CLEMSON, S.C. — Two Clemson University civil engineering alumni have made matching $50,000 gifts to their alma mater to help renovate and expand the building in which they began their careers.
John Atz, president of Kimley-Horn and Associates Inc., and Mike Byrd, executive vice president of the company, made their gifts for the modernization of Lowry Hall, home of Clemson’s civil engineering program.
"John and Mike have been supporters of the civil engineering department for many years, and Kimley-Horn also employs a significant number of our graduates," said Nadim Aziz, chairman of the department.
"Their support of the program goes beyond this initiative," Aziz said. "Mike served on the department’s advisory board and initiated an unrestricted endowment to support the strategic plan. John has served on the board for several years and is currently its chairman. He was instrumental in establishing the Lowry expansion and remodeling initiative that the board adopted as a project. I am delighted that we have friends like John and Mike who are always willing to help the department."
The $100,000 will help expand classroom space and facilities for student instruction in Lowry. The remodeling also will improve the building’s compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act and will accommodate graduate student and research needs.
For Atz, the decision to make the gift stemmed from his gratitude not only for the education he and his business partner received, but also that of his wife, Lisa. She earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees in mathematics at Clemson in 1984 and 1986, respectively; Atz earned his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in civil engineering in 1985 and 1987, respectively.
"Lisa and I have known each other since eighth grade. When she made the decision to go to Clemson, I followed her," he said. "Lisa and I credit Clemson for providing us a strong foundation that was the basis for our professional careers. We are appreciative of the full Clemson experience and are pleased to be in a position that we can contribute back to the university.
Byrd, who received his civil engineering bachelor’s degree in 1979 and master’s in 1983, has Clemson ties that run equally deep. His parents retired from Clemson: his dad as a professor and head of experimental statistics, and his mother as an administrative assistant to the entomology department head. Byrd was born just a year after his father began teaching at the university.
"My jobs in high school were with the university," he said. "My favorite was working at the botanical gardens. I also sold football programs, was a bat boy, chased foul balls, and even manually changed the baseball scoreboard during games — it was not electronic.
"I was fortunate to have great professors, and they prepared me for my career by providing incredible diversity in the civil engineering field. When you have people who are so dedicated to providing you the foundation to be your best, it is something that is priceless," Byrd said.
"When I learned that there was a fundraising initiative to expand and modernize Lowry Hall, it was another way to say ‘thank you’ to the Clemson University civil engineering department. I hope that CE students of the future will have the outstanding education that I received and that other graduates will do what they can to support it."
Raleigh, N.C.-based Kimley-Horn and Associates Inc. is an employee-owned engineering consulting firm with 1,500 professional and support staff in 59 offices nationwide. The company offers transportation engineering, roadway and bridge design, water and wastewater systems engineering, aviation planning and design, municipal services consulting, retail and residential development, environmental services, and urban design services.
The gifts are part of Clemson University’s The Will to Lead: A Campaign for Clemson, a multi-year effort to raise at least $600 million to support students and faculty with scholarships, professorships, and enhanced learning and research opportunities with top facilities and technology.