Coker Celebrates 105th Spring Commencement

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HARTSVILLE, S.C. – May 18, 2013 – In an outdoor ceremony on the lawn of Davidson Hall this morning, Coker College President Robert Wyatt recognized 188 new graduates and conferred a Doctor of Humane Letters on this year’s commencement speaker, Ted Shaker, owner and managing partner of Mercury Media.

For President Wyatt, seeing this cohort of students cross the platform represented a moment of personal importance.

“I suspect, you came to Coker expecting good things here, Wyatt said. “I hope we delivered. When Nancy, Lara and I moved here four years ago, along with you – Coker’s Class of 2013 – we expected good things, too.  And we were not disappointed. You have helped me to more clearly see the nature of our potential to make a difference here at Coker College.

“You have helped me see how Coker College is Redefining Ready.  More importantly, however, because of you, I now know this fact, which previously I had only hoped was true: You will make a positive difference the world over.  I could not be more proud.”

Shaker, too, said he saw himself – the first of his family to graduate from college – in this year’s graduates, and he urged them to take a mental picture of the moment so that they could hold on to the memory of this “profound sense of accomplishment and pride.”

With a career that spans three decades at the forefront of sports and news media, Shaker has received numerous national awards including 13 Emmy Awards for excellence in the creation of sports programming and two George Foster Peabody awards for outstanding work in news and sports.

Drawing on lessons from his work in television, Shaker encouraged the graduates to consider the marathon before them as they make their life choices.

“I chose a career in television, a medium that measures itself in seconds, and a premium is not placed on patience,” Shaker said. “But I learned that off screen, when the cameras were shut off and the game or show was over, it was important to be patient – to give people and ideas time to gesticulate, to develop and grow. Patience allows you to achieve more than you’ll ever think possible,” he said.

During the two-hour ceremony, several individuals received special recognition.

Associate professor of history Kevin Kenyon received the College’s Master Professor Award.  Each year the student body nominates deserving professors for the award and the graduating class votes on the top five nominees. The nominees were professor of biology Paula Samiec Bailey, assistant professor of education Karen Carpenter, associate professor of English The Reverend John Foster and assistant professor of social work Shirley McClerklin-Motley.

Five graduates, Lindsay Davis, Leslie Hanna, Elizabeth McCarley, James Shumpert and James Sweeney, were recognized as first honor graduates, having earned the highest academic cumulative grade point average. Each achieved a cumulative grade-point-average of 4.0.

The Alumni Cup was awarded to Lindsay Davis, Zachary Durham, Leslie Hanna, Stephanie Harrelson, Elizabeth McCarley, Andrew Morris, Ashli Pollard, James Shumpert and James Sweeney. The Alumni Cup is awarded by the Coker College Alumni Association to the members of the graduating class who have earned the highest academic averages for their junior and senior years.

Established in 1908, Coker College has a total undergraduate enrollment of approximately 1,200 students and offers 50 areas of study. The college is accredited by the Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, the National Association of Schools of Music, the South Carolina Board of Education and the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education.



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, S.C., Coker is within two hours of the cultural, financial and recreational resources of Charlotte, Columbia, Charleston and Myrtle Beach.


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