BMW gives $100,000 to Clemson diversity, language programs
“BMW’s long-standing support of Clemson’s German language and Call Me MISTER programs speaks to the deep value that is generated throughout the community as a result of these programs,” said Manfred Erlacher, president and CEO, BMW Manufacturing. “Both of these efforts uniquely parallel BMW’s profound commitment to education and diversity. BMW is proud to support programs that provide distinct opportunities for future leaders.”
The Call Me MISTER (Mentors Instructing Students Toward Effective Role Models) program aims to increase the pool of diverse teachers, particularly among South Carolina’s lowest-performing elementary schools. Student participants are largely selected from among underserved, socioeconomically disadvantaged and educationally at-risk communities. The program provides tuition assistance, academic support and job placement for students pursuing approved programs of study in teacher education at participating colleges.
Clemson offers two degrees with concentration in German, with an average enrollment of 170-180 students, approximately 50 percent of whom are majoring in engineering or business. The faculty consists of BMW Senior Lecturer of German Lee Ferrell and three others.
“Without BMW’s continuous support, we would be looking at a very different German program at Clemson,” said Johannes Schmidt, Clemson associate professor of German. “Today we see not one, but two German Clubs thriving. Our annual Conference on German in the Professions is in its fourth year. We are hosting annual alumni reunions, have established strong contacts with local high schools and offer a summer language program in Germany. We also provide weekly extracurricular opportunities, such as conversation tables, film evenings and guest presentations, to engage with German culture. And these are only a few ways in which BMW’s support helps our students.”
The BMW gifts are part of Clemson’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.
BMW has supported each program annually since 2003 with donations totaling $700,000 to each. BMW’s support for Clemson includes its longtime support for the Carroll A. Campbell Jr. Graduate School for Automotive Engineering and two BMW endowed chairs.
Clemson University President James P. Clements saluted BMW’s commitment to Clemson in a speech at BMW’s world headquarters in Germany in July.
“In 2003, when Clemson and BMW first announced their partnership, [BMW’s] head of research and development at the time said that we were planting a seed together — for our future — that he hoped would grow. More than a decade later, I believe our partnership is flourishing, and I look forward to nurturing it and watching it continue to thrive.”
There are approximately 93 Clemson alumni currently employed by BMW.