CLEMSON, S.C. — Charles and Susan Barker of Virginia Beach, Virginia, are deeply committed to improving the lives of those in their community and believe that education holds the power to transform lives and make dreams become realities. When their daughter Alexis “Lexie” became a Clemson Tiger, they, too, joined the Clemson Family and looked for ways to contribute and add to the student experience.
Driven by their firm belief in advancing the welfare and accomplishments of future generations, the Barkers, together with their daughter Lexie, have generously donated their time and resources to help students and further the University mission and have become Clemson University’s newest Academic Cornerstone Partner with a $2.5 million gift to establish the Charlie, Suzie and Lexie Barker ’20 Presidential Scholarship Endowment. In addition to the scholarship, their gift is in support of ClemsonLIFE and as the first pillar donor in support of the construction of the Samuel J. Cadden Chapel.
“The Barker family continues to demonstrate that they are ALL IN for Clemson University,” said Clemson University President Jim Clements. “Through the establishment of the Charlie, Suzie and Lexie Barker ’20 Presidential Scholarship Endowment, the Barkers are creating paths to education for many of our top students from Virginia Beach and students from An Achievable Dream Academy. This gift will transform the lives of future Tigers for years to come and is a testament to the Barker family’s commitment to education and the Clemson community.”
With this Presidential Scholarship Endowment, the Barker family has created a direct path from the University to academically talented students who have graduated from An Achievable Dream Academy of Virginia Beach. An Achievable Dream is a nonprofit, nationally recognized K-12 program dedicated to providing promising students with the same opportunities as their peers regardless of their economic circumstances. Their vision, to “bring equity to education by providing opportunities for success in school and life,” guides them to partner with community leaders and organizations to ensure their students have equal opportunities to reach their academic goals.
“On behalf of the faculty, staff, board and students at An Achievable Dream, we extend our gratitude to the Barker family for their unwavering commitment to education and our Dreamers. There is such a need for our community leaders to collaborate with organizations to provide the tools and resources for deserving students to receive a quality education,” said President and CEO Lee Vreeland, EdD, of An Achievable Dream. “The Charlie, Suzie and Lexie Barker ’20 Presidential Scholarship Endowment will provide an amazing opportunity for our students to attend Clemson University, an esteemed place of learning and a leading public research institution. The scholarship will make a profound impact for years to come on the lives of our students.”
Clemson University Vice President of Advancement Brian O’Rourke expressed his thanks to the Barker family and said this gift will transform the aspirations of Clemson Experience-seeking students from mere dreams into attainable goals.
“We are deeply grateful to Charlie, Suzie and Lexie for their commitment to Clemson and for creating a way for some of the best and brightest students in the Virginia Beach area to become future alumni,” said O’Rourke. “The Barker gift will help turn the hopes of every student who dreams of the Clemson Experience from a dream into an achievable reality.”
With over 50 years of experience in the automotive industry, Charles Barker serves as chairman of Charles Barker Holdings, which consists of automobile dealerships and real estate holdings. Throughout his professional career, he has endeavored to provide valuable service to his industry and communities. He currently serves on the Virginia Motor Vehicle Dealer Board, the advisory board of directors for the Virginia Beach Foundation and the board of an Achievable Dream Academy in Virginia Beach.
With a major focus on youth, he merged his community involvement with his passion for education. In addition to chairing the An Achievable Dream Academy board, he resides on Clemson University’s Committee for Philanthropy and the President’s Advisory Board.
“Being the chair of the An Achievable Dream Academy board in Virginia Beach has been a source of immense pride for me. This organization offers crucial resources, services and development opportunities to students who might otherwise be left behind,” said Charles Barker. “In addition, I am deeply proud of my family’s connection to Clemson University. This scholarship connects the two, making it particularly meaningful for me. Our family hopes others will be inspired to expand the Clemson Family.”
Among the many awards and honors Charles Barker received as an accomplished entrepreneur and philanthropist, he was presented with the Virginia Center For Inclusive Communities Tidewater Humanitarian Award in 2017. He, along with Susan — his childhood sweetheart whom he married — has established a legacy of compassion and affection. Together with their daughter Alexis, they were named Family of the Year by Clemson University in 2017.
The couple resides in Virginia Beach, Virginia, and Palm Beach Garden, Florida.