Watts give $5.5 million for Clemson innovation center, academic and athletic funds


CLEMSON — A family of Clemson alumni has given $5.5 million to Clemson University’s The Will to Lead capital campaign, the largest gift from an individual or family.

The gift, from Charles Watt and his wife, Linda; son, Steve, and his wife, Pam; and son, Mike, and his wife, Kim, will transform student lives and the academic center of the university’s campus.

The primary portion of the gift, $5.25 million, will establish The Watt Family Innovation Center for academic collaboration and student engagement. The balance will enhance academic, scholarship and athletic programs, particularly in the colleges of Health, Education and Human Development; and Engineering and Science.

“We want to create an intellectual center that will prepare a new generation of scholars who can take ideas from concept to the marketplace. This will be a place to demonstrate and enable education, discovery and innovation,” said Clemson alumnus and professor Charles Watt. 

Charles (’59, B.S. electrical engineering) is founder and former chairman of Scientific Research Corporation (SRC), an advanced science and engineering company in Atlanta that provides military and commercial technology solutions to public and private sectors. Steve (’81, B.S. administration management) is SRC executive vice president; and Mike (’84, B.S. computer engineering) is SRC chairman and CEO. Pam and Kim Watt earned Clemson degrees in financial management in 1983 and 1985, respectively. All reside in Kennesaw, Ga.

“Charles Watt is known as an innovative thinker with an enduring entrepreneurial spirit; traits shared by his sons, Mike and Steve. A transformational gift from this remarkable family will provide an inspirational space for imagination, collaboration, problem-solving and innovation for students across the university,” said Clemson University President James F. Barker.

“The Watt Family Innovation Center will be the physical manifestation of Clemson’s 2020 plan. It demonstrates our commitment to student engagement, to focus areas and to having a competitive infrastructure,” he said.

The new three-story, 40,000-square-foot center, to be built near the R.M. Cooper Library and the Class of 1956 Academic Success Center, also will be pivotal in creating a new academic center of the campus. 

The innovation center will prepare Clemson students to take ideas from concept to reality using 21st century technology, focusing on real-world issues and collaborating across university disciplines. It will thrive on public and private investment and expose students to global leadership and critical thinking.

Space in the student-centered environment, supported by a robust technology infrastructure, will be adaptable to serve an increasingly diverse student community.

The Watt family has given a total of $5,532,181 during the university’s capital campaign. The Will to Lead campaign aims to raise $600 million to support Clemson students and faculty with scholarships, professorships, facilities, technology and enhanced opportunities for learning and research.

Individually and collectively, they have been benefactors to Clemson academics and athletics; IPTAY; the College of Health, Education and Human Development; the School of Nursing; the College of Engineering and Science; and the Leadership Circle.  

The family members not only support the university financially, they also give their time and expertise in serving voluntarily on various university advisory boards.

Charles, a native of West Pelzer, has served on the Clemson University Foundation board of directors and as part of The Will to Lead campaign leadership phase. He has been honored as a Clemson Alumni Fellow and with the Alumni Distinguished Service Award and named to the Thomas Green Clemson University Academy of Engineers and Scientists. He is a professor in materials science and engineering at Clemson. Charles and Linda, a native of Belton, are charter members of the Leadership Circle and members of IPTAY.

Steve and Pam Watt are members of the university’s Benjamin Ryan Tillman Society and the Leadership Circle and are supporters of Athletics; the College of Health, Education and Human Development; and the School of Nursing. They serve on The Will to Lead campaign committee for the College of Health, Education and Human Development.

Mike is a fellow of the Thomas Green Clemson Academy of Engineers and Scientists and serves on the College of Engineering and Science Advisory Board, the electrical and computer engineering advisory board and the Clemson University Research Foundation. Mike and Kim are members of IPTAY and the Leadership Circle and are supporters of the College of Engineering and Science and Athletics.


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