CENTRAL — Southern Wesleyan University honored those in public service on the local, state and national levels Feb. 26 with its Government and Legislative Appreciation luncheon.
During the annual luncheon, elected and appointed officials received updates about Southern Wesleyan and its academic programs, and heard about how their support of grants and other financial aid make the dream of college a reality for a significant number of students.
During the luncheon, Dr. Todd Voss, university president, gave updates on inventive learning opportunities, including a new doctoral program (Ed.D.) from the School of Education, a new RN to BSN program, a new bachelor of arts in religion, new business concentrations and the recent approval of a fully online master of education in administration and supervision (MEDAS).
Voss also said that the university has received more than 14,000 inquiries about its programs and applications are on the rise as well.
“Partnerships make all of this happen. Our local, county, state and federal friends – what an asset. So many of these things require certain kinds of conversations and partnerships, and you can’t do it without having friends. That’s one of the reasons we do this today, so that you get an idea of where we’re heading and what’s been happening,” Voss said.
“I grew up in the home of an educator who taught in our local community college and my father was a public servant,” said Attorney Wade Kolb III of Wyche Law Firm, title sponsors for the luncheon. “I saw firsthand the sacrifices that those in public service make. Public servants are always at work, looking out for the public good.”
Kolb also quoted Eighteenth-Century theologian John Wesley, “They who govern the world before I was born shall take care of it likewise when I am dead. My part is to improve the present moment.”
“I have the freedom to choose to go to a private Christian school and receive state assistance. I want to thank you for your support and your commitment to do your best so that I can do my best,” said Savannah McCollum, a junior honors student majoring in business.
“None of this would have been possible without you guys. You’re all there in those positions helping students all over the state and even the country find their niche and their college fit. You’ve made it easier for someone like me in finding their purpose,” said Allen Williams, a senior from Seneca majoring in business.
Zella Wilson, senior majoring in biology, recalled how her mother was unable to attend college, but would encourage her, telling her she is smart and capable of succeeding. “Today I can say I will graduate on May 4, 2018, and most importantly, today I can say ‘thank you’ for supporting me emotionally, spiritually financially and educationally,” Wilson said.
Pickens District 3 representative Gary Clary recalled receiving a “Thank You” letter from Wilson after mailing letters to students in his district who receive state tuition grants. He also noted that – like Wilson – he too is a first-generation college graduate.
“Neither of my parents finished high school, and for my brother and me to attend college and for me to go on to law school was far beyond my wildest dreams,” Clary said. “It is so gratifying to see the students you are developing here and their ability to convey thanks for what we do. Today this lets me know why I serve.”
South Carolina Independent Colleges and Universities (SCICU) Executive Vice President Eddie Shannon spoke about the impact of the more than 31,000 students enrolled in the state’s 20 independent colleges and how 288 Southern Wesleyan students benefit from merit scholarships through LIFE, Palmetto Fellows and HOPE scholarships and gave an update on efforts to increase tuition grant amounts in the next state budget.
Among those attending this year’s luncheon were Madison Cooper of Sen. Lindsey Graham’s office, Rick Adkins and Jordan Christian of Congressman Jeff Duncan’s office, Congressman Trey Gowdy’s office, Pickens District 3 Rep. Gary Clary, South Carolina Supreme Court Justice John Kittredge, Col. Marion Collins of the South Carolina Adjutant General’s Office, South Carolina Independent Colleges and Universities (SCICU) Executive Vice President Eddie Shannon, Clemson Mayor J.C. Cook, Seneca Mayor Dan Alexander, Six Mile Mayor Roy Stoddard, Central City Manager Phillip Mishoe, Clemson City Administrator Rick Cotton, Pickens County Administrator Gerald Wilson, Chris Bowers and Ensley Feemester of Pickens County Council, Michael Hayes of Pickens County, Edda Cammick and Julian Davis of Oconee County Council and S.C. Vocational Rehabilitation Oconee-Pickens Area Supervisor Sheila Ford.
Also, the University Singers and Southern Wesleyan University Fine Arts Division Chair Jane Dill provided music during the luncheon. Rev. Ken Dill, university chaplain and Central town council member, opened the luncheon by sharing a prayer that George Washington wrote for the nation.
Another luncheon is scheduled for Feb. 25, 2019. For details, contact the Southern Wesleyan University Office of Government and Legislative Relations at (864) 644-5006.