CLEMSON — Clemson University’s class of 1968 marked its 50th anniversary Thursday, June 7, with a reunion celebration on campus and the announcement of a $1,000,396 gift to Clemson’s Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC) program and scholarships for Clemson students.

President Clements, in a blue suit, stands to the right as the Tiger and two Clemson ROTC cadets hold a giant check.

Jerry Trapnell, Class of 1968 Golden Anniversary chairman (second from right), presents a check for $1,000,396 to Clemson President Jim Clements (right) from the class. University Relations photo

The gift will allow both the Army and Air Force ROTC detachments to enhance their recruiting and retention of student cadets, enable them to achieve their commissioning goals and garner national recognition. The scholarships will support cadets who plan careers in the military services, and those who seek leadership training applicable to any endeavor making a positive difference in their Clemson experience.

“A gift of more than a million dollars is an amazing gift,” said Clemson President Jim Clements. “I can tell you that it is a powerful, life-changing gift. You were students during a time of great change on our campus and in this nation. In the 50 years since then, you have witnessed many things and helped Clemson and the entire country improve, grow strong and lead. Now, you are adding to the already impressive legacy of the Class of 1968. Countless generations of future Clemson students will benefit from your generosity.”

Members of the Class of 1968 attended Clemson during a very tumultuous period in the nation’s history, said committee member Danny Rhodes.

“We took the leadership traits founded in service as students and responded by serving in leadership roles in almost every facet of professional life,” he added. “As our reunion committee considered various opportunities to give back to Clemson through our class gift, leadership was a common interest. Realizing that close to 20 percent of our class served in the Armed Forces, we agreed to create an ROTC grant-in-aid endowment. I am excited that we will be able to ensure that Clemson continues to produce men and women who will serve our nation proudly through military service, as many of us did. We will be able to contribute to maintaining the ‘Orange Line of Leadership.’”

Jerry Trapnell, Class of 1968 Golden Anniversary chairman, said he was honored to be part of the reunion planning committee and to lead the class project effort.

“The Class of ’68 has a strong legacy of financial support for Clemson, and our golden anniversary project is another strong extension to that legacy,” said Trapnell. “As our committee reflected on our time at Clemson and the subsequent careers so many of our classmates led that were made possible by their Clemson degree, it became very clear that our focus must be on reinforcing the top priority of supporting students in attending Clemson.”

The sun flares over the shoulder of a statue of an ROTC cadet walking onto Bowman Field.

The sun flares over the shoulder of a statue of an ROTC cadet on Clemson’s Military Heritage Plaza. The future is brighter for all present and future Clemson ROTC cadets, thanks to the Class of 1968. University Relations photo

Trapnell said committee members recognized the strong legacy exemplified in their classmates’ highly successful careers in the civilian sector as well as military careers that grew out of the Clemson ROTC experience.

“We blended these two areas as the focal point of our class project, the Class of 68′ ROTC Endowment, to provide an endowment for Air Force and Army ROTC and to provide additional financial aid directed at retaining students in the advance ROTC programs,” he said. “We recognized that some of our classmates wanted to support student scholarships for a broader population of students, and we embrace these as totally consistent with our class project.”

Since graduating, the Class of 1968 has given more than $17 million for university programs.