The Clemson University Board of Trustees will award its highest honor, the Clemson Medallion, to two distinguished alumni — Robert E. (Bobby) McCormick ’72, professor emeritus and former dean of the College of Business (2014-2018), and Charles K. Watt ’59, founding director of the Watt Family Innovation Center and former dean of the College of Business and Behavioral Science (2012-2014).
McCormick and Watt will be honored for their contributions at a Clemson Medallion Gala on Friday, August 26, 2022.
The Board of Trustees seeks nominations for the Clemson Medallion every two years and has only awarded it to 41 individuals who have rendered exceptional service and support to Clemson University. Recipients exemplify the dedication and foresight of University founder Thomas Green Clemson.
“Bobby McCormick and Charles Watt are extraordinarily worthy recipients of Clemson’s highest honor for their profound impact on our University,” Clemson Board of Trustees Chair Kim Wilkerson said. “Our Board is excited to recognize their contributions and add their names to the exclusive list of Clemson Medallion honorees.”
Clemson University President James P. Clements said he is proud to see McCormick and Watt honored for their legacy of service and leadership.
“These two gentlemen are among Clemson’s finest, and their contributions to the University are immeasurable,” said Clements. “I am fortunate to call them my friends, and I look forward to celebrating them as Clemson Medallion recipients.”
Robert E. (Bobby) McCormick ’72
McCormick graduated from Clemson with a bachelor’s degree in economics in 1972 and a master’s in environmental economics in 1974. He went on to earn a Ph.D. in economics from Texas A&M in 1978. Since then, he has played vital roles in some of Clemson’s proudest achievements as an institution.
McCormick served as a faculty member in economics at Clemson from 1982-2007, and he became dean of the College of Business in 2014, serving until 2018. McCormick has been awarded several Clemson University teaching awards, including the Prince Innovative Teacher of the Year (1998), the Alumni Professor of the Year (2000), the MBA Professor of the Year and the National Scholars Mentor Award (2004 and 2006).
In 2005, McCormick co-founded the Clemson Institute for the Study of Capitalism (CISC), which works with students, the academic community and the general public to increase awareness of capitalism’s core principles and institutions. It is the first and only university-based research and teaching center devoted to exploring capitalism’s moral, legal, political and economic foundations.
McCormick was instrumental in creating the goals and producing the metrics and financial data for the Board of Trustees to fund the top-20 public university initiative. He also produced the metrics, financial data and case study for trustees to determine the direction of Clemson’s athletic conference affiliation, which led to two football national championships. McCormick was the academic leader on the programming, design and construction of The Wilbur O. and Ann Powers College of Business building, the first standalone facility for the business school, now one of the defining structures on Clemson’s campus.
Trustee Emeritus Bill Hendrix ’63, who received the Clemson Medallion in 2009, wrote in his letter of recommendation for McCormick:
Dr. McCormick served as an officer in the U.S. Army for two years and was a highly regarded faculty member at Clemson from the 1970s until his retirement. During that time, he was recognized as a National Scholars Mentor of the Year three times; MBA Professor of the Year two times; Trustee Award for Excellence two times; as well as Alumni Master Teacher; and Student Government Award for Innovation in Teaching.
I can think of no one more deserving of the Clemson Medallion than Bobby McCormick.
Charles K. Watt ’59
Watt earned a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering at Clemson in 1959. He went on to earn multiple graduate degrees, including a Master of Science in engineering and applied science from George Washington University in 1973 and a Ph.D. in engineering and applied science from George Washington University in 1986.
Watt orchestrated a remarkable career in engineering, most notably founding Scientific Research Corporation, an advanced engineering company that provides innovative solutions to the U.S. government, private industry and international markets. Before that, he held numerous positions of escalating responsibility at such government institutions as the Naval Electronics Systems Command, the United States Congress and the Office of the Secretary of Defense as director of Defense Test and Evaluation during the Reagan administration.
He became an adjunct professor at Clemson in 1990, an appointment he kept for 24 years, and was Dean of the College of Business and Behavioral Science from 2012-2016. He has been honored as a Clemson Alumni Fellow and with the Alumni Distinguished Service Award, and he was named to the Thomas Green Clemson University Academy of Engineers and Scientists.
Watt is the founding director and chairman of the founding partners board of directors of the Watt Family Innovation Center, a $50 million state-of-the-art facility devoted to interactive learning and interdisciplinary collaboration on Clemson’s campus. Opened in 2016, the Watt Family Innovation Center is one of the most cutting-edge technology centers in all of academia. In addition to being a modern hub of collaboration and innovation, it is the nucleus of a high-speed network that boosts data flow across campus and connects students with business, academic, government and economic development entities across the state and nation.
In a nomination letter recommending Watt for the recognition, President Emeritus James F. Barker, a 2016 Clemson Medallion recipient, wrote:
Charles Watt used his Clemson education to serve Clemson University as a faculty member and an administrator to move Clemson into the ranks of a serious research university. … Charles Watt used his Clemson education to start a research company based in Atlanta that became one of America’s finest research companies. … Charles Watt then used his success in the business world to become one of Clemson’s finest donors.
Then Charles Watt was asked to serve as Dean of the College of Business and Behavioral Science. He used his first-hand entrepreneurial experience in industry to lead the college into new and exciting directions at a critical time in the college’s development. … I can think of no other person in Clemson history that has benefited Clemson in such a wide range of service and leadership.