For David Lowery ’84 of Anderson, Clemson has always been a large campus with a small feel.
He recalls traveling from his home state of Alabama with his dad for a campus visit the summer before his freshman year, when a professor passing by took him aside to help him choose a major. He also appreciated the one-on-one attention he received from his professors as a chemical engineering major.
“The people are my greatest memory,” David said. “The interest the professors had in us gave it the small feel. At Clemson, an individual can always find a way to help an individual.”
After graduating, David worked for Milliken as an engineer for five years before transitioning into a sales and marketing role with Westinghouse. He and his wife, Cindy, relocated to California until 1992, when their decision to start a family brought them back to South Carolina, where David started the business he continues to run today.
Looking to give back to the University, he sat down with Brian O’Rourke, executive director of development and alumni relations, over a burger at the Esso Club. He realized two things: You can never pass up an Esso burger, and an unrestricted endowment would be the best way to honor his philosophy of individuals helping individuals.
The Lowerys established the Mr. and Mrs. David D. Lowery Family Scholarship Endowment — a universitywide fund to award scholarships to deserving students as needs arise. And because they wanted their contribution to have an immediate impact on students, they chose to supplement the endowment with annual gifts to provide scholarships every year as the endowment matures.
“We wanted to do something that would help those who otherwise may not be able to come to Clemson,” David said.
Though Cindy attended North Georgia College, she says she might as well have graduated a Tiger.
“I’ve always felt at home here, and all students should be able to experience that feeling,” she added.
Being a Tiger runs in the Lowery family. David’s father, Ken Lowery, attended Clemson, and he and Cindy’s two children are current students. Their daughter, Whitney, is a junior majoring in marketing, and their son, Alex, will begin his freshman year this fall as an engineering major.
David likes to point out that Clemson itself, not his influence, is what drove his children’s desire to attend.
“Since our kids were little, we’ve chosen an away football game for a father/daughter, father/son trip,” he said. “When I took Whitney to Tallahassee her senior year in high school, I told her that I wanted her to attend the school that she wanted. And she said, ‘Dad, it’s not just because of you. After seeing many other universities, Clemson is really where I’d like to go.’”
The Lowerys see their endowment as a way to help spark this type of interest in the University as well as maintain students’ desire to experience what the campus and community have to offer.
“We want Clemson to stay Clemson — for students to want to come here and for it to be a treat for them to do so,” Cindy said.
Individual endowments, like the one established by the Lowerys, provide permanent financial stability for Clemson University’s future. With state support at a record-low 11 percent, a strong endowment is absolutely vital for the financial health of the University. Through generous donations to the Will to Lead campaign, the University endowment grew to a total of $482.1 million. However, Clemson is not keeping pace with other public research universities within the region. To learn more about establishing an endowment in your name or in honor or memory of a loved one, visit clemson.edu/giving, call 864-656-5896 or email cufund-L@clemson.edu.
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