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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.

Finding Inspiration Close to Home

 

Brian ’98 and Jaime Reynolds support ClemsonLIFE to honor her half brother

 

Jaime Reynolds didn’t have to look very far to find inspiration for her generous spirit. She grew up in a family where selfless generosity was present every day.

Jaime and her husband, Brian’98, have chosen to support the ClemsonLIFE (Learning Is For Everyone) program in honor of Jaime’s half brother, Ryan. At a young age, Ryan was diagnosed with Dandy-Walker syndrome, a cognitive brain malformation that can cause severe physical and developmental delays. Despite his disability, Ryan overcame many hardships and eventually earned an associate degree. He learned life skills at home with the help and dedication of his parents. Their sacrifice, and Ryan’s determined efforts, inspired Jaime and Brian to give to ClemsonLIFE so that others can have the opportunity to learn important life skills in an encouraging environment.

ClemsonLIFE is a postsecondary on-campus education program with the specific purpose of helping young adults with intellectual disabilities obtain the life skills necessary to gain employment and live independently. The program provides students with a specialized education the opportunity to be part of an accepting community as true members of the Clemson Family.

The students of ClemsonLIFE contribute to the overall Clemson experience for traditional students across campus who volunteer with the program. They demonstrate that intellectual disabilities should not be a barrier for living life to its fullest — or to having the benefit of a true college experience. Today, ClemsonLIFE is seen as a national model for collegiate programs that serve students with intellectual disabilities.

Jaime says, “ClemsonLIFE is helping individuals with disabilities learn to provide for themselves and have confidence and structure in life. Not many colleges have a program like this, and we feel it’s important that everyone in life is given a chance, despite their background or intellectual abilities. Clemson has made sure that these students feel valued and loved by everyone around them.”

Most people might assume donors who leave their mark on a University through the gift of endowments are well-established and possibly retired from successful careers. But Brian and Jaime are mid-way through their professional journeys.

“We are working-class people who just want to help in any way we can,” Jaime says of their gifts, which established The Brian J. Reynolds ’98 Endowment for ClemsonLIFE and The Jaime Reynolds Endowment for ClemsonLIFE.

Brian and Jaime established future endowments by naming the University as a beneficiary of their life insurance policy, designating unrestricted support to ClemsonLIFE.

It was a Clemson connection that first brought Brian and Jaime together. While both were living in Orlando, they met through a mutual friend who recognized they each had strong ties to the University. Brian was a recent graduate of the computer science program. Jaime grew up in the Upstate and is a lifelong Tiger fan. Their connection to Clemson connected them to each other.

Brian and Jaime volunteered and actively took part in the Orlando Clemson Club while living in Florida, giving them the chance to share their passion with other members of the Clemson Family. They both served on the club’s board, and Jaime ultimately became president. When the couple moved to the Atlanta area and joined one of the largest Clemson Club chapters, Jaime continued her involvement, serving as the president of the Atlanta Clemson Club.

Today, in their Alpharetta, Georgia, home, Brian and Jaime are raising their 5-year-old son, Cooper, as a proud Clemson Tiger. The couple hopes that by establishing this future gift they will set a good example for their son and inspire the generosity of the Clemson community to do the same. Much like her half brother Ryan inspired Jaime and Brian to make a difference, it is their dream that others will follow their lead through gifts that will have an impact for others far into the future.