College of Engineering, Computing and Applied Sciences

Clemson University launches new school as nation invests $1.2 trillion in infrastructure


Clemson University announced today that it has named a director for a new school that brings together its civil engineering, environmental engineering and Earth sciences talent to help clear a path for seamless collaboration that leads to high-impact research and transformative educational experiences.

Jesus M. de la Garza standing in front of a brick building on Clemson University's campus.
Jesus M. de la Garza

Jesus M. de la Garza stepped down as chair of Clemson’s Glenn Department of Civil Engineering to serve as the founding director of the School of Civil and Environmental Engineering and Earth Sciences.

Clemson President Jim Clements said Dr. de la Garza is a visionary leader who will excel in leading the School of Civil and Environmental Engineering and Earth Sciences.

“Jesus’ ability to build high-performing teams and foster collaboration across disciplines and institutions allows him to broaden interdisciplinary connections and increase the diversity and reach of our talented faculty, staff, and students,” he said. “His record of success and broad range of experiences make Jesus the ideal choice to lead the school. I know Jesus will excel in his new role, and I offer him my deepest congratulations.”

de la Garza is the top administrator in a school with about 750 students and 58 faculty members, making it one of the state’s largest academic units and a major source of engineering and science talent. The school is the umbrella organization for the Glenn Department of Civil Engineering and the Department of Environmental Engineering and Earth Sciences, a structure approved in spring 2021 by the Board of Trustees.

A headshot of Jennifer Ogle standing in front of a tree on Clemson University's campus.
Jennifer Ogle

“Bringing these departments closer together better positions us to build and promote our reputation for impactful research and educational experiences, while giving us a larger platform to contribute to national policy decisions concerning the built and natural environments,” de la Garza said. “The multidisciplinary research ecosystem we are creating in collaboration with other universities, industry and national research laboratories will be a magnet for some of the globe’s most talented faculty, students and staff.”

The school will focus on four research thrusts: the surface and subsurface, the Earth’s ecosphere, smart city service and resilient communities. 

Angie Leidinger, senior vice president for external affairs and senior advisor to the Board of Trustees, said the school will be a vital source of talent for South Carolina and beyond.

“The school will be key in meeting the public and private sectors’ need for engineers and scientists who solve complex sustainability and infrastructure challenges,” she said. “The $1.2-trillion Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act underscores the huge demand the nation faces, making this an ideal time to launch the school.”

Robert Jones, executive vice president for academic affairs and provost, said the school is a rich environment for innovative academic programming.

David Freedman, in a blue zip-up jacket, posing in a laboratory on Clemson University's campus.
David Freedman

“The school embraces the core of the University– our students,” Jones said. “Jesus has presented an inspiring vision for creating multidisciplinary, student-centered experiences that prepare them to address society’s challenges, thereby improving living standards for all. I congratulate Jesus and look forward to supporting him and the entire school.”

Jennifer Ogle was promoted from associate chair to chair of the Glenn Department of Civil Engineering after de la Garza vacated the seat. David Freedman continues to serve as chair of the Department of Environmental Engineering and Earth Sciences, a position he has held since 2014.

Ogle and Freedman said they look forward to working with de la Garza in his new role.

“It has been a pleasure to serve side-by-side with Jesus to take the Glenn Department of Civil Engineering to greater heights,” Ogle said. “His leadership has been key in opening new opportunities for students and the faculty, helping create future alumni who stay in touch and provide both time and treasure to their alma mater.”

Freedman said he will work with de la Garza to strengthen the school’s impact on environmental sustainability and the University’s status as a Carnegie R1 research institution.

“Jesus is an innovative scholar and educator who has helped open new avenues for students of all backgrounds to achieve their highest potential,” Freedman said. “I congratulate him on his new job.”

de la Garza joined Clemson as chair of the Glenn Department of Civil Engineering in August 2019 after more than three decades at Virginia Tech. In 2021 he won his highest honor, the Outstanding Projects And Leaders (OPAL) Award from the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE).

He is a Distinguished Member of ASCE, a member of the National Academy of Construction and a Fellow of the Construction Management Association of America.

de la Garza’s research focus is on project controls, construction safety, innovative project delivery mechanisms, such as flash tracking, and infrastructure asset management.

de la Garza received his Master of Science and Ph.D. from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and his Bachelor of Science in civil engineering from Tecnológico de Monterrey in Mexico. He has held visiting professorships at Chalmers University of Technology in Sweden, Arizona State University and Georgia Tech.

Anand Gramopadhye, dean of the College of Engineering, Computing and Applied Sciences, thanked the committee that was tasked with finding the school’s director, including the committee’s co-chairs, Kevin Finneran and Prasad Rangaraju.

“Forming the school creates an environment rich in opportunity for new collaborations that help enhance the college’s global reputation and attract the world’s best talent to South Carolina,” Gramopadhye said. “Jesus is an exemplary scholar and an innovative educator who is ideally suited to serve as director. I offer him my wholehearted congratulations.”

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