Harold Chandler ’71 remembers the day he first met Jim Brakefield, then head football coach at Wofford College. Their conversation was pivotal in setting Chandler’s college life and beyond into motion, and, thus, pivotal for the life of the college.

“I remember the day vividly,” says Chandler, who, along with his wife, Delores, recently helped the college break ground on the new Chandler Center for Environmental Studies — just the latest in a long line of gifts the couple has provided the college, its students, faculty and staff. “My high school calculus teacher allowed me to step out of her class for a brief visit with Coach Brakefield. Those few minutes of conversation were pivotal. His personal style, candor, sense of discipline and direction appealed to me immediately. Fortunately, my teachers and administrators soon thereafter confirmed the value of a Wofford education based on their collective years of experience. I recall one particularly trusted guidance counselor telling me that, in her opinion, Wofford had the best faculty of any college in South Carolina.”

That conversation began Chandler’s journey as a celebrated Wofford football player, a successful businessman and a longtime benefactor and supporter of the college.

The new 20,000-square-foot Chandler Center for Environmental Studies, slated to open in the fall of 2020, will be Green Globe Certified for its sustainable and environmentally conscious features, such as a partial green roof and solar roof panels. The building will feature advanced laboratory space, a seminar room, outdoor patio and garden spaces, and classroom and office space for Wofford’s Department of Environmental Studies as well as the other sciences. The building also will include a system for capturing rainwater for irrigation and will use cross-laminated timbers, which are made of sustainable, all-wood construction.

At the groundbreaking event, President Nayef Samhat thanked the Chandlers for being among the largest lifetime contributors to Wofford in both resources and time. “Your legacy of giving and your visionary approach to fundraising and scholarships has transformed Wofford College, just as this inspirational building will transform the lives and futures of our students, faculty, community and country in the decades to come.”

Dr. Kaye Savage, professor and chair of the Department of Environmental Studies, added, “Today, we take a huge step toward fulfillment of the college’s Vision in Action Plan. It represents a splendid gift to the For Wofford campaign, thanks to the generosity of Delores and Harold Chandler. Here, a year from now, the Chandler Center for Environmental Studies will support interdisciplinary exploration, creative problem solving, community-based learning and our work toward a resilient, flourishing society that respects Earth’s intricate systems.”

Chandler says his 18-year involvement with Spartanburg-based Milliken and Co. substantially influenced the couple’s decision to be the lead contributors to the Chandler Center for Environmental Studies. He retired this year as chairman of the board of the company. Over a 48-year business career in financial services and industrial manufacturing, he served in numerous roles, from intern to chairman, president and chief executive officer, and he was a member of nine corporate boards.

“Delores and I have observed over many years that investments are actually in people, their vision and ability to execute,” Chandler says, “So, the critical initial step reflected our support of the college’s current mission and of Dr. Samhat’s leadership in particular. Our support revolves around people, such as Dr. (James) Seegars; he was a special, memorable teacher and scholar.”

Chandler says Seegars, chair of the psychology department when Chandler attended Wofford, taught one of the most significant courses he took, industrial psychology. “It really opened my mind to workplace behavior, the treatment of associates, care for people, property and our natural resources. Dr. Seegars convinced me and other students that these are the differentiating characteristics of an individual’s life and career.”

Working in various management roles at Milliken and Co., “alongside Roger Milliken, a transformational Wofford board member emeritus, allowed me the real-life experience of working to achieve a sustainable profit while, at the time, sustaining our Earth, our air, water and more, not as a scientist but as a businessperson and citizen,” Chandler says.

His time at Wofford exceeded his expectations, both academically and athletically, Chandler says. “My classmates and teammates proved to be a major part of my education. In many ways, the student body provided this unexpected combination of consistency and familiarity while also being immersed in difference and diversity. There was a quiet competitiveness on campus that fostered individual growth and yet a sense of comradery, a unique combination that I feel helped me in my years after Wofford.”

A native of Belton, S.C., and a graduate of Belton-Honea Path High School, Chandler was an outstanding student-athlete at Wofford, leading the Terrier football team as quarterback and captain, and he was named most valuable player on the team and was the runner-up for the South Carolina College Football Player of the Year in his senior year. The 1970 team played for the NAIA National Championship. He is a member of the Wofford Athletic Hall of Fame. He also was the senior cadet officer, serving as cadet battalion commander of the Southern Guards Battalion, during his fourth year, and he was commissioned a second lieutenant in the U.S. Army upon graduation.

Chandler graduated summa cum laude from Wofford, was inducted into Phi Beta Kappa and was the class valedictorian. He earned his MBA from the University of South Carolina and is a graduate of the Harvard Business School’s advanced management program.

A football scholarship made it possible for Chandler to attend Wofford; he had received three other offers, but he chose Wofford because he preferred a “more intimate, private college, where you would be taught by professors, not graduate students. My visit to campus corresponded with my mental image of what I thought college should be like. That day, I made my decision that Wofford College was where I should go.”

Chandler says he learned so many lessons while playing football — “in planning, leadership, execution precision, recovery from failure — just so many valuable lessons, including, importantly, winning with humility.”

The Chandlers have supported Wofford student-athletes through endowed scholarships. They have established the J. Harold Chandler 1971 Endowed Scholarship Fund and the Delores Wilson Chandler Endowed Scholarship Fund for student-athletes and have funded four additional endowed scholarships to honor their parents and their two children — the Louie and Edna Chandler Endowed Scholarship Fund, the Stanley and Dorothy Wilson Endowed Scholarship Fund, the Jennifer K. Chandler Endowed Scholarship Fund and the Stephanie A. Chandler Endowed Scholarship Fund.

“Delores and I have enjoyed our years supporting Wofford following my student years,” Chandler says. “It has brought us great pleasure and a sense of fulfillment, even purpose. It seemed a natural extension or progression to give back, since I received a scholarship to attend Wofford. We started this journey with a goal to return in totality the sum of my scholarship aid. Later, we elevated our goal to be more commensurate with our assessment of the benefits we have received from our lifetime Wofford experience and continuing connection. We have never regretted these decisions, some made early and some later in our married life.”

They are proud of the recipients of these endowed scholarships. “These young collegiate-athletes have brought us immeasurable joy and, admittedly, occasional anxiety, watching them on the football field on beautiful fall Saturdays. We continue to hear from many of them following their graduation from Wofford. Our ultimate hope is that they, too, might choose to support future Wofford students based on their own positive experiences while on campus and later, elsewhere, which surely will have been influenced by Wofford College as ours has been.”

Chandler served on the Wofford College Board of Trustees from 1988 to 2000 and again from 2004 until his retirement from the board in 2016; he served as vice chair from 2009 to 2011 and as chair from 2011 until his retirement. In 1993, he led the task force that helped move Wofford to Division I athletics, and in 2005 he led a second task force on enrollment growth, both of which produced recommendations that have had a profound and positive impact on the college. In recognition of his retirement from the board, the board room in the DuPré Administration Building was named in his honor.

Chandler was the featured speaker at the 2017 Wofford Commencement, where he also received an honorary degree.

He was selected as Wofford’s Young Alumnus of the Year in 1983 and has led the Terrier Club and endowed athletics scholarship efforts for many years, helping to achieve more than $47 million in endowed athletics funds. The Chandlers have supported Wofford generously through scholarships and renovation and building projects over more than 45 years of involvement with the college, including being major contributors to the construction of Lesesne Residence Hall and the Stewart H. Johnson Greek Village. Most recently, the college’s new outward-facing sign on North Church Street was made possible by the generosity of the Chandlers.

During the Chandlers’ marriage and 11 corporate-related family moves, they raised two daughters, and Delores Chandler managed a real estate development business spanning 38 years.

ENVS Resources



The Goodall Environmental Studies Center is the hub of activities for the Department of Environmental Studies. The center overlooks the Lawson’s Fork of the Pacolet River at the historic textile mill community of Glendale. From the vantage point of this restored mill building, students have on-the-ground, real-time interactions with the natural and cultural issues they read about in the classroom.



The two-story Glendale House, located adjacent to the Goodall Environmental Studies Center, was purchased by the college as part of the Milliken Sustainability Initiative funded by the Romill Foundation grant. The building is used as a creative center, offering work and living space for visiting writers, artists and others who come to historic Glendale for research on what the future may hold for development, climate change and other global issues. The effort is based on a National Science Foundation program to create ecological research sites.



The Milliken Sustainability Initiative at Wofford is fueling student social entrepreneurs, their business ideas and community-based coursework and research in the Northside, an historic community near Wofford. In a new community center under construction at the corner of College and Howard streets, Wofford faculty and students will hold classes and interact with community members and partners who have ongoing public-private partnerships to redevelop the area, develop programming that will benefit the community and expand student learning opportunities. Residential space in the center will house visiting faculty, and within the next several years, Wofford students will reside in a living-learning community in the facility and fulfill the community sustainability purpose of the Romill Foundation Grant that funded the initiative.



The Tyson Family Lecture on the Preservation and Restoration of Southern Ecosystems, established in 2012 by Dr. George Tyson ’72, is an annual lectureship devoted to issues related to the preservation, restoration and sustainability of Southern ecosystems. The speakers reflect the entire range of the multidisciplinary approach of environmental studies and include individuals from academia, business, industry, government, the arts or the nonprofit sector. These events are free and open to the public.

By Laura H. Corbin