Clemson Corporate Connections

Clemson University Clemson, SC Clemson Corporate Connections

The Corporate and Foundation Relations (CFR) team 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. Clemson Corporate Connections shares updates on some of these partnerships.


The Watt Family Innovation Center, Clemson’s newest on-campus building that serves as a hub of innovation and creativity for students, faculty, and staff, officially opened its doors in January 2016. The Watt Center has an exceptional team of faculty and staff that make the Center operate seamlessly on a day-to-day basis. Each member of the Watt support staff brings unique talents and expertise to the Center, and features on several of these key team members is included below.

Charles Watt [Clemson University, Clemson, SC]Dr. Charles Watt
Executive Director
Watt Family Innovation Center

Dr. Watt serves as the Executive Director of the Watt Family Innovation Center. Prior to this assignment, Dr. Watt served as Dean of the University’s College of Business and Behavioral Science.  Additionally, he is a professor at Clemson University and has served as a board member or consultant for several advanced technology private as well as public organizations.  Before retiring from industry, he founded and provided initial leadership for Watt Systems Engineering and Scientific Research Corporation. He subsequently formed Electronic Systems Support Company, a small business organized under the laws of South Carolina.

Dr. Watt’s research and management activities at other organizations have ranged from analysis, modeling, and conceptual research to the development of highly complex systems.  While serving as an Executive in the Office of Secretary of Defense, Dr. Watt’s responsibilities included: (1) management of global test range resources; (2) preparation and submission of assessment reports on major weapon systems requiring a decision by the Secretary of Defense; and (3) direction of joint service research, development and test programs.

Dr. Watt is a graduate of Clemson University (BSEE), the Industrial College of the Armed Forces (MBA), and George Washington University (M.S. & DSc.).  He has served on the Foundation and President's Advisory Boards at Clemson University and Chaired Utah State University Research Foundation Board of Trustees. His academic service also has included membership on the Emory University Graduate Council and the George Washington University SEAS National Advisory Council. 

Dr. Watt is a senior member of IEEE, Tau Beta Pi, and sigma Xi, and he frequently lectures at universities and professional societies on technology trends and their impact on society.  His career has been distinguished by numerous honors and commendations, including the Secretary of Defense Meritorious Distinguished Service Award, a Commendation for Special Service to the U.S. Congress on Telecommunications, the George Washington University Alumni Achievement and Hall of Fame Awards, the International Test and Evaluation Association (ITEA) Allen R. Matthews Award, and Clemson University Alumni Distinguished Service and the Thomas Green Clemson Academy of Engineers and Scientists Awards.  One of his several corporate affiliated community recognitions was the Atlanta Business Chronicle's Gazelle Award which honored Atlanta's fastest growing high-tech companies.

Denny Lester [Clemson University, Clemson, SC]Dr. Denny Lester
Associate Director for Science and Technology
Watt Family Innovation Center

Dennis “Denny” L. Lester serves as the Associate Director for Science and Technology at the Watt Family Innovation Center.

Before joining Clemson University, Lester served as Director of Training and Education and Business Area Lead, Guardtime Initiatives and Program Manager for Modern Technology Solutions, Inc. Lester has also served as Technical Director and Program Manager for the Scientific Research Corporation in Albuquerque, New Mexico.

He holds a B.S. in Aeronautical Technology from Arizona State University, an MBA from Phillips University, and received his Ph.D. in Organizational Learning and Instructional Technology from the University of New Mexico. Lester also holds several aviation certifications and is the author of numerous presentations and papers.

Barbara Speziale [Clemson University, Clemson, SC]Dr. Barbara Speziale
Associate Director for Academic Affairs
Watt Family Innovation Center

Dr. Barbara Speziale is the Associate Director for Academic Affairs in the Watt Family Innovation Center.  She provides overall administrative leadership for academic activities undertaken by and within the Watt Center.

She previously served for 14 years in associate dean positions in Undergraduate Studies and in Public Service Activities.  She is a professor in the department of Biological Sciences.

Dr. Speziale excels at spearheading and leading efforts innovative academic programs, many funded through her $14.5M in external grants. She directs Clemson’s Creative Inquiry program that supports team-based research experiences for thousands of undergraduate students each year. Her SC Life Education and Outreach program, supported by $6.4 in grants from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, provided science enrichment activities for undergraduates, K-12 students, and teachers. With a grant from the National Science Foundation, she established Clemson’s FIRST program to support students who are the first in their families to attend college.

She has received numerous state and national awards for education, service, and scientific awareness.

Brianne Campbell [Clemson University, Clemson, SC]Brianne Campbell, MFA
Watt Family Innovation Center
Media Graphics Manager

Brianne Campbell serves as the Media Graphics Manager at the Watt Family Innovation Center and her responsibilities pertain to anything visual in the Watt Center. Brianne creates and/or approves all the digital content throughout the building, including, but is not limited to, the interactive digital wayfinding, digital signage displays and work spaces, five atrium video walls, and the 209’ x 24’ media screen.

Brianne was born and raised in Massachusetts in a suburb located thirty minutes north of Boston. She graduated from Clemson University in 2010 with her Bachelor of Arts in Psychology, and again in 2015 when she received her Master of Fine Arts in Digital Production Arts. Brianne says she loves her job because “when you are working in an Innovation Center at a University like Clemson, you know you’re always going to be creating exciting content, and finding new ways to use digital art to enhance education.”

Tim Howard
Director of Infrastructure and Sustainability

Jeannette Braine-Sperry
Administrative Coordinator

Brittany Stephenson
Administrative Assistant

Brittany Stephenson has served as the Administrative Assistant for the Watt Family Innovation Center since August 2014. She graduated from Clemson University in May 2014 with her Bachelor of Arts Degree in English.


The Walmart Foundation and the U.S. Conference of Mayors recently awarded Clemson University a $964,000 grant to support research in the Department of Materials Science and Engineering on energy-efficient processes for the dyeing of polyester fabrics. Clemson was one of this year’s U.S. Manufacturing Innovation Fund grant recipients, who are focused on innovations in textile manufacturing processes.

Clemson’s research project is led by Dr. Phil Brown, Swetenburg Professor of Materials Science and Engineering, and Dr. Chris Cole, Professor Emerita, Materials Science and Engineering in the College of Engineering and Science, and will focus on reducing energy use and color effluent in the polyester dyeing process.

“The expertise of our team of Clemson researchers bears great promise for breakthroughs in the polyester dyeing process and commercial dyeing technologies,” said Anand Gramopadhye, dean of Clemson University’s College of Engineering and Science. “We look forward to the outcomes of this project and the significant collaborative opportunities with industry partners in our region.”

Clemson is one of five universities to receive grants from the U.S. Manufacturing Innovation Fund, which supports research proposals that seek to develop new manufacturing technologies, reduce the cost of producing goods in the U.S., and create jobs that support America’s manufacturing base. The fund will provide a total of $10 million in grant awards over five years.

Support for the Walmart U.S. Manufacturing Innovation Fund is part of Walmart’s larger commitment to help revitalize U.S. manufacturing. In January 2013, Walmart announced a commitment to buy an additional $250 billion in products that support U.S. jobs by 2023.

For more information on Walmart’s commitment to U.S. manufacturing, see


On February 4-5, 2016, the Southeastern Universities Corporate and Foundation Relations group came to Clemson for its annual meeting. Over 50 CFR officers from 16 universities came to Clemson for the meeting, including Auburn, Campbellsville University, Clayton State University, Clemson University, Emory University, Georgia Tech, Furman University, Kennesaw State University, University of Alabama, University of Florida, University of Georgia, University of Kentucky, University of South Carolina and University of Tennessee. Clemson, the University of South Carolina and the University of Tennessee co-hosted the meeting, which included three working sessions on a variety of CFR-related topics, and an industry panel during lunch with representatives Susie Adams from Duke Energy Foundation, Cheryl Smith Wiggins from Fluor, and Ted Creech from AT&T.

The theme of the industry panel was “Value-Added Partnerships,” and the various corporate representatives discussed the ways that universities and corporations can work together to tackle some of the world’s biggest challenges. These partnerships must exhibit value to both the university and the corporation in order to be successful.

Through the sessions presented at the meeting, CFR partners from across the Southeast were able to come together to collaborate and learn new ways to create successful partnerships between their Universities and leading corporations.