Clemson University has launched the public phase of a $600 million capital campaign, and virtually everyone in South Carolina has a stake in the campaign's success.
The goal of "The Will to Lead" campaign is to support students and faculty as they carry out the core mission of Clemson University - intellectual and economic development for the betterment of South Carolina.
For more than three years, faculty, staff and a small army of volunteers have worked to secure leadership gifts to provide a foundation for the campaign's public phase, which will aim to involve every member of the Clemson family.
During the leadership phase, donors contributed more than $433 million in gifts, pledges, real estate and other commitments. We have raised funds for 224 new scholarships and fellowships and 79 faculty professorships and endowed chairs. We have helped fund much-needed construction and renovation projects, landscaping and other campus enhancements. We have supported research and innovation campuses that are attracting and creating jobs. We have launched youth development and natural resource programs that are central to our land-grant mission.
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For students, a successful campaign will mean scholarships, fellowships and more opportunities for engaged learning. It will help Clemson attract, retain and educate the most promising students regardless of financial need, giving South Carolina the intellectual capital it needs to have a diversified and growing economy. A recent survey of new Clemson graduates showed that half of those who had accepted jobs planned to remain in the Palmetto State.
For faculty, reaching our goal will mean endowed chairs, professorships and opportunities for research that drives economic growth and solves real-world problems facing our citizens and communities.
To support both faculty and the student experience, the campaign also has goals to help fund facilities, technology and initiatives that support the state's existing and emerging industry clusters.
These priorities reflect the best of Clemson's heritage and the state's best hope for the future. That's why I am giving my time and resources to help make this campaign a success. I know there is no better investment than Clemson University. And in spite of and because of our current economic climate, I believe there is no better time to invest.
Clemson itself was founded through an act of philanthropy. Thomas Green Clemson willed his home, his land and most of his fortune to the state of South Carolina to establish the college that became Clemson University. Mr. Clemson believed scientific education and research could help turn South Carolina's economy around. He was right, and his 19th century solution still works today.
South Carolina needs Clemson University more than ever. It needs the "products" that Clemson delivers - creative and educated people, innovations that drive economic growth and solutions to the great challenges of our time.
Over the years, Clemson has meant so much to so many families that we have an incredibly strong community of alumni, supporters, students, parents, faculty, staff and fans.
To all of these groups, I say:
If you have already made a campaign gift or pledge, thank you.
If you are an annual donor, I challenge you to make a larger gift and to begin thinking about your legacy where Clemson is concerned.
Maybe it is time to set up a scholarship endowment to honor a family member, a colleague or a favorite professor, or to consider Clemson in your estate plans.
We each have an important role to play.
No matter where you are in life, your help is needed and your support is important.
It's our time to lead.
The writer is chairman of the "Will to Lead" campaign for Clemson.