The Clemson Alumni Association presented Bryant Graves Barnes of Rock Hill the 2016 Distinguished Service Award, the association’s highest honor.
“I am extremely proud to honor Bryant Barnes with the Distinguished Service Award,” said Clemson President James P. Clements. “He has done so much to support Clemson, and I am truly grateful for his contributions. His personal accomplishments serve as a wonderful model for our current and future students.”Barnes is a 1976 graduate of Clemson with a long history of giving back to his alma mater. He was inducted into the Thomas Green Clemson Giving Society in 2013.
After graduating with a degree in electrical and computer engineering, Barnes built a successful career with Comporium, one of the largest telecommunications providers in the nation, rising through the ranks and becoming the chief executive officer. In 2002 he was chosen by then-South Carolina Gov. Jim Hodges to serve on the Technology Transition Team, a group focused on converting South Carolina to a knowledge-based economy.
As president and CEO of Comporium, Barnes was on the team that established the Optoelectronics Research Center of Economic Excellence in Clemson’s Holcombe Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, spearheading a $1 million contribution from Comporium to the initiative. He also was one of the Funding Partners who contributed $25,000 or more to the Barker Scholarship Endowment, established to provide need-based scholarships for undergraduate students.
Barnes and his family made a gift to repurpose Clemson’s 1902 Sheep Barn, the oldest agriculture-use building on campus, into a student engagement center. It will be named The Barnes Center in honor of his father, Frank Barnes, a 1942 Clemson graduate.
“In my service as Clemson president, I had a direct view of those who provided remarkable dedication and service to Clemson. Few can compare to Bryant Barnes,” wrote Clemson President Emeritus James F. Barker in a letter supporting Barnes’ nomination for the DSA. “His commitment to Clemson was not just manifested in words; rather, he showed his commitment by action.”
Barnes lives in Rock Hill with his wife, Lynn. They have three children — two, David and Emily, who are Clemson graduates, and Logan, who will graduate from Clemson this year.