Clemson University Leads the Way to Help Build Brighter Futures for Men of Color

by Savoy Staff

By Lee Gill, Chief Diversity Officer and Special Assistant to the President on Inclusive Excellence, Clemson University

Clemson University is on a mission to close the opportunity gap for African American and Hispanic young men by illuminating pathways to higher education through its highly acclaimed, fifth annual Men of Color National Summit. Fully supported by Clemson University’s President Jim Clements and its board of trustees, the summit is one of the top national conferences that addresses overcoming the challenges that many male students of color experience graduating from high school and pursuing admissions into higher education institutions. It helps change mindsets from “Not me,” or “Maybe me,” to “Why not me?”

The summit is not only for students. In fact, it is also for administrators, parents, business and community leaders who have a passion for helping young men achieve their dreams and who understand how powerful a diverse workforce is to their bottom line. Summit themes focus on career and professional development; entrepreneurship; masculinity and personal identity; retention rates, graduation and student achievement; and social and community engagement.

As a result of the caliber of speakers, networking opportunities and exhibits for attendees to explore educational and career paths, the summit sells out every year, drawing attendees from across the nation.

This year’s lineup so far includes:

  • Jeffrey J. Brown, president and CEO, Ally Financial
  • Michael Eric Dyson, professor, Vanderbilt University; author and radio host
  • Derrick Gragg, senior vice president of inclusion, education and community engagement, NCAA
  • Ann Herrman-Nedhi, chair of the board and chief thought leader, Herrmann; author
  • Marc H. Morial, president and CEO, National Urban League
  • Victor Saenz, Department chair and professor, Department of Educational Leadership and Policy, University of Texas, Austin; founder of Project MALES
  • Johnny C. Taylor Jr., president, Society for Human Resource Management
  • Kevin Winston, vice president, player affairs, Atlanta Falcons
  • Rick Wade, senior vice president, strategic alliances and outreach, U.S. Chamber of Commerce

In addition to engaging content the summit is known for, multiple programmatic enhancements have been made, including:

  • Sisters Pre-Summit Roundtable, a full-day event for young women in high school, college and graduate school, as well as young professionals who are interested in pursuing STEM in academia and in the workforce. Dr. Kizzmekia Corbett, a key scientist behind the development of the COVID-19 vaccine, and Vanessa E. Wyche, deputy director of NASA’s Johnson Space Center are confirmed speakers.
  • Graduate student track for HBCU’s and community colleges, in addition to existing tracks for academic and business professionals, and undergraduate and high school students; and
  • A special sponsor-only Clemson University Corporate Chief Diversity Officer Advisory Board roundtable where members will share their best practices.

Clemson’s Men of Color National Summit is only possible through the financial support of organizations such as government entities, small businesses, non-profits and large multinational corporations. As evidence proves the critical value of a diversified workforce and as social responsibility elevates in priority, more and more companies are investing their resources to help diverse students find their way to and through higher education and into the workforce. After experiencing the impact of the summit, The Boeing Company, increased their investment to become the 2021 summit presenting sponsor.

“The Boeing Company is proud to partner with Clemson University to ensure that Black and Hispanic young men are prepared to enter a college environment and are supported for long-term success. Clemson’s academic excellence and national reach provides an opportunity through this partnership to build on our commitment to advancing racial equity by investing in the next generation of American leaders,” said Tim Keating, Boeing’s executive vice president of Government Operations, who leads the Company’s philanthropic Global Engagement efforts.

For sponsorship information, email

November 4-5, 2021, Greenville, SC 

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