Newsroom › PC’s 15th and 16th presidents continued college growth

Posted in: News | April 18, 2013

Kenneth B. Orr (1979-1997)

Kenneth Bradley Orr, a graduate of Duke University, Union Seminary, and the University of Michigan’s Center for the Study of Higher Education, came to PC from a position as president of the Presbyterian School of Christian Education in Richmond, Virginia. Orr was inaugurated as the 15th president of Presbyterian College during the college’s Centennial Observance in April of 1980.

15th-orrDuring his eighteen-year tenure, Orr expanded the curriculum, increased the size of the faculty by 25%, grew the endowment from $6 million to $52, million and continued construction of new buildings on campus.

Ten facilities were built and renovations were made to refurbish several existing buildings: Grotnes/Barron Dormitories & Brown Commons (1988), Edmunds Recital Hall (1989), Information Gazebo (1992), Harper Center Gallery and Theatre (1992), Mabry Smith Yonce Annex (1994), Harrington-Peachtree (1995), Kemper Lake Sports Medicine Complex (1995), the Townhouses (1997), and renovations were made to Jacobs Hall (1987), Neville Hall (1988), and Leroy Springs Student Activities Center (1984).

Other milestones during Orr’s leadership included the establishment of the Quattlebaum Honor Scholarship program, PC’s first recognition in U.S. News & World Report magazine, establishment of the Russell Program to examine influence of media on American society, the Knight Foundation grant program in applied ethics, and PC’s classification as a Carnegie Foundation Baccalaureate I institution, joining the ranks of the finest liberal arts colleges in the nation.

Orr retired in 1997, leaving behind a strong and vital college. In May of 1997, he was presented with the Order of the Palmetto by the state of South Carolina. He now lives in North Carolina.

John Griffith (1998-2012)  

John Vincent Griffith came to PC in January of 1998 after serving eight years as the President of Lyon College in Batesville, Arkansas. A graduate of Dickinson College, Harvard University, and Syracuse University, Griffith left an enduring legacy from his fourteen-year reign as President.

16th-GriffithIn the first few years of his presidency, Griffith led the college through the development of a new comprehensive strategic plan and undertook a major fundraising campaign. Most notably, Griffith led PC during its transition to Division I athletics and during the establishment of the Presbyterian College School of Pharmacy.

The physical expansion of the college continued with the addition of several buildings on campus:  the Patrick Center (2000), Carol International House (2000), Spradley Hall (2001), Martin Soccer Stadium (2001), New Bailey Memorial Stadium (2002), Lassiter Hall (2008), a major addition and renovation to the Thomason Library (2006) and a renovation of Springs Campus Center (2008).  In addition, the Armed Forces Memorial (2004), the Piephoff Outdoor Chapel (2005), and the Alumni Green (2008) memorials now beautify outdoor campus spaces.

A priority of Griffith’s administration was an outreach designed to build a strong relationship between the college and the global and local community. Due to PC’s partnership with Guizhou University in Hanban Province, China, PC was selected to establish a regional Confucius Institute on the PC campus, an honor usually reserved for larger universities.

Griffith also undertook successful outreach to establish alliances with other universities, including  Claflin College in Orangeburg, SC. And because of the strong ties with the Laurens County chapter of Habitat for Humanity, the college chartered a student chapter of Habitat for Humanity.

Griffith was well known for sporting a bow tie on campus and at special events and even taught a short course on how to properly tie a bow tie.  According to his wife, Nancy Griffith, students would show up on their doorstep prior to formal events to get his assistance with their ties, a kind of belated help session.

Dr. Griffith retired in 2012 and he and his wife, Nancy, continue to live in Clinton.

Source: Information provided by PC Archives

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