Clemson values opportunities for students and faculty to engage globally. Student organizations and Creative Inquiry participants are currently solving problems and serving communities in Tanzania, India, Thailand, Haiti, the Dominican Republic, Honduras, Peru, Guatemala and Dominica. The initiatives include bioengineering students working with low-resourced communities to find affordable solutions to health care challenges; agriculture faculty engaging around the world to develop drought-resistant crops and technologies to improve food security; engineers addressing water quality; and the School of Nursing’s Global Health Certificate candidates, for which students address health-delivery systems in Peru.
These global efforts were recently given a boost with the creation of a $250,000 Schwehr Family Global Service Learning Endowment and a $250,000 Schwehr Family Global Service Learning Annual Fund. The gift was made by the Michael W. Schwehr family of The Woodlands, Texas: Michael William ’81, Linda Pogue, Laurel Michelle and Victoria Leigh ’16. Both funds will support service learning, research and engagement in under-resourced communities.
“The generous gift will not only make a lasting impact on the Clemson community but will allow faculty to expand the use of service-learning models and open opportunities outside of the traditional study abroad locations,” said Sharon Nagy, associate provost of Global Engagement. “Faculty and students will positively impact communities while addressing many of the challenges faced by societies today. Students will be able to do their part to change the world while being changed themselves by the experience.”
The Schwehr Family Global Service Learning Annual Fund will be used immediately to support student and faculty opportunities in developing countries. It will provide annual competitive seed-funding grants to faculty for the development of new global service-learning programs. Proposals will be reviewed and awarded for the 2019-2020 academic year.
Once fully funded, The Schwehr Family Global Service Learning Endowment will provide financial support to programs designed for students from any discipline for service-learning projects in communities worldwide.
“Having spent time in his career working and raising his family abroad, Mike Schwehr recognizes the importance of preparing students for meaningful lives and careers in our globalized world,” said Nagy. “The Schwehr family’s commitment and altruism are evident in the careful thought they put into the ideas of global service learning. Their gift will make an impact in ways we can hardly imagine today.”
Michael W. Schwehr graduated from Clemson with a degree in mechanical engineering, then went to ExxonMobil, where his career spanned more than 35 years. During his time there, he served in various assignments, including refining, products supply, retail marketing, environmental remediation and real estate. He traveled and lived abroad on numerous occasions, leading him to Europe, Asia, South America and Africa.
Schwehr’s daughter, Victoria Leigh ’16, studied and worked abroad in Paris as an undergraduate and later graduated from Clemson with a degree in language and international trade.