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Wofford confers degrees, gives honors


Dunlap speech, honorary degree highlight of 159th Commencement ceremony
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2013-05-19

MEDIA: High-resolution photographs of honorees are available for download in the Wofford Newsroom .  

SPARTANBURG, S.C. – Outgoing Wofford College President Benjamin B. Dunlap gave his final official address at the college at the 159th Commencement Exercises on Sunday, May 19, 2013, where degrees were conferred to about 370 graduates. Dunlap also received one of the two honorary degrees presented.

W. Hayne Hipp, founder of the Liberty Fellowship, also received an honorary degree.

The Roger Milliken Award for Excellence in the Teaching of Science was presented to Dr. G. Mackay Salley, associate professor and chairman of the Department of Physics, and the Philip Covington Award for Excellence in the Teaching of Humanities and Social Sciences went to Andrew F. Green, assistant professor of finance.

The college also presented the prestigious Algernon Sydney Sullivan Award to Taylor McGuire Thomas, a business economics major from Chester, S.C., who completed graduation requirements in January and received his diploma Sunday, and Charles Francis (Chuck) Bagwell, principal of Arcadia Elementary School and a 1979 graduate of Wofford.

Recipients of the Mary Mildred Sullivan Awards were graduating senior Mary Grace Wallace, a humanities major from Spartanburg, and Donna Culbertson Fritz, a Spartanburg community volunteer who along with her husband, Max, have provided support to a variety of local organizations.

Honor graduates – the graduates with the highest GPA (4.0) were John David Cooper, a biology major; Sharon Leigh Guffy, a chemistry and biology major; and Rachel Marie Woodlee, a Chinese and business economics major, who also is Wofford’s 2013 Rhodes Scholar. Guffy and Woodlee were inducted into Phi Beta Kappa.

Members of the Class of 1963 participated in the weekend’s activities, including a class reunion and participating in the processional and other events surrounding the Commencement Exercises.

BIOGRAPHIES OF HONORARY DEGREE AND AWARD RECIPIENTS

Honorary Degrees

Benjamin B. Dunlap became the 10th president of Wofford College in July 2000, having served as a member of the faculty at the college since 1993. He will retire from the Wofford presidency on June 30, 2013.

Dunlap is a native of Columbia, S.C., graduated from the public schools there, and enrolled at the University of the South (Sewanee) in 1955. He was chosen as a Rhodes Scholar in his senior year, and studied for three years at Oxford University. He returned to complete the Ph.D. degree in English Language and Literature from Harvard University, where he remained to teach. In the late 1960s, Dunlap returned to his native South Carolina to join the faculty at the University of South Carolina, where he became a popular and highly decorated professor. He twice served as a Fulbright Senior Lecturer in Thailand and was a member of the inaugural class of U.S.-Japan Leadership Fellows in Tokyo. In 1993, Dunlap was recruited to come to Wofford as the first Chapman Family Professor in the Humanities, a position he still holds. After taking a year off, he plans to return to teaching.

Since becoming Wofford’s president, Dunlap has overseen an increase in full-time faculty members from 84 to 127 and an increase in enrollment from 1,100 to 1,600. During his administration, he has been involved in the alteration of nearly the entire campus, including construction or renovation of such major facilities as the Wofford Village, Main Building, the Montgomery Music Building, the Goodall Environmental Studies Center, the Russell C. King Baseball Field and the Joe E. Taylor Athletic Center. Additionally, Liberty Trail was constructed and the entire campus was transformed into a national arboretum. New areas of study in environmental studies, theatre and Chinese language and studies have been developed during his administration, and he has greatly enhanced the presence of the arts on the Wofford campus.

Dunlap has helped to raise the international visibility of Wofford by fulfilling major roles for the Aspen Institute and its global partners, including the Liberty Fellowship of South Carolina, and by his speaking to and moderating innumerable seminars and conferences around the world. His 2007 TED talk, “A Passionate Life,” has been watched by nearly 775,000 viewers.

W. Hayne Hipp is founder of the Liberty Fellowship, a program of seminars, service projects and forums conducted in partnership with the Aspen Institute and Wofford College. Drawing from the business, government and non-profit sectors, Liberty Fellowship is designed to identify and sustain collaborative values-based leadership in South Carolina. This highly successful program, founded in 2003, brings together enlightened young leaders with a diversity of perspective, a wide range of thought and a passion for moving South Carolina forward.

Hipp’s background and career are in business leadership. He was CEO of The Liberty Corp., an owner of insurance companies and television stations with additional investments in media, real estate and technology ventures. After the company was sold in 2006, Hipp became a private investor.

A native of Greenville, S.C., Hipp finished at Episcopal High School in Virginia, graduated from Washington and Lee University in 1962, where he is a trustee emeritus, and earned the MBA from the Wharton School of Business at the University of Pennsylvania. 

He is a trustee of the Aspen Institute and the Belle W. Baruch Foundation. He is a past chair of the Peace Center for the Performing Arts, South Carolina Chamber of Commerce, Greater Greenville Chamber of Commerce, the Greenville Hospital System Board, Urban League of the Upstate, and the Alliance for Quality Education. He is a former director of the Greenville County School District, the State Development Board, the South Carolina Research Authority, the National Urban League, the Palmetto Business Forum, Hollings Cancer Center, and the South Carolina Independent Colleges and Universities.

ALGERNON SYDNEY SULLIVAN AWARD

Taylor McGuire Thomas, a January 2013 Wofford graduate, earned a degree in business economics. At the May 2012 Honors Day Convocation, he received the Henry Freeman Service Award, given to a student who either starts a new volunteer program or who breathes life into an old one.

While at Wofford, Thomas was president of Alpha Phi Omega and co-chairman of the Relay for Life. He also was a member of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, a resident assistant, a member of the Wofford Pep Band/Jazz Ensemble, and participated in Wofford On Call.

He is the son of Kenneth and Janice Thomas of Chester, S.C.

Charles Francis (Chuck) Bagwell, a 1979 graduate of Wofford College, where he played basketball, has devoted his life to public education, the past decade of which has been as principal at Arcadia Elementary School in Spartanburg County School District 6. Recognized as the state’s 2013 Elementary School Principal of the Year by the South Carolina Association of School Administrators, Bagwell is especially noted for exemplary leadership of a school program that integrates family involvement through parenting skills, mentoring a school population that is half Latino, and taking a broad interest in improving the school and the community.

In 2010, Bagwell received the lifetime achievement award at the Carolina Teahers of English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL) conference, recognizing him for his leadership and success while serving ESOL students throughout his 32 years in education.

Bagwell was instrumental in creating and maintaining a partnership with Wofford’s Spanish language program that provides students from the college the opportunity to engage with and mentor elementary school students at Arcadia.

MARY MILDRED SULLIVAN AWARD

Mary Grace Wallace, a graduating senior majoring in the humanities with a minor in business, is from Spartanburg. She is a member of Zeta Tau Alpha and served on the Judicial Commission, the Orientation Leadership Team, Wofford Activities Council, and was the student member of the Interim Committee. In the fall of 2012, she was named the Northwestern Mutual Student of the Game, presented at half-time of a Terriers football game, and she was voted homecoming queen.

She attended the Institute for Professional Development, a program of The Space in the Mungo Center at Wofford, in the summer of 2011. She studied abroad in France in the spring of 2012, and in the summer of 2012, she served as an intern for the Aspen Institute in Colorado. She is a Dean’s List student.

She launched her own stationery business, WritefullyHis last summer, and placed third in The Space’s recent Impact and Launch Competition with the business. After traveling to Africa this summer to visit schools with which she partners to provide them with school supplies through her business, she will work full-time with WritefullyHis.

She is the daughter of Tim and Elizabeth Wallace of Spartanburg.

Donna Culbertson Fritz and her husband, Max, have made a long-lasting positive impact on the non-profit organizational landscape of Spartanburg, especially for the clients and staff of both the Bethlehem Center and the Charles Lea Center, where Mrs. Fritz repeatedly has served as a board member, volunteer, mentor and adviser.

The couple recently received the Elaine Freeman Award, recognizing their exemplary volunteer service to the Charles Lea Center. Mrs. Fritz has served two terms on the center’s board, and soon will enter her second term on the Lea Center Foundation Board, for which she chairs the Adopt-A-Home for the Holidays program. She is employed with Wakefield Buick GMC in Spartanburg.

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.”

TEACHING AWARD WINNERS

Roger Milliken Award for Excellence in the Teaching of Science

Dr. G. Mackay Salley, associate professor and chairman of the Department of Physics, joined the Wofford faculty in 2002 and assumed the duties of chair of the department in the fall of 2010. He has worked in that capacity to reinvigorate the department by reshaping the curriculum through current pedagogical techniques and by implementing many new technologies into laboratory exercises across the physics course offerings. He also has reinstated 3-2 partnerships in engineering with Columbia University in New York City and with Clemson University.

Salley has served five times as a panelist for the National Science Foundation’s Graduate Research Fellowship program, has published 19 peer-reviewed articles and has delivered 13 scholarly presentations.

He was a visiting scientist at the University of Washington in Seattle, and was a visiting researcher at the National Institute of Standards and Technology in Boulder, Colo.

Salley received his B.S. degree in physics and mathematics from Wofford in 1995, and his Ph.D. in philosophy in the Department of Physics and Astronomy at the University of Georgia in 2000.

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 & Co., 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 health care fields. More than 1,200 of the college’s more than 12,000 living alumni are involved in medicine, dentistry, veterinary medicine and other health care 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

Andrew F. Green, assistant professor of finance, joined the Wofford faculty in the fall of 2007 after a 25-year corporate career. Before Wofford, Green served as senior vice president and chief financial officer of Spartanburg-based Denny’s Restaurants, one of the largest restaurant chains in the U.S. Before his 10 years at Denny’s, Green built his career in finance and accounting during 15 years with Ryder System, where he worked in Miami, Fla., and later Cincinnati, Ohio.

A native of Wilmington, Del., Green graduated with a B.A. in Latin American studies from Tulane University and received his MBA from the Kenan-Flagler Business School at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

At Wofford, Green teaches finance and business courses ranging from introductory finance to a case study course for seniors. He has a special interest in business and the environment, recognizing that corporate strategy must address market transitions resulting from climate change and other environmental issues.

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. 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 professional development.

RETIRING FACULTY
Retiring faculty members Dr. James E. Proctor, Dr. David Whisnant and Elizabeth J. Cox, were recognized.

Proctor and Whisnant were granted professor emeritus status.

Proctor is the Reeves Family Professor of Finance in the Department of Accounting, Business and Finance. Earlier this spring, the award presented to the outstanding finance major each year was named in his honor. Proctor is a native of Hartsville, S.C., and a 1967 Wofford graduate. He was commissioned through Army ROTC and served in the Vietnam War. He earned an MBA at the University of South Carolina and a Ph.D. at Clemson University. He joined the Wofford faculty in 1981. He played the key role in developing the finance major and also developed a program known as the Success Initiative, now called the Impact Program.

Whisnant came to Wofford in 1983 after serving on the faculty at Northland College. He earned his B.S. degree at the University of Illinois and the Ph.D. at the University of Wisconsin. In the 1980s and 1990s, Whisnant earned recognition from the American Chemical Society and the National Science Foundation in preparing teachers at all levels to use computers and other technology in instruction. He was named the Dr. and Mrs. Larry Hearn McCalla Professor of Chemistry. Before the 2000-2001 academic year, Whisnant moved into the president’s cabinet as vice president for information technology. He now holds the position of vice president for educational technology.

Since 2006, Cox has jointly held the John C. Cobb Endowed Chair in the Humanities with her husband, writer and editor C. Michael Curtis. In addition to work at Wofford, she has taught short story and novel writing at Bennington and MIT, and also has taught at Duke, Tufts, Boston University, Michigan and elsewhere. In recent years, Cox joined the likes of Harper Lee, Eudora Welty, James Dickey, Walker Percy, Reynolds Price and Flannery O’Connor in the Fellowship of Southern Writers. She also received the Robert Penn Warren Award for her body of work, which includes novels, short stories, poetry and essays.

VIDEO AND TEXT

Please visit our Commencement page to see video of the Commencement Ceremony and Baccalaureate Service, as well as the text of Dr. Benjamin B. Dunlap's Commencement Address and the Rev. Ron Robinson's Baccalaureate Sermon.