Professor giving a lecture to students in old main

Barnet named professor of civic engagement, leadership

Bill Barnet 2010

Former mayor to teach humanities seminar at Wofford

SPARTANBURG, S.C. – Former Spartanburg Mayor Bill Barnet has been appointed professor of civic engagement and leadership at Wofford College. He will teach a humanities seminar in the fall.

The seminar, which will be co-taught with Dr. Anne Rodrick, associate professor of history, will target juniors and will be modeled on the Presidential Seminar taught to seniors by Wofford President Benjamin B. Dunlap and Dr. Christine Dinkins, associate professor of philosophy.

“I can think of few learning opportunities as enticing as a semester spent in the company of Anne Rodrick and Bill Barnet,” Dunlap says, “but it’s typical of both of them that they can imagine nothing more exciting than 14 weeks with the students they’ll attract. This will be unforgettable all around.”

“I am excited and honored to join the distinguished faculty at Wofford and that my efforts will help to holistically educate the leaders of tomorrow,” Barnet says. “Education certainly is about learning skills and job training, preparing one’s self for one’s vocation, but it’s also about preparing citizens to lead our community and our country,” he adds. “Hopefully, these kinds of course offerings will assist these young men and women to understand the role of both in their lives and the lives of their families. It’s in the best interest of all of us to create well-rounded, thoughtful and caring leaders, and if by our efforts we can assist that end game, we all turn out to be winners.”

Dr. David S. Wood, senior vice president for academic affairs and dean of the college, says, “Wofford’s liberal arts tradition provides an ideal platform for a seminar on civic engagement taught by someone like Bill Barnet,” Dr. David S. Wood, senior vice president for academic affairs and dean of the college, says. “He personifies the ideal of the liberally educated citizen leader who has committed himself to a life of service and engagement. News of his appointment has generated excitement across our campus.

“Obviously, his business, governmental and leadership experience will enrich many areas of the Wofford curriculum in the years ahead,” Wood says, noting that Barnet also eventually will teach in other areas. “He has a broad, diverse and distinguished background, and Dr. Rodrick, whose area of scholarly research is the history of civic engagement, so the combination is perfect.”

Barnet, who received his bachelor’s degree from Dartmouth College and his MBA from Amos Tuck School at Dartmouth, served two terms as mayor of Spartanburg, from 2002 to 2010. He is CEO of The Barnet Co. and Barnet Development Co. He is on the board of Duke Energy, the ETV Communications Endowment, the Palmetto Institute and the Duke Endowment. He has served as chairman of the S.C. Education Oversight Committee and Leadership Spartanburg, and is past president of the S.C. Textile Manufacturers Association and past trustee of the Spartanburg County Foundation.

Barnet has received the Al Willis Award from the Spartanburg Development Association, the Business Leader of the Year (2001) award from the S.C. Chamber of Commerce, the Dexter Edgar Converse Award from Converse College, the Daniel Morgan Award from the United Way of the Piedmont, the Neville Holcombe Distinguished Citizen Award from the Spartanburg Area Chamber of Commerce, the Order of the Palmetto from the Governor of South Carolina, the Paul Harris Fellow from the North Spartanburg Rotary Club and the Downtown Rotary Club, the Citizen of the Year Award from the Civitan Club of Spartanburg, and the Drummond Award for Statesmanship from Erskine College, and he was inducted into the S.C. Business Hall of Fame by Junior Achievement and The State newspaper.

Wofford’s National Alumni Association presented Barnet with its Distinguished Citizen Award and he received an honorary doctorate from the college.

Barnet and his wife, Valerie Manatis Barnet, have three children, Mary Rebecca (22), Will (20) and John (17).