President and First Lady surprised with complementing endowments that honor remarkable Decade of Success with the University

February 19, 2024

Family and friends of Clemson University President Jim Clements and First Lady Beth Clements surprised them with the announcement of a pair of endowments, together worth more than $1.4 million, created in their honor during an event on Jan. 26, celebrating the University’s decade of success.

The Clements Family Endowment for ClemsonLIFE and the Clements Family Lyceum Scholars Endowment will benefit two programs near and dear to the Clements’ hearts.

The ClemsonLIFE  program offers a collegiate experience that prepares young men and women with intellectual disabilities for competitive employment and independent living through a combination of academic coursework and career exploration, and the Lyceum Scholars program uses a “great books approach” to studying the moral, political and economic foundations of a free society, educating the next generation of young men and women who will become our future entrepreneurs, teachers and statesmen.

Three people stand on a stage. To the far left a man wearing a tuxedo and orange Clemson bow tie, at center a blonde woman wearing a purple ballgown and on the right a brown-haired woman wearing a black dress and pearls.

President Jim Clements and his wife Beth react to the surprise announcment that two endowments have been created in their honor.

“Beth and I are incredibly grateful for the love and support the Clemson Family has shown us since we arrived at Clemson University more than a decade ago,” said Clements. “The two endowments created in our family’s honor — the Clements Family ClemsonLIFE Endowment and the Clements Family Lyceum Scholars Endowment — are something that our entire family will cherish for a lifetime, and I know these endowments will make a positive difference in the lives of students for decades to come.”

Beth Clements said she and her husband are thankful and humbled by the love and generosity of the Clemson Family.

“As the announcement of the two endowments was being made, I was in shock and then the magnitude of the gift set in,” she said. “This was one of those special moments in life where you feel such an immense level of joy and gratitude that you are left speechless. The love of the Clemson Family is powerful and life-changing. And that love will continue to impact the lives of students and their families through the creation of these endowments.”

A red-haired young woman with her hair pulled back wears an orange and black dress and embraces a woman wearing a purple ballgown while a man claps in the background. They are standing on a stage in front of a podium and microphone.

First Lady Beth Clements (right) hugs her daughter, Grace, who is a student in the ClemsonLIFE program.

The average term of college presidents is less than three years, so the Clements’ tenure is extraordinary. He has signed the diplomas of more than 63,800 students, which is more than one-third of Clemson’s 182,000 living alumni. The money for the endowments was raised in less than a month after the Board of Trustees launched a quiet fundraising campaign entitled the “Decade of Success.”

Brian O’Rourke, vice president of advancement, said the extraordinary reaction to the call to action was not unexpected.

“It comes as no surprise that the Clemson Family was eager to honor President and First Lady Clements,” O’Rourke said. “Raising over $1.4 million in support of two programs, Lyceum Scholars and ClemsonLIFE, that are especially meaningful to the Clements family, was undoubtedly the most fitting way to honor their dedication and service to our University. These endowments are an expression of our sincere gratitude, and they will directly benefit Clemson students for generations to come. This is at the heart of everything our President and First Lady have done — and will continue to do — for our University, and we are forever grateful.”

Clemson has grown exponentially under Clements’ leadership. One can literally see his impact on a walk across the main campus, the grounds of which have been transformed over the last decade with new roads, multiple state-of-the-art buildings, sweeping landscape improvements and even its first non-denominational chapel.

In the public eye, the value of Clemson’s brand has risen dramatically as one of the nation’s leading institutions of higher learning. Student applications have increased from 20,757 in 2014, the year after Clements was hired, to 60,122 applications for 4,500 first-year spots in 2023. Undergraduate National Merit Scholar winners have increased by 500%, and graduation rates are at an all-time high at 70.7% (four-year) and 87.9% (six-year).

In athletics, Clemson entered a new dynasty era with two national championships in football, two in men’s soccer, individual national championships in men’s track and field and men’s golf, and 16 ACC Championships. Fans enjoy attending games in the wholly upgraded and refurbished Memorial Stadium and at brand-new softball, tennis, soccer, lacrosse and gymnastics stadiums.

Clements has also led the way in raising more than $1.7 billion for the University, doubling the endowment to an all-time high of more than $1 billion.

It’s an impressive list of accomplishments, and Clements plans to keep the momentum going as he charges into his second decade at the University.

“The past decade has been nothing short of amazing because of the dedication and commitment of our entire Clemson Family — our faculty, staff, students, alumni and friends. Together, we are continuing to elevate Clemson University to new heights. And I know we will accomplish even more over the next ten years because we are on a mission — to transform lives through education.”

To contribute to the Decade of Success endowments, visit the online giving site.