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Wofford College to confer two honorary degrees

Monday, April 05, 2004

SPARTANBURG, S.C. – The former national chairman of the Democratic National Committee and one of the country’s leading advocates for women and children will both be recognized with honorary degrees at the Wofford College Commencement on Sunday, May 16.

The exercises will be held at 9:30 a.m. on the lawn of Main Building.

Dr. Donald L. Fowler, chairman of Fowler Communications Inc. in Columbia, S.C., and chairman of the DNC from 1995-97, will receive an honorary doctor of laws degree. Sara Starnes Shingler, former president of the women’s division of the General Board of Global Ministries for the United Methodist Church and national president of the United Methodist Women, will receive an honorary doctor of humanities degree.

Members of the Wofford College Class of 1954 will be special honored participants at commencement activities scheduled for the weekend of Saturday, May 15, and Sunday, May 16. In addition to holding their class reunion on Saturday evening, the class members will have special seating at Saturday’s Baccalaureate Service at 4 p.m. in Leonard Auditorium. They also will be treated to special social events throughout the afternoon and evening, and will be recognized in a special way during Commencement Exercises on Sunday morning.

A 1957 graduate of Wofford, Fowler served as president of the student body and was a multi-sport letterman. He lectures widely and publishes articles about political parties, the two-party system, and presidential nominating conventions. He is frequently sought by the media as an expert on the American political system. He is an adjunct professor at Wofford, teaching political science.

Fowler was elected to Phi Beta Kappa as a Wofford alumnus, and served on the college’s board of trustees from 1991 to 2003. He has been on the boards of Voorhees College, the Medical University of South Carolina, and the University of Kentucky, where he received his master’s degree and Ph.D.

A native of the Saxon community in Spartanburg, S.C., Fowler lives in Columbia and serves as chairman of the Richland County Democratic Party. He is an active layperson in the United Methodist Church, attending Washington Street UMC in Columbia. His wife is deceased; he has two grown children.

Sara Starnes Shingler, a native of Rock Hill, S.C., is recognized as one of the nation’s leading advocates for women and children through Global Ministries and United Methodist Women, which raises $20 million a year to address the needs of women, children and youth in the United States and in more than 100 other countries. Shingler’s work has taken her to positions of national leadership in the church and in many dimensions of the international movement to raise awareness of the plight of children.

She served from 1998 to 2002, and 20 years ago in 1982, as president of the women’s division of Global Ministries and as national president of the United Methodist Women. She is a founding member of the South Carolina Child Protection Advisory Committee, one of the first such groups in the country to offer specialized training for workers who handle cases of child abuse and neglect. She helped found the Spartanburg Children’s Shelter, one of the first such shelters for at-risk children in South Carolina.

Shingler attended Winthrop University and received her nursing degree in 1952 from the University of South Carolina. She is married to Dr. John Shingler, a 1952 graduate of Wofford College, who is a practicing anesthesiologist in Spartanburg. She is in her 11th year as a member of the General Board of Global Ministries, and she chairs the national church’s Committee to Eliminate Racism.