Coker Celebrates Historic Winter Commencement

HARTSVILLE, S.C. – Dec. 17, 2013 – Coker College graduated a record 92 undergraduates during its 2013 winter commencement ceremony, held in the Elizabeth Boatwright Coker Performing Arts Center.

In addition to conferring bachelor's degrees, Coker set another graduation milestone during the ceremony. Six individuals received their master's degrees, becoming the first class of students to receive a graduate-level degree at the institution. The college began a master's degree in college athletic administration in May 2012.

“In 2011, the college passed a major milestone when our accrediting body authorized a level change to a master's granting institution,” said Tracy Parkinson, provost and dean of the faculty. “By conferring our first graduate degrees, we see all of that work come to fruition with graduates who will be uniquely employable and prepared in college athletics and any number of other areas related to sport management.”

Patricia Harris delivered the commencement speech and was awarded an honorary doctorate of humane letters.

Harris is the global chief diversity officer & vice president of global community engagement for McDonald’s Corporation. She is responsible for the development and implementation of diversity and inclusion strategies throughout McDonald’s Corporation including over 33,500 restaurants in 119 countries. In addition, she's responsible for leading a team responsible for McDonald's global community engagement efforts.

Originally from McBee, S.C., Harris resides in Chicago, Ill.

Robin Foley, a student in the Marion Adult Learners Program for Higher Achievement (ALPHA), presented the Distinguished Adjunct Professor of the Year award to Olivia Cribb, an adjunct professor at Coker since 2001.

Cribb is a mathematics professor who teaches in the ALPHA program at the Marion campus. She earned a bachelor’s degree in secondary education with a math focus and a master’s degree in education from Francis Marion University. Currently, Cribb also serves as a full-time math teacher in the Marion County School District.

Two students receiving their undergraduate degrees had an extra reason to celebrate. In a planned event, Billy Simpson and Marisa Gurrera were engaged in front of the audience, as Simpson dropped to one knee after both received their degrees on stage.

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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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300 East College Ave.
Hartsville, SC 29550