Development and Alumni Relations

Building Community Through Music: Debbie and Vince Jackson’s endowment creates opportunities in the Emeritus College

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Music is a unifying force. One Clemson couple’s generosity ensures that the University’s Emeritus College will always have resources to host musical events that connect students and emeritus faculty.

Debra Jackson and Vince Jackson have graciously established the Debbie and Vince Jackson Emeritus College Endowment for Music, which provides funding for music-related expenses within the Clemson University Emeritus College.

“We really believe that music makes a difference in your life,” Debbie said. “It’s one of those things that crosses all lines, all disciplines, all races, all religions; everybody loves music. It doesn’t matter what your background is. You can be soothed and encouraged and feel loved through music.”

Clemson’s Emeritus College is a unique institution compared to the other colleges. Its purpose is to provide opportunities for retired faculty to engage intellectually, support the continuation of research at Clemson and keep their intellect sharp for the betterment of academia. Additionally, it also hosts events that foster community with retired Clemson professors who are seeking social engagement.

“When you’re [at the start of your career] and you’re thinking about retirement, it’s so distant in the future and doesn’t seem like it will ever happen. Then one day, you’re supposed to retire and have to figure out what that means,” said Debbie. “The Emeritus College helps people transition to that new phase of their life and their career.”

It’s one of those things that crosses all lines, all disciplines, all races, all religions; everybody loves music. It doesn’t matter what your background is.

Debbie Jackson, director, Clemson emeritus college

As director of the Emeritus College, Debbie Jackson has made it her mission to offer programming that will engage all the emeritus faculty from every Clemson college. When Vince Jackson, Debbie’s husband and a lifelong musician, suggested hosting the Carl Neal Duo for a musical performance at the college, Debbie realized they were onto something.

Debbie and Vince Jackson stand side-by-side smiling toward the camera.
Through their gift to Clemson’s Emeritus College, Debbie and Vince Jackson established the Debbie and Vince Jackson Emeritus College Endowment for Music, which ensures that there will always be funds set aside for the Emeritus College to host musical events.

“One of the things that you struggle with any kind of programming is how you get and hold people’s interest,” Debbie said. “We needed something that crossed the disciplines so that it wasn’t just a room full of engineers or a room full of scientists or a room full of educators.”

As it turns out, the Jacksons’ instincts were correct. The Carl Neal Duo performance was the first of many successful musical events that brought the emeritus faculty together. Since then, the Jacksons have organized several musical events for the Emeritus College, including performances from Clemson students, current faculty and emeritus faculty.

Yuji Kishimoto, professor emeritus of architecture, sits at the front of a room cradling a guitar in his lap with a small audience looking on.
Yuji Kishimoto, professor emeritus of architecture, was one of many performers to participate in successful musical events connecting emeritus faculty.
(Photo courtesy of Nicci Hanewal)

Yuji Kishimoto and Lewis Fitch are two emeritus faculty members who have shared their musical talents with the rest of the Emeritus College. Kishimoto, a retired professor of architecture, showcased his talents on a classical Japanese guitar. Fitch is a skilled recorder player. Many people associate the recorder as their child’s first instrument, but it consists of many types and sizes. Fitch returns to France each summer to tour with a recorder orchestra.

The Jacksons encountered funding issues as they tried to schedule musical events for the College. If they wanted to serve food at events or provide equipment for performances, they would have to host fundraisers to pay for such expenses. The Debbie and Vince Jackson Emeritus College Endowment for Music ensures that there will always be funds set aside for the College to host musical events.

“This will leave a steady stream of income directed to providing music for the Emeritus faculty in some form or fashion,” said Debbie. “It might pay for musicians or a venue that we want to use for an event. It might pay for the food or travel to bring musicians to Clemson. [The endowment] opens the door and provides some flexibility that we don’t currently have.”

In addition to seeing growth from the endowment, Debbie and Vince hope that their endowment creates opportunities for the Clemson Family to come together through music.

“Music is something that would draw diverse people together more than other programs do,” said Debbie. “The endowment will help the Emeritus College to expand and support musical events.”

The Jacksons invite friends and faculty to contribute to the endowment and to keep music alive at the Emeritus College. 

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CONTRIBUTE

For more information on how to support the Debbie and Vince Jackson Emeritus College Endowment for Music, contact Amy Vogelgesang at avogelg@clemson.edu.