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Deep Roots to Lasting Fruit

Tripp and Anne Jones’ tailgating tree isn’t the only thing that has grown over the years. 

Tripp and Anne Jones have been tailgating in the same spot at Clemson for a long time — long enough that they have watched a tree grow up alongside their children and grandchildren.

But the length of time they have been a part of the Clemson Family is just a small indication of their commitment to the University.

The couple’s story began on April 11, 1970, when they met on a blind date as Clemson students. Tripp graduated in 1971, and Anne finished in 1973. After getting married, the couple settled on Lake Murray near Columbia.

Tripp practiced as a medical oncologist until his retirement, and inspired by their experiences at Clemson, the couple decided to give back to their alma mater. At Anne’s suggestion, they designated their gift toward student scholarships, and because of Tripp’s degree in zoology, they reserved their scholarship for students from Lexington County who are studying biological sciences.

Anna Phillips is evidence of what the Joneses have done for Clemson. Phillips graduated in May as a biological sciences major with minors in microbiology and chemistry. “This scholarship has helped me pay for college,” Phillips said. “I’m going to dental school, and without this scholarship, I wouldn’t be able to do that. I’m really thankful.”

The Joneses gave out of gratitude for their Clemson experience. “I don’t feel like I could ever give enough back to Clemson for what it has done for us and for our family,” Tripp said. “We felt like we needed to do something to give back to Clemson because Clemson has meant so much to us.”

Emily Davison is another beneficiary of the Joneses’ gifts to Clemson. She is the first one of her siblings to attend college, and the financial aid made a big difference. “Debt was always in the back of my mind,” Davison said. “Anything helps, but especially receiving something from a doctor from the same area I’m from meant even more.”

Not only do Tripp and Anne want to be a part of students’ educational journeys, but they stay connected to Clemson through several other avenues. Tripp is a member of Tigers on Call, a group of physicians who mentor students interested in the medical field. They are avid football fans and try not to miss Saturdays in Death Valley; Tripp even expresses laughing concern that if he’s not there, the Tigers might stumble running down the hill.

Though the football team could likely pull off a successful game in Tripp and Anne’s absence, other students’ success might not be as certain. Without the family’s generosity, several students’ college experiences would look quite different and present more daunting challenges. As the Joneses have returned to Clemson football season after football season to find the same tree growing steadily at their tailgating spot, their connection to Clemson has grown along with their commitment to giving back. The fruit of that commitment will benefit many for years to come.

Giving 110% … Off the Field

Brian Dawkins ’96 wasted no time in making a name for himself once he set foot on campus at Clemson. He spent his freshman season on football special teams and earned a starting role at free safety his sophomore year. Three years, one all-ACC honor and one second-team All-America honor later, Dawkins was selected by the Philadelphia Eagles in the second round of the 1996 NFL draft.

He played in the NFL for 16 seasons with both the Eagles and the Denver Broncos, earning Pro-Bowl honors nine times. He was named to the Philadelphia Eagles 75th Anniversary Team and the NFL 2000s All-Decade Team, and he holds the record for the most fumbles forced by a safety — 36 during his career. He is a member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame Class of 2018.

Though Dawkins’s NFL career has ended, his impact continues to grow. In 2009, he and his family established the Dawkins Family Scholarship Endowment at Clemson to provide scholarships to students from underrepresented populations.

“Your athleticism will last as long as your body can hold up, but education is the most important thing,” Dawkins said. “To me that was the more important part of this gift — to give to those individuals who might be lacking and to help them achieve a greater version of themselves than they probably could without this gift.”

Many students have already benefited from the Dawkinses’ generosity, and more will follow in their footsteps. For Jelani Murray, receiving a scholarship from the Dawkins family allowed him to attend Clemson and to meet people who share his interests. He now plans to pursue a career in sports business.

“My scholarship is a large part of the reason that I came here,” Murray said. “It made it financially easier to go here than the other school I was deciding between. I just want to give a huge thank you.”

Haley McKee has a similar story: “When I applied to Clemson, the costs associated with being out of state were really scary. The scholarship that I received allowed me to be here today. Without this scholarship, I don’t think I would have been able to have some of the best experiences I’ve had yet in life.” After McKee finishes up her nursing degree, she hopes to work in a pediatric hospital, potentially in hematology or oncology.

Though many students have discovered their talents and awakened their professional ambitions at Clemson, their journeys may not have included the University if not for the generosity of scholarship donors — which is exactly why Dawkins chose to give.

“Clemson is the place that gave me an opportunity,” he said. “They took a risk on me. I know what it feels like for someone you will never meet to bless you with something, and that was one of the most powerful experiences I have had. I wanted to give students an opportunity to experience something they might not experience otherwise.”

Retired Cryovac Executive Breaks Record with Donation for Chemical Engineering

A retired Greenville executive and philanthropist is turning his attention back to Clemson, where his recent gift to the chemical and biomolecular engineering department is the largest in the department’s history.

William Sturgis ’57 and his wife, Martha Beth, are contributing $600,000 to create a distinguished professorship in the department. They plan to double their contribution in their will.

The faculty member selected for the professorship will be able to use funds generated by an endowment to support graduate and undergraduate students as they do research, learn about entrepreneurship and travel to national meetings to present their research.

In a 37-year career, Sturgis was executive vice president of worldwide packaging operations at specialty chemical company W.R. Grace and president of its North American Cryovac division. Upon retirement in 1997, Sturgis received the Order of the Palmetto, the state of South Carolina’s highest civilian honor, and a commendation from the state House of Representatives.

Sturgis said he and his wife established the professorship because they wanted to do something for chemical engineering at Clemson, where he got his start studying under influential professor Charles E. Littlejohn Jr.

“The quality of the professors really makes the quality of the graduates,” Sturgis said. “If you’ve got the money to attract the top professors, you’re going to attract a lot of people who want to major in that particular area and go on and do well.”

Sturgis, who grew up on a dairy farm in Rock Hill, recalled that his class at Clemson had 41 chemical engineering majors, 12 of whom graduated. He received his Bachelor of Science from Clemson in 1957 and later graduated from the Advanced Management Program at Harvard Business School.

As an alumnus, Sturgis returned to Clemson and served as a member of the College of Engineering, Computing and Applied Sciences advisory board and as chair of the Clemson University Foundation. He was instrumental in beginning the packaging science program at Clemson and played a key role in steering a $2 million contribution for scholarships from Cryovac.

Developing leaders by nurturing intellect, courage and service

Ten exceptional students walked across the stage at Commencement this year, sporting medallions hanging on orange ribbons identifying them as Chapman Scholars. They were selected as freshmen for their leadership potential and offered the opportunity to be a part of the Thomas F. Chapman Leadership Scholars Program, designed to enrich their academic preparation beyond the classroom and curriculum. The three-year program also supports the college’s mission to develop leadership abilities in its students.

The program is based, in part, on a leadership theme developed by former Equifax CEO and board chair Thomas F. Chapman ’65 that uses the analogy of The Wizard of Oz characters — the scarecrow, lion and tin man — to communicate the traits of leadership. Chapman characterized
the 10 graduating scholars as “very, very special. This is a culmination of three years of getting to know these young people, watching them grow, develop, learn and hopefully position themselves down the road to make the world a better place.”

A reception was held prior to graduation honoring the Chapman Scholars and recognizing Thomas Chapman’s generosity.

Benet Babes Pay it Forward

Bottom row (l-r): Sandy Ruff, Lisa Burnett Hendrix, Galen Johnston; second row: Celeste “Clete” Boykin, Sheri Richardson Lazenby, Lorenda Dasher, Ellen Hurst Griffith; third row: Roseann Stone Helms, Karen Newell, Robin Graham Mouzon, Rhonda Aull Hyde; fourth row: Denise Wooten, Lynn Jolly Sewell, Marie Tewkesbury; back row: Vicky Taylor Culbertson, Sue Stewart Fleming, Malcolm McClure (honorary Benet Babe). 

Bottom row (l-r): Sandy Ruff, Lisa Burnett Hendrix, Galen Johnston; second row: Celeste “Clete” Boykin, Sheri Richardson Lazenby, Lorenda Dasher, Ellen Hurst Griffith; third row: Roseann Stone Helms, Karen Newell, Robin Graham Mouzon, Rhonda Aull Hyde; fourth row: Denise Wooten, Lynn Jolly Sewell, Marie Tewkesbury; back row: Vicky Taylor Culbertson, Sue Stewart Fleming, Malcolm McClure (honorary Benet Babe).

In 1975, a group of freshman women found themselves living in Benet Hall and began a lifelong journey of friendship and family. It’s a group that perfectly represents what alumni mean when they talk about the Clemson family. Every year, the Benet Babes get together to renew their friendship and catch up with each others’ lives.

This year, that group decided it was time to pay it forward, and they joined together to establish a scholarship fund. Lisa Burnett Hendrix, described as “the chief Benet Babe advocate for establishing and maintaining our scholarship,” says it best:

“In 1975, we came from different towns, states and backgrounds, to receive a quality education at Clemson University. As fate would have it, we were assigned rooms in Benet Hall and so began our lifelong friendships. As the years passed, we began to get together on an annual basis and reminisce about how fortunate we were to meet one another at Clemson.

“We decided it was time that others were offered the same type of experience. Hence, the establishment of the ‘Benet Babes’ scholarship which will allow a Clemson student to gain a great education while developing relationships that may last a lifetime. After all, we are one big family, the Clemson family, and we take great care of one another.”

Duke Energy Foundation gift supports students and teachers

Four programs at Clemson will be enhanced this year by a $115,000 grant from the Duke Energy Foundation.
PEER (Programs for Educational Enrichment and Retention), which helps freshman minority students adjust to college life; WISE, which supports females in engineering and science majors; EMAGINE!, which encourages middle and high school students to consider engineering as a career; and a teacher education course that introduces S.C. teachers to the educational resources at the Duke Energy Bad Creek Hydroelectric Station will share in the grant.

“Education has always been a focal point of our commitment to corporate giving,” said Scott Miller, government and community relations manager with Duke Energy. “We have long been proud to partner with Clemson University to support efforts that continue to make a difference in the lives of so many students and teachers in the Palmetto State.”