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$30M alumnus gift means new name for engineering college at the University of South Carolina

Ross Norton //June 6, 2024//

USC President Michael Amiridis, Alex Molinaroli, Molinaroli’s wife Kristin Ihle Molinaroli, College of Engineering and Computing Dean Hossein Haj-Hariri, and Board of Trustees Chair Thad Westbrook unveil a sample of the signage that will adorn the Molinaroli College of Engineering and Computing. (Photo/University of South Carolina)

USC President Michael Amiridis, Alex Molinaroli, Molinaroli’s wife Kristin Ihle Molinaroli, College of Engineering and Computing Dean Hossein Haj-Hariri, and Board of Trustees Chair Thad Westbrook unveil a sample of the signage that will adorn the Molinaroli College of Engineering and Computing. (Photo/University of South Carolina)

USC President Michael Amiridis, Alex Molinaroli, Molinaroli’s wife Kristin Ihle Molinaroli, College of Engineering and Computing Dean Hossein Haj-Hariri, and Board of Trustees Chair Thad Westbrook unveil a sample of the signage that will adorn the Molinaroli College of Engineering and Computing. (Photo/University of South Carolina)

USC President Michael Amiridis, Alex Molinaroli, Molinaroli’s wife Kristin Ihle Molinaroli, College of Engineering and Computing Dean Hossein Haj-Hariri, and Board of Trustees Chair Thad Westbrook unveil a sample of the signage that will adorn the Molinaroli College of Engineering and Computing. (Photo/University of South Carolina)

$30M alumnus gift means new name for engineering college at the University of South Carolina

Ross Norton //June 6, 2024//

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University officials say a new name for the USC College of Engineering and Computing reflects the vision and generosity of generations of the Molinaroli family.

The official name, the University of South Carolina Molinaroli College of Engineering and Computing, was announced on Thursday during a signage unveiling ceremony at the college’s Swearingen Engineering Center on Main Street in Columbia.

The Molinaroli family boasts strong ties to South Carolina and a deep commitment to the future of the university and the Palmetto State, according to a university news release. Seven family members have graduated from USC since the 1930s and another will begin this fall.

The family engineering involvement spans from the Charleston Navy Yard to the South Carolina Department of Transportation and Johnson Controls. The $30 million investment initiated by 1983 alumnus Alex Molinaroli and his wife, Kristin Ihle Molinaroli, is intended to establish the college as a leading educational and research institution throughout the Mid-Atlantic and Southeast and a driving force behind South Carolina’s economic growth.

Alex and Kristin Molinaroli at the University of South Carolina prior to the unveiling ceremony. (Photo/University of South Carolina)
Alex and Kristin Molinaroli at the University of South Carolina prior to the unveiling ceremony. (Photo/University of South Carolina)

Among those expressing gratitude Thursday was USC President Michael Amiridis, who served as the dean of the College of Engineering and Computing from 2006 to 2009.

“With this extraordinary gift from Alex and Kristin Molinaroli, we are embarking on a new era for the College of Engineering and Computing,” Amiridis said in the news release. “Their generous commitment will empower the college to enhance its academic stature and explore its fullest potential for exceptional education, research, workforce development and economic impact in South Carolina and beyond.”

This marks the university’s fourth academic unit to be named for a donor. The Darla Moore School of Business was named for financial investor and alumna Darla Moore in 1998, and the Arnold School of Public Health was named in 2000 for business leader Norman J. Arnold. Most recently, the Joseph F. Rice School of Law was named in November 2023 for plaintiffs’ trial lawyer and alumnus Joe Rice.

“A degree from the University of South Carolina can change your life and be an enabler to provide generational change for your family,” Alex Molinaroli said in the release. “The University of South Carolina always was and still is a family affair. It is a privilege for my family’s name to be associated with the College of Engineering and Computing as it becomes an incubator and foundation developer for the students who will be the next Fortune 100 CEOs and successful entrepreneurs.”

The former CEO of Johnson Controls, Alex Molinaroli has been an advocate of his alma mater for many years, the release stated. He has played a pivotal role, offering valuable insights and guidance to college leadership. His previous contributions helped spur innovation and provide opportunities for student advancement.

The current gift will support the creation of new, high-demand programs; student and faculty recruitment; facility and equipment enhancements; and research start-ups. The gift honors multiple generations of the Molinaroli family, including Alex’s father, Adrian (’51), and uncle, Remo (‘34), who were both first-generation engineering students at USC; his aunt, Elenora (’33); his brother, Raymond (’91), who is a Lowcountry civil engineer; and two cousins, Charles (’65) and Marion (’69).

“We are grateful for the Molinarolis’ extraordinary generosity and shared vision for our college’s role in shaping a better future for our state, region and nation,” Hossein Haj-Hariri, dean of the College of Engineering and Computing, said in the release. “Their gift will enable us to enhance our educational, research and partnership efforts to transform our state.”

Founded in 1909, the College of Engineering and Computing offers 40 degree programs, including the state’s only aerospace, biomedical and graduate nuclear engineering programs, as well as numerous computing and AI options. Nearly 70% of students are South Carolinians, according to the university.

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