Clemson Family completes Mark and Kathryn Richardson scholarship challenge

June 20, 2023

Challenge: Complete.

In November 2022, Mark ’83 and Kathryn Richardson challenged the Clemson Family to join them in transforming students’ lives by supporting scholarships. Their goal — through the challenge and of giving their time, talent and treasure — has always been to provide access to education. In a record time, more than 600 donors completed the challenge, providing Clemson students with a total of $8 million in general scholarship support.

“The Clemson Family has demonstrated once again that they are ALL IN for Clemson University,” said University President Jim Clements. “By meeting the Richardson’s Champions 4 Access to Education challenge, $8 million in scholarship support will now be available to many of our Clemson Tigers. We are grateful for Mark and Kathryn’s philanthropy and our entire community’s commitment to education. These scholarship dollars are critical in supporting the needs of our students and will impact the lives of our Tigers, their families, and communities for many years to come.”

Mark and Kathryn Richardson have always appreciated their opportunities in life and never taken their access to education for granted. They believe in the power of education and feel empowered to provide the missing piece in a student’s journey toward a degree. They have seen how unrestricted scholarships remove the obstacles standing between future Clemson students and a Clemson education.

Scholarships are crucial to providing a pathway to education, and the most effective way to create an impactful scholarship endowment is through the strength of general scholarship funds. Knowing and seeing the important role scholarships play, the Richardsons were inspired to establish the Champions 4 Access to Education challenge, pledging to match gifts dollar-for-dollar up to $4 million to the following unrestricted scholarship endowments:

  • Clemson University General Scholarship Endowment.
  • College-level General Scholarship Endowments.

“When the Richardsons created this scholarship challenge, we were confident the Clemson Family would rise to the occasion, but the completion of this scholarship challenge in record time exceeded our greatest expectations,” says Vice President of Advancement Brian O’Rourke. “The Clemson Family rallied in extraordinary ways to support our students through scholarships, and we are forever grateful. Scholarships are essential for students today, tomorrow and forever, and we must build upon this strong philanthropic momentum to continue providing the necessary support for our students to come to Clemson, succeed here and impact the world beyond.”

Clemson University was founded to establish “a high seminary of learning.” It has been successful in this mission because of its strong foundation of philanthropy, which is passed down from generation to generation. Mark and Kathryn Richardson are among Clemson’s most dedicated supporters, unwavering in their commitment to ensuring the University is filling in the missing pieces for students so they can have access to that education, reach their greatest potential while at Clemson and succeed in their future endeavors.

“The Clemson Family fully accepted our challenge — as we knew they would,” says Mark Richardson. “By supporting these scholarships, we are removing the financial barriers that keep the most passionate students from attending Clemson. The completion of this challenge is the first step in opening the door to the future for these students, and we hope this inspires the continued support from our fellow Tigers.”

The official challenge is complete, but funding for scholarships will always be crucial for Clemson University and our students. When you make a gift to scholarships, you give students access to a top education. A Clemson education.

Learn more about the Champions 4 Access to Education challenge here. Continue to accept the Richardsons’ challenge and make your gift to scholarships today.

About Mark and Kathryn Richardson

Mark Richardson is a 1983 Clemson graduate, former 1981 National Championship Football team athlete, University trustee and a successful businessman, and Kathryn Richardson is an Elon University graduate who loves being an honorary member of the Clemson Family,

Mark Richardson came to Clemson from Spartanburg, South Carolina, in 1979. A defensive end for Clemson Football, he was a three-year letterman and played on the National Championship team in 1981 and ACC Championship teams in 1981 and 1982. Richardson earned his undergraduate degree in business administration from Clemson in 1983 and an MBA from the University of Virginia Darden School of Business in 1987.

Through his entrepreneurial vision and work ethic, Mark Richardson has built a diverse portfolio of successful business ventures. He is the co-founder and former co-owner and president of the Carolina Panthers. Richardson was the Panthers’ first employee and spent the franchise’s initial 17 years as director of business operations and president.

Since 2009, Mark has been the managing partner of MAR Real Estate and RAM Investments, private equity and real estate development and investment firms with single-tenant, multi-tenant, industrial, retail, hospitality, residential and office properties in Alabama, Texas, Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina, Tennessee, New York, Illinois and Ohio. He holds private equity investment positions in 52 Bojangles, 98 Sonic Drive-Ins, Ascension, Wheels Up, Sure Can, Christensen Arms, Spacious Skies Campgrounds, Red Rock Industrial Fund, Encore Bank, Cantoni Furniture, Savannah Aloft Hotel and BOA Nutrition. 

Through the years, Mark Richardson’s engagement as a Clemson alumnus has advanced numerous academic and athletic programs across the University. Richardson was a founding member of the Wilbur O. and Ann Powers College of Business’ Trevillian Cabinet and was named to the Clemson University Board of Trustees in 2013.