Bob Hambright was born into a Clemson family and graduated from here in 1970 with a Bachelor of Science in mechanical engineering. After graduation, Bob pursued a career in construction where he developed a passion for leadership. Now, he and his wife, Susan, are proud to dedicate their time and money to developing better leaders by giving back to the University.

Following Bob’s retirement in 2010, the couple established the Robert B. and Susan B. Hambright Annual Leadership Program in Engineering. This program was jump-started in 2011 by a $100,000 gift from the couple — in conjunction with Bob’s former employer, Balfour Beatty Construction, LLC.

The mission of this merit-based leadership program is to create awareness of the impact that can be made through leadership. This program awards $10,000 to eligible engineering students to attend leadership conferences and programs that encourage accelerated leadership development for the candidates(s).

Students Kate Gasparro and Elliot Mappus held many leadership positions during their time at Clemson and saw the Hambright program as a way to further their skills as leaders. After submitting their applications, the two engineering students were asked to meet with the Hambrights to discuss their interest in the program.

Gasparro and Mappus immediately stood out to the couple as two students who had the potential to lead.

“We want to identify students who have that ‘chip’ — the ‘chip’ of being able to help others reach their full potential,” said Bob Hambright.

“The Hambright program is a unique experience. It gives us a set of funds that we are able to spend on whatever we want in order to better ourselves as leaders. This is unique in that it’s up to you to decide what areas you need to improve on,” said Mappus, a chosen recipient.

Bob and Susan Hambright believe developing personal relationships with the program’s recipients has been one of the most rewarding aspects of giving back.

Elliot Mappus and Kate Gasparro in their cap and gown

Mappus (left) and Gasparro (right) received recognition at commencement in May 2014.

“The students are wonderful. It feels good to be able to help them start this leadership that they already have inside themselves. It’s rewarding, and we’re very thankful that we’re able to do it,” said Susan Hambright.

Also a chosen recipient, Gasparro noted, “I’ve learned how to be a better leader through listening, self-analysis and questioning the status quo. This would not have been the case if I had never built a relationship with Mr. Hambright who sparked this reflection and encouraged my ability to become a leader.”

Over time, the Hambrights began to notice a few of the recipients having difficulty deciding how to spend the funds due to their busy schedules. This led Bob and Susan Hambright to establish the Hambright Leadership Professorship.

“We realized the potential impact of having a professor in the department who could raise awareness of leadership as a great differentiator across all engineering disciplines. And he/she could guide our recipients to match leadership opportunities to their individual interests and abilities,” said Bob Hambright.

The Hambrights believe it is a very special time in Clemson’s history. “There’s an opportunity here with the new leadership. We can all help with our passion, money and time to fund Clemson’s vision. That, to me, is a reason to become more involved,” said Bob.

Mappus and Gasparro graduated in 2014. Mappus continued his time at Clemson as a graduate student, and now plans to attend the Medical University of South Carolina to pursue a doctorate in medicine. Gasparro is now studying sustainable design and construction at Stanford University.

“Clemson has given me the first step to a long line of success,” said Mappus.

Gasparro continues in the same vein, “During my time at Clemson, I grew in leaps and bounds as an academic, as a leader and as a person. I am now much more confident in my vision for myself in the future.”

Clemson University along with the Hambright’s generosity has given many students in the College of Engineering and Science the chance to pursue opportunities that they would have never deemed possible.