Family makes innovative gift in father's honor

Nan Easterlin and Barry Storey were “raised Gamecocks.”

So when the two Georgia grads wanted to do something to honor their father, a 1951 engineering graduate of the University of South Carolina, they stuck to what they knew.

The siblings, along with their spouses Ed Easterlin and Beth Storey, are donating $3.1 million to create the M. Bert Storey Engineering and Innovation Center, which will be housed in the first two floors of the new five-story Center for Applied Innovation building at Blossom and Assembly streets.

Among other things, the 44,000-square-feet of space will house research and teaching activity related to cyber security, robotics, computer information systems and integrated information technology. The goal is to create a space where students and researchers from different disciplines can interact and collaborate on projects.

“Over the years, the thing that has always been near and dear to his heart is USC,” Barry Storey says. “He has always been a supporter of engineering as well, endowing a couple of scholarships.”

The family’s gift also will continue the M. Bert Storey Scholars fund, which provides scholarships for out-of-state students.

“For nearly 30 years, Bert Storey has supported engineering and computing students and guided the college in strategic efforts,” says Hossein Haj-Hariri, dean of the College of Engineering and Computing. “His generosity continues to allow students to reach their academic and professional goals.”

Bert Storey grew up in Eastover, S.C., and graduated from Lower Richland High School. After graduating from Carolina, he worked at the Savannah River Site in Aiken before working for a private architecture and engineering firm. In the 1970s, he started his own commercial real estate brokerage company.

“For nearly 30 years, Bert Storey has supported engineering and computing students and guided the college in strategic efforts.”

Hossein Haj-Hariri, dean of the College of Engineering and Computing

“He taught us that success comes not just from hard work, but also from the support of others along the way, whether it’s your family or your community,” Barry Storey says. “He told us it’s important to give back to your church and it’s important to give back to those who have helped you.”

The family’s generosity extends beyond USC. In 2010, the Storeys were honored with the Outstanding Philanthropist award from the Greater Augusta Chapter Association of Fundraising Professionals.

“He taught us at a very early age that you have that responsibility to give back,” Nan Storey Easterlin says. “No matter how much you have, it’s important to help others. He always says no matter how much you give, you can’t out-give God.”

The siblings say the family had to surprise their father with the fact that his name was going to be on the new center.

“He’s a very humble person,” Easterlin says. “He doesn’t toot his own horn, he’s just very down to earth, generous and respects everyone.”

The new building allows the family to honor their father, while helping to promote the university that he loves.

“We hope the new building will raise the prominence level of USC’s College of Engineering and Computing and attract more out-of-state students,” Barry Storey says. “We believe South Carolina, with the tech companies coming to the state, will need both homegrown graduates and out-of-state students who will hopefully graduate and remain there to meet this increasingly high demand for engineers.”