Clemson University gets biggest gift in school history for College of Business naming

Clemson University’s College of Business has a new name after the school received its largest donation in school history – $60 million – on Friday.



a train is parked on the side of a road: The new College of Business buildings at Clemson University Monday, August 24, 2020.


© Ken Ruinard / staff
The new College of Business buildings at Clemson University Monday, August 24, 2020.

The donors, Billy and Ann Powers of Florence, are giving the university the largest gift in school history, according to university spokesperson Joe Galbraith.

“This is truly history in the making,” President Jim Clements said Friday. The gift will support the College of Business, whose new building opened this fall semester. 

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The academic college is now named the “Wilbur O. and Ann Powers College of Business.” The college is the first to be named after someone, according to Galbraith. 

A few facts about the Powers College of Business:

  • A combined 5,000 undergraduate and graduate students are enrolled in the Powers College of Business.
  • The two-tower college complex, located in the center of the University campus, covers 176,000 square feet and has 303 classrooms.
  • The towers are five stories, each.
  • One tower will be named for Chandler Burns, the Powers’ grandson, a Clemson graduate who died in 2015.
  • An outdoor staircase between the towers is modeled on the Spanish Steps in Rome.

Billy Powers attended the university in the 1950s but did not graduate. The Florence native founded Powers Construction in 1965 and from there, ventured into a variety of other businesses, according to information on the University website.

The Powers have been decades-long supporters of the university, Clements said. 

“I have been lucky to be a part of the Clemson family since I enrolled in 1953,” Billy Powers said in a recorded video about the gift. 

Naming opportunities require at least 25% of a facility’s construction costs, according to Clemson Forever. The College of Business, which opened this fall, cost $87.5 million to build, according to the university. 

The Board of Trustees unanimously approved the gift and naming on Friday morning. 

“It’s a tough time in higher education, we’re incurring lots of expenses related to COVID,” Clements said. “It’s a challenging time and this gift definitely comes at this time related to this institution.”

Former governor Nikki Haley and current Gov. Henry McMaster offered their thanks in a televised recording. 

“We have the unique opportunity to be part of something truly historic,” Board Chairman Smythe McKissick said in his opening remarks. 



a traffic light sitting on the side of a building: A lone car passes by the College of Business at 7 a.m. near Sikes Hall before the first day of fall classes at Clemson University in Clemson Wednesday, August 19, 2020.


© Ken Ruinard / staff
A lone car passes by the College of Business at 7 a.m. near Sikes Hall before the first day of fall classes at Clemson University in Clemson Wednesday, August 19, 2020.

McKissick said today’s gift is similar in dedication to that of Thomas and Anna Green Clemson’s gift over 130 years ago, the bequest that founded the university. 

Billy Powers said he was raised to be a quiet servant leader, but wanted to share the gift publicly to pay tribute to his grandson, Chandler Powers,