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Tom and Kathy Reed had no prior connections to Clemson University when their son, Matt, opted to spend four years of his life pursuing degrees in finance and marketing. By the time he graduated in December 2018, his parents were members of the Executive Council — a group of individuals who provide counsel and support to Vice President for Student Affairs Almeda Jacks — and committed a significant financial pledge to name a future softball field at the Snow Family Outdoor Fitness and Wellness Center.

Advertisement image for 2019 Student Affairs Gala

Image Credit: Student Affairs Publications

Charlie and Susan Barker say it took their daughter, Lexie, about 15-20 minutes to fall in love with Clemson’s campus. She’s now a junior, and in that short amount of time, the Barkers have become pillar donors for the Samuel J. Cadden Memorial Chapel, despite no previous ties to the university.

Angelo and Heather Mitsopoulos have a different story. Both are Clemson alums, but they are also heavily invested in their alma mater. Ironically, they met midway through their undergraduate careers during a Student Affairs sponsored function. Now some 18 years later, the couple is doing its part by naming an event space at the Snow Center, ensuring the next wave of Clemson students enjoys a positive and transformative experience.

Almeda Jacks, Kim Wilkerson

Vice President Almeda Jacks (left) and Board of Trustees member Kim Wilkerson (right) with the Snow Family at the 2018 Student Affairs Gala.
Image Credit: Chris Newman

Separately, they are but three examples of how folks make unique connections to Clemson and, in this case, the Division of Student Affairs. But together, they are among 48 families whose impactful contributions to the university and division will be recognized formally on Saturday, Feb. 16 at the annual “Night of the Stars” Gala, presented by Aramark.

For the first time, the event is open to the public, as leaders from within the Student Affairs community will gather in the Madren Conference Center to celebrate the successful programs and services that prepare and empower Clemson students to make a difference.

“The Gala gives people a great chance to learn of the compelling work done by staff within Student Affairs to create a unique experience that makes Clemson what it is today,” said Brandy Page, senior director of development. “Through this annual event, we are able to recognize our many generous donors who have helped us make these experiences possible. We look forward to celebrating them, and our students, by opening our arms to the greater Clemson community.”

Angelo and Heather Mitsopoulos with Doug Hallenbeck from Student Affairs at the division's 2018 Gala.

Heather and Angelo Mitsopoulos talk with Senior Associate Vice President for Student Affairs Doug Hallenbeck (right) at the 2018 Gala.
Image Credit: Chris Newman

This year’s Gala will take on an exciting twist, as the Madren Center is transformed into a 1920s “Speakeasy” beginning with a cocktail hour at 6 p.m. The evening will feature dueling pianos, dinner, both a silent and live auction, and special guests.

Guests will not want to miss an opportunity for the great slew of live auction items, including a fishing expedition to the Bahamas; lunch and a tour of the Reeves Operations Complex with Athletic Director Dan Radakovich; and a cocktail hour at a date to be determined later for 20 at a private home with special guest, Clemson football coach Dabo Swinney.

Tickets for the event are $150 for individuals and $250 for couples. Guests are invited to blend in by wearing authentic “Roaring Twenties” garb or black tie attire. Visit the Gala website for full details and to purchase tickets.

Charlie Barker was among last year’s honorees and — despite being relatively new to the Clemson Family — has gained an appreciation for the event and what it represents.

“We have told Lexie to be a good steward for her school,” he said. “The reason she and so many others enjoy a wonderful Clemson Experience is because others have given to make it what it is today. It’s true what they say … there’s no place like Clemson.”