Home > Newsroom

Wofford College to hold 153rd Commencement May 20

Friday, May 11, 2007

SPARTANBURG, S.C. – Wofford College will conduct its 153rd Commencement Exercises at 9:30 a.m. on Sunday, May 20, on the lawn of Main Building.  During the ceremony, some 270 graduates will receive their diplomas, and Wofford will confer two honorary degrees.

The college also will present the prestigious Algernon Sydney Sullivan and Mary Mildred Sullivan Awards to two students and two non-students.  The Roger Milliken Award for Excellence in the Teaching of Science and the Philip Covington Award for Excellence in the Teaching of Humanities and Social Sciences also will be presented to faculty members.

Commencement activities will take place throughout the weekend, including the Southern Guards Battalion ROTC commissioning ceremony and a Baccalaureate Service on Saturday, May 19.

Receiving honorary degrees will be U.S. District Court Judge Matthew James Perry Jr. and alumnus Dr. Allen H. Stokes Jr., retired director of the Caroliniana Library at the University of South Carolina.

Here is a schedule and details of the events and details leading up to and including Commencement; note that some events are open only to the invited groups/individuals and their guests:

Friday, May 11
5-7 p.m. – Senior Class Reception, Carlisle-Wallace House, 272 Campus Drive, sponsored by the Student Affairs Staff

Friday, May 18
4 p.m. – Campus Drive will be closed to traffic until 5 p.m. Sunday, May 20
9 p.m.-1 a.m. – Senior Class Party, the Village Green on Evins Street

Saturday, May 1911 a.m. – Southern Guards Battalion ROTC Commissioning Ceremony and Reception, Leonard Auditorium, Main Building
5 p.m. – Baccalaureate Service, lawn of Main Building
6-7:30 p.m. – Class of 2007 Reception, lawn of Roger Milliken Science Center and Burwell Building, sponsored by the Wofford College National Alumni Association
6:15-9:30 p.m. – Class of 1957 Reunion, Verandah Room, Richardson Building
9 p.m.-midnight – Senior Class “Last Night” Party, Heritage Ballroom, Spartanburg Marriott at Renaissance Park, 299 N. Church St. Buses will be available to shuttle between the Campus Life Building and the Marriott from 9 p.m. to 1 a.m.

Sunday, May 20
8 a.m. – Holy Communion Service, Mickel Chapel, Main Building
9:30 a.m. – Commencement Exercises, lawn of Main Building
11:15 a.m. (or immediately following Commencement) – Lemonade on the Lawn reception, lawn of Roger Milliken Science Center and Burwell Building (for graduates and families, faculty and staff)
11:30 a.m. – Class of 1957 Box Lunch, lawn of the Carlisle-Wallace House

SPECIAL HOURS/DETAILS: 

Residence Hall Closings:
All campus buildings and residents halls will be closed at 5 p.m. on Sunday, May 20.  Because this is a special day and students will want to spend time with family and friends, they are encouraged to pack their belongings before Sunday.  Any students with special housing needs should contact Brian Lemere, director of residence life, at x4068 or lemerebj@wofford.edu.

Dining Services Hours:
Dining Hall, Burwell:Friday Breakfast – regular hours
Friday Lunch – 11:30 a.m.-1p.m.
Closed until summer school at 1 p.m.

Zach’s, Campus Life Building:
Friday: 9 a.m.-9 p.m.
Saturday: 9 a.m.-4 p.m.

Java City, Campus Life Building:
Friday: 9 a.m.-9 p.m.
Saturday: 9 a.m.-4 p.m.

Acorn Café, Milliken Science Center:
Sunday: 8-9:15 a.m., complimentary coffee and juice available

Ben Wofford Books:
Saturday: 10 a.m.-4 p.m.
Sunday: 11:30 a.m.-2 p.m.
Bookstore manager will be available for camp and gown assistance in The Commons, Campus Life Building, on Sunday morning, May 20.

Handicapped Parking:
Saturday and Sunday: Special parking will be available for the Baccalaureate Service and the Commencement Exercises on the mall drive behind Main Building between Shipp and DuPre Halls on Evins Street.  Contact Campus Safety at x4351 to make arrangements for special assistance at these events.

Restrooms:Saturday and Sunday: These campus buildings will be open for access to the facilities – Burwell Building and Daniel Building; handicap facilities available in the Roger Milliken Science Center and the Snyder House.

Gatherings on Campus:
Family and organizational gatherings and their locations must be approved by John Blair, director of conference services, before Commencement Weekend.  He can be reached at x4404.  No alcohol is permitted on campus for these events.

Members of the Wofford College Class of 1957 will be special honored participants at Commencement activities.  In addition to holding their class reunion on Saturday evening, the class members will have special seating at Saturday’s Baccalaureate Service.  They also will be treated to other special social events throughout the weekend.  They will process in full regalia with the 2007 graduates on Sunday morning at Commencement Exercises.

Biographies of honorary degree recipients: 

U.S. District Court Judge Matthew James Perry Jr. is one of the most esteemed and significant citizens of South Carolina of the past 100 years.  He has served as one of the nation’s most distinguished civil rights attorneys, as a member of the U. S. Court of Military Appeals, and as a Federal District Judge for the District of South Carolina.

A native of Columbia, S.C., Perry attended Booker T. Washington High School there.  In 1939, he began working part-time jobs to pay for tuition at South Carolina State College, where his education was interrupted by service in the U. S. Army during World War II.  He completed a degree there in 1948, and earned a law degree at S.C. State, then a segregated and unaccredited law school, in 1951.  During the early years of his law practice, Perry worked in Spartanburg.

In the decades of the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s, Perry was arguably the leading civil rights attorney in the state.  He accepted cases from some of the state’s neediest people, those deprived of both economic opportunities and political right.  By his own testimony, his most satisfying case was assisting Harvey Gantt of Charleston, who sought to become the minority to enroll at Clemson University in January 1963.  This historic case led to the racial integration of the University of South Carolina the following September, and was a catalyst for integration at institutions throughout the region, including Wofford.

As a practicing attorney, Perry was the principal in the case that created single-member voting districts in South Carolina.  This 1972 case helped to enable African-Americans to be elected to the legislature in the state for the first time since Reconstruction.  His landmark was revolutionary in almost every case that integrated South Carolina’s public schools, hospitals, golf courses, restaurants, parks, playgrounds and beaches.  He individually tried 6,000 cases, and his work led to the release of approximately 7,000 people arrested for sit-ins demanding equal rights for the state’s citizens.

In 1975, Perry became the first African-American attorney from the Deep South to be appointed to the federal bench when Sen. Strom Thurmond recommended him to President Gerald Ford for a seat on the U. S. Military Court of Appeals.  Four years later, Sen. Ernest Hollings recommended him to President Jimmy Carter for a seat on the U. S. District Court, a position he still holds in Senior Status today.

Dr. Allen H. Stokes Jr. is one of the most unsung of distinguished graduates of Wofford College.  A native of Spartanburg and a graduate of the public schools here, Stokes entered Wofford in 1960, completing the bachelor of arts degree in 1964 as a member of Phi Beta Kappa.  Military service in Vietnam with the U.S. Army interrupted his post-graduate education, though after completing the master’s degree in history at the University of South Carolina in 1967, Stokes eventually completed his Ph.D. in 1977.  His entire career has been spent at the South Caroliniana Library in Columbia, the research library of the university.

The University of South Carolina appointed Stokes as manuscripts librarian at the South Caroliniana Library in 1972, and then director in 1983.  In 1992, he was appointed as university librarian for special collections, charged with all special collections of the various libraries within the university system.  He served as director of the Caroliniana Library until retiring in 2004, though he has returned to full time work there even in retirement.

While director of the Caroliniana Library, Stokes oversaw the computerization of its collections; the move of the University Archives to the library in 1991; the creation of its Modern Political Collections; the obtaining of numerous grants from outside sources to process and preserve collections; the growth of the Caroliniana Society, the patron organization of the library; extensive physical renovations; and the addition of new facilities.  Stokes also garnered funding for the microfilming of 25 South Carolina newspapers, which would have been lost to history otherwise, as well as funding for three scholarships for scholars doing research at the Caroliniana, one of which is named for Lewis P. Jones, longtime history professor at Wofford.  Within the past 20 years, virtually no major work on the history of the South, and especially the history of South Carolina, has been accomplished without major praise for Stokes in contributing significantly to the making of each of these books.  He is recognized nationally as one of the best archivists and directors of research collections in the country.