College of Architecture, Art and Construction

“It was just the right fit”: Construction industry CEO’s gift to open doors for Clemson students


A gift of $600,000 from Guanacaste Ventures will establish scholarships for students in architecture, construction science and management, and engineering majors at Clemson University.

The driving force behind the gift is Bree Pattillo, CEO of Pattillo Construction Corporation, who made her donation in honor of her grandfather, H.G. Pattillo.

“My grandfather pretty much raised me, and he always explained that education gives people opportunities,” Pattillo said.

H.G. Pattillo, who passed away in February 2023, was the Chairman and CEO of Pattillo Construction. H.G.’s father and brother, Dan, founded the company in 1950 with $2,000 in a mason jar saved from cotton farming. Under H.G.’s leadership, the company experienced exponential growth in DeKalb County, Georgia, focused on building warehouses.

“That created jobs, that created a sense of community, and that created opportunities to make a difference in families’ lives,” Bree said.

Bree Pattillo and H.G. Pattillo stand behind a large wooden cart and smile.
Bree Pattillo, left, smiles with her grandfather, H.G. Pattillo at Pattillo Construction. Bree is the 4th generation of her family to lead the company.

From its humble beginnings, the company has gone on to build more than 1,000 industrial buildings accounting for 70 million square feet in Georgia and the Carolinas, including the Boeing Interiors Responsibility Center in North Charleston, S.C. and GKN Aerospace in Orangeburg, S.C.

Along the way, H.G. founded Guanacaste Ventures, which was established to create educational opportunities like the ones it is now supporting for Clemson University students.

 “It’s continuing his legacy,” Bree said.

The gift will be disbursed over a three-year period and evenly distributed between scholarship for students in Clemson University’s School of Architecture, Nieri Department of Construction, Development and Planning, and College of Engineering, Computing and Applied Sciences.

Although neither Bree nor her grandfather are Clemson graduates, she zeroed in on the University as the best place to make an impact.

logos for Pattillo Construction Corporation and Guanacaste Ventures, USA., Inc.

“It was just the right fit. I’ve been doing some research in the background of schools to make pledges to, and Clemson was top of my list,” she said. “What you all have done as a university is remarkable.”

“This gift is a testament to the generosity of the Pattillo family and to the strength of Clemson University’s reputation for quality design and building education,” said George J. Petersen, interim dean of the College of Architecture, Art and Construction. “We’re grateful for their generous support of our students, and we know that it will pay dividends for our industry partners and our state.”

In 2018, Pattillo Construction opened its first South Carolina branch in Greenville, and Pattillo noted Clemson’s emphasis on experiential learning as critical to students’ success.

“The way that you all incorporate trying to work with other companies and getting on job sites, that’s incredible. That’s where you learn,” she said.

The Guanacaste Scholarships will become available to students in the 2024-2025 school year.

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