Henry ’09 and Amanda Trujillo ’08 McGill at the Monumental Core of Park Güell in Barcelona, Spain.
Caitlin Davis ’14 in front of St. Paul’s Cathedral in London during her first travels overseas. “It was definitely a trip to remember with some great friends, and I can’t wait until next time.”
He has been named one of the “Most Influential People in Healthcare Design,” but to his students, he’s simply Professor Allison.
Since 1990, David Allison ’78, M ’82 has been the director of Clemson’s Architecture + Health master’s program in the School of Architecture. Under his leadership, the program has become recognized as a premier architecture health degree and consistently is ranked as one of the country’s best by Design Intelligence magazine.
Allison’s work training the health care architects and researchers of the future hasn’t gone unnoticed. Russell Paul “Rip” Parks ’76, managing principal at DesignStrategies LLC of Greenville, has established a $175,000 endowment in Allison’s name that will generate financial support for the Architecture + Health program.
“Many people can sprint, but few can run marathons,” said Parks. “I was inspired to provide this well-deserved endowment in recognition of the 28 years of hard work, diligent planning and bold vision implementation by David and his talented team of health care design professionals. I am confident that David will use this endowment to enhance the program and inspire future leaders in the exciting field of health care design.”
The announcement came as a surprise to Allison. “This is an incredible honor coming from Rip,” said Allison. “It’s the people I work with and am surrounded by that allow me to do what I do, and our program wouldn’t be possible without our students. We get to do great work because of them, and I’m grateful that our program attracts those who are eager to learn and excel.”
For many students, financial aid is their only hope for receiving a college education, regardless of how qualified or driven they may be.
Tyler Love is one of those students. Just over three years ago, he was living on a friend’s couch, desperate to find a way to provide for himself. Thanks to his grandmother’s help, he returned home, enrolled in classes at Greenville Tech and eventually achieved his dream of becoming a Clemson student. However, despite working two jobs in addition to his academic work, he still faced financial obstacles.
Because of generous donor gifts, Love was able to obtain a grant to cover the balance of his tuition bill. That provided him the freedom to focus on being a student, investing more deeply in his education. As a sociology major, Love has had the opportunity to do research alongside a professor and present the findings at a regional conference. He hopes to become a professor himself and give back to students who might have experiences similar to his.
Joey Mott faced similar circumstances. A Greenville native, he entered Clemson as a first-generation college student from a single-parent family, pursuing his dream despite financial difficulties.
The need-based aid he received has allowed him to pursue his education both inside and outside the classroom, as a resident assistant and a member of numerous student organizations through the College of Business. He has participated in the Tiger Ties Mentorship Program and volunteered at his church. He has even participated in multiple study abroad opportunities and an internship. Now he’s planning on a career in marketing, hospitality or business consulting.
Financial aid changed everything for him, and he readily acknowledges that donors created opportunities for him that he would not have had otherwise.
These stories and many more are possible because of President’s Leadership Circle donors, those who give $10,000 or more to Clemson without restrictions. These donors are the difference-makers for students who may not have anywhere else to turn when they face difficulties.
Roy Abercrombie ’69 knows that story all too well. He benefited from need-based aid while he was a student, and he and his wife, Mary Carol, now choose to give unrestricted gifts to Clemson. “I realize the value of an education,” Roy Abercrombie said, “and Leadership Circle is giving to people who really need it.”
John ’80 and Patsy DuPre feel much the same. “The idea of giving money to the president to be used at his discretion for those who really need it seemed like the best way to give to Clemson,” Patsy DuPre said. As engineering graduates, John DuPre and his brother Henry DuPre ’71 spent much of their careers at ExxonMobil, which allowed them to maximize their contributions to Clemson due to a matching gift program — something they encourage other alumni to take advantage of as well.
“Every time we come to an event that’s held by the University, we always see real-life examples of the true benefit that these dollars are making in the lives of individuals here at Clemson,” said John DuPre. “It makes us proud to contribute.”
Emma Clements ’18 is one of the more than 170 students — 172 to be exact — who are attending Clemson this year with the help of the Abney Foundation. She spoke at a luncheon in February of this year for the Abney Foundation trustees and the recipients of their generosity.
Clements (no relation to the University president), a communication major from Aiken who has been putting herself through Clemson, shared the memory of receiving an email notifying her of the need-based scholarship: “I was given breathing room that day,” she said. “So many of us are used to being so independent and knowing that struggle is not a stranger. I was reminded of generosity and reminded that I am not doing this alone.”
For more than four decades, students like Clements have been receiving life-changing support from the Abney Foundation, which has created the largest endowed scholarship program at Clemson, targeted at South Carolina residents with demonstrated financial need. The foundation has scholarship endowments at 13 other colleges and universities in South Carolina as well. The foundation has helped more than 15,000 students obtain a college education.
“Bennie Cunningham was a man whose priorities were family and friendship — and the line was fuzzy between the two.”
December 23, 1954 – April 23, 2018
He has been called the greatest tight end in the history of the Atlantic Coast Conference. The first African-American football player to make an All-America team in school history, he came to Clemson in 1972 and played on the football team from 1972 to 1975. He was a first-round draft choice of the Pittsburgh Steelers in 1976, and he played for that team until 1985, bringing home two Super Bowl rings. He was one of the greats of college and professional football. Yet, while his fame may have come from his prowess on the football field, his legacy was the many lives he touched and changed in those years and the years since.
Bennie Cunningham passed away on April 23, 2018, at the age of 63 after a battle with cancer.
When Cunningham retired from the Steelers, he returned to the classroom, first to finish his bachelor’s degree and then to earn a master’s degree in secondary education. He went on to a long career as a guidance counselor at West Oak High School in Westminster, where he shared his wisdom and direction with thousands of students over the years.
At his funeral at Seneca Baptist Church, filled to capacity with family, former teammates, professional colleagues and friends, the stories made it clear that Bennie Cunningham was a man whose priorities were family and friendship — and the line was fuzzy between the two. Friends became family.
Cunningham’s son, Bennie Cunningham III ’10, talked about his father’s legacy at Clemson, in Pittsburgh, and with his family: “My father planted trees that he may never have enjoyed the fruit from, and I think that’s our purpose: planting trees we may not enjoy the fruit of.”
As a student at Clemson, Cunningham won the Frank Howard Award, presented to an athlete each year for “bringing honor to Clemson.” He continued throughout his life to bring honor to Clemson. Coach Dabo Swinney called him “one of our greatest players, arguably the greatest tight end in our history and ACC history.”
But Swinney went on to say that “more importantly was the way he represented Clemson as a professional athlete and in his life after football.”
We are grateful for the life of Bennie Cunningham, and grateful that this was his Clemson.