About the Erwin Center

The Erwin Center was founded in 2012 as a strategic partnership with the Department of Communication Studies through a donation by Joe and Gretchen Erwin. The program prepares students for careers in marketing and advertising.

Why the Erwin Center?

photo: Joe Erwin shaking hands

Joe Erwin is a 1979 Clemson University graduate, and he believes that this unique program will emphasize new methods and techniques to further establish the value of creativity in driving commerce. “Top companies, including most of our clients, are extremely proficient at developing more innovative and reliable products and services by using cutting-edge technology and insight-driven ingenuity,” Joe stated. “The Erwin Center will help prepare future generations of marketers to similarly use information, technology and modeling methods to skillfully promote these products and services.” 

Nancy Hill, president-CEO of the 4A’s (American Association of Advertising Agencies), said the Erwin/Clemson partnership is the kind of proactive approach needed to ensure a steady flow of top talent to the advertising business in the face of increased competition from gaming and entertainment companies and tech startups.

“Advertising should be a top career choice for the best and brightest students seeking to work in a creative, entrepreneurial environment,” said Hill. “That’s why the 4A’s is a driving force behind such programs as OpenAdvertising, Brooklyn’s High School for Innovation in Advertising and Media, and the Multicultural Advertising Internship Program, which are designed to promote excellence and diversity in our industry. We salute Joe and Gretchen, and Clemson University, for their commitment to helping develop future generations of advertising leaders.

Erwin Center Press Conference at Erwin Penland in Greenville, SC.

The Gift from Joe and Gretchen Erwin

Joe and Gretchen Erwin, co-founders of the leading advertising and marketing firm Erwin Penland, donated $1.05 million to establish the Erwin Center for the Study of Advertising and Communication at Clemson University. The gift creates a unique relationship between the Erwin family, Clemson University and Erwin Penland. 

Initially, the Erwins’ gift will provide up to five new courses to support a new emphasis area in advertising and communication for communication studies majors at Clemson. The courses also will be offered as a minor to students in other majors. Many of the classes will be taught in collaboration with industry experts at Erwin Penland, a 400-person agency with offices in Greenville and New York.

The Erwin gift is the largest private donation to Clemson’s communication studies department. It is part of the university’s The Will to Lead capital campaign to raise $1 billion to support Clemson students and faculty with scholarships, professorships, facilities, technology and enhanced opportunities for learning and research.

graphic: Erwin Penland buiding

Erwin Penland

Helping create success for the people we touch, Erwin Penland builds worlds around brands by seamlessly integrating strategic planning, digital development, content creation and distribution, customer experience and a host of other disciplines. With offices in New York and Greenville, S.C., Erwin Penland has earned numerous awards for marketing effectiveness and creative excellence, working for clients including Denny’s Diner, Verizon, Frye Boots, The UPS Store and L.L.Bean. Its empowering culture, entrepreneurial spirit and commitment to inclusion and collaboration are among the reasons Erwin Penland was named one of the Best Places to Work by Advertising Age. The firm is a member of The Interpublic Group of Companies (NYSE: IPG).