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Clemson Corporate Connections e-Newsletter

Clemson Corporate Connections

The Corporate and Foundation Relations (CFR) group within the Office of Development at Clemson University is dedicated to building and maintaining long-term relationships that benefit your company as well as the University and its students. The Corporate Connections newsletter is a quick update on some of the partnerships.


On September 16, Robert H. “Bob” Jones, a Clemson University graduate, professor of biology and dean of West Virginia University’s Eberly College of Arts and Sciences, became Clemson’s first executive vice president for academic affairs and provost, providing leadership for the university’s undergraduate and graduate programs, academic support programs, research and public service activities.

 “I am thrilled with the opportunity to work with Clemson University’s amazing students, faculty and staff, and with its energetic new president, Dr. James Clements,” Jones said. “There are many appealing elements of Clemson for me, including its strong sense of community, positive momentum and track record of success in all three of the land-grant missions: learning, discovery and engagement. It’s also the place where I launched my life in academia and met my wife, Jeri. Truly, this is a chance of a lifetime!”Robert Jones

Jones earned his bachelor’s degree in forest management and master’s in forestry from Clemson and his doctorate in forest ecology from the State University of New York College of Environmental Science and Forestry, Syracuse University. He has previously served as a department head and professor at Virginia Tech and a faculty member at Auburn University.

Jones has published more than 60 refereed articles and was the principal investigator or co-principal investigator on more than $4.6 million in externally funded research. At WVU, he served on the ADVANCE Internal Advisory Board, the Energy Council and was co-coordinator of the STEM Education Mountain of Excellence initiative. As an administrator, he has provided leadership in strategic planning, administrative restructurings, accreditation reviews and development of assessment systems. During his tenure as dean, students and faculty in the college have more than 50 nationally competitive awards, such as Fulbright, Goldwater, Truman and Udall scholarships, National Science Foundation Career Awards and an American Academy of Arts and Sciences membership.

Jones’ wife, Jeryl “Jeri” C. Jones, will also be joining the Clemson family. Jeri earned a Bachelor of Science in zoology from Clemson, a doctorate in veterinary medicine from the University of Georgia and a Ph.D. and board certification in veterinary radiology from Auburn University. She has worked in private practice and has held faculty positions at Virginia Tech and West Virginia University, where she has conducted research and has taught undergraduate, graduate and professional students.


Clemson University and SCRA have announced a new collaboration that will virtually connect innovation centers across the state, with SCRA becoming the first South Carolina Founding Innovation Partner for the University’s Watt Family Innovation Center.

Through deployment of high-tech studios, the collaboration will enable and expand ultra-high-speed, virtual connectivity capabilities of the Watt Center with business, academic, government and economic development entities across South Carolina and the nation.SCRA

“We look forward to an increased level of collaboration with SCRA in order to foster innovation and bring new technologies to market,” said Clemson President James P. Clements.

As the center’s second Founding Innovation Partner, SCRA will provide $3 million for new cross-discipline operations and sustainability for supporting extended network and operations, including equipment to establish virtual connectivity between the Watt Family Innovation Center, SCRA Innovation Centers and research universities in the state.

This commitment includes science and technology advancements, special projects and support for faculty, staff and students, curriculum and operations of the Watt Center.

“The immediate and comprehensive advancements to multi-party communications that these studios will provide will greatly contribute to and improve our state’s ‘knowledge economy,’” said SCRA CEO Bill Mahoney.

“Since being chartered by the South Carolina Legislature more than 30 years ago, SCRA has been highly successful in building partnerships that have made significant contributions to our state’s knowledge economy and academic institutions. They have consistently utilized emerging technologies to create value, jobs and growth in South Carolina with global connectivity. We are honored to have SCRA as our first South Carolina Founding Innovation Partner,” said Charles Watt, founding director of the Watt Family Innovation Center.

Designed to foster innovation and interdisciplinary education and research activities, the Watt Center is adjacent to the R.M. Cooper Library on campus. The four-story, 70,000-square-foot center will be a student-centered space that will serve a diverse community and connect students with industry partners..


ICAR BoschClemson University’s first Bosch fellow is an automotive engineering graduate student who shares her knowledge of engines and love of learning from the classroom to the NASCAR track.

A celebration was held in September at the Clemson University-International Center for Automotive Research (CU-ICAR), naming Vismita Sonagra a Bosch fellow.

Sonagra will receive $20,000 and will be encouraged to continue her outreach to boost K-12 education in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM).

“I feel happy and grateful,” she said. “More than that, I think it’s a big encouragement. What Bosch is doing for STEM is really huge.”

The award was made possible earlier this year by a $500,000 grant from the Bosch Community Fund, which established an endowment in perpetuity for automotive-engineering fellowships. The Bosch Community Fund is the charitable foundation of Robert Bosch LLC.

The program is aimed at inspiring the next generation of engineers and scientists and diversifying the workforce. Awards target exemplary students who are from groups with low representation in engineering and science, including women and minorities.

Sonagra’s award was announced by Mike Mansuetti, who received a mechanical engineering degree from Clemson University in 1987 and is now president of Robert Bosch LLC.

“I’d like to congratulate Vismita,” Mansuetti said. “It’s wonderful to see that Clemson continues to produce some of the nation’s brightest students and offer top-notch programs. It is always good to return to this campus, but especially today when we make this first fellowship announcement and honor the great work of Vismita Sonagra and Clemson University’s educational excellence. Together, Bosch and Clemson will help move students into STEM-related careers and help individuals reach their full potential."