Senate Finance Committee-E&G Budget Presentation

March 27, 2014

E&G Budget presentation – Senate Finance

Remarks by Clemson President Jim Clements and Undergraduate Student Body President Kayley Seawright

Wednesday, March 26, 2014


Good morning!  Chairman Courson, Senator Jackson, Senator Verdin and Mr. Parks. Thank you for the opportunity to be here today to represent the students, faculty and staff of Clemson University.

Before I begin my formal remarks, I want to thank you and the other state leaders I’ve met over the past few months. I appreciate the warm welcome that you have given to me and my family. And, we are delighted to be members of a great university and a great state.

In my travels across the State during my first semester here I have learned that Clemson University is very highly regarded throughout the state.

Our academic programs are in high demand.  In fact, we had more than 20,000 undergraduate applications for the fall semester.

Businesses, industry, health care systems, K-12, and other colleges and universities want to partner with us.

Alumni want to give back to Clemson and we rank among the Top 5 public universities in the nation for alumni support.

All of these facts are a tribute to the excellent work of our faculty and staff on the campus and across the entire state.

At this time, I would like to recognize several members of our Board of Trustees who are in attendance:

  • Nicky McCarter
  • Kim Wilkerson
  • David Dukes
  • Dr. Louis Lynn
  • Trustee Emeritus Dr. J.J. Britton

Before I present our budget request, I would like to introduce our undergraduate Student Government President Ms. Kayley Seawright.

Kayley is a mechanical engineering major from Anderson, South Carolina. I believe that Clemson students could not have a more energetic, more positive, or more effective leader. I have seen Kayley in action and she is a star. I’d like to invite her to say a few words on behalf of the students at Clemson University.

[ NOTE: Seawright’s remarks may be found at the bottom of this post. ]

Thank you, Kayley.  I am very thankful for your service to Clemson.    If you represent the future, I believe that we are in great shape.

II.  State of the University 

I’d like to start off with some good news.

As you know, we rank #21 among the nation’s Top public universities according to U.S. News.

We also rank 7th in the nation for our students on their return-on-investment by Smart-Money magazine.

And, we rank 7th for efficiency by US News for providing maximum output based on our resources.

In fact, we are viewed as a national model of efficiency in higher education.

So we rank among the best in the country for quality, for return on investment and for efficiency and that’s a pretty powerful combination.

Our students and faculty have been making a lot of headlines lately.

The U.S. Department of Energy recently announced that we are 1 of only 20 universities in the country chosen to compete in the 2015 Solar Decathlon.

Our students from multiple colleges will design & build a solar-powered house in competition with schools like Stanford, Texas and Yale.

Our bio-engineering and packaging science faculty are working with Innegra Technologies of Greenville and B&W Fiber Glass of North Carolina to develop new composite materials that could make safer helmets for football players and other athletes in other contact sports.

A Creative Inquiry student team is developing low-cost medical devices to improve health care in Third World nations. This work may also translate into lower costs for health care right here at home.

Researchers also are working on some of the toughest questions in nuclear safety – such as:

  • how to build next generation reactors
  • where to store waste , and
  • better ways to test water for radio activity.

This research will help provide solutions for the aging nuclear power plants in South Carolina and across the nation.

These are just a few of the ways that Clemson faculty and students are tackling some of the greatest challenges facing our state and our nation.



Before I share our state funding requests for next year, I first want to say thank you for the resources you provided this year.

We deeply appreciate your support for faculty and operations at our new Energy Innovation Center in North Charleston.

Your investment there ($3M) allowed us to more than double that investment by partnering with Duke Energy, SCANA, SCE&G, Santee Cooper and other South Carolina companies to create a public-private partnership that will benefit research higher education and workforce development.

Your investment ($1M) this year in student internships allowed us to exceed our participation goal in this on-campus program by 26 percent.

You also provided funding ($2.7M) in deferred maintenance for critical infrastructure improvements.

I want the Committee to know how valuable this investment has been to our campus. It has played a key role in our ability to address critical electrical infrastructure upgrades.

These investments will pay dividends for many years to come.

Before I move to our budget requests for this year, I would like to recognize and say thank you for the important funding stream that the General Assembly provides to Clemson through the South Carolina students that attend our institution.

While I am new to this state, I am not new to higher education.

From the perspective of the “outside looking in,” you are to be commended for having one of the best state scholarship programs in the country. You provide tremendous opportunity to South Carolina families through the LIFE and Palmetto Scholarships to keep our best and brightest right here.

Our legislative priorities for the coming year include requests for investments that will:

  • Drive economic development
  • Make our students more successful and more competitive in the marketplace, and
  • Replace many outdated facilities and aging utility systems on campus.

First — we request $3 million to support a Center for Manufacturing Innovation at the Clemson University International Center for Automotive Research in Greenville.

This multi-disciplinary center will bring together faculty, industry, and government scientists, along with students (both undergraduate & graduate) to meet 2 goals:

  • to develop and enhance technologies in advanced manufacturing, and
  • to provide the workforce needed for this vital economic sector.

As you know manufacturing is essential to the economic health of South Carolina and the nation.

Second — we request $1 million in recurring funds to continue our nationally recognized internship program. This program is helping our students develop the skills that employers are looking for, which will make them more marketable after graduation.

Third — we request $1.5 million for an initiative called Focus on Student Success, a program aimed at increasing 4-year graduation rates. While Clemson is ranked 1st in the state in 4- and 6-year graduation rates, our goal is to get even better.

These funds will support advising, mentoring, and additional support services for first-generation college students, increased course offerings and better utilization of the summer semester. Shortening the path to graduation will translate into real cost savings for families.

We also have 2 capital requests for one time funds:

First — we request $25 million for a new building for the College of Business and Behavioral Science, which accounts for many of our most in-demand academic programs.

The new facility will replace a 75-year-old building with lower cost and less disruption than a renovation.

Second — we request $15 million to replace the most vulnerable sections of our aging electrical distribution system. The utility system was built in the late 1950’s thru the mid-1960’s and it is now well beyond its expected lifespan.

In addition to these Clemson-specific requests, I would also like to support and endorse 3 additional priorities:

First, I ask that you consider funding, once again, the State’s Endowed Chairs Program. I believe it is one of the most important programs to the future of our research universities.

Second, we support the Commission on Higher Education’s request for funds related to affordability initiatives.

And finally, we also endorse the concept of funding institutions based on accountability.

Each of these initiatives will ensure the continued success of our state institutions to offer affordable, accessible, high-quality education to our young people.

IV.   Closing

I’d like to close with a story about a student named James Jernigan.

James is a computer engineering major from Seneca who will graduate in May.  He has held 2 professional campus internships in our Division of Computing and Information Technology through the program you helped to fund.

As an intern, James helped to develop mobile apps for the university. He also researched the answers to questions from users and developed “how-to” documents that are posted on the Computing and Information Technology website. These cover topics such as “How to connect to the Clemson wireless network” and  “How to set up a work group.”

Thanks to the quality of his education and his internship experiences, James recently interviewed with Boeing at a career fair on campus. He was offered, and accepted, a position in with Boeing in Charleston.

So this South Carolina native will stay in South Carolina and he will repay your investment in him many, many times over. That’s what these programs are all about.

Thank you for your interest in our students and thank you your service. I look forward to working with you to create even more opportunities for our students and our great state.

I am happy to answer any questions that you might have.


[ REMARKS by Kayley Seawright, President, Clemson University Undergraduate Student Government ] 

Good morning! My name is Kayley Seawright. I am a senior Mechanical Engineering major Anderson, South Carolina. I have had the honor and privilege of serving this year as Clemson’s Undergraduate Student Body President. Thank you for allowing me the time to share my thoughts, and the thoughts of my peers, on higher education in South Carolina.

First and foremost, thank you for your continued support of state-sponsored scholarships. I am a Palmetto Fellows recipient and it has allowed me to receive a quality education at Clemson University and is the main reason I am standing before you today. Six years ago when I began exploring my options for college, I thought I wanted to go out of state and my top choice was Duke University.  I decided to stay in-state because of the value that Clemson offered me as an in-state student. Growing up in an area where not many students had the opportunity to go to college, I witnessed the hope that these scholarships provided to students who deserved the chance to continue their education and later work in the state of South Carolina. I do encourage and challenge you to consider the rising cost of higher education as you plan for funding options in the future.

Clemson is unique in providing opportunities outside of the classroom because employers value those real-world experiences. Clemson has been innovative by creating these unique experiences outside the classroom with programs such as Creative Inquiry, co-ops, internships, and experiences working with our Social Media Listening Center. The majority of our students complete some sort of internship or co-op for a company off campus with many having to drive long distances for these job opportunities or rent apartments at the location.  One of our budget priorities for this year is a request for $1 million in recurring dollars build on the funding the legislature appropriated last year and enable Clemson to expand our on-campus internship and co-op programs. This would create more opportunities for those students who might be limited by having to drive to another city.  I hear of numerous students every semester who are looking for jobs on-campus and this is the perfect opportunity to provide for those students and many others!

I have been blessed to have had the opportunity to participate in research, a creative inquiry, and also several on-campus jobs. I worked with a creative inquiry group to model and simulate actual buildings on campus and test their energy efficiencies. The following semester, we expanded upon that creative inquiry and researched general changes that could be made for larger buildings to improve their energy efficiency. We applied concepts of heat transfer, thermodynamics, mechanics of materials, and structural statics to determine improvements. What made the project so fascinating and distinctive was the fact that it was testing actual buildings on campus where I attend class almost every day! I am now in my senior design class and my group is partnering with the Parker Hannifin company to design an automatic solution to a tube filler problem. These are experiences that will likely help me get a job in just a few months!

The past three and a half years as an undergraduate at Clemson have been the most rewarding years of my life! We continue to rise as a top-ranked nationally recognized university thanks to the leadership both on campus and across the state. Clemson provides exceptional student life and educational experiences for its students thanks to the wonderful community of faculty, staff, administrators and alumni who work and strive to create real value for students, the community, and for the State of South Carolina.

Clemson students realize that they would not have these opportunities without the facilities and infrastructure to support them.  A significant element of Clemson’s 2020 Roadmap is a commitment to operating efficiently and “building to compete” whether that be in research facilities or expanded on-campus housing.  This part of the plan recognizes the need for Clemson University to invest significant resources in facilities that allow Clemson to stay on the cutting edge in research and upgrade housing opportunities for our students. My peers and I are so grateful for all this body has provided to Clemson for over one hundred years now. It’s my hope that this body continues to provide Clemson with the support it needs to continue to develop and create exceptional value for everyone.

In conclusion, I would like to deliver a message from our students to you all. Thank you for listening to us, and thank you for making higher education a priority in South Carolina. Your investment in us is pivotal to the future of both our great state and our nation.



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