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Scholarship fund named for beloved retired professor, wife
SPARTANBURG, S.C. – For most young alumni, returning to Wofford for homecoming is all about the fun and excitement of seeing old classmates and professors again, of parties and festivities, and exciting football games.
This year, for a small group of young alums, homecoming had a deeper significance. While they enjoyed all the trappings of the occasion, they also secretly and quietly had a very specific purpose – presenting a $50,000 check to the college for a scholarship fund in honor of a beloved professor, Dr. Larry T. McGehee, and his wife, Betsy.
Some 75 alumni of McGehee’s Religion 340 seminar class contributed to the Elizabeth Boden and Larry Thomas McGehee Endowed Scholarship Fund, intended to help defray the cost of course-related books and written references to enrolled Wofford students with financial need. McGehee, a professor and vice president at Wofford, retired in 2005.
The unveiling of the check was part of the reception for the Religion 340 alumni attending homecoming activities last weekend (Saturday, Nov. 3).
“What the Religion 340 young alumni have set out to do is influenced by the virtues that we learned from the character, kindness and generosity of Betsy and Larry McGehee,” says David Hoyle '02, an alumnus of the class and part of the group that initiated the scholarship fund.
Lucas McMillan '02, another member of the group, adds, “This scholarship honors two very special people who have helped guide, shape and teach us and whose influence cannot be understated. They have been great mentors, true friends and real role models. We wanted to do something that honors the more personalized nature of their relationship with students – going beyond what Wofford already has recognized by the long-term improvements in the quality of Wofford through his leadership as vice president for 23 years.”
Both Hoyle and McMillan indicate that the endeavor was a true community effort of young alums who love the McGehees.
The contributors to the fund come from a variety of stations – some have been in jobs for several years, while others are just getting started in their professions. Still others are pursuing graduate degrees. All are young – alumni from the class of 1999 and later.
McMillan says it’s impressive that such a small group of alumni were able to raise a significant amount of money to fund the scholarship, and he emphasizes that others can contribute to the fund.
The fund is a new and innovative scholarship for Wofford. It is not a recruitment tool, but a financial aid tool for accepted students, Hoyle and McMillan note.
In response to the surprise announcement, McGehee said, “Betsy and I were totally surprised by this large gift to Wofford from young alumni, and we are also totally pleased, honored, grateful, and humbled by it. Little could be more satisfying over many years to come than getting books to students needing them.”
McGehee retired from Wofford in August 2005 after 23 years as vice president and professor of religion. He holds a B.A. in English from Transylvania University, and B.D., M.A. and Ph.D. degrees from Yale University, and an honorary doctorate from Transylvania. Prior to arriving at Wofford in 1982, he was chancellor of the University of Tennessee at Martin for nine years. In retirement, he has continued to teach his senior seminar in American Religious History and write his weekly syndicated column, “Southern Seen,” for more than 100 small-town newspapers. Selected columns appear in his book, “Southern Seen: Meditations of Past and Present” (University of Tennessee Press, 2005).