Spartanburg, S.C. - The University of South Carolina Upstate will hold its annual Founders' Day Celebration on Thursday, February 18 at 5:30 p.m. in the Campus Life Center Ballroom. The annual Founders’ Day Celebration provides the University an opportunity to honor friends and supporters who have been instrumental in the development of the institution.
“This year marks a special Founders’ Day Celebration in this history of USC Upstate as we pay particular tribute to a man whose vision and determination led to the initial establishment of the University,” said James R. Smith ‘72, chairman of the Spartanburg County Commission for Higher Education. “The Spartanburg County Commission for Higher Education is proud to announce the establishment of the G.B. Hodge, M.D. Lifetime Achievement Award and to make the inaugural presentation of this special award posthumously to our founding Commission chair, G.B. Hodge, M.D.”
According to Smith, the G.B. Hodge, M.D. Lifetime Achievement Award is the newest and the highest recognition the Commission can grant and is designed to recognize a lifetime of history altering influence on the shape, character and destiny of the University of South Carolina Upstate.
An influential visionary, surgeon and community leader, Dr. Hodge played a pivotal role in the establishment of USC Spartanburg in 1967, when the community faced losing its nursing program at Spartanburg General Hospital. Spartanburg Regional Campus, as it was first known, opened its doors 177 students but has since grown to an enrollment of 5,500 students and offers more than 40 bachelor’s degree programs in the liberal arts and sciences, business administration, nursing and teacher education, and master’s degrees in education.
During its 42 years of existence, Dr. Hodge remained intimately involved with the University and chaired the Spartanburg County Commission for Higher Education from its inception for more than 28 years.
“It is remarkable that in one man’s lifetime he could create not just a wonderful degree school for nurses that solved a very immediate problem for this community but really a great university that is now serving tens of thousands of students,” said Dr. Julian Josey, a radiation oncologist.
The Spartanburg County Commission for Higher Education will also present six Awards for Distinguished Service in honor of long and distinguished careers of service to the University that is characterized by exceptional dedication, exceptional work ethic and persistent commitment to quality. Receiving these awards are:
- Dr. Jerome V. Bennett, Sr., Distinguished Professor Emeritus of Accounting
- Dr. Diana Clary, Distinguished Professor Emerita of Accounting
- The late Beatrice Pye, Former Custodian
- Mr. Elbert “Bill” G. Noblitt, Retired Master Craftsman
- Dr. Ronald H. Romine, Former American Humanics Program Director
- Dr. Edwin F. Wilde, Professor Emeritus of Mathematics
Dr. Jerome Bennett earned his Ph.D. in accounting at the University of South Carolina. At USC Upstate, Dr. Bennett’s extensive career accomplishments include serving as dean of the School of Business Administration and Economics for 12 years, recruiting the nucleus of the faculty and building the curriculum through the formative years that has, in later years, led to full accreditation.
Dr. Diana Clary earned her MBA and Ed.D. from Virginia Tech and her MPA from Clemson University. During her 17 years at USC Upstate, Dr. Clary served as dean of the School of Business Administration and Economics and was named Distinguished Professor Emerita of Accounting.
Mr. Elbert “Bill” Noblitt’s career as a master craftsman and maintenance professional in facilities management at USC Upstate lasted 15 years. He retired in 1995 only to return on a temporary basis the following week in order to continue the work he enjoys.
The late Ms. Beatrice V. Pye worked as a custodian at USC Upstate. Her commitment to her job was strong and her attachment to her co-workers was authentic. During her courageous four-year battle with cancer, and her many rounds of cancer treatment, “Ms. Bea” refused to take time off from her job because she wanted to be at USC Upstate around all of the people whom she loved.
Dr. Ronald H. Romine received his B.A. from the University of North Alabama and his Ph.D. from the University of South Carolina. Dr. Romine’s career as a professor of political science spans more than three decades, a great deal of which he dedicated at USC Upstate to leadership and program development. During his tenure at the University, he has worked as program director in the College of Arts and Sciences, director of the Center for Nonprofit Leadership, campus director of the American Humanics Program, and director of the Metropolitan Studies Institute.
Dr. Edwin Wilde received a B.S. and M.S. in Education from Illinois State University. He earned a M.A. in Statistics and a Ph.D. in Mathematics from University of Illinois. His career in academia has covered just about every position from faculty member to key administrator. Dr. Wilde came to the University when it was USCS and served as vice chancellor for academic affairs. He was named Teacher of the Year at Upstate in 1998 for sharing his passion for mathematics with his students. The outdoor classroom in the Rotary International Peace Park on campus is named in his honor.
“The service of the Distinguished Service Honorees is what has made this University one of the finest, strongest and fastest growing in the State of South Carolina,” said Dr. John Stockwell, chancellor of USC Upstate.