SPARTANBURG, S.C. – Dr. Douglas E. Wood, a 1990 Wofford College graduate and a senior fellow on justice and equity at the Aspen Institute, delivered the address at the college’s 164th Commencement Exercises today (Sunday, May 20, 2018) in Jerry Richardson Indoor Stadium.
During the event, 418 degrees were conferred to 392 graduates – who received bachelor of arts degrees, bachelor of science degrees or both – and honorary degrees were awarded to the Hon. Dennis W. Shedd, a 1975 Wofford graduate and a judge with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth District, and Michael LeFever, president and CEO of South Carolina Independent Colleges and Universities (SCICU).
The Philip Covington Award for Excellence in the Teaching of Humanities and Social Sciences was awarded to Dr. A.K. Anderson, associate professor and chair of the Department of Religion. The Roger Milliken Award for Excellence in the Teaching of Science was presented to Dr. Kaye S. Savage, associate professor and chair of the Department of Environmental Studies.
The college also presented the prestigious Algernon Sydney Sullivan Award to graduating senior Joshua Stone Crawford, a religion major from Norcross, Ga., and Mike Ayers, former Wofford Terriers head football coach.
The student recipient of the Mary Mildred Sullivan Award was senior Farahnaz Afaq, a mathematics major with a minor in economics and a concentration in Middle Eastern and North African Studies from Kabul, Afghanistan, and Spartanburg, S.C. The non-student recipient was Kathy Dunleavy, CEO and president of the Mary Black Foundation in Spartanburg.
Katherine Grace Beuerlein of Knoxville, Tenn., and Turner Lynn Rainwater of Florence, S.C., were recognized at the honor graduates, receiving a perfect 4.0 GPA throughout their college careers. Beuerlein received a degree in biology with a concentration in neuroscience, and Rainwater received a degree in biology. Both women graduated summa cum laude.
Members of the Class of 1968 participated in the weekend’s activities, including a class reunion and participating in the processional and other events surrounding the Commencement Exercises.
Wood, a native of Chesnee, S.C., was a program officer at the Ford Foundation on the Youth, Opportunity and Learning team from 2011 to 2018, and for nearly two years he served as acting lead the foundation’s global Higher Education for Social Justice initiative, managing grants in the U.S., Colombia, Peru, Chile, Southern Africa, Egypt and China. Prior to joining Ford, he was executive director and chief education officer of the Tennessee State Board of Education; chair of the Basic Education Program Review Committee that oversees Tennessee’s $3.2 billion K-12 budget; a member of the Tennessee Higher Education Commission; a fellow at the Elliott School of International Affairs, Georgetown University; principal investigator of the National Academy for Excellent Teaching, Teachers College, Columbia University; and associate dean of administration and planning at Eugene Lang College of Liberal Arts, The New School.
Wood began his career as a public school teacher and, while at Harvard, worked as a consultant with the Urban Superintendent’s Program and the World Bank’s Office of East Asian Affairs and taught at the John F. Kennedy School of Government. During this year’s commencement activities of the Harvard University Graduate School of Education, Wood will receive the 2018 Alumni Council Award for Outstanding Contributions to Education.
Wood holds a B.A. degree in history from Wofford College, a master’s degree in English from Middlebury College and a master’s and doctoral degree from Harvard University. He attended schools in Spartanburg County School District 2.
BIOGRAPHIES OF HONORARY DEGREE AND AWARD RECIPIENTS:
LeFever was named president and CEO of SCICU in 2008. He previously was a principal in MG&C Consulting Services LLC, a governmental relations firm representing businesses, nonprofits and professional associations before the South Carolina General Assembly. LeFever has been director of four state agencies, including 13 years at the Workers’ Compensation Commission. He also served as deputy chief of staff for executive programs and cabinet affairs in the administration of then-Gov. Jim Hodges. A cum laude graduate of Presbyterian College in Clinton, S.C., LeFever holds a master’s degree in public administration from the University of South Carolina. He is the recipient of Presbyterian College’s Outstanding Young Alumnus Award, a past president of the Alumni Association and a former member of the Presbyterian College Board of Trustees. LeFever has served in leadership positions in professional and community organizations, including president of the International Association of Industrial Accident Boards and Commissions and the International Workers’ Compensation Foundation; president of the South Carolina Agency Directors Organization; chair of the National Youth Works Alliance; and chair of the Center for Cancer Treatment and Research at Richland Memorial Hospital in Columbia, S.C. The South Carolina Chapter of the American Society for Public Administration named him Public Administrator of the Year in 1986 and again in 2003. He has been honored by Allen University with the Richard Allen Award in 2014, the Columbia College Board of Trustees in 2013 and the Partnership Among South Carolina’s Academic Libraries in 2009 for his work in higher education.
The Hon. Dennis W. Shedd
Shedd took senior status as a judge in January 2018. He graduated summa cum laude from Wofford with a degree in government and was the first in his family to attend college. At Wofford, he served as attorney general and a judicial commissioner in the student judicial court system, and he was a member of Phi Beta Kappa. He earned his J.D. from the University of South Carolina School of Law and his L.L.M. from Georgetown University. After law school, Shedd worked in the office of the late U.S. Sen. Strom Thurmond (R-S.C.), first as a legislative aide, later becoming chief of staff. He served as chief counsel and staff director of the U.S. Senate Committee on the Judiciary. After a decade in Washington, D.C., Shedd returned to South Carolina and opened a private law practice. He also served as chairman of the South Carolina Advisory Committee to the U.S. Civil Rights Commission. In 1990, President George H.W. Bush nominated Shedd as a U.S. District Court judge, and he became one of the youngest judges in the country. During his tenure, he began a successful drug prevention program. In 2001, President George W. Bush nominated Shedd to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit; he has served as a federal judge for more than a quarter-century. He has served as a distinguished professor at the University of South Carolina School of Law and, since 2012, has taught courses training students for appellate advocacy and for judicial clerkships. He received the Order of the Palmetto, the highest award for a civilian in South Carolina, in 2018. Shedd has established an endowed scholarship fund at Wofford, providing assistance to students participating in travel-study outside the U.S. for Interim. He also has served as president of the Wofford National Alumni Association, was named the Young Alumnus of the Year in 1985, has hosted numerous pre-law groups from Wofford visiting the U.S. Court of Appeals in session in Richmond, Va., and has provided numerous opportunities for students as law clerks and advised countless others in law careers and beyond.
Algernon Sydney Sullivan Award, student
Joshua S. Crawford
Crawford was a member of the Orientation Staff at Wofford and created a student organization, Finite, which provides inclusive social events for students. He represented the Department of Religion in the 2017-18 Presidential Seminar and was a member of the Senior Order of Gnomes. He studied abroad in 2016 in Italy.
Mary Mildred Sullivan Award, student
Afaq served on the Bonner Scholars leadership team, Wofford’s Diversity and Inclusion Committee, Residence Life, Women’s History Month Committee and International Students Committee. She participated in Wofford Leadership for three years, including one year as the student intern, and she has been a student worker in the Sandor Teszler Library. As president of Muslim Students Association, Afaq organized opportunities for Wofford students to engage with one another and with the Spartanburg community. She can be seen regularly running and has contributed articles about her experiences as a runner and as a refugee to the student newspaper. She plans to join her family in Canada after graduation to find employment and to attend graduate school after a gap year.
Algernon Sydney Sullivan Award, non-student
Ayers retired in December 2017 after 30 seasons as Wofford’s head football coach. He had guided the Terriers from the NAIA and NCAA Division II ranks to Division I and the Southern Conference. Along the way, the team made appearances in the Division II Playoffs twice, the Division I FCS Playoffs eight times, including in 2017, and claimed Southern Conference titles five times, including 2017. Known for how he instilled his own intensity, character and pride into his teams, Ayers was the longest-serving head coach of any sport in Wofford’s history and was fourth among active FCS head coaches at the time of his retirement. Ayers played prep football at Glen Este High School in Cincinnati, later earning a football scholarship to Georgetown College in Kentucky, where he was a three-time All-District 24 selection. He earned all-district honors as a catcher on the baseball team in addition to competing in gymnastics and wrestling. A black belt in karate and an accomplished fisherman and sketch artist, Ayers continues to be involved in charitable events and is a much-sought-after speaker for a variety of groups. He completed his bachelor’s degree in 1974 and received his M.A. degree from Georgetown College in 1976. He has been inducted into the Athletic Hall of Fame at both Glen Este and Georgetown.
Mary Mildred Sullivan Award, non-student
Dunleavy began leading the Mary Black Foundation in Spartanburg, a health legacy foundation that focuses on active living and healthy eating as well as early childhood development, in 2013. During her tenure, the foundation led the effort to have Spartanburg chosen as one of five communities across the country for a 10-year initiative called “The Way to Wellville.” Dunleavy retired as senior vice president of retail banking for BB&T after more than 20 years in banking. She spent eight years as CEO of the United Way of the Piedmont, which encompasses three South Carolina counties. Dunleavy serves on the boards of Spartanburg Regional Healthcare System, Spartanburg Academic Movement and the BB&T Advisory Board. She graduated from both Leadership Spartanburg and Leadership South Carolina. She has received numerous awards over the years, including the Neville Holcombe Distinguished Citizenship Award from the Spartanburg Area Chamber of Commerce, the Order of the Palmetto presented by then-Gov. Nikki Haley and the Humanitarian of the Year from Urban League of the Upstate.
Philip Covington Award for Excellence in the Teaching of Humanities and Social Sciences
Dr. A.K. Anderson
Anderson, a 1990 Wofford graduate, began teaching at the college in 2000. He received his master’s degree from Yale Divinity School and his Ph.D. from Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley, Calif. His general area of teaching specialty is Christian history and thought, and his research interests center on the effects of technological, scientific and social advances of the past 200 years on the possibility and nature of religious belief, particularly with regard to the Christian faith. His article “The Distance Between Zurich and Todtnauberg,” focused on Christian thought in Europe and the United States from the turn of the 20th century to the end of the Second Vatican Council, was published this year in the periodical Religions. He also has published in the International Journal for Philosophy of Religion, Faith and Spirituality in Masters of World Cinema and Cinemascope. Anderson received a summer grant in 2017 from the Undergraduate International Studies and Foreign Language Program (UISFL) to develop a MENA-related humanities course, “Taxicab Confessions: Contemporary Iranian Cinema;” two sections were offered in the fall of 2017. As chair of the department since 2014, Anderson has directed an increasing breadth of introductory course offerings. He has been Interim coordinator since 2015 and served on the Interim Committee from 2010 to 2014, successfully pushing for “permanently approved” on-campus Interim courses, which made positive changes to the Interim proposal process. Other changes resulted in higher quality independent Interim proposals. Anderson has been the faculty sponsor for the Senior Order of Gnomes, Wofford’s secret senior honor society founded in 1915, and for a decade he initiated and organized the department’s “Classes Without Quizzes” courses offered for alumni during Homecoming.
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.
Roger Milliken Award for Excellence in the Teaching of Science
Dr. Kaye S. Savage
Savage, who came to Wofford in 2009, has transformed the environmental studies major, the Goodall Environmental Studies Center at Glendale, S.C., and has broadened the campus’ understanding of sustainability through her perspective as a geologist, humanist and artist. Savage has received numerous honors, awards and grants, including a $4.25 million RoMill Foundation Grant for the Milliken Sustainability Initiative at Wofford College to create and enhance sustainability programs on campus and a $200,000 Arthur Vining Davis Foundations Grant to develop high-impact practices. With her colleagues, she is responsible for initiating the Santee Cooper Lecture Series on Sustainability and Energy Issues, the Tyson Family Lecture on the Preservation and Restoration of Southern Ecosystems and the Thinking Like a River initiative. Her current research is related to the STEAM (science, technology, engineering, art and math) movement, in which the arts and sciences are integrated for the purpose of sharing creative strategies across disciplines, providing deeper education and valuing different ways of knowing and expressing. Savage has published numerous articles in such publications as Journal of Applied Physics, Journal of the South Carolina Academy of Science, Economic Geology, Geochimica et Cosmochimica, Journal of the Electrochemical Society, Applied Geochemistry and Environmental Pollution. She has been invited to speak at a variety of programs, including the Geological Society of American Abstracts with Programs, the Civil and Environmental Engineering Department seminar at Auburn University and the Geology Department seminar at the University of Florida. At Wofford, she advises students majoring in environmental studies and is chair of the Committee for Non-Curricular Faculty Concerns. She also serves on the steering committee for the RoMill Sustainability Grant. Savage received bachelor’s degrees from Pomona College and Portland State University and her Ph.D. from Stanford University. She previously taught at Vanderbilt University.
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 14th 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 was the first 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.
The following faculty members, who are retiring at the end of this academic year, were recognized at Commencement:
Dr. Michael L. Merriman, associate professor of accounting, business and finance
Dr. John C. Akers, associate professor of modern languages, literatures and culture
Both have been granted professor emeritus status by the Wofford Board of Trustees during its May 2018 meeting.