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Wofford College confers degrees to 340 graduates

Graduates 1 382x255
2011-05-22

157th Commencement ceremony includes honorary degrees, awards 

(Links to videos, including Taj Mahal's performance, and to the text of President Dunlap's remarks and the Baccalaureate address by the Rev. Ron Robinson can be found below.) 

 

(For more about Taj Mahal, go to his website, www.tajblues.com.) 

SPARTANBURG, S.C. – Wofford College conducted its 157th Commencement Exercises on Sunday, May 22, 2011, conferring some 340 degrees, along with presenting four honorary degrees. Blues and roots musician Taj Mahal, who also received an honorary doctor of humanities degree, performed before the graduates, faculty, Class of 1961, family and friends on the lawn of Main Building.

Taj Mahal performs 382x255(Photo: Blues and roots musician Taj Mahal performs at Commencement.) 

Honorary degrees also were presented by Dr. David S. Wood, senior vice president and dean of the college, and conferred by President Benjamin B. Dunlap to Michael Steven Brown, an Atlanta, Ga., businessman and 1976 Wofford graduate, honorary doctor of humanities degree; Bobby Gene (B.G.) Stephens of Spartanburg, S.C., professor of chemistry emeritus and 1957 graduate of Wofford, honorary doctor of sciences degree; and Ashley Tuttle, a native of Columbia, S.C., long-time prima ballerina with American Ballet Theatre, honorary doctor of humanities degree. Composer, multi-instrumentalist and vocalist Henry St. Claire Fredericks is known professionally as Taj Mahal. (Full biographies and portraits are available online in the Wofford Newsroom.)

Dunlap presented the Philip Covington Award for Excellence in the Teaching of Humanities and Social Sciences to Lillian E. Gonzalez, chair and associate professor of accounting and finance, and a 1991 Wofford graduate, and the Roger Milliken Award for Excellence in the Teaching of Science to Dr. David W. Pittman, professor of psychology and a 1994 Wofford graduate. (Full biographies are available below.) 

The college also presented the prestigious Algernon Sydney Sullivan Award to graduating senior Philip Benjamin Long of Mobile, Ala., and to R. Todd Stephens, county librarian with the Spartanburg County Public Libraries. Recipients of the Mary Mildred Sullivan Awards were graduating senior Amy Kathleen (Amy-Kate) Wallace of Spartanburg, S.C., and Betsy Teter, founder and executive director of the Hub City Writers Project. (Full biographies are available below.)

Honor GraduatesThree seniors were recognized as Honor Graduates, the graduating senior with the highest GPA; all three had perfect 4.0 GPAs. They are (pictured from left) Mitchell Lee Worley of Easley, S.C.; Tahirali Hatim Motiwala of Spartanburg, S.C.; and Sara Diane Johnson of Port Royal, S.C. Worley is a chemistry and mathematics major, with a minor in applied mathematics, who was initiated into Phi Beta Kappa during his junior year. He plans to attend medical school. Motiwala is a biology and computer science major and also is Phi Beta Kappa. He will attend the Medical University of South Carolina. Johnson is a biology major, Phi Beta Kappa and a member of the Beta Beta Beta society. She plans to pursue graduate work in biomedical science and plans a career in cancer research.

Members of the Class of 1961 participated in the weekend’s activities, including a class reunion and participating in the processional and other events surrounding the Commencement Exercises.

SULLIVAN AWARD WINNERS 

Sullivan awards 382x255(Photo: From left, Betsy Teter, Todd Stephens, Amy-Kate Wallace, Philip Long) 

Reipients of the Algernon Sydney Sullivan Award were graduating senior Philip Benjamin Long of Mobile, Ala., and R. Todd Stephens, county librarian with the Spartanburg County Public Libraries. Recipients of the Mary Mildred Sullivan Awards were graduating senior Amy Kathleen (Amy-Kate) Wallace of Spartanburg, S.C., and Betsy Teter, founder and executive director of the Hub City Writers Project.

Long combined his interest in religion, economics, government and culture to design his major in intercultural studies. A recipient of the first 21st Century Boarding Pass Scholarship, he studied in Chile in 2009 and later in Guatemala and Nicaragua. In 2009, Long won the prize for Two to Tell about his study abroad community service project. He will be pursuing a master’s degree in divinity at Gordon Cornwell Theological Seminary in Massachusetts after graduation.

Stephens has been the county librarian since 2000 and oversees 11 library facilities. He is a graduate of the University of South Carolina, earning his M.Ed. in higher education administration and student personnel services in 1988 and his MLIS (library and information science) in 2000. He also received a bachelor of science degree in sociology and social work in 1987 from MacMurray College in Jacksonville, Ill. He has been responsible for creating new programming in the library system, including Terrier Tales, a partnership with Wofford to reward children for reading books; Jamboread!, an annual children’s reading festival; and The Big Read in which library staff orchestrated a six-week county-wide reading program featuring a classic novel. Stephens has overseen the completion of many construction projects aimed at providing every Spartanburg County citizen with access to a public library, including the Chesnee Library in 2000; Cowpens, Landrum, Westside and Woodruff libraries in 2002; and the Boiling Springs Library in 2008. He also has played a major advocacy role in South Carolina’s public libraries. Stephens has served on the boards of the Spartanburg Little Theatre, the Spartanburg Historical Association and the Rotary Club of Spartanburg.

Teter’s nationally recognized Hub City Writers Project is a non-profit organization dedicated to cultivating readers and nurturing writers through its independent small press, community bookshop and diverse literary programming. Teter also founded the sister program HUB-BUB.COM, which offers more than 100 nights of entertainment a year in downtown Spartanburg and operates a nationally recognized artists-in-residency program. Together, the two programs have renovated two downtown buildings in recent years and employ 12 people. The Hub City Writers Project is a winner of the Governor’s Elizabeth O’Neill Verner Award for contributions to the arts in South Carolina, and the Governor’s Award for the Humanities. The Hub City Press, which Teter also founded, will publish its 50th book in the fall, and its books have won numerous national awards. Teter is a graduate of Spartanburg Day School and received a bachelor of history degree from Wake Forest University. She previously had been a journalist for 15 years and served as business editor and columnist for the Spartanburg Herald-Journal. She is married to author John Lane, a professor of English and environmental studies at Wofford. They have two sons, Rob and Russell.

Wallace is majoring in English and education. She studied abroad in Siena, Italy, in the spring of 2010. At Wofford, she served as president of the Teacher Education Student Society; treasurer/service chair of Zeta Tau Alpha fraternity; student chair of orientation; and a tutor and president of the Math Academy. She is a teacher of English for Speakers of Other Languages in Wofford’s program. Since 2009, Wallace has been the junior varsity head coach at Spartanburg Christian Academy.

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 

Pittman(Photo: From left, Dr. David Wood, Dr. David Pittman, Dr. Benjamin B. Dunlap) 

Dr. David W. Pittman was awarded the Roger Milliken Award for Excellence in the Teaching of Science. Pittman received his bachelor of science degree in psychology from Wofford in 1994. He received his master’s degree and Ph.D. from Florida State University. His research at Wofford centers on how taste neural signals are sent from the mouth to the brain and how the sense of taste then affects feeding behavior in both humans and rat animal models. He also has developed and supports a school-based intervention for elementary school lunch programs called Healthy Eating Decisions, aimed at reducing childhood obesity in Spartanburg County. He is chair of the College Animal Care and Use Committee, coordinator of the program in neuroscience, faculty adviser to the Psychology Kingdom and Kappa Sigma student organizations, and is a member of the Spartanburg County Childhood Obesity Task Force.

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 & Company, 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 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.

Lillian Gonzalez 

(Photo: From left, Dr. David Wood, Lillian E. Gonzalez, Dr. Benjamin B. Dunlap) 

Lillian E. Gonzalez, chair and associate professor of accounting and finance, received the Philip Covington Award for Excellence in the Teaching of Humanities and Social Sciences. Gonzalez is a 1991 graduate of Wofford College, receiving her bachelor of arts degrees in accounting and finance with honors. She was initiated into Phi Beta Kappa while at Wofford. She earned a master’s degree from Clemson University and continued additional study at Georgetown University and the University of Georgia.

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.

RETIRING FACULTY

Jim Keller 150wideDean Wood also recognized retiring professor Dr. James A. Keller, the Samuel Pate Gardner Professor of Philosophy. Wood also announced that the Wofford Board of Trustees unanimously has bestowed professor emeritus status to Keller.

 

 

 

 

 MORE ABOUT COMMENCEMENT 2011: 

Commencement Weekend Photo Gallery
VIDEO: Baccalaureate Service
VIDEO: Conferring of Degrees
VIDEO: Taj Mahal performance
Text of President Benjamin B. Dunlap's Commencement Address
Text of the Rev. Ron Robinson's Baccalaureate Address
Text of the Rev. Ron Robinson's Blessing of the Graduates
 

MEDIA: To download high-resolution photos, click on the thumbnail below, then right-click and save to your computer. 

 

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Class of 2011Class of 2011Taj Mahal performs 
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Dr. Karen Goodchild, Ashley Tuttle,
Dr. Benjamin B. Dunlap, Dr. David Wood

Ashley TuttleDr. Dan Maultsby, B.G. Stephens,
Dr. Benjamin B. Dunlap
B.G. Stephens
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Dean Roberta Bigger, Michael Brown,
Dr. Benjamin B. Dunlap
Michael BrownTaj Mahal, Dr. Benjamin B. DunlapTaj Mahal
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Dr. David Wood, Dr. David Pittman,
Dr. Benjamin B. Dunlap
Dr. David Wood, Lillian Gonzalez,
Dr. Benjamin B. Dunlap
Mitch Worley, Tahirali Motiwala,
Sara Diane Johnson
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Dunlap, Dr. James Keller