Dr. Hill and students

Wofford confers degrees on 320 graduates



President Benjamin B. Dunlap's 2010 Commencement Address
Perkins-Prothro Chaplain Ron Robinson's Blessing of the Graduates
Dr. Ron Robinson's Baccalaureate 2010 Address

156th Commencement ceremony includes honorary degrees, awards

SPARTANBURG, S.C. – Wofford College conducted its 156th Commencement Exercises on Sunday, May 23, 2010, conferring some 320 degrees, along with presenting two honorary degrees.

Middleton  BrittainHonorary degrees were conferred on Frederick S. (Rick) Middleton III of Charlottesville, Va., founder of the Southern Environmental Law Center, and Thomas C. Brittain, a 1975 Wofford graduate and former chairman of the college’s board of trustees.

Middleton founded the Southern Environmental Law Center in 1986 and serves as its president and executive director. He has been at the forefront of the environmental movement in the United States for nearly 40 years. He received an honorary doctor of laws degree.

Brittain was chair of Wofford’s board from 2004 to 2009. He is an attorney with the Brittain Law Firm in Myrtle Beach, S.C. He received an honorary doctor of humanities degree.

(Full biographies and high-resolution (300 dpi) portraits of the honorary degree recipients are available in the Wofford Newsroom.)

The college also presented the prestigious Algernon Sydney Sullivan Award to graduating senior Elijah (Trey) Robinson III of Hartsville, S.C., and to Lee C. Hanning of Spartanburg, kickers/punters coach for the Wofford Terriers football team. Recipients of the Mary Mildred Sullivan Awards were graduating senior Kelsey Beth Leahy of Myrtle Beach, S.C., and Elsie R. Wright of Spartanburg, community volunteer and personal counselor. (Details on recipients below.)

During the ceremony, Dr. John C. Lefebvre, professor and chair of psychology, received the Roger Milliken Award for Excellence in the Teaching of the Sciences and Dr. Christine S. Dinkins, associate professor of philosophy, received the Philip Covington Award for Excellence in the Teaching of the Humanities and Social Sciences. (Details on recipients below.)

Two graduating seniors were recognized as Honor Graduates, the graduating senior with the highest GPA; both had 3.99 GPAs. They are Raina Nicole Luthra of Simpsonville, S.C., who graduated with degrees in Spanish and biology, summa cum laude, and Sarah Hannah Newman of Camden, S.C., who graduated with a degree in history with high honors and a minor in art history, summa cum laude.

Also recognized was retiring professor of biological and social sciences Dr. Clarence L. (Ab) Abercrombie. He has been granted professor emeritus status.

Members of the Class of 1960 participated in the weekend’s activities, including a class reunion and participating in the processional and other events surrounding the Commencement Exercises.


Sullivan Award - Non-Students 

Graduating senior Elijah (Trey) Robinson III of Hartsville, S.C., and Lee C. Hanning of Spartanburg, kickers/punters coach for the Wofford Terriers, received the Algernon Sydney Sullivan Awards.

Robinson, a chemistry major from Hartsville, S.C., is a member of the Blue Key Honor Society and the Association of Multicultural Students. He was a member of the 2009-10 Senior Order of Gnomes, member of the Wofford Band, and was Campus Union parliamentarian. He was co-chair of Twin Towers student service organization. He is the son of Patricia and Elijah Robinson Jr. of Hartsville.

Hanning has served as kicking and punting coach for 19 years at Wofford. He came out of a one-year retirement to rejoin the Terriers staff in 1998 after a previous stint from 1989-96. Under Hanning’s tutelage, two Wofford punters have signed National Football League contracts.

A World War II veteran, Hanning was a member of the 101st Airborne Division. He parachuted onto Utah Beach in Normandy on D-Day and participated in the Battle of the Bulge.

Named the 1998 Honorary Letterman by the Wofford Athletics Hall of Fame, Hanning received a Distinguished Service Award from the Wofford Captain’s Council in 1993. He also was recognized with a 1996 Award of Excellence in Equipment Management from Athletic Management. Hanning and his wife, the late Barbara Hanning, established the Barbara Jean and Lee Hanning Endowed Scholarship at Wofford, which supports student-athletes on the women’s golf team. 

Sullivan Award - Students 

Graduating senior Kelsey Beth Leahy of Myrtle Beach, S.C., and Spartanburg community volunteer and personal counselor Elsie R. Wright received the Mary Mildred Sullivan Awards.

Leahy, a sociology major from Myrtle Beach, S.C., is a Success Initiative Scholar and member of the Multicultural Activities Planning Committee. She was the founder of Wofford Hillel and organizer of the first Holocaust Remembrance Day at the college. She was a residence advisor. Leahy recently received the Henry Freeman Service Award at Wofford Honors Convocation. She is the daughter of Jane and Philip Leahy of Myrtle Beach.

Wright is known in Spartanburg as a “quiet Samaritan, helping those who need help at any and all levels.” A native of Tifton, Ga., she is a graduate of Florida Southern College and Tulane University, where she received her master’s in social work. She has been in the practice of personal counseling in Spartanburg since 1973. Before coming to Spartanburg, Wright worked for the American Red Cross in its Recreation Overseas program, and served in Korea and Vietnam. Organizations benefiting from her assistance include the Children’s Security Blanket, supporting children with cancer and their families; the Bethlehem Center, Mobile Meals, and the League of Women Voters, in addition to Trinity United Methodist Church.

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.”



Dr. John C. Lefebvre, professor and chair of psychology, received the Roger Milliken Award for Excellence in the Teaching of Science. Lefebvre is an internationally recognized expert in chronic pain assessment and management. He has written extensively on the subject in journal articles, textbook chapters and presentations. He received his Ph.D. in clinical psychology and master of arts degree from Duke University. He is a graduate of McGill University in Montreal. He is a member of the American Pain Society and International Association for the Study of Pain. Under his leadership, Wofford’s psychology department continues to receive high marks for the performance of its graduating seniors, with students consistently performing in the top 5 percent nationally on the discipline’s major field test given across the country each year.

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 sixth 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.

Milliken, chairman and CEO of Milliken & Company, based in Spartanburg, S.C., is on the board of trustees of Wofford and has been involved in numerous planning and building projects on campus through his long relationship with the college.

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.



Dr. Christine S. Dinkins, associate professor of philosophy, received the Philip Covington Award for Excellence in the Teaching of the Humanities and Social Sciences. Dinkins’ areas of specialization are ancient philosophy, 20th century German philosophy and the philosophy of health care. She was a Wofford Community of Scholars summer research fellow in 2007 and 2009 and received Wofford summer research grants in 2004 and 2008. She received the National Library Association’s Choice: Outstanding Academic Title for her “Listening to the Whispers” in 2007. She received her Ph.D. and master’s in philosophy from Johns Hopkins University and is a graduate of Wake Forest University. She has made numerous national and international presentations. She has been editor and contributor of a number of publications.

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 professional development.