Clemson gets its largest gift ever, $60M for business school

Clemson University has received its largest gift ever, a $60 million donation for its new business school.

The donor is a South Carolina businessman, W.O. “Billy” Powers, who made his fortune through his Florence-based construction and property management businesses, The Post and Courier reported that Powers, who is now in his 80s, had attended Clemson in the 1950s but did not graduate.

The gift by Powers and his wife Ann marks the largest one-time donation to a business school in the state. Darla Moore has donated a combined $70 million to the business school named after her at the University of South Carolina.

“We have our first named college and our students are going to benefit … for decades to come,” Clemson President Jim Clements said after the gift was announced Friday.

Business dean Wendy York said most of the donation will be placed in an endowment. She added that it will fund programs and student scholarships for “a hundred years” and some of the money also will go toward construction at the new business college.

Clemson’s College of Business has more than 5,000 students, and business is the fastest-growing major on campus. The college will now be known as the Wilbur O. and Ann Powers College of Business. Built at a cost of $87.5 million, the twin-tower business college provides 176,000-square feet (16,350 square meters) of teaching and common space for undergraduate business students.

Located at the heart of the Clemson campus, it opened for classes this fall.

The South Tower of the Business college will be named after the Powers’ grandson, Chandler Burns, who graduated in 2015 but died of a sudden illness in 2016.

Powers has received multiple honors from Clemson, including a distinguished service award from the school’s alumni association in 2011. He ‘s also a past board member of the Clemons University Foundation and received an honorary doctor of humanities degree from Clemson in 2004.

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