College of engineering and computing gets new name, vision

The University of South Carolina College of Engineering and Computing has named their facility after a longtime donor and alumnus.

By Gregory Hardy June 14, 2024
Courtesy: University of South Carolina

The University of South Carolina College of Engineering and Computing has a new name that 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 during a signage unveiling ceremony at the college’s Swearingen Engineering Center.

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

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. “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,” said Alex Molinaroli. “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.”

Molinaroli, the former CEO of Johnson Controls, has been a strong advocate of his alma mater for many years. 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.

USC President Michael Amiridis, donors Alex and Kristin Molinaroli, Dean Hossein Haj-Hariri and USC Board Chair Thad Westbrook officially unveil the college's new name.

USC President Michael Amiridis, donors Alex and Kristin Molinaroli, Dean Hossein Haj-Hariri and USC Board Chair Thad Westbrook officially unveil the college’s new name. Courtesy: University of South Carolina

The current gift will support the creation of new, high-demand programs; student and faculty recruitment; facility and equipment enhancements; and research start-ups.

“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,” says Hossein Haj-Hariri, dean of the College of Engineering and Computing. “Their gift will enable us to enhance our educational, research and partnership efforts to transform our state.”

Founded in 1909, the Molinaroli College of Engineering and Computing offers high-quality education through 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, and a significant majority of alumni choose to apply their skills within our state’s borders.

The college’s thriving academic and research excellence continue to drive economic growth and spur social mobility in the Palmetto State. Leading in energy systems, advanced manufacturing and intelligent infrastructure research, the college will set a university record in fiscal year 2024, receiving over $70 million in sponsored awards.


Author Bio: Gregory Hardy, public relations coordinator, University of South Carolina