Academics, Campus wide, Graduation

Largest graduating class walks stage

By Jan Joslin | May 7, 2022

The largest Charleston Southern University graduating class ever, with 776 graduates, was recognized Saturday, May 7 at North Charleston Coliseum. Ceremonies for the Classes of 2021 and 2020 were held on Buccaneer Field last spring due to COVID.

Legendary Coach Lou Holtz addressed the graduates and received an Honorary Doctor of Public Service from the university. 

Holtz encouraged graduates to do everything to the best of their ability. He said, “You’re either growing or you’re dying. Go do something great with your life.”

Despite never inheriting a winning team, Holtz compiled a 243-127-7 career record that ranked him third in victories among active coaches and eighth in winning percentage. He became the 25th head coach of Notre Dame following stints at Minnesota, Arkansas, North Carolina State, and William & Mary. He spent the 1976 season as head coach of the New York Jets of the National Football League.

After his departure from Notre Dame following the 1996 season, he joined CBS Sports’ College Football Today for two seasons as a sports analyst and worked with United States Filter, a global provider of water treatment, as a customer relations spokesman. From there he went on to coach at the University of South Carolina for six seasons from 1999- 2004 where he led the Gamecocks to back-to back January 1 bowl games for the first time in the history of the school and defeated Ohio State in consecutive bowl appearances. In 2008, Holtz was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame, and Notre Dame dedicated a statue of him.

He is the author of three books, a U.S. Army veteran, and he and his late wife, Beth, have four children and nine grandchildren.

Also receiving honorary doctorates were Shirley D. Whitfield, Honorary Doctor of Public Service, and The Rev. Rob Dewey, Honorary Doctor of Christian Leadership.

Whitfield and her late husband, Floyd Whitfield, are longtime donors to Charleston Southern including establishing the Whitfield Endowed Scholarship, and funding for the Whitfield Stadium Center, the Whitfield Center for Christian Leadership, the Singleton Baseball Complex, the Health Science building, and contributions to the future Convocation Center. Owners of The Whitfield Company,  they provide commercial real estate services, property development, and investments in the Charleston region.

Shirley Whitfield has played an active role with the service projects of the CSU Women’s Council and is a life member of the President’s Club and a member of the Legacy Society.

Dewey and his wife, Kathy, donated funding to establish The Dewey Center for Chaplaincy at CSU. The center trains and equips people to minister to others from all walks of life. Dewey is a frequent facilitator at center events. The College of Christian Studies offers a major and minor in chaplaincy. 

Dewey, an Episcopal priest, started Coastal Crisis Chaplaincy in 1990 to address needs he saw in the Charleston community. After taking a sabbatical, he started Lowcountry Community Chaplaincy in 2016. Active in the community, he has served as a chaplain with S.C. Law Enforcement, with the FBI, as the National Disaster Response Coordinator for The Episcopal Church in the USA, and was named Innovator of the Year in Crises Response in 2016. He also received the Ready Communities Partnership National Service Award in 2017.

The Distinguished Service Award was awarded posthumously to Dr. Kate Hendricks Thomas, former chair of the CSU public health department. A prolific author, she advocated for women in the military, moms, and for veterans exposed to toxins while deployed to receive expanded VA coverage. The Dr. Kate Hendricks Thomas Service Act S.2102 bill is named in her honor. She died April 5, 2022, at the age of 42.

Three faculty members received the designation of Faculty Emeritus:

  • Theodore Blanchard, assistant professor of business administration/accounting, at CSU since 1980
  • Dr. Arnold Hite, professor of economics, at CSU since 1990
  • Eileen Lutzow, assistant professor of library science and assistant librarian of systems and electronic resources, at CSU since 1999

Students receiving the highest awards for seniors are:

  • Bailey Grace Dingler, a Bachelor of Business Administration graduate, with majors in marketing and supply chain management from Lancaster, received The Myrtle E. Hamrick Award and The John A. Barry Award.
  • Tiffany Nicole Pyritz, a member of the women’s tennis team from Wake Forest, N.C., received The Hunter Cup. She is graduating with a Bachelor of Business Administration with majors in accounting and financial management.
  • Thomas Wayne Vaughan Jr., a senior elementary education major from Columbia, received the Carolyn Killen Hunter Outstanding Christian Teacher Endowed Scholarship and Award.

Each CSU graduate received a Bible provided by special arrangement between the Frank J. Johnson and Brenda Eve Bowick Johnson Bible Endowment and the Lockman Foundation.

In addition, the CSU Alumni Association presented each graduate with a journal, and William Renfrow, a member of the CSU Board of Trustees, donated funds for each graduate to have a copy of the new book, Who’s Eating Your Pie? Essential Financial Advice That Will Transform Your Life, by South Carolina author and entrepreneur Erik Weir.


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