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Brooks’ Support, Love For Clemson University Evident Across Campus Landscape, Educational Programs

July 17, 2006

CLEMSON – Without the foresight and generosity of one of Clemson University’s most magnanimous alumni, Robert H. Brooks, thousands of students, faculty, school children and South Carolina residents would not have benefited from many of the school’s renowned facilities, programs and academic scholarships and professorships.

Brooks, a graduate of the Class of 1960, died Sunday, July 16, in his Myrtle Beach, S.C., home. Brooks was a long-time supporter of Clemson University. His generosity over the years, supported several university initiatives, including performing arts, motor sports engineering, sports management and athletics.

“Bob Brooks came to Clemson in the late ’50s as a young man from rural South Carolina looking for opportunity. He never forgot that Clemson gave him his start,” said Clemson University President James F. Barker. “Bob’s generous philanthropy in support of academics, athletics and the arts at Clemson has helped define our campus and impacted everyone associated with Clemson.”

Brooks Center for the Performing Arts

The university broke ground for the Robert Howell Brooks Center for the Performing Arts in 1991 as the result of Brooks’ $2.5 million gift toward the establishment of the cultural and academic facility. The center features three performing spaces, including the Brooks Theatre, a 1000-seat proscenium theatre that showcases more than 75 concerts, shows and special events annually.

“Mr. Brooks’ philanthropy fundamentally changed Clemson University’s definitions of quality, sophistication, artistic excellence and outreach,” said Lillian Harder, director of the Clemson University performing arts center that bears his name. “Not only was he instrumental in building the arts center here at Clemson, he also played a significant role in supporting our programming.”

The Boni Belle Brooks Series, established in 2002 in honor of Brooks’ daughter, annually features the Brooks Center’s premiere visiting artists and attractions. Recent performances on the series included Grammy Award-winning jazz trumpeter Wynton Marsalis and the Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra, a touring production of “The Will Rogers Follies” and the Zurich Chamber Orchestra with guitarist Sharon Isbin.

“Mr. Brooks’ generosity was beyond measure,” Harder said. “His gifts to the Brooks Center supported our efforts to enrich the lives of people in the Clemson community, the Upstate and South Carolina. His support of the arts ensured that children and adults had the chance to experience the best in music, theatre, and dance, and his legacy will live on for generations.”

Also, the university’s performing arts department is housed in the Brooks Center. “This merging of professional and educational programming provides students access to every level of arts participation,” said Harder.

Brooks Institute for Sports Science

In the mid-1990s, Brooks pledged another $2.5 million to establish a sports science institute at the university. The gift was in memory of members of his racing team, including his son Mark ’91, 1992 NASCAR Champion Alan Kulwicki, and co-workers Dan Duncan and Charlie Campbell, who died in a plane crash on April 1, 1993.

The Brooks Institute for Sports Science at Clemson partners with industry for research, academic programs and student internships. It encompasses sports management, sports marketing, sports communication and motor sports engineering.

The institute is a conduit for research in the thriving sports, recreation and leisure industries. What makes the institute distinctive is its focus on technological, managerial and cultural perspectives, as opposed to the physiological and psychological aspects of athletic performance. The institute has fostered sports-related research, outreach programs and initiatives that include internships for Clemson students at leading sports organizations such as the Philadelphia Phillies, Philadelphia 76ers, New York Yankees, Baltimore Orioles, Milwaukee Brewers, Dodge Rockwell’s motor sports division and ESPN.

Through the institute, Clemson researchers are developing and testing various grasses for use on golf course and athletic fields. Furthermore, in collaboration with the university’s College of Health Education and Human Development, the institute is working to make golf accessible to 49 million Americans with disabilities. The National Forum for Golf Accessibility joins players with disabilities with golf associations, researchers and representatives from golf-related industries.

In the motor sports program, Clemson engineering students and faculty are engaged in highly technical research areas ranging from vehicle chassis software to computational fluid dynamics, thermal engine controls to composite materials capabilities – in other words, from the steering wheel to the tires.

The creation of CU-ICAR has depended on a variety of partnerships, programs and legislative support. But having a proven track record, particularly in motor sports engineering, put Clemson in the driver’s seat. And Robert Brooks’ vision and generosity helped start the engine.

Advocate for Athletics

A member of the university’s athletics booster program IPTAY for 25 years, Brooks was the first one to purchase an executive suite in Memorial Stadium, officials said. He was a major corporate sponsor, donor and supporter of Clemson’s athletics program.