Dr. Hill and students

Wofford College confers degrees to 306 graduates

158th Commencement ceremony includes honorary degrees, awards

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(NOTE: Downloadable images can be found here.)

SPARTANBURG, S.C. – Wofford College conducted its 158th Commencement Exercises on Sunday, May 20, 2012, conferring degrees to 306 graduates. Two honorary degrees also were presented. 

Mike James 183wideHonorary degrees were conferred on Robert Michael James, a 1973 Wofford graduate and a general partner in WEDGE Capital Management in Charlotte, N.C., who received the honorary doctor of humanities degree; and S.C. Sen. Hugh Kenneth Leatherman Sr. (R-Florence), chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, who received the honorary doctor of law degree. (Full biographies and downloadable photographs of these honorary degree recipients can be found in the Wofford Newsroom.)

The Roger Milliken Award for Excellence in the Teaching of Science was presented to Dr. Caleb A. Arrington, associate professor of chemistry, and the Philip Covington Award for Excellence in the Teaching of Humanities and Social Sciences went to Dr. Timothy J. Schmitz, associate professor and chair of the Department of History.

Hugh Leatherman 183wideThe college also presented the prestigious Algernon Sydney Sullivan Award to graduating senior Joseph Hiram McAbee of Woodruff, S.C., and Darwin Simpson, executive director of the Spartanburg Downtown Memorial Airport, a former Wofford trustee and retired president and CEO of Univar Corp., a global chemical distribution company. Recipients of the Mary Mildred Sullivan Awards were graduating senior Amanda Taylor Saca, a French and government major from Atlanta, and Nora Beth Featherston, who along with her husband, Dr. John S. Featherston, are local philanthropists who support a number of causes and organizations. (Full biographies are below; downloadable photos will be available in the Wofford Newsroom this afternoon.)

Four honor graduates were recognized for having 4.0 GPAs; all also are members of Phi Beta Kappa. They are: Paolo Miguel Arce, Joseph Hiram McAbee, Ashlee Ann Price and Arsalaan Amin Mohammad Salehani.

Members of the Class of 1962 participated in the weekend’s activities, including a class reunion and participating in the processional and other events surrounding the Commencement Exercises.


Sullivan AwardsJoseph Hiram McAbee:

Joseph Hiram McAbee is a native of Woodruff, S.C., and the son of John and Kim McAbee of Woodruff. He received a bachelor of science degree in biology with a concentration in neuroscience. An aspiring neurosurgeon, McAbee plans to attend medical school at Wake Forest University beginning this summer. He recently was a finalist for the prestigious Rhodes Scholarship, one of 12 finalists in the district that encompasses South Carolina and four other states. While at Wofford, McAbee garnered two research internships – one in 2010 in the department of neurosurgery at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles as the only undergraduate recipient of the Pauletta and Denzel Washington Family Gifted Scholars Program in Neurosciences and one in the summer of 2011 at the Brain and Mind Research Institute at the University of Sydney School of Medicine and the Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organization in Sydney. During his January Interim courses, he studied in Peru and Africa.
McAbee is the recipient of the Charles E. Daniel Finalist Scholarship and in 2011 received a Papadopoulos Scholarship to perform medical research. In 2011, he was named the South Carolina Independent Colleges and Universities J. Lacy McLean Student of the Year, awarded to the outstanding undergraduate student at its 20 member institutions. He was inducted into Phi Beta Kappa during his junior year, received the W. Ray Leonard Award for Biology, and has been on the Dean’s List every semester at Wofford. His co-curricular activities have included being a member of Campus Union, Twin Towers service organization, the Wofford College Concert Band, United Worship, and the Ultimate Frisbee Team.

Maj. Gen. Darwin H. Simpson:
Maj. Gen. Darwin H. Simpson began his 39-year military career in the Arkansas Army National Guard in 1964 as a private. In 1967, Simpson graduated from the Army’s OCS program and was commissioned as a second lieutenant. Throughout his career Simpson has held numerous staff and Command assignments including commanding general of the 228th Signal Brigade and commanding general of the 263rd Army Air and Missile Defense Command. He is a graduate of the Command and General Staff College and the U.S. Army War College. His awards include the Legion of Merit, Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal, the Humanitarian Service Medal, South Carolina Order of the Palmetto and many more. Simpson is a Veteran of the War on Global Terrorism (Operation Noble Eagle).
As a civilian Simpson is the executive director of the Spartanburg Downtown Memorial Airport, a volunteer position, and is the retired president and CEO of Univar Corp., a global chemical distribution company. He holds a BS degree in chemistry from the University of Arkansas at Little Rock and an MBA from Pepperdine University. Simpson is active in the Spartanburg community and serves on a number of boards for not-for-profit organizations. He is an elder at First Presbyterian Church, chairman of the board for the Spartanburg Humane Society, past chairman of the board of St. Luke’s Free Medical Clinic, a past board member of Healthy Smiles, a member of Rotary, a past trustee of Wofford College and the past president of the Palmetto Council of the Boy Scouts of America. In 2011, he received the Kiwanis Citizen of the year Award and the Spartanburg Development Association’s Willis Award for exceptional community service. He is married to Bonnie Simpson; they have two children, Melissa and Brad, and two grandchildren, Page and Mac.

Amanda Taylor Saca:
Amanda Taylor Saca is a double major, receiving a degree in government with a concentration in world politics and a degree in French. The Atlanta, Ga., native is the daughter of Juan and Linda Saca of Atlanta.

Saca founded the ESOL (English for Speakers of Other Languages) program at Wofford while she was a sophomore. She studied abroad in Bordeaux, France, and received an internship to work with the Manipal Group, for which she worked at Primacy Industries in India in 2011. She is a member of Kappa Delta Sorority and served as Panhellinic chair on the council. After graduation, she will attend the AT&T Retail Leadership Program for six months before beginning her job as a manager for the company.

Nora Beth Featherston:
Nora Beth Featherston of Spartanburg and her husband, Dr. John S. Featherston, are among Spartanburg’s most generous — yet not widely heralded — philanthropists. Mrs. Featherston is a lifelong United Methodist and active parishioner at Trinity United Methodist Church. She and her husband are known for their quiet support of agencies and organizations serving the underserved, providing scholarship assistance, operating support, and other assistance. Among the United Methodist-related organizations of greatest importance to Mrs. Featherston are Wofford College, Spartanburg Methodist College, Claflin University, Africa University and the Bethlehem Center in Spartanburg. The couple has been active supporters or leaders with the Spartanburg County Foundation, Spartanburg Regional Healthcare System, Spartanburg Community College, the University of South Carolina Upstate, Hatcher Garden and Woodland Preserve, and the Spartanburg chapter of Habitat for Humanity.

Wofford College is one of about 50 colleges and universities, most of them in the South, authorized to present the Algernon Sydney Sullivan and Mary Mildred Sullivan Awards. The recipients, a graduating senior and a non-student of each gender, are named and the awards presented annually during spring commencement ceremonies.

Algernon Sydney Sullivan, born in Indiana in 1826, rose to success in New York City as a respected lawyer and a man who “reached out both hands in constant helpfulness” to others. The award bearing his name was established in 1925 by a Sullivan Memorial Committee and the New York Southern Society, which Sullivan had served as its first president. The award seeks to perpetuate the excellence of character and humanitarian service of Sullivan by recognizing and honoring such qualities in others.

The Mary Mildred Sullivan Award was created in 1940 by the New York chapter of the United Daughters of the Confederacy to honor those who demonstrate the “spirit of helpfulness and an awareness of the beauty and value of the intangible elements of life.”


Roger Milliken Award for Excellence in the Teaching of Science: Dr. Caleb A. Arrington, associate professor of chemistry Caleb Arrington
Dr. Caleb A. Arrington, who came to Wofford in 2001, is a graduate of the University of Richmond and received his Ph.D. in physical chemistry at the University of Utah. He previously taught at Central Washington University and was a visiting professor at Mercer University. He has served as a research mentor at Wofford since 2001 in the area of photochemical reactivity of unsaturated hydrocarbons in a low temperature rare gas matrix. He is a member of the Council on Undergraduate Research and the American Chemical Society.

The Roger Milliken Award for Excellence in the Teaching of Science, funded by a $1 million endowment, provides a $50,000 prize – an annual award of $5,000 for up to 10 years – for use in pursuing professional development. The recipient must remain on the Wofford faculty to continue receiving the annual disbursement. This was the seventh annual awarding of the honor.

The award recognizes outstanding performance in the teaching of science. Full-time faculty in all science disciplines – biology, chemistry, computer science, geology, mathematics, physics and psychology – are eligible. The recipient is selected by a three-person, off-campus committee composed of business and professional leaders in science from a list of nominees developed and approved by the dean of the college.

The late Roger Milliken, chairman and CEO of Milliken & Company, based in Spartanburg, S.C., was the longest-serving member of the board of trustees of Wofford and is the only person to have been named trustee emeritus. He died Dec. 30, 2010.

Science is a part of every student’s program at Wofford, and about 30 percent of the degrees awarded are to students majoring in one of the sciences. Wofford’s science programs and professors have been recognized nationally and internationally for innovation and excellence. The college has a well-respected pre-medical program, and many of Wofford’s graduates enter the healthcare fields. More than 1,200 of the college’s more than 12,000 living alumni are involved in medicine, dentistry, veterinary medicine and other healthcare fields. Professors and students are involved in research both at Wofford and other institutions, and have made national and international presentations.

Philip Covington Award for Excellence in the Teaching of Humanities and Social Sciences: Dr. Timothy J. Schmitz, associate professor and chair of the Department of History
Tim SchmitzDr. Timothy J. Schmitz earned his Ph.D. from Indiana University in 2000. He graduated summa cum laude from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in 1991.

Schmitz teaches courses on European history from the early Middle Ages to the French Revolution. He also teaches courses on Latin American history and, occasionally, the Spanish Civil War. His specialty is early modern European history, and his research is in relations between Church and state in 16th-century Spain. In particular, Schmitz’s research focuses on the role of the Hieronymite order in the reform of the Spanish church after the Council of Trent. He is currently finishing an article on the transfers of the remains of the Holy Roman Emperor Charles V from Granada to the monastery of San Lorenzo de El Escorial in 1574.

The Philip Covington Award for Excellence in the Teaching of Humanities and Social Sciences is named in honor of Philip Stanhope Sheffield Covington, a beloved academic dean of Wofford College who served from 1953 to 1969. A graduate of Emory University, he joined the Wofford faculty in 1947 after earning a master’s degree at Duke University and teaching in public schools in Charleston, S.C. He was dean of students from 1950 to 1953 and served as acting president in 1957-58. In 1970, ill health forced him to give up his administrative duties, but he remained active as a professor of English until his retirement from the college in 1976. Wofford honored him with a doctor of literature degree in 1959, and with the title of dean emeritus. “Philip Covington was widely recognized in academic circles as a creative and brilliant teacher as well as a speaker of unusual ability,” said his long-time friend and colleague, dean of students emeritus the late S. Frank Logan (Wofford Class of 1941). Covington was a member of Phi Beta Kappa, Blue Key National Honor Society, Sigma Chi and Sigma Delta Psi.

The Covington Award winner, selected by the president and academic dean of the college, receives $5,000 per year for three years; one recipient will be named each year. The money may be used at the recipient’s discretion for travel, study or other pro Lee Hagglundfessional development.


Dr. Lee O. Hagglund retired as professor of mathematics and has been granted emeritus status. Hagglund had taught at Wofford for 35 years, since 1977. He graduated summa cum laude in mathematics and German from Gustavus Adolphus College in Minnesota. He studied both subjects at the University of Munich and earned his Ph.D. in mathematics from Duke University. He and his wife, Kitty, have two sons, Curtis, a 1994 Wofford graduate, and Erik, a 1997 graduate.