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Wofford College confers degrees on 270 graduates

Commencement09
2009-05-17

LIST OF GRADUATES

MEDIA: High-resolution (300 dpi) photographs from Sunday's Commencement are available HERE and HERE.  More are being added throughout the day.  If you have a special request or problems with downloading, please contact Laura Corbin at laura.corbin@wofford.edu or 597-4180. Portraits of the honorary degree recipients are available here, and the retiring faculty portraits are available here.

VIEW the Spartanburg Herald-Journal photo gallery.


155th Commencement ceremony includes honorary degrees, awards

SPARTANBURG, S.C. – Wofford College conducted its 155th Commencement Exercises on Sunday, May 17, 2009, conferring 270 degrees, along with presenting four honorary degrees.

During the ceremony, President Benjamin B. Dunlap announced the awarding of the Roger Milliken Award for Excellence in the Teaching of Science to Dr. Stacey Hettes, associate, professor of biology, and the Philip Covington Award for Excellence in the Teaching of Humanities and Social Sciences to Dr. Li Qing Kinnison, assistant professor of Chinese studies.

The college also presented the prestigious Algernon Sydney Sullivan Award to graduating senior Matthew Lauritz Low of Lexington, S.C., and to Dr. Charles P. Teague, retiring president of Spartanburg Methodist College. Recipients of the Mary Mildred Sullivan Awards were graduating senior Nimalka Achini Bandara of Lexington, S.C., and Joecelle A. Allen, executive director of the Citizen Scholar Program in Spartanburg County.

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Three seniors were recognized as Honor Graduates, the graduating senior with the highest GPA; all three had perfect 4.0 GPAs. They are Mary Frances Dassel of Roebuck, S.C.; William Matthew Lane of Carlisle, Pa.; and Katherine A. King (not pictured) of Elon, N.C. A student achieving a perfect 4.0 GPA in his or her Wofford College career has only happened three times in the past decade, until this year. Dassel will attend law school at the University of Virginia, while King will attend law school at Wake Forest University. Lane will be part of the BB&T Leadership Development Program. All are members of Phi Beta Kappa.

Members of the Class of 1959 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

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Receiving the Algernon Sydney Sullivan Awards were Dr. Charles P. Teague of Spartanburg, retiring president of Spartanburg Methodist College, and Matthew Lauritz Low, a graduating senior from Lexington, S.C. Receiving the Mary Mildred Sullivan Awards were Jocelle A. Allen, executive director of the Citizen Scholar Program in Spartanburg County, and Nimalka Achini Bandara, a graduating senior from Lexington, S.C.

Teague became the sixth president of Spartanburg Methodist College in 1997. He is a graduate of Brevard College and High Point College, and earned a master of divinity degree and a doctor of ministry degree from Emory University. He is actively involved in the S.C. Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church and serves as chair of the board of directors of the College Town, a consortium of the six institutions of higher learning in Spartanburg County. During Teague’s presidency, SMC has constructed two new residence halls – Bridges Residence Hall and Sparrow Residence Hall – along with the Phyllis Buchheit Board Room and the Vassey Information Technology Center. He previously held various administrative and faculty positions at Brevard College and High Point College, and served as minister of Avery’s Creek United Methodist Church in Arden, N.C.

Matt Low is a graduating senior, receiving degrees in biology and Spanish. He is the son of Jim and Susan Low of Lexington, S.C. He is coordinator and team member of the foreign language multimedia lab and is a member of Wofford’s Ultimate Frisbee team. He is a Dean’s List student.

Allen, a native of Spartanburg is a graduate of Spartanburg High School and Presbyterian College. She received her master’s degree in guidance and counseling from Western Carolina University. She has spent her entire career in non-profit and education-related work, including 20 years at Spartanburg Community College as vice president for student services and student development. She then worked with nine school superintendents on school-to-work curriculum development. Since 2000, Allen has overseen the Citizen Scholar Program in Spartanburg County, a program currently associated with the Spartanburg County Foundation (www.spcf.org/CommInit_CitizenScholars.htm) that is a model for personal and academic mentoring of at-risk students who possess enormous potential. Allen’s husband, Edward D. Allen, is a 1967 graduate of Wofford, and their daughter, Bonnie Elizabeth Allen, is a 2005 graduate of Wofford.

Achini Bandara is a pre-med graduating senior, receiving a degree in chemistry with a minor in mathematics. Bandara, a native of Peradeniya, Sri Lanka, is the daughter of Nimal Bandara and Ajantha Kumari of Lexington, S.C. She recently was elected to Phi Beta Kappa. She was awarded a scholarship in the Wofford Success Initiative and received an Anna Todd Wofford scholarship. She has served as a resident assistant, vice president of the Wofford chapter of the Blue Key National Honor Society, vice president of the American Chemical Society chapter, and is a member of Wofford Planateers and Green Audit. She participated in Wofford’s Presidential Seminar and the Community of Scholars undergraduate research program. She is a Dean’s List student. Bandara single-handedly established a medical clinic in a rural village in the African country of Malawi, where she had worked as a volunteer in the summer of 2007; during her January 2009 Interim, she went back to oversee the construction. She plans to begin work toward a Ph.D. in chemistry at Purdue University.

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

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Dr. David S. Wood presented Dr. Stacey Hettes, associate professor of biology, with the Roger Milliken Award for Excellence in the Teaching of Science and Dr. Li Qing Kinnison, assistant professor of Chinese studies, with the Philip Covington Award for Excellence in the Teaching of Humanities and Social Sciences.

Hettes came to Wofford in 2003 after receiving her Ph.D. in neuroscience from the University of California Riverside. She graduated summa cum laude in 1996 from King’s College in Wilkes-Barre, Pa. In 2004-05, Hettes received a S.C. Space Grant Consortium, designated by NASA, Research Experience for Undergraduates grant. She received the 2004 Faculty Summer Research Award at Wofford. She is a member of the Aerospace Medical Association, the Society for Neuroscience, the Society for the Study of Ingestive Behavior, the Society for Undergraduate Neuroscience, Sigma Xi, Alpha Epsilon pre-medical honor society, Delta Epsilon Sigma honor society of Catholic colleges, and the St. Thomas Aquinas Society (King’s College Honor Society). She was an instructor in the 2005 Citizen Scholars Camp at Wofford and is faculty advisor for the Biology Honor Society. She has been published numerous times in a variety of academic and research journals and publications.

Kinnison received her bachelor’s degree in literature and language from Inner Mongolia Teachers University in the People’s Republic of China. She received her master’s degree and Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL) from Azusa Pacific University in Azusa, Calif. She received her Ph.D. in linguistics from Michigan State University. Members of her class have provided a Chinese Academy to students at E.P. Todd Elementary School. Since beginning the Chinese language and studies program, Kinnison’s students have been published in a prestigious journal of Beijing University in China. Wofford now is a member of the highly regarded Confucius Institute, a partnership with Beijing Language and Culture University, the Office of Chinese Language Council International, the University of South Carolina and a number of other institutions of higher education in the state.

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.

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.

HONORARY DEGREE RECIPIENTS

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Wofford conferred honorary degrees on U.S. Rep. James E. Clyburn (D-S.C.), Spartanburg Mayor William Barnet III, Wofford alumnus Dr. Henry W. Gibson, and Charlotte cardiac surgery pioneer and art collector Dr. Francis Robicsek.

Clyburn has served in the U.S. House of Representatives since 1992, when he was elected to represent the Sixth Congressional District of South Carolina with 56 percent of the vote. In 2006, he unanimously was elected by his fellow Democratic colleagues as the Majority Whip for the 110th Congress, the third-ranking position in the House. He had served 18 years as South Carolina Human Rights Commissioner. He is a former member of the Wofford Board of Trustees. He received an honorary doctor of laws degree.
Barnet, CEO of Barnet & Co., was elected mayor of Spartanburg in November 2001 as a write-in candidate and has served since, being re-elected in 2005. Barnet helped his father operate the family-owned company, which in 2000 was doing business in more than 50 countries, since the mid-1960s. He received an honorary doctor of humanities degree.
Gibson, a family physician who has practiced for more than 50 years in the Barnwell, S.C., community and who still, at age 84, makes house calls, is the founder of the Carolina Honduras Health Foundation, which provides medical services to the impoverished population of Honduras. In November 2008, he was recognized as the Family Physician of the Year by the South Carolina Academy of Family Physicians. He received an honorary doctor of science degree.

Robicsek is one of the most distinguished thoracic and cardiovascular surgeons working in the United States today, now serving as the chief of staff of the Carolinas Medical Center in Charlotte. At age 83, he still travels each year to eastern Europe and other parts of the underdeveloped world to perform free heart surgeries on children in need of his special expertise. He also is a recognized authority on such disparate subjects as Mayan inscriptions, Leonardo da Vinci, American religious art, and Greek and Russian iconography. 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.

RETIRING FACULTY

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Dean Wood also recognized six retiring professors:

Dr. Phillip N. Racine, the William R. Kenan Professor of History
Dr. Dennis M. Dooley, professor of English
Dr. Susan C. Griswold, professor of Spanish
Philip S. Keenan, associate professor of accounting
Dr. Nancy Mandlove, professor of Spanish
Dr. Stephen C. Perry, professor of finance and accounting

Wood also announced that the Wofford Board of Trustees unanimously has bestowed professor emeritus status to Racine, Dooley, Griswold and Mandlove.

Full biographies and high-resolution portraits of the retiring professors are available in the Wofford Newsroom.