Dr. Nayef H. Samhat delivered his first Commencement address since becoming Wofford College’s president at the 160th Commencement Exercises on Sunday, May 18, 2014.
Degrees were conferred to 362 graduates, three honorary degrees were presented, and two teaching awards were given. Samhat became president in July 2013, and his inauguration was held April 25 of this year. Commencement was held in Benjamin Johnson Arena due to the weather.
Dr. Charles Edward (Ed) Coffey ’74, vice president and CEO of Behavioral Health Sciences at Henry Ford Health System in Detroit, Mich., received the honorary doctorate of science degree; the Rev. Susan Thurston Henry-Crowe, the general secretary of the United Methodist General Board of Church and Society, received the honorary doctorate of divinity degree; and Dr. George D. Kuh, the Chancellor’s Professor of Higher Education Emeritus at Indiana University-Bloomington and adjunct professor of higher education policy at the University of Illinois, received the honorary doctorate of humanities degree.
Dr. Charles Edward (Ed) Coffey
A native of Little River, S.C., Dr. Ed Coffey graduated from Wampee High School and was a member of the Class of 1974 at Wofford. Elected to Phi Beta Kappa, he majored in psychology. He was chosen as Wofford’s fifth Rhodes Scholar in 1974 and studied at St. John’s College, Oxford University. He then completed his M.D. degree at Duke University’s School of Medicine and completed residencies in neurology and psychiatry. For some time, he served on the Duke faculty as an associate professor.
In 1996, Coffey was recruited to the Henry Ford Health System in Detroit, where he now is vice president and CEO of Behavioral Health Sciences and holds the Kathleen and Earl Ward Chair of Psychiatry at Henry Ford Hospital. He also is professor of psychiatry and neurology at Wayne State University School of Medicine.
Coffey is widely praised for his innovative work on “Perfect Depression Care,” regarded as a model for health care transformation. It has earned him numerous honors and an appointment to the National Action Alliance for Suicide Prevention. Serving on the editorial boards of several journals, he also has made numerous contributions to the fields of neuropsychiatry, mood disorders and brain aging.
Active in supporting Wofford alumni and academic programs, Coffey is member of the President’s Advisory Board.
The Rev. Susan Thurston Henry-Crowe
In February of this year, the Rev. Susan Thurston Henry-Crowe of the South Carolina United Methodist Conference became the general secretary of the United Methodist General Board of Church and Society, one of four international general program boards of the United Methodist Church, assuming a primary coordinating responsibility for education and leadership formation, the United Nations and international affairs, and advocacy.
Born in Asheville, N.C., but raised and educated in Greenville, S.C., Henry-Crowe graduated from Winthrop University in 1973. She earned the master of divinity degree from Candler School of Theology in 1977 and was admitted to full ministerial connection in the South Carolina conference in 1977. For eight years, she served in local pastorates and worked in campus ministry and then was a key conference staff member from 1985 through 1991.
In 1991, Henry-Crowe moved to Emory University, where she served 22 years as dean of the chapel and religious life, fostering interreligious dialogue in an ever-changing world of religious pluralism. She was awarded the “Chaplain of the Year” in 2000 by the United Methodist Foundation for Christian Higher Education. She also was the first woman to serve as president of the denomination’s Judicial Council and was a delegate to three General Conferences. Emory recognized her as one of its 175 History Makers during its 175th anniversary celebration, and LaGrange College conferred the doctor of divinity degree.
Dr. George D. Kuh
Kuh is the Chancellor’s Professor of Higher Education Emeritus at Indiana University-Bloomington and adjunct professor of higher education policy at the University of Illinois. He is the founding director of the Indiana University Center for Postsecondary Research and the National Survey of Student Engagement (NSSE). He also served as the founding director of the Strategic Arts National Alumni Project. A past president of the Association for the Study of Higher Education, he serves on the board of regents for the National Leadership Council for the Association of American Colleges and Universities’ “Liberal Education and America’s Promise” initiative.
Kuh is the author of more than 350 publications and hundreds of presentations related to higher education topics. Of particular importance was his leadership in Project DEEP (Documenting Effective Educational Practice) and the resulting publication, “Student Success in College: Creating Conditions that Matter.” These influential benchmarking studies included Wofford and identified what strong-performing colleges and universities typically do to promote student achievement.
Kuh earned a bachelor’s degree at Luther College, a master’s degree at St. Cloud State University, and a doctorate from the University of Iowa. He is the recipient of seven honorary degrees and numerous awards from higher education institutions and associations. One such distinction, the Contribution to Literature and Research Award of the National Association of Student Personnel Administration, has been named in his honor.
The Roger Milliken Award for Excellence in the Teaching of Science was presented to Dr. Anne J. Catlla, assistant professor of mathematics, and the Philip Covington Award for Excellence in the Teaching of Humanities and Social Sciences went to Dr. Carol Brasington Wilson ’81, associate professor of English and coordinator of academic advising.
Dr. Anne J. Catlla
Catlla received her B.S. and M.S. from the University of Kansas and received her Ph.D. from Northwestern University. She came to Wofford in 2008 after serving as a visiting researcher at Macalester College and a National Science Foundation (NSF) VIGRE Postdoctoral Fellow at Duke University.
At Wofford, she was a Center for Innovation in Learning Fellow in 2012 and received a Science Education for New Civic Engagements and Responsibilities Implementation Grant in 2010. She previously received NSF Integrated Graduate Education and Research Training and Cartwright Fellowships.
She serves as an editorial board member and reviewer for SIAM Undergraduate Research Online, a reviewer for Physical Review E Journal, an editorial board member for DSWeb Dynamical Systems Magazine, and as an editorial board member for the Community of Ordinary Differential Equations Educators Digital Library.
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 college provost.
The late Roger Milliken, chairman and CEO of Milliken & Co., 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 health care fields. More than 1,200 of the college’s more than 12,000 living alumni are involved in medicine, dentistry, veterinary medicine and other health care fields. Professors and students are involved in research both at Wofford and other institutions and have made national and international presentations.
Dr. Carol Brasington Wilson
Wilson, a native of Denmark, S.C., is a 1981 Phi Beta Kappa graduate of Wofford, earning a degree in English. She earned her M.A. and Ph.D. in English from the University of South Carolina.
She returned to Wofford in 1984 to teach. She also served as faculty sponsor for the Sigma Tau Delta English honor society.
In 2009, Wilson received the Excellence in Teaching Award from South Carolina Independent Colleges and Universities Inc.
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. 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.
Algernon Sydney Sullivan Awards
The college also presented the prestigious Algernon Sydney Sullivan Award to graduating senior Phillip Jervey Roper ’14, a biology major from Greenville, S.C., and Curt McPhail ’96, president of Greenlab Strategies in Spartanburg and project manager of the Northside Initiative.
Phillip Jervey Roper
Jervey Roper, a biology major and Dean’s List student, has been a Campus Union delegate, a member and leader of the Orientation Staff, and a member of Kappa Alpha fraternity. He was named the Interfraternity Council New Member of the Year in 2010-11. At Honors Day, he was recognized as a member of the Senior Order of Gnomes and received the Heart of the Terrier award. He is the son of John and Katherine Roper of Greenville, S.C.
Curt McPhail, a 1996 graduate of Wofford with degrees in business economics and sociology, is president of Greenlab Strategies in Spartanburg and project manager for the Northside Initiative.
Greenlab Startegies specializes in providing innovation solutions to community development projects locally and around the world and serves as the executive staff for the Northside Development Corp., a nonprofit implementing the redevelopment of the City of Spartanburg’s Northside community, of which Wofford is a partner. The initiative – termed “Spartanburg’s most ambitious redevelopment ever” – is transforming the area into a high-quality mixed-income, mixed-use neighborhood that will be home to exceptional education, health care, social service and employment opportunities. Greenlab also is executive staff for globalbike inc., a nonprofit connecting people to resources with bikes, which McPhail founded and for which he served as director of global partnerships from 2010 to 2013.
McPhail was program officer for the Mary Black Foundation from 2005 to 2013. Greenlab manages the foundation’s Northside investment portfolio.
As a graduating senior from Wofford in 1996, McPhail was awarded the Algernon Sydney Sullivan Award.
Mary Mildred Sullivan Awards
The student recipient of the Mary Mildred Sullivan Award was senior Laura Kate Gamble ’14 from Summerville, S.C., who is majoring in biology and Spanish with a concentration in Latin American and Caribbean Studies. She will graduate in December. The non-student recipient was Paula Black Baker, a Wofford trustee and a Spartanburg community leader.
Laura Katherine Gamble
Laura Kate Gamble, a candidate for both the B.A. and B.S. degrees in December 2014, was the 2013-2014 Presidential International Scholar, the 30th scholar in the college’s innovative program that allows one student to travel during the academic year to developing countries researching an independent project. As the scholar, she traveled to Ghana, Tanzania, Peru and Haiti during the fall of 2013, volunteering for organizations that work with children in poverty to create sustainable change.
Gamble, who was inducted into Phi Beta Kappa this year, also is a Dean’s List student majoring in biology and Spanish with a concentration in Latin American and Caribbean Studies. At Wofford’s recent Honors Convocation, she received the John L. Salmon Award as the top Spanish student and the Henry Freeman Service Award, given to the senior who either starts a new volunteer program or breathes new life into an old one. She is a volunteer with Wofford’s Math Academy and the Arcadia Volunteer Corps. She also is a member and secretary of the Honor Council, a peer tutor, a resident peer mentor, and a member of Kappa Alpha Theta sorority. In the summers, she served on the staff of South Carolina’s Palmetto Girls State. She is a graduate of Pinewood Preparatory School in Summerville, S.C., and the daughter of Donnie and Ginny Gamble of Summerville.
Paula Black Baker
Paula Black Baker is a native of Spartanburg, a graduate of the public schools of the community, and a long-time community volunteer. In June, she will complete a 12-year term on the Wofford College Board of Trustees, whose Student Life Committee she chaired for 10 of those years. She has been involved in numerous community activities for decades, including many of Spartanburg’s arts groups, the Hub City Writers Project and Hub Bub, the Cancer Association of Spartanburg and Cherokee Counties, and Mobile Meals of Spartanburg, on whose founding board she was a member. Baker is also an elder at First Presbyterian Church in Spartanburg, where she has served in a variety of other roles.
Baker’s dedication and contributions to education and health care in Spartanburg can be traced to her grandfather, Dr. Hugh Ratchford Black, a pioneer, innovator and leader in the field of medicine. He founded three hospitals in Spartanburg, including Mary Black Memorial Hospital in 1924, and lobbied for the establishment of Spartanburg General Hospital (later Spartanburg Regional Medical Center). The family was and is responsible for the Mary Black School of Nursing at the University of South Carolina Upstate.
Wofford College is one of 61 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.”
The honor graduate – the graduate with the highest GPA (3.99) – was Katherine Lee Kelly ’14 of Blythewood, S.C., an English major with a minor in history. She also was inducted into Phi Beta Kappa this year.
50 Year Club
Members of the Class of 1964 participated in the weekend’s activities, including a class reunion and participation in the processional and other events surrounding Commencement.
By Laura Hendrix Corbin