Clemson University officials said a $1 million gift to the school will ensure that two legacies that began in the early 1900s will benefit current and future students.
In 1938, Frank S. Barnes Jr. of Rock Hill began his freshman year at Clemson College. He followed his father, F.S. Barnes Sr., who graduated from there in 1915.
The Sheep Barn was built on campus at the turn of the century. It is the oldest surviving building associated with the agricultural land where Clemson University now sits, and it is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
The gift from the Barnes family to honor its patriarch will transform the historic agricultural landmark into the Barnes Center, a space for student activity and engagement.
It is part of the university’s $1 billion The Will to Lead capital campaign to support faculty and students with scholarships, professorships, facilities and technology.
The Barnes family has established three endowment funds for Clemson’s College of Engineering and Science, creating fellowships, lectureships and the Frank Barnes Sr. Telecommunications Laboratory in the Fluor-Daniel Engineering and Innovation Building.
After graduating from Clemson in 1942, Frank Jr. was an officer in the U.S. Signal Corps during World War II. After the war, he returned to Rock Hill and devoted his career to Rock Hill Telephone Co., becoming its president in 1968 and later its CEO and chairman.
Under his leadership, Rock Hill Telephone Company grew to a diversified communications company, known now as Comporium, which continues to be privately owned and operated by the Barnes family.
Barnes Jr. served as a member of Clemson’s board of visitors and foundation board and was honored by the Clemson Alumni Association with its Distinguished Service Award and by the university with its President’s Award.
In 1997, he was awarded the highest public honor the university bestows on an individual, the Clemson Medallion.
“Frank Barnes Jr. exemplified every excellent quality we hope Clemson graduates represent in their lives,” said Clemson President James P. Clements, announcing the gift from the Barnes family.
“We want to see the qualities that he displayed in his life — and passed along to all who knew him — showcased in this new venue to enrich the Clemson experience of our students for many generations to come.”
“Students want and need a welcoming, accessible and inclusive place to connect on campus in a positive Clemson environment,” said Gail DiSabatino, vice president for student affairs.
“As a vibrant student hub on campus, we can meet these needs while preserving and honoring Clemson’s rich and honorable agricultural history through the restoration of this great venue.”
As a new destination location for students, the Barnes Center will provide opportunities for student learning and student development.