The Robert J. Stanzione family expands their impact, supporting engineering students through Cornerstone gift to scholarships, professorship and unrestricted funds
Robert (Bob) J. Stanzione ’69 and Kaye Stanzione are humble philanthropists. They give quietly, but they give selflessly and immensely. They choose the beneficiaries of their generosity carefully and thoughtfully, and everything they do for others is a response to the generosity they have received throughout their lives. And they trace all of it back to Clemson.
During Stanzione’s second semester of his freshman year, his father suddenly passed away. It was a difficult time for his family, both emotionally and financially. Bob and his brother, Dan, were both students at Clemson. His parents had already been struggling to pay tuition for Dan and Bob and support their younger siblings and aging grandmother at home, and Bob knew his father’s passing would intensify that struggle for his mother.
When he returned home for the funeral, Bob was strongly considering not returning to Clemson. He wanted to continue his education, but he also felt a responsibility to join the workforce and help his mother and younger siblings.
He spoke with a family friend, Joe, who encouraged him to return to Clemson. Joe told him to go back, finish that semester and then give him a call once the semester was complete. So he did. And when they spoke again, Stanzione was shocked by Joe’s offer to pay a large part of his college expenses. He says, “And were it not for that incredible generosity, I probably wouldn’t be sitting here right now.” Stanzione has never forgotten or squandered that thoughtful generosity. He says, “And so that is my inspiration, if you want to name one thing that stands above all others. That’s the one thing that that causes me to want to help other young people who would like to come to Clemson and major in engineering.” Kaye adds, “The generosity of Joe and his wife, the impact that it made on our lives – we hope to do that.”
The Stanziones’ most recent philanthropic endeavor is a $2.5 million gift to Clemson’s College of Engineering, Computing and Applied Sciences. The second Academic Cornerstone gift to the college, their gift includes support for scholarships to CECAS students, funding for the Dean’s Excellence Fund and support to the Department of Mechanical Engineering, through faculty support.
“The love Bob and Kaye have for Clemson University – especially for our students – is only rivaled by their generosity. This Academic Cornerstone gift will have an immense impact on the students, faculty and staff in the College of Engineering, Computing and Applied Sciences,” said President Jim Clements. “Beth and I are grateful for their friendship and Clemson is better for their support.”
At a young age, Stanzione moved with his family to Hartsville, South Carolina. In high school, he became more interested in math and science, and throughout the process of deciding where to go to college, Stanzione knew he wanted to focus on those subjects. His brother, Dan, was attending Clemson, but Bob was eager to pave his own path. Stanzione considered other schools, but he ultimately decided that Clemson was the right fit. He says, “So I went off to Clemson and have never regretted it, and I’ve benefited greatly from having been here.”
Stanzione had breadth, individuality and flexibility – all the inherent characteristics of mechanical engineers. Clemson helped him hone these traits and the skills needed to build a successful career. Stanzione credits his Clemson education and experience with preparing him for his career. He says, “You learn how to work hard; you learn how to concentrate; you learn how to solve problems; you learn how to approach other people.”
Engineers are involved in the creation of the products we use every day – including automobiles, clothing, building products, aircraft and computers. The major professional contributions from engineers are benefiting the world. Stanzione has an understanding and appreciation for this wide spectrum of career opportunities that engineering affords Clemson students. His fellow classmates are now engineers, lawyers, doctors and business executives.
“I offer Bob and Kaye my most heartfelt gratitude for designating some of the funds in their gift specifically for mechanical engineering,” said Atul Kelkar, chair of the Department of Mechanical Engineering. “The funds will allow us to offer new incentives for the faculty and new scholarships and enhanced learning experiences for students. This transformational gift will be key in helping us create well-rounded mechanical engineers who graduate not only with technical ability but also the qualities of successful leadership.”
As an in-state Clemson student, Stanzione felt fortunate to meet individuals from an array of backgrounds from areas across the nation. His Clemson Experience was enriched through both his major and the relationships he built. This inspired the Stanziones to make their Academic Cornerstone gift to the college, including specific support to mechanical engineering, which Stanzione credits for his professional success. He describes it as “A unique gift,” one that will provide scholarships to out-of-state students. This will not only give students from out-of-state the opportunity to experience Clemson, but it will also provide in-state students with opportunities to build relationships with individuals from different backgrounds – like he did. He adds, “I think recruiting students from other parts of the country and in other parts of the world will enrich the experience of all the students here at Clemson.”
Even more, the Stanziones feel that when the best and brightest students attend Clemson, they will either stay in the area after graduation, further enriching the Clemson community and the state of South Carolina, or they will travel to areas outside the state and share their wealth of knowledge and passion for Clemson with the world.
The Stanziones have also established endowments to support mechanical engineering, including funding for faculty, facilities, lab equipment, fellowships and capstone experiences. Their gifts will be crucial for the department’s recruitment and retention of outstanding faculty and providing our students with unique experiences that will prepare them for their future.
Their Academic Cornerstone gift will also support the Dean’s Excellence Fund, providing unrestricted funding for the greatest needs of the college. The Stanziones have great confidence in Clemson’s leadership and are confident that Dean Anand Gramopadhye will direct the funds to the appropriate areas of the college that will have the greatest impact for the faculty and students of the College of Engineering, Computing and Applied Sciences.
“I am thankful to Bob and Kaye for their generous Cornerstone Gift to the College of Engineering, Computing and Applied Sciences,” Gramopadhye said. “Bob and Kaye are among the college’s most faithful donors. The Cornerstone Gift is the latest in a string of donations they have made to the college. Their generosity and the generosity of others who have given to the cornerstone program are crucial in creating leaders, innovators and entrepreneurs of the future. They are transforming lives, and I offer them my deepest gratitude.”
The Stanziones have provided annual support to both the College of Engineering, Computing and Applied Sciences and IPTAY. They have also contributed to the President James F. Barker and Mrs. Marcia D. Barker Scholarship Endowment and the Delta Kappa Alpha Brotherhood Unrestricted Scholarship Endowment.
The Stanzione family is especially passionate in their support of the College of Education’s ClemsonLIFE program. In 2015, the Stanzione family funded the Sue Stanzione Distinguished Professorship for ClemsonLIFE with a $1.2 million gift, naming it in honor of Stanzione’s mother. ClemsonLIFE (Learning Is for Everyone) is a program that is designed for students with intellectual disabilities who desire a postsecondary experience on a college campus. ClemsonLIFE incorporates academics, independent living, employment and social/living skills in a university setting with a goal of producing self-sufficient young adults.
Stanzione’s younger brother is intellectually disabled. Stanzione knew the financial hardships his mother faced and how a child with disabilities intensified those struggles. Today, the family hopes to alleviate that stress for other families. Stanzione imagines how differently his brother’s and mother’s lives could have been with access to a program like ClemsonLIFE. He says, “Wouldn’t it have been wonderful if ClemsonLIFE had been available to her when she was trying to raise my younger brother.” The Stanziones – and other donors – ensure LIFE students are not only receiving the college experience, but they are receiving the Clemson Experience. LIFE students are invaluable members of the Clemson Family who bring joy, smiles and laughs to the Clemson campus, and the Stanziones’ critical support to the program is a gift to the entire Clemson community. He says, “It has benefited not only those students who have been in the program, but everybody here at Clemson. When you see a ClemsonLIFE student around campus and how the student body has embraced them, it’s really heartwarming. And it really says something about the Clemson Family.”
Their support to ClemsonLIFE extends beyond financial; they seize opportunities to meet and interact with LIFE students, and Kaye Stanzione is an active volunteer and serves on the ClemsonLIFE advisory board. In honor of their support to the College of Education and ClemsonLIFE, Bob and Kaye Stanzione were awarded the Distinguished Friend of the College Award in 2021 during the College of Education’s Third Annual Awards Celebration. The award recognized the couple as longtime supporters of ClemsonLIFE, making the program the success it is today through their financial support and direct involvement and participation.
Kaye says, “We believe that education is the most powerful tool you can use to impact and transform your life.” Bob adds, “When I left Clemson, I was prepared to go out into the workforce and be successful, and many of the things I learned were outside the classroom.” And their support of Clemson, both to the College of Engineering, Computing and Applied Sciences and the College of Education, reflects their dedication and commitment to providing exceptional education and experiences to future generations.
Bob and Kaye Stanzione began their married life in Clemson housing and all three of their children, Marie, Jennifer and Bobby, attended Clemson. Their son-in-law, Jim, is also a Clemson graduate. And the family tradition continues. This Fall, the Stanziones will have three grandchildren enrolled at Clemson – Emma will be starting her senior year, and Owen and Alex will be first-year students.
Stanzione earned a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering from Clemson in 1969, a master’s degree in Industrial engineering from North Carolina State University and has completed executive development programs at the University of Richmond, Babson College, and the International Institute for Management Development in Switzerland.
After graduating from Clemson, Stanzione began his career in engineering and management. During his early career, he held a range of engineering and management positions at US telecoms group AT&T. Stanzione joined ARRIS in 1995, launching an incredible 26-year career. He was appointed President & CEO of ARRIS International, a Nortel Networks/ANTEC joint venture, growing the venture from a start-up company to the world market leader in cable networking products. In 1998, he became President, Chief Operating Officer, and a director of ANTEC and was appointed to the CEO role in 2000. In 2001, ANTEC acquired Nortel’s share of ARRIS International and re-named the Company ARRIS Group. Stanzione served as ARRIS’s CEO until September 1, 2016, at which time he moved into the Executive Chair role.
Bob sits on The Cable Center Board of Directors Executive Committee and is a former Trustee on the Committee for Economic Development in Washington, D.C. Bob was inducted into the Cable TV Pioneers in 2010 and is a member of the Class of 2016 Cable Hall of Fame. He was awarded the Society of Cable Telecommunications Engineers (SCTE) Chairman’s Award in 2008, the Vanguard Award for Associates & Affiliates in 2009, which recognizes important contributions made by equipment manufacturers and service suppliers to cable industry innovation. He also served as a board member of the National Cable & Telecommunications Association and a member of the board of Symmetricom.
Stanzione’s support to Clemson includes his role as director of the Clemson University Foundation and his work as an ambassador for the Clemson University Foundation’s Order of the Oak, serving alongside Kaye as an advocate for the University while actively engaging in identifying, cultivating and building support for Clemson. The critical work of the Stanziones and their fellow Order of the Oak ambassadors meets the changes and challenges of the future while fulfilling Clemson’s land-grant mission. In recognition of his stellar career as a Clemson engineering graduate, Bob has been inducted into the Thomas Green Clemson Academy of Engineers and Scientists, a very prestigious honor. In addition to their support of Clemson, Bob and Kaye are passionate about supporting causes that address childhood disease. They are active supporters of St. Jude Children’s Hospital and the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation. But their advice to others is to find their own passions for giving back. Stanzione says, “If you want to make an impact, invest where you can measure the impact that you’re having.” This is why they have chosen Clemson. They feel confident in Clemson’s leadership, at the University and college levels. They know their investments are being distributed most appropriately for the largest impact. Stanzione says, “I think we all share a belief that the investments we’re making in students and professors in the university facilities here are going to pay off in a multitude of ways.”
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