Gifts totaling $2.8 million have been given through the Jean T. and Heyward G. Pelham Foundation to support the School of Architecture, the Clemson Architectural Foundation and other initiatives since 2007. This new gift supports two endowments established earlier, one for the director of the School of Architecture and one for the Foundation, providing unrestricted funding in perpetuity.

“I am so grateful to Bill and Laura Pelham for their generosity and their visionary leadership that will enable more students to pursue careers in architecture,” said President Jim Clements. “This gift will pave the way for students who may not have had the opportunity to study architecture otherwise. I believe that the best mix of the best minds produces the best outcomes, and Bill and Laura are helping us bring more of those top minds to our School of Architecture.”

Other projects supported through this gift include strengthening Clemson’s relationship with the Fine Arts Center in Greenville. Funding will provide need-based scholarships for talented students who attend the Fine Arts Center’s architectural program: “Art of Architecture.” These highly qualified graduates might not otherwise be able to pursue architectural studies while remaining in the state.

Additionally, the Pelhams’ gift will support an endowment for Emerging Scholars, establishing the architecture track for this program. The Emerging Scholars Program exposes students from the rural areas along the I-95 corridor in South Carolina to higher education, concentrating on academic preparation, leadership skills and the college application process. Students can stay on Clemson’s campus several times throughout the program, and program leaders work with students in their schools and community. Whether the students attend Clemson or not, the end goal is that they will graduate and pursue education beyond high school.

Pelham explains the motivation behind these focus areas: “I noticed in my freshman year that there were students who had chosen their majors and their university, but they had absolutely no idea what they were going to be studying. A lot of them transferred after the first semester because of that. The Fine Arts Center’s architecture program avoids that issue by exposing students to many aspects of an architectural education while in high school. And Emerging Scholars is a way of making students aware of other possibilities. There are few architects on the I-95 corridor, so it is a great way to give them insight into the profession. They can see that an undergraduate architecture degree is pretty good training for just about any profession.”

Clemson has always valued the impact a strong student experience can provide. It was life-changing for Bill Pelham, who along with Laura, has made giving back to others a priority. Now that same opportunity will be available for others to take forward and build upon.

 

 

Blazing the Trail

When Emily Peek Wallace ’72 arrived at Clemson as a math major in the fall of 1968, she was often the sole woman in her technical courses. Her strength and determination served her well academically and later as a successful businesswoman. Today, she is regarded as a pioneer in the software industry through her leadership role at Statistical Analysis System Institute.

Since graduating with a B.S. in mathematics, Wallace — a first-generation college graduate — has generously given back to the University, not only through donations and service on boards but also as a mentor and presenter to students. Now, she is giving a new gift of $1.25 million to establish the Emily Peek Wallace ’72 Endowed Directorship for the School of Mathematical and Statistical Sciences.

Creating endowed faculty positions allows Clemson to recruit and retain top talent. As the first endowed faculty position at the School of Mathematical and Statistical Sciences in the College of Science, it provides support for the director and assists initiatives throughout the school. This is the largest gift ever given to the College of Science since its inception in 2016.

“I wanted to do something to help the faculty,” says Wallace. “Everybody has had to shift their teaching and learning methods due to COVID-19, and the faculty has additional challenges to make sure students are not getting behind and that they’re learning what they need to be learning. I wanted to provide encouragement and funding to help them and add additional resources to help students stay current.”

The gift includes tutoring assistance for students who may be struggling academically or who may have fallen behind due to unforeseen circumstances. Additionally, it aims to help establish business connections and internships for students who wish to enter the job force instead of going into academic research, and it makes training with current statistical software and other resources available for students regardless of their future tracks.

In the current academic year, 25 students are benefiting from the Wallace scholarships.

Wallace has dedicated much of her life to creating innovative opportunities for underrepresented scientists. In 2014, she established the Emily Peek Wallace ’72 Scholarship Endowment for S.T.E.M., which provides financial assistance for underrepresented students in science, technology, engineering and mathematics. In addition to establishing the two endowments, she serves on the Clemson University Foundation Board of Directors and as a founding member of the Order of the Oak.

 

Jack McKenzie’s Solid Orange Legacy

Legacy Day at Clemson, a time to pause and celebrate the philanthropy that founded the University, feels like one of those traditions that has deep historical roots. You may not know that the celebration began not too long ago thanks to the efforts of an alumnus and longtime Clemson employee.

Jack McKenzie ’76 has led a life of service since he first set foot on Clemson’s campus as a student in 1972. His involvement in the Alpha Phi Omega National Service Fraternity was key to his development. Through his APO experience, McKenzie’s love for leadership, giving back and serving Clemson was born. But it was during his 40 years in a variety of roles as an employee that he became a Clemson legend.

Serving as the University’s internal communications manager, McKenzie began the practice of using strategic communications to promote the University. He continued to serve in leadership roles in Development and Alumni Relations. His work celebrating the legacy of our founders culminated in the establishment of Clemson traditions, including the Legacy Day celebration, the Fort Hill Legacy Society and the Clemson Legacy Society. Throughout his storied career, McKenzie’s love of Clemson has shined through.

McKenzie has continued his dedication to the University in retirement by establishing the Alpha Phi Gamma Lambda Chapter Endowment for Service Excellence. He says, “The endowment is a step toward ensuring that APO doesn’t have to spend time focusing on its own funding and can simply focus on providing leadership and friendship opportunities for students.” Additionally, in honor of McKenzie’s four decades of service to Clemson, gifts from friends and family helped establish the Alpha Phi Omega Jack A. McKenzie ’76 Leadership Endowment in 2016. This endowment provides travel grant-in-aid to students attending conferences on leadership or professional development.

Endowments ensure that leadership like McKenzie’s will continue into the next generation. It is fitting that the originator of Legacy Day at Clemson has established a solid orange legacy of his own through many years of dedication and hard work on behalf of our University.

 

Friends of the Forest

Scotts are first Cornerstone Partners for College of Agriculture, Forestry and Life Sciences

As a land-grant university, Clemson is dedicated to educating our citizens about the abundant natural resources of our state. According to the South Carolina Forestry Commission, forestland encompasses nearly 12.9 million acres of South Carolina. Public agencies manage 13 percent of the state’s forests, while 87 percent belongs to more than 200,000 private landowners. Forestry and forest products are a $21 billion industry, one of the largest economic drivers in the state.

Amy and Mitchell “Micky” Scott ’75 share Clemson’s passion to educate the public and protect our natural resources, supporting causes that make a positive difference for the forest industry. Since 2013, they’ve made significant gifts of time and money to Clemson and the College of Agriculture, Forestry and Life Sciences.

The Scotts recently added a $2.5 million gift that will provide need-based scholarships for students enrolled in the Forestry Summer Camp, scholarships for the recruitment and retention of top undergraduate talent in CAFLS, and fellowships and program support for graduate students enrolled in the Department of Forestry and Environmental Conservation. With this gift, the Scotts become CAFLS’ first Academic Cornerstone Partner.

“It is only fitting that Micky and Amy are the first Cornerstone Partners for the College,” says President Jim Clements. “Their gift will make a difference not only for generations of Clemson students but also for our entire state by enabling us to develop even more leaders for the fields of forestry and natural resources. I am incredibly grateful to Micky and Amy for their support.”

Leading his family’s Allendale, South Carolina, lumber business into the fourth generation, Micky Scott graduated from Clemson in 1975 with a B.S. in forest management. He serves on Clemson’s Wood Utilization + Design Institute Board and is former chair of the Timberland Legacy Advisory Committee. In 2019, he received the College of Agriculture, Forestry and Life Sciences Distinguished Service Award for his efforts.

The College of Agriculture, Forestry and Life Sciences prides itself on being at the heart of Clemson’s land-grant mission, exemplifying founder Thomas Green Clemson’s vision of a high seminary of learning to serve the state of South Carolina. Support from leaders like the Scotts allow that legacy to continue for future generations.

 

Klaine Fellowship Recipient Focusing on Roadside Waterways

Stephen Klaine was a professor in the Clemson Department of Biological Sciences and a member of the environmental toxicology graduate program for 24 years. He was an internationally recognized environmental toxicologist with a legacy of devotion to teaching and mentoring until he passed away in 2016. Colleagues and friends of Klaine honored his contributions to biological sciences by establishing a fellowship in his memory.

In 2021, Stephanie LaPlaca, a graduate student in the College of Science, is the first recipient of the Dr. Stephen Klaine Annual Memorial Fellowship.

“Receiving the Klaine Fellowship is a huge honor. Although I never got the chance to meet Dr. Klaine, I’ve heard so many wonderful things about him through other students and faculty at Clemson. His legacy is inspiring,” said LaPlaca, a fourth-year Ph.D. student from Virginia in the Department of Biological Sciences’ environmental toxicology program.

LaPlaca’s research focuses on the toxicity of crumb rubber particles to aquatic organisms. As tires wear, they leave tiny particles of rubber on the roadways. When it rains, those particles wash into creeks, streams and lakes. Understanding how crumb rubber affects aquatic organisms can inform stormwater regulators on how to best manage road runoff and help consumers make more eco-friendly choices to reduce their impact.

LaPlaca and Peter van den Hurk, her academic adviser, published a paper in the journal Ecotoxicology last April.

“It’s quite impressive for a student to have a publication out of doctoral research in their third year.” said van den Hurk, who coordinates the environmental toxicology program. “Steve was very science-oriented, but he was also oriented toward translating science to applications in the real world. As environmental scientists, we help society address environmental problems. Steve advocated that. I think Stephanie fits that picture very well.”

A Heart for Helping Others

It only takes a spark to light a flame. Jessica Taylor Weitz is a testament to that. A lifelong competitive swimmer, Jessica’s experience working with special-needs children in the pool during college has led her to take an interest in the ClemsonLIFE program. Her parents, Jonathan Weitz ’90 and Lisa Weitz ’90, established the Jessica Taylor Weitz Endowment for ClemsonLIFE in honor of Jessica’s passions.

Jessica first began working with special-needs children as a student and swimmer at Tulane University. She often took time out of her intense training schedule to help students learn the joys of swimming. Whether they were dipping their toes in the water or swimming laps unassisted, Jessica was there to help every step of the way. It was during these moments that Jessica found her passion to help those with intellectual disabilities.

The ClemsonLIFE program, in a similar way, acts as a helping hand for its students. The program offers an on-campus collegiate experience that prepares young people with intellectual disabilities for competitive employment and independent living through a combination of academic coursework and career exploration. With around 40 students in the program, ClemsonLIFE acts as a catalyst for personal growth, teaching lessons that many of us take for granted. Students learn functional mathematics and literacy, independent living skills, health and wellness, and self-advocacy. A day’s lesson may also include proper texting etiquette, grocery shopping or hosting a party. These practical skills allow students to live independent, joyful lives.

Because of this, ClemsonLIFE students have a 44 percent independent living rate and an 84 percent current employment rate, compared to national rates of 21 percent and 14 percent, respectively. 

Because of Jessica Weitz’s charitable spirit and her parents’ philanthropy, ClemsonLIFE students will be able to continue to experience this outstanding program. 

A New Home With a Name

 

Last year, the Clemson Softball team, in their inaugural season that was cut short by the COVID-19 pandemic, finished 19-8 overall and 5-1 in Atlantic Coast Conference play. This year, they started their highly anticipated second season in the newly named McWhorter Stadium, thanks to the generosity of Stuart McWhorter ’91 and Leigh Anne Hendrix McWhorter of Nashville, Tennessee, who pledged a Cornerstone Gift of $2.5 million to IPTAY in support of the softball program.

“We are so grateful to Stuart, Leigh Anne and their entire family for their generous commitment to Clemson Athletics and the softball program,” said President Jim Clements. “We are excited about the direction of the program and are thankful to the McWhorters for becoming Cornerstone Partners and being such a significant part of the foundation of softball at Clemson.”

Adjacent to the baseball facilities, McWhorter Stadium features 1,000 fixed chairback seats in addition to berm seating. The facility also includes a team clubhouse with more than 12,000 square feet of space that houses a team lounge, locker room, sports medicine room, equipment room and coaches’ offices. It includes a press box with three broadcast booths and a videoboard and also houses locker rooms for the coaches, umpires and visiting teams. In its inaugural season in 2020, the softball program averaged 1,544 fans per game, ranking first in the Atlantic Coast Conference in attendance and fifth nationally. 

“We have the utmost sense of gratitude, pride and appreciation for the opportunity to come to work, practice and play in a facility as nice as ours each and every day. Our facility demonstrates the high level of support and resources that IPTAY and the McWhorter family have provided our young program,” said Clemson Softball head coach John Rittman. “Our first-class facility gives our student-athletes, coaches and support staff all of the tools necessary to be successful. On behalf of our players and staff, we are truly appreciative of all of the generous IPTAY members who have donated their time and money in order for us to be able to call this facility our home.”

Stuart McWhorter has supported Clemson University since he was a student and served as the Tiger mascot from 1987 to 1990. Since then, he and Leigh Anne have given generously to Universitywide initiatives in both athletics and academics.

Stuart and Leigh Anne are distinguished members of Clemson’s Cumulative Giving Society and the President’s Leadership Circle. Stuart was a founding member of the Leadership Committee for the University’s 10-year capital campaign, The Will to Lead, and he served on the Clemson Athletics Tiger Pride Capital Campaign Cabinet.

Stuart was previously a member of the Clemson University Foundation Board, and he and Leigh Anne are members of the Founder Society for the Arthur M. Spiro Institute for Entrepreneurial Leadership. Stuart has also shared his success with his alma mater when he served as an executive-in-residence, focusing on Clemson’s entrepreneurship and economic engagement efforts.

Stuart and Leigh Anne live in Nashville with their five children: Clayton, a first-year student at Clemson, Thomas, Caroline, Marleigh and Layla.

As Clemson’s softball program sits near the top of the ACC in its second season, the extraordinary generosity of Stuart and Leigh Anne has provided Clemson Softball with a strong foundation and given Tiger fans plenty to cheer about. 

College of Education Honors and Mourns Chip Jackson

Calvin “Chip” Jackson, devoted supporter of the College of Education and longtime educational and civic leader in South Carolina, was named the second recipient of the Distinguished Friend of the College of Education Award. The award is given to honor an individual, partner or program that has provided significant support over time to the college.

Unfortunately, Jackson died August 7, 2020, at the age of 64, before the presentation could take place.

Jackson first served as president of the External Advisory Board for Clemson’s College of Health, Education and Human Development, where he helped navigate the founding of the College of Education as it emerged from HEHD to become a standalone college. He served on the search committee for the founding dean and became chair of the college’s inaugural Senior Advisory Board.

“His voice, calm and steady, was a reassuring rudder as the college formed and evolved, and his leadership was critical in re-centering the college as a vital player in education in South Carolina,” said Founding Dean George J. Petersen. “We will always be grateful for his contributions to our efforts to transform education.”

Jackson served in staff and leadership positions at several South Carolina colleges and universities as well as the South Carolina After-School Alliance and the South Carolina Department of Education, where he served as deputy superintendent.

Jackson is survived by his wife, Patricia; his children, Cass Jackson Smith ’05 and Regis Jackson ’10, and their families; his mother, Willie Mae Farley Jackson; and his extended family and friends.

Order of the Oak: Clemson Announces Philanthropic Ambassadors

More than 100 years ago, under a majestic oak tree on the grounds of Fort Hill, Thomas Green Clemson met with the original trustees in whom he entrusted his vision for a high seminary of learning. With one small meeting and one big idea, Clemson College was established. 

Inspired by that moment, the Clemson University Foundation has established the Order of the Oak, ambassadors who will provide wisdom, guidance and momentum as the University charges forward into the 21st century. “It is an honor and privilege to serve as a founding member of the Order of the Oak,” said Gerald Glenn, who will serve as chair of Order of the Oak. “It will be our task to work with University leadership to move Clemson forward, well-prepared to take on global initiatives.”

The founding members will aid the University’s fundraising efforts and provide leadership in philanthropic giving. They will collaborate with the Development and Alumni Relations division of the University and the CUF Fiduciary Board. “The CUF Board of Directors understood the tremendous opportunity to grow philanthropic support for Clemson, and with its restructuring, embraced the creation of the Order of the Oak,” said Ken Smith, chair of the CUF Board of Directors. “Driven by the leadership of many of Clemson’s most trusted supporters and advocates, the Order of the Oak will help enable Clemson to meet the needs and challenges of the future.”

The University’s designated fundraising goals will help guide the Order’s mission and strategy. Founding members will be announced in January 2021.