Two alumni, two extraordinary performers to be recognized May 22
(For Commencement Week schedule, click here.)
SPARTANBURG, S.C. – Wofford College will confer four honorary degrees during the 2011 Commencement Exercises on Sunday, May 22, on the lawn of Main Building. Two alumni and two extraordinary performers will be recognized.
Michael Steven Brown, an Atlanta, Ga., businessman and 1976 Wofford graduate, will receive the honorary doctor of humanities degree. Bobby Gene (B.G.) Stephens of Spartanburg, S.C., professor of chemistry emeritus and 1957 graduate of Wofford, will receive the honorary doctor of sciences degree. Ashley Tuttle, a native of Columbia, S.C., long-time prima ballerina with American Ballet Theatre, will receive the honorary doctor of humanities degree. Composer, multi-instrumentalist and vocalist Henry St. Claire Fredericks, known professionally as blues and roots musician Taj Mahal, also will receive the honorary degree of humanities degree. (Fuller biographies of the recipients are provided below.)
At Commencement Exercises, to be held at 9:30 a.m. on the lawn of Main Building, Wofford will confer degrees on some 310 graduates, and the Class of 1961 will be featured participants in the ceremonies and events surrounding it.
The college also will present the prestigious Algernon Sydney Sullivan and Mary Mildred Sullivan Awards to two students (male and female) and two non-students (male and female); 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.
Brown, a native of Charlotte, N.C., is CEO of Health Care Capital Consolidated Inc., a privately held Atlanta firm he founded in 1988. Since 1989, he has developed and operated senior housing communities, with the majority of his portfolio being sold in 1998 to Sun Healthcare Group. HCCC is developing an assisted living/retirement community in the East Cobb area near Atlanta, and the company owns and operates six other facilities in Georgia and Louisiana. The firm also has had ownership in an outpatient rehabilitation company; an institutional pharmacy; a finance company dedicated to the senior care industry; and currently is a joint venture partner in a home health care company with a Maryland hospital. Brown also is a co-owner of Saebo Inc., an international provider of stroke rehabilitation products based in Charlotte, N.C. He also was a co-founder of HR XCELL, LLC, a national provider of human resource outsourcing services, which was sold in January 2010 to ADP Inc. Before forming HCCC, Brown was a partner in the firm of Sanders, Brown & Morehead, which specialized in raising capital for both the health care industry and broadcasting. After receiving his master of business administration from Tulane University in 1979, he was employed by Arthur Andersen & Co. He received a bachelor of arts degree from Wofford College in 1976. He and his wife, Tammie, have two children. Hayes is a rising senior at Wofford, and Ansley will enter the University of North Carolina in the fall of 2011. Brown has been a major Wofford supporter, providing funding for The Village and Fun Funds and initiating a three-year annual fund challenge that has been vital to the college.
Stephens, who was elected as a Wofford alumnus to membership in Phi Beta Kappa, earned his master of science degree and Ph.D. from Clemson University. He joined the Wofford faculty in 1964 and was named the college’s dean in 1972. He left Wofford in 1980 to become president of MacMurray College in Jacksonville, Ill., and returned to Wofford six years later to oversee development, research and enrollment. He became the college’s first vice president for technology, a position he held until retiring in 2000. He continues to work part-time as the college’s director of foundation relations, and has assisted Wofford in attracting millions of dollars in external funding, including significant grants from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, the Arthur Vining Davis Foundations, the National Science Foundation and the Margaret A. Cargill Foundation. He also has been a primary leader in the acquisition of property and development of the facilities and academic program in his native community of Glendale for the college’s environmental studies program.
After beginning her dance training at age 6 at the Calvert-Brodie School of Dance, Tuttle began her career with the Columbia (S.C.) City Ballet. At age 12, the South Carolina native attended the School of American Ballet’s Summer Program in New York City and then was invited to study at the school as a full-time student. After completion of her first year there, in 1986 at age 16, Tuttle was invited by world renowned ballet dancer Mikhail Baryshnikov to join the American Ballet Theatre, where her career spanned 17 years and where she performed lead roles in “Romeo and Juliet,” “Sleeping Beauty,” “Giselle,” “La Sylphide,” “La Bayadere,” “Swan Lake,” and “Cinderella.” By 1997, she was named a principal dancer in the company. While maintaining her career with ABT, Tuttle joined the acclaimed Twlya Tharp Dance Company in 2000. During her time with the company, she made her Broadway debut in Tharp’s hit musical “Movin’ Out,” earning Tuttle nominations for both a TONY Award and the Fred Astaire Dance Award. Tuttle most recently has been seen on Broadway in Tharp’s “Come Fly Away,” at the Metropolitan Opera House in “Carmen,” in guest performances with the Dance Theater of Harlem, and in the Guggenheim Museum’s “Works in Progress.” She continues to dance as a guest artist throughout the world, and has made numerous screen and print appearances. She is a volunteer teacher of ballet at Groove With Me, a Harlem-based dance school focused on children at risk, also serving on the school’s board since 2007. She teaches ballet at the Mark Morris Dance School, Usdan summer program, and Barnard University.
Fredericks (Taj Mahal) is considered one of the most prominent and influential figures in late 20th century blues and roots music. Throughout his four-decade-long career he has broadened his artistic scope from American blues to include music representing virtually every corner of the world – west Africa, the Caribbean, Latin America, Europe, the Hawaiian islands and more. A native of Harlem, he grew up in Springfield, Mass. His father was a jazz pianist, composer and arranger of Caribbean descent, and his mother was a schoolteacher and gospel singer from South Carolina. He grew up playing music – adding piano, clarinet, trombone, harmonica and guitar to his vocal abilities. Fredericks studied agriculture at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, where he adopted his musical alias and formed a popular party band, the Elektras, at the university. After graduating, he went to Los Angeles, forming the band the Rising Sons, who opened for numerous high-profile touring artists of the 1960s, including Otis Redding, the Temptations, and Martha and the Vandellas. He became a recording artist in the late 1960s and early 1970s, creating the Grammy-nominated soundtrack for the movie “Sounder” (1973), “Music Fuh Ya” (“Music Para Tu”) (1977) and “Evolution” (1978). Fredericks toured extensively in the 1980s and 1990s while also producing three celebrated children’s albums on the Music for Little People label. He has been nominated for nine Grammy awards. He joined the Heads Up International label in 2008 with the worldwide release of “maestro,” a 12-track set marking the 40th anniversary of his musical career. Fredericks continues to tour internationally, doing as many as 150 shows a year throughout the United States, Europe, Australia, New Zealand and more. Fredericks is the father of Janice Wilkins, seminar manager for the Liberty Fellowship, a partnership joining Wofford and The Aspen Institute.
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