Dennis Moore is pictured outdoors against the backdrop of a building.

Dennis Moore was a first-generation student at Clemson University. He recently endowed a Clemson scholarship to assist other first-generation students who major in the humanities. Image Credit: Robert Howard

Dennis Moore, a Clemson University graduate and recently retired professor at Florida State University, is endowing a new scholarship for first-generation Clemson students in the humanities.

“There’s a real need for such a scholarship,” Moore said. “Having been a first-generation Clemson student myself, I understand how much value there can be in a recognition like this.”

Moore’s gift of $55,000 will fund the annual Moore Family Scholarship for First-Generation Students.

“This is about giving back to the place where I was a first-generation student,” Moore said. “I’m certainly happy I went to Clemson and majored in English. It was a rewarding experience, and I learned a lot. Looking back, I could’ve used the kind of encouragement that these scholarships, I hope, will furnish.”

After graduating from Clemson with a bachelor’s degree in English in 1970, Moore then earned his master’s degree in English literature from the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill. He returned to Clemson as a visiting instructor in English, 1982-84, before earning his Ph.D. in U.S. literature (specializing in the years before 1900) at UNC-Chapel Hill.

At Florida State, Moore taught early American literature and African American literature and culture from 1991 until his retirement in 2019. Seven Octobers ago, he returned to the Clemson campus to give a talk in the Clemson Humanities Road Scholars series. Focusing on his 2013 edition of essays by J. Hector St. John de Crèvecoeur (1735-1813), published by Harvard University Press, Moore described new ways of reading Crèvecoeur’s  notion of America as a melting pot.

More recently, as his 70th birthday approached last October, he called Susanna Ashton, chair of the Clemson English Department, who had attended that talk. His question was simple: how about a scholarship fund for first-generation Clemson students?

Ashton has praised Moore for giving generously to his alma mater, 50 years after he graduated:“What’s remarkable about this gift is the creative and thoughtful nature of what Dennis Moore wants his legacy to be. He is taking a pivotal experience of his own life, attending college and studying English when that wasn’t a given expectation for his milieu, and using his gift to make a difference.

“Out there somewhere will be an incoming student each year,” she continued, “who is not only boldly taking the step into higher education that his or her parents hadn’t been able to do, but this student will be defying societal pressures to only study applied topics or fields. This student will be choosing craft, will be choosing art, will be choosing the study of language and the humanities because they know the world needs them to do so.

“Dennis Moore’s gift will allow us in Clemson English, and Clemson as a whole, to tell that student and that student’s family that we see you, we support you and we welcome you.”