CLEMSON – The efforts of Clemson University to increase opportunities for students and faculty to engage globally continue to move forward with the creation of a $250,000 endowment and a $250,000 fund thanks to a donation from the Michael W. Schwehr family of The Woodlands, Texas.

The gift will create the Schwehr Family Global Service Learning Annual and Schwehr Family Global Service Learning Endowment, both of which will support service-learning, research and engagement in under-resourced communities.

L&IT alumna Victoria Leigh Schwehr (left) with her family. Photo courtesy of Clemson University Relations.
L&IT alumna Victoria Leigh Schwehr (left) with her family. Photo courtesy of Clemson University Relations.

“The generous gift will not only make a lasting impact on the Clemson community but will allow faculty to expand the use of service learning models and open opportunities outside of the traditional study abroad locations,” said Sharon Nagy, associate provost of Global Engagement at Clemson. “Faculty and students will positively impact communities while addressing many of the challenges faced by societies today. Students will be able to do their part to change the world while being changed themselves by the experience.”

The Schwehr Family Global Service Learning Annual will be used immediately to support student and faculty opportunities in developing countries. It will provide annual competitive seed-funding grants to faculty for the development of new Global Service Learning programs. The first call for proposals will be announced in August 2019 and will be reviewed and awarded by the Council for Global Engagement for the 2019-2020 academic year.

Once fully funded, The Schwehr Family Global Service Learning Endowment will provide financial support to programs designed for students from any of the colleges.

Submitted proposals will be reviewed by the Office of Global Engagement and funding will be awarded to selected proposals for service-learning projects and international program development for students in under-resourced communities worldwide.

“We’re blessed to be able to help others in the Clemson family participate in missions at locations of need around the world,” said Schwehr. “Hopefully, with this early contribution, others will join me and my family in this great opportunity to help others”

Global service learning is not new at Clemson. Whether through courses, Creative Inquiryand student organizations, Clemson students, faculty and staff are solving problems and serving communities in Tanzania, India, Haiti, the Dominican Republic, Honduras, Peru, Guatemala and Dominica. These initiatives include bioengineering students working with low-resourced communities to find affordable solutions to health care challenges; agriculture faculty engaging around the world to develop drought-resistant crops and technologies to improve food security; engineers addressing water quality; and the School of Nursing’s Global Health Certificate, for which students address health-delivery systems in Peru.

“It is an honor to receive this gift from the Schwehr family. Having spent time in his career working and raising his family abroad, Mike recognizes the importance of preparing students for meaningful lives and careers in our globalized world,” said Nagy. “The Schwehr family’s commitment and altruism are evident in the careful thought they put into the ideas of global service learning. Their gift will give in ways we can hardly imagine today.

The $500,000 gift was made by Schwehr family members Michael William ’81, Linda Pogue, Laurel Michelle and Victoria Leigh ’16.

Michael W. Schwehr graduated from Clemson with a degree in mechanical engineering. After Clemson, he went to ExxonMobil, where his career spanned more than 35 years. During his time there he served in various assignments, including refining, products supply, retail marketing, environmental remediation and real estate. He traveled and lived abroad on numerous occasions and his work led him to Europe, Asia, South America and Africa.

Schwehr’s daughter, Victoria Leigh, graduated from Clemson with a degree in language and international trade. As an undergraduate she studied and worked abroad in Paris, France. After graduation she joined Amazon in Louisville, Kentucky, and later progressed to AeroTek, a prominent national staffing and placement firm.