New Winthrop University President Jayne Marie Comstock says shes filled with anticipation about presiding over her first commencement ceremony Thursday at Winthrop Coliseum.
Comstock, the universitys 10th president and second female president, will congratulate and shake hands with 92 Winthrop graduate-level students. She will confer masters or specialist degrees during the ceremony for December graduates. The ceremony starts at 7 p.m.
On Saturday, 331 students will cross the stage during Winthrops undergraduate commencement ceremony.
Its a momentous occasion, Comstock said, both for her and for the graduating students and their friends and families.
Graduation ceremonies are one piece of a university presidents ceremonial work, but whats most meaningful for Comstock, she said, is that the celebration is a time for students to reflect on their hard work.
Winthrop is bringing back the inclusion of a graduation speaker. The university last had a commencement speaker in May 2007. Distinguished Winthrop professor Marilyn Smith is Saturdays guest speaker.
Smith, a professor of management in the universitys College of Business Administration, has been at Winthrop for 24 years.
She has served as the facultys representative to the Board of Trustees, become the first director of general education and sat on the Winthrop Graduate Council and graduate petitions committee.
Smith is coordinator of the College of Business Administrations sustainable business studies options and is co-chairwoman of the colleges effort to revise its core undergraduate curriculum.
It was Comstocks idea to reinstate the tradition of hosting commencement speakers at Winthrop. A guest speaker can help graduating students internalize the fact that they can set goals, put forth energy to achieve those goals and accomplish their hopes and dreams, she said.
Graduation ceremonies are also a time for students to think about their opportunities and the responsibility they have to put their degree to good use for all those who invested in their education, Comstock said, including the state of South Carolina, Winthrops donors, their families and the larger university community.
Also Saturday, Winthrop will honor Aaron Hartel, a chemistry professor, with the schools top teaching award the James Pinckney Kinard and Lee Wicker Kinard Award for Excellence in Teaching. It is named in honor of former Winthrop president James P. Kinard and his wife.
Hartel has been a member of Winthrops teaching faculty since 2004. He has been published in The Journal of Chemical Education, the worlds most prestigious journal in chemical education.
Saturdays ceremony starts at 11 a.m.
Video of both the graduate and undergraduate commencement ceremonies will be streamed live on Winthrops website winthrop.edu.
Anna Douglas • 803-329-4068