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Chapman Gift Expands Leadership Program Across University

leadership model based on lessons from the Land of Oz has proven to be the perfect training ground for some of Clemson’s highest quality students — thanks to the vision and extraordinary generosity of Tom and Karen Chapman.

In 2009, the Chapmans established the Thomas F. Chapman Leadership Scholars Program with a gift of $1 million to develop a small group of students from what was then the College of Business and Behavioral Science. The three-year program combines leadership lessons based on critical values with an academic scholarship to encourage participating students to invest in growing their leadership skills:

  • In year one, leadership scholars focus on developing intellect and defining leadership capabilities (much as the scarecrow).
  • Year two, leadership scholars learn about courage and ethics (much as the lion).
  • Year three, leadership scholars focus on heart by serving others in their communities (much as the tin man).

The Chapmans’ most recent gift of $4 million, establishing them as Clemson’s inaugural Cornerstone Partner for Academics, will expand the program to include students from all colleges and also creates the Thomas F. Chapman ’65 Distinguished Professorship in Leadership in the College of Business. As Cornerstone Partners, the Chapmans join a special group of bold and visionary donors whose leadership lays the foundation at Clemson for future generations.

“The Thomas F. Chapman Leadership Scholars program is an amazingly successful and forward-thinking leadership initiative that is changing the lives of our students at Clemson University,” said President James P. Clements. “We are grateful to the Chapmans for allowing us to expand this transformational leadership experience to every college within the University.”

Building upon the impressive group of 85 students who have benefited from being Chapman Scholars, the expanded program will include 14 scholars per year, eight from the College of Business and one from each of the other colleges. The Thomas F. Chapman ’65 Distinguished Professorship in Leadership will recognize an outstanding faculty member who will influence potential leaders of our state and nation. The expansion of the program will extend the leadership values of intellect, courage and heart across campus and advance Clemson’s ability to develop graduates competent in their fields, as well as confident in how to lead throughout their lives.

The Chapmans not only support the program financially but also offer their time and talent to support and mentor students in the program. “We desperately need more effective leaders, and it will take compassionate and dedicated individuals to help us move this country forward — that’s why intellect, courage and heart drive the program,” Tom Chapman said. “Karen and I are honored to be actively engaged with the program. My Clemson education provided me a springboard into a life of many blessings. We made a commitment to give back to the programs and causes that are making a difference.

“The return on investment is for each of the Chapman Leadership Scholars to make the world a better place.”

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.