More than 300 students are expected to earn degrees Saturday May 9, at Presbyterian College’s 132nd commencement ceremonies, to be held at 10 a.m. on the West Plaza. In case of rain, the commencement ceremony for the College of Arts & Science will be held at 10 a.m. in Templeton Gym, and the commencement ceremony for the School of Pharmacy will be held at 2 p.m. in Belk Auditorium.
Additionally, PC’s ROTC will hold a commissioning ceremony at 2 p.m. Friday May 8, in Edmunds Hall. Eleven Highlander Battalion cadets will be commissioned as second lieutenants in the United States Army. The battalion is composed of students from PC, Lander University, and Newberry College. The special speaker is Major General Barrye L. Price, Deputy Chief of Staff, G-1, U.S. Army Forces Command.
A baccalaureate service for the College of Arts & Sciences will be held on May 8, at 6 p.m. in Belk Auditorium. The baccalaureate message will be given by The Rev. Dr. Allen McSween, PC Board of Trustee member and grandson of Dr. John McSween, the 11th president of Presbyterian College.
In addition to the conferring of degrees, several other honors will be given out during the ceremony.
Paul Blanton Rice will be recognized as the Outstanding Senior for the Class of 2015. Mr. Rice is an English major, with minors in both history and Chinese studies, and a GPA of 3.99. In addition to his studies, he runs Cross Country, volunteers in the PC Writing Center, serves as President of the English honor society Sigma Kappa Alpha, serves as editor-in-chief for the student newspaper, works in PC’s organic garden, and is a Bluefish and Stephen Minister. Additionally, Mr. Rice plays in the PC Wind Ensemble, in the Blue Hose Thunder Pep Band, and the Jazz Band; and does sterling work in the Admissions Office. He is also involved with Summer Fellows and Honors research.
Paul is a son of Charles and Caren Rice of Hartwell, Ga.
Dr. John Justin Brent, PC professor of English and chair of the department, will be recognized as Professor of the Year. Dr. Brent earned his undergraduate degree from Furman University and his doctorate from State University of New York, Stony Brook.
Dr. Brent teaches both general education courses and upper-level courses for the English Department, focusing primarily on early English literature and linguistics. Recently, he developed a media studies minor and now teaches the introductory course for the minor.
Much of his energy at Presbyterian College has focused on the connections between a liberal arts curriculum and future career paths. He has piloted courses that promote service learning and writing and research skills.
Dr. Brent and his wife reside in Clinton.
Robert Emmett Staton, Sr. `68 will receive the honorary doctorate, doctor of public service. Mr. Staton was a member of PC’s Board of Trustees from 1997-2006, serving on and chairing several committees. He also served as chair of the College’s Promise and Challenge capital campaign. In January 2007, he joined PC’s administration as executive vice president for external relations.
Mr. Staton is a 1968 graduate of PC and a 1971 graduate of the University of South Carolina School of Law. He has served as partner in the law firm of Quinn, Brown, Staton, and Boyle; as chairman of Carolina National Bank; and as chairman, president and CEO of Colonial Life Insurance. After a 17-year career, Mr. Staton retired from Colonial in 2001. He then went on to serve as president of the United Way of South Carolina, and as interim vice president for development at the University of South Carolina.
Mr. Staton and his wife reside in Lexington, S.C.
Major General Barrye Price is a 1985 Distinguished Military Graduate of the University of Houston’s College of Business Administration. He earned a master’s degree in history in 1994 from Texas A&M University and in 1997 became the first African-American to obtain a doctorate from the Department of History in the 139-year history of Texas A&M University. He also earned a master’s degree in National Security Strategy from the National Defense University in 2004.
Major General Price currently serves as the Deputy Chief of Staff, G-1 Army Forces Command in Fort Bragg, N.C. He also has had numerous assignments, such as Executive Officer of the 5th Personnel Services Company, Commander of the 5th Replacement Company, Chief of Personnel/Adjutant General Plans and Operations for the 5th Infantry Division in Fort Polk, La.; Assistant Professor of Military History at the United States Military Academy at West Point, N.Y.; White House Fellow and Special Assistant to the Director, U.S. Office of Personnel Management in Washington, D.C.; Executive Officer and Military Assistant to the Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Army for Manpower and Reserve Affairs (Human Resources) at the Pentagon in Washington, D.C.; and the Director of Human Resources Policy Directorate, Army G1 at the Pentagon.
Major General Price also has received numerous military awards and decorations, including, but not limited to, the Defense Superior Service Medal, three Legions of Merit, a Bronze Star Medal, five Meritorious Service Medals, and a Global War on Terrorism Service Medal.
Major General Price, his wife and son reside in Fort Bragg, N.C.
The Rev. Dr. Allen McSween has served in Presbyterian churches in Lexington and Bowling Green, Ky.; and in Laurinburg, N.C. He was the senior pastor of Fourth Presbyterian Church in Greenville, S.C. for 19 years. He served as primary writer for From Generation to Generation, a centennial history of Fourth Presbyterian Church, and he recently published a booklet on the life of his grandfather.
Dr. McSween is a graduate of Davidson College, Union Theological Seminary in Virginia, where he earned a master of divinity and doctor of ministry. He also graduated from Yale University Divinity School, where he earned a master of sacred theology.
In 2014, he was named an “Honorary PC Alumnus.”
Dr. McSween was born in Clinton, and grew up in Greensboro, N.C. He and his wife now reside in Greenville.