Wofford College awarded 421 baccalaureate degrees during its 170th Commencement Exercises on Sunday, May 19.

The Hon. Costa Pleicones, a 1965 Wofford graduate, member of the college’s board of trustees and retired chief justice of the South Carolina Supreme Court, delivered the keynote address to the Class of 2024.

“The capacity to communicate, to create, to think and to adapt are the hallmarks of the liberally educated person,” Pleicones says. “These are the skills and capacities Wofford has instilled in you.”

During the ceremony in the Jerry Richardson Indoor Stadium, the college conferred honorary degrees to three individuals: Betty James Montgomery, Dr. Daniel Baker Morrison Jr. ’75 and Tony L. Thomas.

Special teaching awards were presented to Dr. Kimberly Hall, associate professor of English, and Dr. Natalie Spivey, associate professor and chair of the Department of Biology. Hall received the Philip Covington Award for Excellence in the Teaching of Humanities and Social Sciences. Spivey received the Roger Milliken Award for Excellence in the Teaching of Science.

The college presented the prestigious Algernon Sydney Sullivan Awards to Jack Galbraith (student recipient) and Craig Burnett ’68 (non-student recipient). The student recipient of the Mary Mildred Sullivan Award was Arnise Wright. The non-student recipient was Ruth Littlejohn.

Major award winners

Honor graduates

The Class of 2024 included 10 Honor Graduates who were recognized for earning a perfect 4.0 GPA throughout their college careers. 2024 Honor Graduates are:

Olivia Barrett Babb
Sarah Ann Buford
Tucker Hutchens Couch
Matthew Phillip Yu Discaya
Alice Austin Givens
Meredith Estelle Hoff
Taylor Nikita Pirttima
Julia Marie Richardson
Alec Cade Schrader
Daiven Shub Sharma

Retiring faculty

The following faculty members have collectively served Wofford College for 147 years and have been granted professor emeritus status by the college’s board of trustees.

Dr. Alan Chalmers, professor of English, 19 years of service
Dr. John McArthur, Reeves Family Professor of Economics, 34 years of service
Dr. Bob Moss, Larry H. McCalla Professor of Biology, 32 years of service
Dr. Gary McCraw ’77, professor of music, 42 years of service
Dr. Li Qing Kinnison, professor of Chinese, 20 years of service

ROTC commissioning

The college recognized four Wofford students who were commissioned as second lieutenants in the U.S. Army on Saturday, May 18. They are:

George Carl Anderson
Yazmin Chavez Medina
John Dean Gaskins Jr.
Jason Alexander Kellinger

Class of 1974

Members of Wofford’s Class of 1974 celebrated their 50th reunion during Commencement Weekend. During their first year, the college’s board of trustees voted to admit women as day students and the late Robert Bernard Leach, former assistant dean of students, became Wofford’s first Black professional staff member. In the fall of 1973, Eddie Coffey was named a Rhodes scholar, the college’s first since 1947.

Featured speaker: The Hon. Costa Pleicones ’65

After graduation from Wofford in 1965, Pleicones attended the University of South Carolina School of Law, graduating with a Juris Doctor degree in 1968.

Following law school, he entered the United States Army, serving both as an enlisted member and as an officer in the Judge Advocate's General Corps. He served on active duty until 1973 then continued his service in the Army Reserve until 1999 when he retired with the rank of colonel.

Upon leaving active military service, he entered practice as a public defender for Richland County, South Carolina. Later, while in private practice with Lewis, Babcock, Pleicones and Hawkins, he served as a part-time municipal judge for the City of Columbia and as county attorney for Richland County. In 1991, he was elected resident circuit court judge for the 5th Judicial Circuit, serving from 1991 until 2000, when he was elected as an associate justice of the South Carolina Supreme Court. On May 27, 2015, Pleicones was elected chief justice of the South Carolina Supreme Court.

Pleicones is admitted to practice before all South Carolina courts, the United States District Court for the District of South Carolina, the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit, the Court of Appeals for the Armed Services and the United States Supreme Court. He currently advises Haynsworth Sinkler Boyd clients on complex litigation and appellate matters and is a certified circuit court arbitrator and mediator. He is frequently called upon as a lecturer in continuing legal education programs conducted by the South Carolina Bar and other professional organizations.

A member of the Wofford College Board of Trustees since 2013, Pleicones was presented with an honorary doctor of laws degree by the college in 2002. In 2006 he participated in a USAID mission to Azerbaijan to instruct judgeship candidates on judicial ethics, and in 2013, he led a U.S. Department of Justice delegation to the Justice Academy of Turkey (Ankara and Istanbul) for presentation of American guilty plea procedures.

Honorary degree recipients

Betty James Montgomery

Montgomery served as a member of the Wofford College Board of Trustees from 2010 to 2022. As a trustee, she supported faculty and staff efforts to create a sustainability program on campus and was an advocate for adding a commitment to sustainability to the college’s core values. She has always been a staunch advocate for the student experience, representing trustees on the biannual committee to revise student policies. The Montgomery Music Building on campus is just one example of her generosity and the generosity of her family.

She is a master gardener and author of several books. A Four-Season Southern Garden and Hydrangeas: How to Grow, Cultivate and Enjoy were written to help beginner gardeners. She’s a lifelong learner and teacher in the field and her commitment to sustainability, growth and community improvement has extended beyond her home and Wofford to the greater Spartanburg community where she chaired The Arts Partnership of Greater Spartanburg and the Noble Tree Foundation and has been a member of the Spartanburg Regional Foundation and The Spartanburg County Foundation, among other philanthropic organizations.

A native of North Carolina, Montgomery graduated from Converse College in 1972 and earned a nursing degree from USC Upstate a year later. She continues to award grants from her family’s foundation, and she writes columns on gardening and horticulture, earning recognition for her efforts from the Garden Club of America, Wofford’s Campus Union and the United Way of the Piedmont.

Dr. Daniel Baker Morrison Jr. ’75

Morrison joined the Wofford community in 1971 as a first-year student and a student-athlete on the men’s basketball team. A mathematics major, his work ethic earned him the respect of his professors and coaches alike, and he was inducted into Phi Beta Kappa before graduating summa cum laude from Wofford College in 1975 and becoming a teacher and coach. He went on to earn a master’s degree from the University of North Carolina and a doctorate from the University of South Carolina.

Morrison returned to Wofford in 1985 as director of athletics. He led the Terrier Club when annual giving for scholarships for student-athletes topped $1 million for the first time, and he guided the college through the process of becoming an NCAA Division I institution and joining the Southern Conference. He was instrumental in the building of Gibbs Stadium and the Richardson Physical Activities Building, also helping Wofford become the summer home of the NFL Carolina Panthers.

Morrison went on to become senior vice president before leaving the college to join the Southern Conference as commissioner. In 2005, he accepted a position as director of athletics for Texas Christian University, where he served for four years before being named president of the Panthers. In 2017, Morrison became a professor of practice in the Department of Sports and Entertainment Management at the University of South Carolina. He also serves as director of the Charlotte Sports Foundation. Morrison served on the Wofford College Board of trustees from 2011 to 2023.

Tony L. Thomas

A native of Spartanburg, Thomas earned an associate degree from Tuskegee University School of Architecture in 1986. He served as a United States Air Force air traffic control operator before returning home to Spartanburg, where he developed a passion for community engagement and participated in the Riley Institute, the Grassroots Leadership Development Institute and the Citizens Academy. He worked as an AmeriCorps Vista through the Northside Development Group before becoming the organizations community engagement coordinator. He serves on the board of Live Healthy Spartanburg and the Cleveland Opportunity Fund.

Thomas’ connections to Wofford developed through his work on the Northside Initiative. He has been a teacher, mentor, role model and friend to Wofford students, guiding them as they learn more about our shared community. He was a leader in the development of the Northside’s Transformation Plan, and he continues to serve as president of the Northside Voyagers and the Northside Neighborhood Association, positions he’s held for the past 12 years. That work includes supporting the cradle-to-career model for the Northside neighborhood, an initiative that has seen results in Cleveland Academy of Leadership’s first “excellent” state report card rating after 23 years as a failing or below-average school.

His efforts to strengthen our community have earned him the Dr. Martin Luther King Humanitarian Award in 2020, the Isaac “Ike” Williams Award for Civil Rights and Grassroots Development in South Carolina in 2021 and the Community Weavers Award given by the City of Spartanburg African American Heritage and Culture committee in 2022.

Dr. Kimberly Hall, The Philip Covington Award for Excellence in the Teaching of Humanities

Dr. Kimberly Hall, associate professor of English, is the college’s 18th recipient of The Philip Covington Award for Excellence in the Teaching of Humanities. Hall teaches courses in the film and digital media program. She has spent the past year chairing the college’s Artificial Intelligence Working Group. She is known as a dynamic professor and an advocate for students.

This award is named after a beloved, long-time professor and academic dean. It carries with it a $15,000 award, allocated over a period of three years, designed specifically to provide further opportunities for professional development.

Dr. Natalie Spivey, Roger Milliken Award for Excellence in the Teaching of Science

Dr. Natalie Spivey, associate professor and chair of the Department of Biology, is an invaluable resource to students who plan to pursue careers in health care. Spivey advises students and co-teaches the Clinical Internship in Medicine course. She is known for making even the toughest subjects interesting and for her unfailing commitment to student success.

Spivey is the college’s 20th recipient of this award and receives a $50,000 award, allocated over a decade, designed to provide opportunities for professional development.

Student Sullivan award recipients

Arnise Wright is a biology major from Charleston, South Carolina. She has been involved in Campus Union, Wofford Women of Color, Minorities in STEM and as a volunteer at the Cleveland Leadership Academy. She plans to become a genetic counselor.

Jack Galbraith is a biology major from Asheville, North Carolina, who has served as president of the Interfraternity Council and as a Career Center ambassador. He begins dental school after graduation.

Community Sullivan award recipients

City Councilwoman Ruth Littlejohn has served on the boards of the League of Women Voters, the South Converse Neighborhood association, Partners for Active Living and Keep One Spartanburg Beautiful. She models what it means to be a lifelong learner, attending many speakers and arts and cultural events at Wofford.

Craig Burnett ’68 is known throughout the community and the nation as a leading expert in the area of homelessness. He has devoted his life and energy to assisting homeless military veterans. Burnett served in the U.S. Army as an infantry platoon leader, company commander and military advisor before joining the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs as a psychologist. He’s been a friend to the college, helping current students understand the importance of leadership through service.

Commencement Weekend recordings