Donor spotlight: Wesley Watt

Wesley Watt never thought he’d end up working for the family business. Since he was young, he has been fascinated with politics. While his classmates were reading stories like Harry Potter, he was reading biographies of presidents. When he was in elementary school, his grandparents offered to take him on a trip anywhere he wanted to go — he chose Washington, D.C. His passion for politics earned him the nickname “Mr. President.”

When it came time to choose a college, though, he followed the footsteps of his parents and his grandfather and came to Clemson, where he earned a degree in political science in 2013. As a student, he was active in several student organizations, including FCA and Campus Crusade for Christ, but he put most of his time and energy into the Tiger Town Observer, a political/opinion student newspaper. Watt worked as a writer and later as editor-in-chief, and though that newspaper no longer exists, Watt has found other ways to make a lasting impact at Clemson.

As a student, Watt participated in a Creative Inquiry (CI) undergraduate research project for the Libraries, led by then Dean Kay Wall and librarian Peggy Tyler. Cooper Library was undergoing many changes at the time, and Wall and Tyler wanted to get student feedback throughout the process, so they created a CI project to have students conduct research on what their peers wanted to see in the library. Watt said the group conducted surveys and used other methods to get feedback on the use of space, new furniture purchases and other improvements.

“Dean Wall identified early on that the library was no longer just a place for books and a place for study, that it really does play a central part in the Clemson experience,” he said. “We had a hodge-podge of students from different backgrounds and majors, and she would just let us take our ideas and run with them.”

The year after he graduated, Watt saw Wall at an event on campus — the groundbreaking for the Innovation Center that bears his family’s name — and she asked him if he would like to serve on a new advisory board she was starting for the Libraries. Watt said yes and has been on the board, now known as the Friends of the Libraries Board, ever since.

“I think the Libraries should be involved in anything and everything the University is doing. The Libraries are and should continue to be at the physical and academic center of what Clemson is,” he said.

Watt serves in several other leadership roles for Clemson as well. He is the current past-president of the Young Alumni Council, and chair of the political science department alumni board. He has also been involved in every Clemson Club wherever he has lived since graduation — the Baltimore/Washington DC Clemson Club, the North Alabama Clemson Club, and now the Charleston County Clemson Club.

Watt works as a director for Scientific Research Corporation (SRC), the advanced engineering company that his grandfather, Charles Watt, founded in 1988. He never imagined that his background in political science would take him to a high-tech engineering firm, but in 2015 the company needed someone to work in government relations and legislative analysis, so Watt was the perfect fit. He has worked his way up over the years, now serving as director in SRC’s Charleston office, the largest office in the organization. After his grandfather’s retirement, the leadership of the company passed to Watt’s father and uncle, Michael and Steven Watt. Now Watt, his younger brother, and a cousin all work for SRC and are positioned to succeed their fathers someday.

His entire family has left its mark on Clemson University, and Watt is proud to be a part of that legacy. Three generations of Watts — 12 people, including spouses — have graduated from Clemson. An incredible gift from the family led to the creation of the Watt Family Innovation Center, and the athletics department recently announced the creation of the Watt Family Athletic Performance and Wellness Center, made possible by a generous Cornerstone Partner gift from the family of loyal Tigers. Just as the Watt Family Innovation Center is open to all students from any major, the Performance and Wellness Center will be available to all student-athletes from across sports. Watt said the family wanted both facilities to have the broadest impact possible.

“We have been very blessed in how successful we have been, and we attribute a lot of that to Clemson, not just the knowledge we learned at Clemson, but the connections we made as well, and our sense of service,” Watt said. “We are immeasurably grateful to Clemson for the opportunities it has given to us.”