Keynote Address at USCB Commencement

First woman and first African American president of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges to Deliver Keynote Address at USCB Commencement April 28

Editor's Note:

Due to such large attendance at the event, you can request a parking pass for the event from Kerry Jarvis. If we do not have time to get you a pass, you can show your media credentials to the officers directing traffic.

April 20, 2016

Belle Wheelan to Deliver Keynote Address at USCB Commencement BLUFFTON, S.C. – Dr. Belle S. Wheelan, first woman and first African American president of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges will deliver the keynote address at its 2017 commencement exercises April 28 at 6 p.m. on the Hilton Head Gateway Campus.  

At a young age, Dr. Wheelan moved from her birthplace of Chicago, Illinois to San Antonio, Texas. She grew up there and later attended Trinity University, graduating in 1974 with a bachelor of arts degree in psychology and sociology. She went on to Louisiana State University, graduating in 1974 with a master's degree in developmental educational psychology, and then earning a doctorate at the University of Texas at Austin in 1984 in educational administration with a special concentration in community college leadership.

Dr. Wheelan's career in education spans more than 40 years and includes roles as college president and Secretary of Education in the Commonwealth of Virginia. She was appointed by Virginia's newly elected governor in 2001 to be Secretary of Education in his administration.

She spent three and a half years in the position, handling a variety of education-related issues, before being named to lead the regional organization that accredits nearly 800 educational organizations throughout the South in 2005. She holds that post today.

In 2001, Dr. Wheelan was named one of Washington Magazine's 100 Most Powerful Women in Washington, D.C. In 2002, she received the Woman of Distinction Award presented by the American Association of University Women. In 2015, she earned the Dr. John Hope Franklin Award from Diverse: Issues in Higher Education magazine. 

"Dr. Wheelan's leadership experience gives her a great deal of insight into student success in higher education and life," said Al Panu, Ph.D., Chancellor of the University of South Carolina Beaufort. "She looks at obstacles as challenges that can be overcome. Our students can take this valuable lesson and apply it to their lives after graduation."

USCB will graduate 398 members of the Class of 2017. This is the largest graduating class in USCB's history. Commencement exercises will take place on the Library Plaza on the Hilton Head Gateway campus.

Distinguished guest taking part in the ceremony will include: Harris Pastides, Ph.D., president of the University of South Carolina, and members of the University of South Carolina Board of Trustees and the Beaufort-Jasper Higher Education Commission.

The university will recognize outstanding graduating seniors, faculty members and a dedicated member of the staff at the 2017 Academic Awards Ceremony April 27 at the Center for the Arts on the Beaufort campus.

Individuals who are not able to attend commencement can watch the ceremony live via the university's website start at 5:50 p.m. when the academic procession begins. The web address is www.uscb.edu/commencement.

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Located in the heart of the Carolina Sea Islands, the University of South Carolina Beaufort (USCB) is a baccalaureate member of the USC system, serving the southeast coast of South Carolina and Georgia. Since 2002, USCB has tripled its academic degree programs, doubled its FTE enrollment, opened its first on-campus housing (now serving more than 900), joined the NAIA Sun Conference, and fielded conference and national award-winning Sand Shark athletes in nine sports. The university's two campuses serve a diverse student body of 2,000 students. The Hilton Head Gateway campus in Bluffton, SC, offers cutting-edge Computational Science and Nursing laboratories, and a broad range of academic degree programs. The Historic Beaufort campus, located on Beaufort's downtown waterfront, houses an innovative baccalaureate Studio Art program in close proximity to Beaufort's many art galleries. The University of South Carolina Beaufort offers students an exceptional place to learn and live in an environment focused on growth, preservation and opportunity.

For more information about the University of South Carolina Beaufort, contact Kerry Jarvis, public information coordinator, at 843-208-8030 or jarviskc@uscb.edu.