Alumni, family and friends returned to campus Oct. 27-29 as the college celebrated Homecoming. Five graduates were honored for leadership and service by the college’s alumni association.
Robert D. Mickle Jr. ’85 and Vickie Rosalind Muller ’83 received the Charles H. Gray ’72 Distinguished Service Award for exhibiting dedicated service and commitment to the college.
“When I was director of admission, Robert and Vickie were among the students that I recruited,” says Charlie Gray ’72. “Both of them are good, sincere people of superb character. That always impresses me, and it’s that strength of character that they have carried with them through life.”
Mickle is co-founder of Paragon Inc. and has enjoyed a career in housing, development, construction, finance and design. He served as chair of the board of commissioners of the state Housing Finance and Development Authority. Mickle is chair of the Black Alumni Association and a co-founder of the Black Alumni Summit. He also has served as a board member of the National Alumni Association, the Terrier Club and the President’s Advisory Council.
Muller is the associate director of financial services at Midlands Technical College in Columbia, S.C., and she is passionate about enhancing the experiences of Wofford students and African American alumni. She co-founded the Black Alumni Summit, and she was a fundraiser for the Meadors Multicultural House. She is past president of the Wofford College National Alumni Association and is vice chair of the Black Alumni Association.
The Distinguished Citizen Award, which recognizes those with distinguished careers who have contributed extraordinary service to humanity, was presented to the Rev. Tom Brittain ’47.
Brittain was a first-generation college student who graduated in three years. He was a teacher before entering the ministry. A year after he graduated from Candler School of Theology at Emory University, he joined the South Carolina Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church and was ordained an elder. He served eight appointments, including Trinity United Methodist Church in Spartanburg. Known as “Big Tom” to his family and church members, Brittain served on the Wofford Board of Trustees for eight years.
“He is a truly wonderful, dedicated, hardworking gentleman,” David Beacham ’77 says. “And at age 95, he can still play golf, preach, teach, marry, bury and care for great-grandchildren, and most of those he would do all on the same day!”
The Pride of Wofford Award is presented to a member of the Wofford College Alumni Association who has brought honor and distinction to the college through outstanding professional achievement, and Murrell Smith Jr. ’90 was this year’s recipient.
“Murrell Smith is a wonderful mentor and key voice of direction for my career and academic success,” says Tayvian Gass ’23, who interned with Smith at the Statehouse last summer. “He is what every attorney and representative should be. He is firm in his beliefs, and at the same time he’s willing to reach out to people with different ideas and consider them.”
Smith was unanimously elected the 61st speaker of the South Carolina House of Representatives in the spring. He has represented Sumter in the state legislature since 2000. He is a co-founding partner of the Smith Robinson law firm, who also has served as a public defender and was named to the 2022 list of The Best Lawyers in America.
Vanessa Lauber ’09 was presented the Rising Star Award, in absentia, which is given to those who have demonstrated professional accomplishment and continued growth as an emerging leader.
Lauber is a judicial clerk at the United States District Court for the Eastern District of New York. After graduating from the Harvard School of Law and passing the bar exam, she worked for a Washington, D.C., law firm. She then returned to Spartanburg, where she served as a judicial clerk for the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit. Lauber promotes social justice through litigation and advocacy, focusing on civil rights in the context of new technologies, voting and gender equality.
“Vanessa’s profound intellectual curiosity, expertise in literature and law and commitment to the humanities are the substance of these achievements, but equally important is her drive to serve others,” says Amy Chalmers ’11. “Central to her education and ambition is her deep compassion, and she has used her time and talents to help those in need throughout her career.”
Sarah Owens ’23 of Charleston, S.C., was escorted onto the field by her parents Flora and Ralph Owens ’74 just before she was crowned the 2022 Homecoming Queen. Owens, a philosophy and international affairs double major on the pre-law track, represented the Orientation Staff. Kerrington Johnson ’23 was first runner-up. She represented the Office of Residence Life and is a finance major and a business minor from Anderson, S.C. Second runner-up was Hallie Dudley ’23, a mathematics major with a minor in computer science from Charlotte, N.C., representing Zeta Tau Alpha sorority. Isaiah Franco ’23 was named Mr. Wofford. Franco is a Spanish and international affairs double major with a concentration in environmental studies from Newton, Pa. He represented the Organization of Latin American Students.
The Terriers defeated East Tennessee State University 48-41 in front of an enthusiastic Homecoming crowd. The Terriers racked up 580 yards of total offense. Amir Annoor’s interception with a minute left in the game was one of many highlights. Annoor is a sophomore from Nashville, Tenn.
The Class of 2012 won the Reunion Trophy, which is presented to the class with the greatest number of people registered for Homecoming Weekend. The class had 61 people registered.
The Class of 1997 received the Reunion Plate, which is given to the class with the highest percentage of people registered for the weekend; 20% of the class attended Homecoming.
The Terrier Trophy is given to the class with the highest percentage of classmates making a financial gift to celebrate their reunion, and the award was given to the Class of 1997, which had 17% of its classmates make donations while celebrating their 25th reunion.
Black Alumni Summit
Omega Psi Phi check presentation
In May, alumni of the Tau Delta Chapter of Omega Psi Phi Fraternity Inc. commemorated the 50th anniversary of the chapter’s charter line by establishing an endowed scholarship fund at the college. Awards made from this fund will support internship opportunities for members of the Tau Delta chapter who demonstrate outstanding character, leadership, academic promise and financial need. If there are no qualified Tau Delta applicants, the internship scholarship can be awarded to an African American male student.
Don Martin, a motivational speaker and author, participated in Homecoming activities. Martin discussed his book, “Black Man White Industry: My Journey through the Men’s Fashion World,” to conclude the Black Alumni Summit. He was joined by Carl Hall ’87 and Robin Worley.
Penny Koger Memorial Scholarship
Taylor Fuller ’24 and McKenzie Norman ’23 received the Penny Koger Memorial Scholarship, which honors the memory of Penny Koger ’00. It is given to Black female students with GPAs of 3.0 or higher, who “demonstrate academic excellence, leadership and a commitment to community service” in the Spartanburg-Greenville area.
1854 Heritage Fund Travel Scholarship
James Few III ’25 received the 1854 Heritage Fund Travel Scholarship. This fund was established in 2014 by the Black Alumni Association.
A full weekend of events
In addition to reunions for classes ending in 2 and 7, Homecoming weekend brought a variety of other opportunities to gather and engage with the college. There were Classes without Quizzes, including a Sip and Stroll history tour, an All-Alumni Band Party, basketball scrimmages, a men’s soccer game and a variety of tailgates. Family and friends of Dr. Vic Bilanchone also gathered on Saturday morning to remember his life and the impact he had on generations of Wofford students.