Community, Engagement, Belonging and Access; OUR Clemson

Supporting minority-owned businesses garners Clemson national award


Clemson University has received the Jesse L. Moore 2021 Supplier Diversity Award from INSIGHT Into Diversity magazine for its support of diverse suppliers.

The national award recognizes colleges and universities for taking proactive steps to support and engage with minority-owned businesses through supplier diversity offices, unique programs, and leading initiatives. Through job creation, higher wages and increased tax revenue, supplier diversity profits the communities where those businesses are located as well as the businesses.

Winners will be announced in the April 2021 issue of INSIGHT Into Diversity magazine, the oldest and only print diversity and inclusion publication in higher education.

Each year, trillions of dollars are spent on goods and services by institutions of higher education, yet there is little recognition of the contributions they are making to support diverse suppliers in their communities and beyond. The INSIGHT Into Diversity Jesse L. Moore 2021 Supplier Diversity Award recipients were selected based on their efforts to engage and retain suppliers from underrepresented groups.

Procurement Director Mike Nebesky said supplier diversity is something Clemson has been focused on improving for years.

“It has been a real team effort to make the impact we have in this area, including our procurement, Facilities and capital projects teams along with the leadership from the Division of Inclusion and Equity,” he said. “It also took a lot of coordination and effort between the community and campus to make connections and identify opportunities.

“We are thrilled to be recognized for our efforts, but we also know we have a lot of work remaining in this area,” he said. “This award will help further our outreach efforts by allowing us to share that we are making a difference, and that Clemson is a place that is open for business to the minority supplier community.”

INSIGHT Into Diversity selected Clemson for a range of coordinated efforts, both internal and external, that continued despite the COVID-19 pandemic. Jerry Knighton Jr., vice president for access and equity and executive director of supplier diversity, said one aspect of his role is to raise Clemson’s profile in the supplier diversity space through partnerships locally, regionally and nationally with organizations like the National Minority Supplier Development Council (NMSDC) and its affiliates. 

One outcome has been the development of programming designed to inspire the next generation of diverse entrepreneurs. 

“My goal is to expand these efforts to create more opportunities for student engagement with minority businesses to learn more about entrepreneurship,” he said. “I believe this will provide the most significant impact on the long-term stability of our supplier diversity program.”

“My goal this past year was to establish a stronger working relationship with both Procurement Services and Capital Projects to better leverage our areas to expand opportunities for minority business enterprises (MBEs),” said Knighton.  “I feel really good about the partnership we have fostered.”

Holly Mendelson, co-publisher of INSIGHT Into Diversity, said when it comes to diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI), colleges and universities have traditionally put their resources into recruiting and retaining diverse students and employees — however, there is a third leg of DEI that focuses on supplier diversity.

“The INSIGHT Into Diversity Jesse L. Moore Supplier Diversity Award, named in honor of longtime advocate and economic development pioneer Jesse L. Moore for his leadership in promoting supplier diversity and the success of minority-owned businesses, is our way of ensuring this critical area of DEI also gets recognized for the important role that it plays.”

For more information about the INSIGHT Into Diversity Jesse L. Moore 2021 Supplier Diversity Award and INSIGHT Into Diversity magazine, visit