Zucker family to help build Clemson landmark, education center in Lowcountry

NORTH CHARLESTON — Standing at the site of what will be an iconic building named for her family, Anita Zucker, a champion for education in South Carolina, said a new wave of manufacturing will provide a wealth of opportunity for the state.

With a shared vision, Clemson University will build a state-of-the-art education center at the Clemson University Restoration Institute (CURI) on the former Navy base in North Charleston.

The Zucker Family Graduate Education Center, financed in part by a $5 million gift from the family, will foster collaboration and innovation in a place where students, university faculty and staff, and private industry will interact on a daily basis.

The latest industries, from composite materials and energy systems to advanced computing and microscopy, will engage in public-private partnerships to accelerate innovations to market.

The center will become a focal point in the drive to advance the state’s economy, Zucker said.

“South Carolina’s Lowcountry has been fortunate in recent years to have received some notable new residents,” Zucker said. “Clemson’s wind-turbine drivetrain testing facility and the Boeing Co.’s Dreamliner assembly plant are significant for the region.

“But we must not rest on our laurels. The benefits of these new neighbors are far-reaching," she said. “Creating a workforce with the right skills is fundamental to the state’s success and its economic vitality. Centers like this will help place South Carolina at the forefront of innovation.”

"Based on experiences gained at the Clemson University International Center for Automotive Research (CU-ICAR) in Greenville, where the automotive industry collaborates on a daily basis, the Zucker Family Center at CURI will become the go-to place for innovation in advanced materials, the environment and sectors related to energy, power systems, logistics and transportation," said Clemson University President James F. Barker.

“What CU-ICAR has done to strengthen the automotive cluster in the Upstate, the Restoration Institute is doing in the Lowcountry for advanced materials, the environment and sectors related to energy, power systems, logistics and transportation,” Barker said.

“The Zucker Family Graduate Education Center will be the hub where all these initiatives meet,” he said.

Clemson is a leader in energy, power and systems engineering, and is recognized as one of the top 25 public research universities in the United States. In collaboration with industry, the university offers advanced-degree programs and research areas geared toward training and developing energy systems-related engineers.

The Restoration Institute already has garnered $100 million in investment for research and development, directly fueling the knowledge base critical to the future of South Carolina’s economy.

The Zucker center will further stimulate private-public partnerships through the creative exchange of ideas, said John Kelly, Clemson University vice president for economic development and executive director of the Restoration Institute.

The center will be built on a brownfield site at the closed Naval shipyard, and in itself become the essence of economic development, Kelly said.

“Thanks to the generosity of the Zucker family, this facility will support new technology and applied research in ‘living laboratories’ for a wide array of advanced research and development,” he said. “This center would not be possible without the generosity of the Zucker family and for that vision and willingness to see South Carolina excel, we are extremely grateful.”

The Zucker family gift is one of the largest in Clemson’s The Will to Lead capital campaign, which aims to raise $600 million to support Clemson students and faculty with scholarships, professorships, facilities, technology and enhanced opportunities for learning and research.

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