Mark and Kathryn Richardson are making a $10 million gift to support scholarships for Clemson University students.
Mark Richardson, a 1983 Clemson graduate and member of the 1981 national championship football team, is a university trustee and businessman. Kathryn Richardson is an Elon University graduate.
“Mark and Kathryn Richardson’s transformational $10 million gift to Clemson University will increase access to education for generations of future Tigers,” Clemson University President Jim Clements said in a news release. “The Richardson’s believe in the power of an education and know the impact a college degree has on students, families and entire communities. Through their gift, the Richardsons are also challenging the Clemson Nation to contribute to the success of our students through the Champions 4 Access to Education challenge, and we know our community will step up in a big way. We are incredibly grateful for Mark and Kathryn Richardson’s generosity and for all they have done and continue to do for Clemson University.”
The gift — the largest gift to Clemson University from a former student-athlete — will support general scholarships, the Wilbur O. and Ann Powers College of Business, projects and programs within the College of Education that strengthen teacher retention, and several programs across Clemson that increase access to education and enhance students’ Clemson experience, including Emerging Scholars, Call Me Mister and ClemsonLife, according to the news release.
The university says unrestricted scholarships remove the obstacles standing between future Clemson students and a Clemson education; they are crucial to providing a pathway to education.
The Richardsons are challenging the Clemson Family to join them in transforming students’ lives by supporting scholarships to provide an access to education for all.
Through the Champions 4 Access to Education challenge, the Richardsons will match gifts dollar-for-dollar up to $4 million to the Clemson University General Scholarship Endowment and to college-level general scholarship endowments.
“For every student we are helping today, there are many more who need our financial support. We are committed to making those resources available and recruiting others to join us in an effort to provide access to education for all,” Mark Richardson said in the release. “There are many intelligent and hardworking students who aspire to attend Clemson, and the only obstacles that are holding them back are opportunity and financial resources. We believe we can remove those obstacles and open the door to a future they may not have believed was possible.”
Mark Richardson enrolled at Clemson from Spartanburg in 1979. A defensive end for Clemson football, he was a three-year letterman. He earned his undergraduate degree in business administration in 1983 and an MBA from the University of Virginia Darden School of Business in 1987.
He has built a diverse portfolio of business ventures. He is the co-founder and former co-owner and president of the Carolina Panthers. Richardson was the Panthers’ first employee and spent the franchise’s initial 17 years as director of business operations and president, the release said.
Since 2009, he has been the managing partner of MAR Real Estate and RAM Investments, private equity and real estate development and investment firms with single-tenant, multi-tenant, industrial, retail, hospitality, residential and office properties in 10 states. He holds private equity investment positions in 52 Bojangles, 98 Sonic Drive-Ins, Ascension, Wheels Up, Sure Can, Christensen Arms, Spacious Skies Campgrounds, Red Rock Industrial Fund, Encore Bank, Cantoni Furniture, Savannah Aloft Hotel and BOA Nutrition.
Mark and Kathryn Richardson split their time between residences in Charleston, Charlotte and Chicago. He currently serves on the Clemson University board of trustees, Encore Bank board of directors, MUSC Shawn Jenkins Children’s Hospital advisory board in Charleston and SC Teach For America advisory board. He has previously served as a board member for Charlotte Chamber of Commerce, Charlotte Regional Partnership and Classroom Central.