The Power of Scholarships

 

It has been just over a year since Billy and Ann Powers made the largest gift in Clemson’s history to the College of Business, making a difference in the lives of Clemson students, faculty and staff. The Wilbur O. and Ann Powers College of Business is garnering national recognition for innovative programming, collaborative partnerships, and outstanding learning opportunities both in the classroom and the workplace.

A portion of the Powers family’s gift created a flexible endowment to ensure that every deserving student has access to these amazing learning opportunities for generations to come. This year, funds from the endowment provided $60,000 in merit- and need-based awards to 30 business students.

Courtney Brunson is one of those students. The management major from Florence, South Carolina, plans to graduate in December 2022 and pursue a career in human resources. Brunson explains that becoming a Powers Scholar is an honor that relieves the financial pressure during those important final semesters of study. She says, “I am so grateful to receive this scholarship because my parents and I work very hard all year to be able to afford for me to go to Clemson.”

Her love for Clemson and the gratitude Brunson feels toward the Powers family have inspired her to give back someday when she is able. She plans to use her Clemson degree to impact her community by participating in the Clemson Alumni Association, where she hopes to encourage and promote education and professional development. She says, “I am so proud and happy to be a part of the Wilbur O. and Ann Powers College of Business. With this scholarship, I am determined to represent the College to the best of my ability through academic success and community service.”

 

Feeding a Growing State

 

McCall Farms makes $3 million gift to advance farming research

 

There are more than 25,000 farms across South Carolina, and farming is one of the state’s leading industries. It is also a primary focus of Clemson’s College of Agriculture, Forestry and Life Sciences. To help South Carolina farmers remain competitive both nationally and globally, McCall Farms is supporting Clemson with $3 million for critical research, establishing the McCall Farms Vegetable Breeding Endowment.

This endowment will support and enhance the vegetable breeding program within the college, specifically as part of the Advanced Plant Technology program. The program uses genomics-assisted breeding to develop improved vegetable varieties for production in the Southern United States. The APT program involves a statewide network of researchers supporting crop breeding and genetics in the Clemson University Agricultural Experiment Station.

Current projects in the vegetable breeding program include improving heat tolerance in green beans and disease resistance in leafy greens, muskmelon and watermelon.

The program, led by Stephen Kresovich, the Robert and Lois Coker Trustees Endowed Chair of Genetics, has made significant advancements to both the intellectual and operational capabilities of the University in crop agriculture. Improvements have been made in upgrading the research facilities at the Pee Dee Research and Education Center as well as other research and education centers across the state. Meanwhile, Clemson has hired some of the best and brightest new faculty for research positions at the RECs as well as the main campus. Funds from the McCall endowment will provide continuing support to this and other important research, improve equipment, provide supplies, and fund technical personnel salaries and graduate student research assistantships.

“Our research helps the more than 25,000 farms located throughout South Carolina in a variety of areas, including specialty crops, responding to weather and environmental changes, modernizing technology and field practices, and managing invasive species,” says President Jim Clements. “I am incredibly grateful to McCall Farms and the Swink family for their generous support. This donation will make a tremendous impact on farming across the state and beyond.”

Located in Effingham, South Carolina, McCall Farms understands the need for crop diversification and catering to consumer tastes. They established a canning operation in 1954 and work with a network of farmers throughout the state. They have several national brands of fruits and vegetables that are staples in kitchens across the country. McCall Farms is owned by Henry Swink ’68 and Marion Swink ’72 and operated by Woody Swink ’00, McCall Swink ’98 and Thomas Hunter ’06 — all Clemson alumni.

“While South Carolina farmers are some of the most efficient and productive in the world,” says CAFLS Dean Keith Belli, “this partnership with McCall Farms will be a catalyst for CAFLS’ efforts to provide research, teaching and Extension programs that continue to support the state’s agriculture industry as we tackle the challenge of sustainably feeding a growing state and global population.”

 

 

Miller Family Becomes Newest Athletic Cornerstone Partner

 

The Westzone Club in Memorial Stadium has a new name. Lewis and Ree Miller of Spartanburg, South Carolina, recently gave a $2.5 million gift to Clemson Athletics, becoming the 16th Athletic Cornerstone Partners. In recognition of the Miller family’s donation, the WestZone Club in Memorial Stadium has been named the Lewis and Marie Miller Family WestZone Club.

“Clemson Athletics and IPTAY continue to remain leaders within intercollegiate athletics because of the extreme generosity of people like Lewis and Ree Miller,” says IPTAY CEO Davis Babb. “We are very appreciative of the commitment they have made to our student-athletes and our growing athletic program. Their gift will advance the initiatives within our athletic department providing a world-class student-athlete experience for our young men and women who wear the Paw.”

Lewis Miller earned his Bachelor of Science in industrial management from Clemson in 1971. As a student, he was actively involved in intramural sports and his fraternity, Kappa Sigma. He spent his career with the Southeastern Paper Group, where he began as a warehouse manager and worked his way to the role of CEO. Until being sold to NW Synergy in December 2020, Southeastern Paper was a third-generation family- and veteran-owned business headquartered in Spartanburg.

“As a Clemson alumnus, I take great pride in wearing the Tiger Paw and sharing the love of the Clemson Family,” says Miller. “We are honored to make this gift to Clemson in support of our talented student-athletes and all that they embody. Ree and I look forward to witnessing the continued success of current and future Tigers in all phases of their collegiate journeys.”

Ree Miller is a graduate of Winthrop University and is active in the Spartanburg community. Serving others is a priority for the Millers. They support the Hope Center for Children and Project Hope, which provides a lifespan of services for the autism community. Lewis Miller also sits on the board of directors for the Mountainview Nursing Home.

“We are grateful for the Miller Family and their unwavering support of Clemson athletics,” says former Director of Athletics Dan Radakovich. “Memorial Stadium is a special place on our campus. I am excited that their family will forever be a part of the facility with the naming of the Lewis and Marie Miller Family WestZone Club. Their gift will significantly impact our student-athletes for years to come, providing resources for them to be champions in competition and the classroom.”

 

 

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.

 

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.

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.