Coker Celebrates Opening Convocation

For more information, contact Barb Steadman - 843.857.4199

HARTSVILLE, S.C. – Aug. 19, 2011 – Coker College hosted its annual convocation ceremony on Thursday, Aug. 18 in the Watson Theater of the Elizabeth Boatwright Coker Performing Arts Center.  For the first time, the ceremony was also webcast in real time.

Associate Professor of Music William Carswell presented the convocation address, which was titled “Change is Good… You Go First.”

An accomplished conductor and educator, Carswell, who is the College’s director of choral and vocal studies and the coordinator of the music program, received the Excellence in Teaching Award from South Carolina Independent Colleges and Universities in 2010.

As director of choral and vocal studies, Carswell leads the Coker Singers, the College’s premier choral ensemble.  In April 2012 the Coker Singers will join the South Carolina Philharmonic Orchestra in a performance of Beethoven’s monumental 9th Symphony.  This will be the fifth collaboration between the two musical ensembles in six years.  Dr. Carswell founded the Coker Chamber Singers in 2004 in order to provide a more intense choral experience for sixteen auditioned singers.  Both ensembles travel regularly and have been heard in such prestigious venues as the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts and the United States Capitol Rotunda in Washington, D.C., the Koger Center for the Performing Arts in Columbia, SC, Alice Tully Hall at Lincoln Center, and at Carnegie Hall.

Carswell holds a D.M.A. degree in conducting from the University of South Carolina, a Master of Music degree in conducting from Florida State University, and a Bachelor of Music Education degree from Appalachian State University.

A special recognition

Coker College President Robert Wyatt presented Professor Emeritus of Religion Deane Shaffer with a Distinguished Service Award for 50 years of service to the College.

Shaffer joined the Coker College faculty in 1961 and was awarded the Vivien Gay and J.L. Coker Professorship in Religion in 1964. He was twice awarded the College’s Master Professor Award, most recently in 1990. During his tenure at Coker, he has served numerous terms as chair of the faculty senate, on many faculty committees such as on the promotion and tenure committee and a number of years chairing the Staley Lecture Series Committee.  He also served on the College Board of Trustees.  Beyond the campus community, Dr. Shaffer has served on the American Red Cross Board of Directors in Hartsville, the Human Relations Council and in several other area organizations.

He holds a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology from Bethel College (now Bethel University) in Minnesota and a Ph.D. in Religion from the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.  Following graduate school, Dr. Shaffer studied at the University of Edinburgh, Duke University, Princeton University and, through a Traveling Fulbright Seminar, studied Indian religions and culture in India.


PHOTOS:  Associate Professor of Music William Carswell (top); President Robert Wyatt thanks Professor Emeritus of Religion Deane Shaffer for 50 years of distinguished service to the College.



Coker College readies undergraduates for personal and professional success through a distinctive four-year program that emphasizes a practical application of the liberal arts as well as hands-on and discussion-based learning within and beyond the classroom. Coker is ranked among the “Best Colleges” in the South by U.S. News & World Report as well as The Princeton Review. Located in Hartsville, Coker is within two hours of the cultural, financial and recreational resources of Charlotte, Columbia, Charleston and Myrtle Beach. For more information contact Barb Steadman: 843-397-9959 or This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .

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