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John '68 & Pamela Brilbeck

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Lead by Example
Adapted from the Winter 2009 E2E Newsletter

John M. Brilbeck ’68 had been back to his alma mater “a number of times” before moving south to accommodate his burgeoning professional career. He also returned to Clarkson for his 25th reunion in 1993. “I always had fond memories of Clarkson,” says John, retired president of Southern Heat Exchange Corporation based in Tuscaloosa, Ala. “I also credit my Clarkson education generally and the ID [now E&M] program specifically with my professional success. I could not have accomplished what I did with just a business degree. The technical foundation was absolutely crucial.”

Still, it wasn’t until 2006 that John made the decision to take a leadership role in mapping the course of Clarkson’s ongoing evolution to excellence. That year, John attended an alumni meeting in Naples, Fla., (where he is now retired) with Clarkson President Tony Collins. “I liked what I heard,” recalls John.

For John, returning to Clarkson felt very much like coming home. “What I found is the roots were still strong. Under Clarkson’s current administration, the values that were implanted 45 years ago in me and my fellow students still existed.”

Three years later, John is now a University Trustee as well as a benefactor. Among his recent contributions is a leadership commitment in support of the student center. In addition to the student center, John has made a pledge to the unrestricted Clarkson Fund. “My gifts have included in-kind donations, deferred giving, as well as cash contributions as I appreciate the importance of providing immediate funds to finance Clarkson’s ambitious goals,” says John.

“The issue of student center funding came up last year and I believe that keeping the campus current is crucial to keeping it competitive,” he explains. “The way the student center project unfolded — as an initiative of students, alumni and administrators — really caught my interest. It will be a great boon to the school and for recruitment.”

Throughout his life, education has also been a major focus of John’s interest and the recipient of his philanthropy. “Education is the key to the continuing success of this country. People say this and everyone talks about it. But I really believe it. I also believe that technology can solve most of the world’s problems. That’s why a technical education, and the work ethic that students develop at Clarkson, is so valuable.”

“It’s also why,” John adds, “investing in Clarkson’s future has never been more critical.”