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College graduates urged to ‘begin walking uphill’

Co-valedictorian Kelley Griffin introduced the speaker.

Members of the Erskine College Class of 2013 were recognized May 18 at the school’s 168th commencement.

Commencement speaker Alfred C. Sikes served as chairman of the Federal Communications Commissions (FCC) under President George H.W. Bush. He has served on the Trinity Forum Board, which he chaired for five years.

Sikes, whose address was titled “The Downhill Slope,” cited the agency’s action against Mel Karmazin’s Infinity Broadcasting and ‘shock jock’ Howard Stern as a story that helps to “frame a cultural divide that is no less relevant today.”

The FCC acted under a broadcast law designed to “protect children from predators,” Sikes said, noting that the Arbitron rating service showed that young boys made up “a significant share of Stern’s audience.”

Karmazin rallied the broadcast industry, claiming that Stern was simply exercising his right to free speech, Sikes said. “They accused me of wanting to become the nation’s censor.”

Years later, Sikes was notified that a librarian in Massachusetts had named him a beneficiary in her will, making the designation at the height of Sikes’ public wrangle with Stern and Karmazin. He was puzzled by this at first, and after renouncing any claim to the woman’s estate, he thought about her motivation.

“Librarians…understand the importance of words,” Sikes said. “They know that what we write, read, view and speak shape the culture in which we live. She, I would guess, saw Stern as a clever predator preying ultimately on civilization.”

The librarian understood what Karmazin “chose to ignore” as he focused on “measuring the value of his advertising inventory…and his stock,” Sikes said.

“A society that is principally shaped by the ambitious, who just want more and are principally informed by financial data, is in trouble,” he told the students. “If love of humanity and humility are nowhere in the equation, civilization is indeed on a downhill slope.”

The challenge for the graduates’ generation, Sikes said, “is to begin walking uphill—to remind yourself that walking uphill expands the horizons,” even though “the downhill slope is much easier.”

Co-valedictorian Eric Goodwin, left, and magna cum laude graduate Justin Bartanus

Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs Dr. Brad Christie read each candidate’s name and Erskine President Dr. David Norman, Board of Trustees Chairman W. David Conner, and Professor of Biology Dr. David Ritland assisted with distributing diplomas and offering congratulations.

Senior Class President Sachini Bandara is congratulated by Dr. David Norman.

Graduating seniors clutched colorful strands of beads and placed them around the president’s neck as they came forward to receive their diplomas. Some of the seniors turned their attention to Christie and Ritland, who received a few strands of beads as well.



Also during the commencement ceremony, Gordon Stowe Query, former member of the Erskine Board of Trustees and an active member of First Presbyterian Church of Columbia, received the honorary doctor of humane letters degree.

Kelley Elizabeth Griffin of Greenville, a summa cum laude graduate in American Studies and one of seven seniors who tied for the highest grade point average in the Class of 2013, introduced the speaker.

The other six co-valedictorians, all graduating summa cum laude, were Shelbee Danelle Cupp, Manning; Heather Anita Emch, Chapel Hill, N.C.; Eric Scott Goodwin, Greenville; Robert Logan Hammond, Belmont, N.C.; Sarah Aimee LaCourse, Greenville; and Victoria Christine Unthank, West Columbia.

At the senior dinner, from left, Sarah LaCourse, co-valedictorian; Tillary Blackman, Algernon Sydney Sullivan Award winner; and Victoria Unthank, co-valedictorian and H.M. Young Ring recipient

Several special awards were announced during the commencement exercises, including the Younts Excellence in Teaching Award, given to Professor of Psychology Dr. Robert Elsner; the Algernon Sydney Sullivan Award, given to Tillary Blackman of Charlotte, N.C.; the Mary Mildred Sullivan Award, given to Kelley Elizabeth Griffin of Greenville; and the H.M. Young Ring, the highest honor for a member of the senior class, given to Victoria Christine Unthank of West Columbia.

Serving as faculty marshals were Professor of Sociology Dr. John Showalter, crucifer, and Dr. David Ritland, mace bearer. The Rev. Paul Patrick, campus chaplain, offered the invocation and benediction.

Alumni Association President Steve Southwell inducted the graduates into the association.

Senior Class President Sachini Bandara of Lexington announced the class gift.

The Erskine College Choraleers, directed by Prof. Bill Diekhoff, provided music for the event, along with Erskine College Sinfonia, directed by Dr. Brooks Kuykendall.



Erskine College graduates were:

Bachelor of Arts


Graduates, Feb. 1, 2013: Elizabeth Lane Bradley, Richburg; Lisa Ann Jones, cum laude, Gastonia, N.C.; Sarah Elizabeth Money, Baumholder, Germany; Jason Alan Rich, Simpsonville; Sarah Jane Sill Tate, Hickory, N.C.


Graduates, May 18, 2013: Morgan Danielle Allison, cum laude, Pelzer; Jacob Pressly Blakely, Laurens; Kellie Dee Brabham, Greer; Amanda Faith Brandon, Blythewood; Emily Morgan Brown, magna cum laude, Clemson; Lauren Victoria Chabra, Mt. Pleasant; William Thomas Cooper, Greenville; MarCayce Euricos Crosby, Rock Hill; Kristina Elizabeth Culbreth, Newberry; Gabrielle Louise Dierickx, Simpsonville;  Rachel Elizabeth Eckard, cum laude, Gilbert; Jocelynn Ellis Evans, magna cum laude, Liberty; Shannon Victoria Field, cum laude, Sumter; Tracy Ellen Frohlich, Greensboro, N.C.; Colleen Elizabeth Gardner, Matthews, N.C.; Eric Scott Goodwin, summa cum laude, Greenville; Evan Kenneth Gosnell, Pelzer; Erin Esther Gray, West Columbia; Kelley Elizabeth Griffin, summa cum laude, Greenville; John Patterson Johnston, Roanoke, Va.; Taylor Blake Kern, Hartwell, Ga.; Peter Yoonsuk Kim, Rock Hill; Megan Ashley Kunkle, summa cum laude, Sumter; Sarah Aimee LaCourse, summa cum laude, Greenville; Yae Bon Lee, Port Washington, N.Y.; Nicholas John Lewis, summa cum laude, Summerville; Sovonya LaRae McKenzie, Greenville; Ashlee Rebecca Newman, Sumter; Sarah Lauren Pisano, summa cum laude, Palm Coast, Fla.; Bryce Andrew Pruitt, Williston; Kari Elizabeth Sell, Greenville; James Gaillard Snowden IV, Clemson; Joseph David Spate, magna cum laude, Hodges; Katherine Ruth Taylor, York; Erin Louise Tovo, magna cum laude, Aiken; Matthew Aaron Twitty, Cayce; Victoria Christine Unthank, summa cum laude, West Columbia

Candidates, Aug. 15, 2013: Daniel Joseph Brasche, Irmo; Samantha Karen Calder, Greenville; Ashley Danielle Chandarana, Greenville; Robert Bentley Cheatham Jr., Summerville; Robert Evan Howard, Thomson, Ga.

Bachelor of Science


Graduates, Feb. 1, 2013: Samantha Erin Collier, Columbia; Jack Peter Kimber, Manchester, England; Zachary Michael McCarthy, Spartanburg

Graduates, May 18, 2013: Samantha Thi Abbott, North Augusta; Dustin Kyle Abercrombie, Ware Shoals; Chandler Joyce Adkins, cum laude, Honea Path; Kimrey Nicole Angotti-Smith, Goose Creek; Courtney Ann Balcome, cum laude, Middleton, Nova Scotia; Oshadi Sachini Bandara, cum laude, Lexington; Justin Ray Bartanus, magna cum laude, Greenwood; Tillary Blaine Rochester Blackman, Charlotte, N.C.; John Wesley Bolding II, Pickens; Ross Mike Bower, Blythewood; Alicia Michelle Bragg, cum laude, Rock Hill; Schadell Lalita Brooks, magna cum laude, Belmont, N.C.; Kevin John Cantrell, Greer; Kristopher Edward Carter, Duncan; Ryan Keith Cooper, Pickens; Casey Carlton Craft, Anderson; Hannah Rae Crump, summa cum laude, Rock Hill; Shelbee Danelle Cupp, summa cum laude, Manning; Nicholas Kenneth Currie, Bishopville; Anna Alane Dailey, Clinton; Matthew Michael Deegan, Pawleys Island; Joseph Alan Dismukes, Pawleys Island; Brooke Elizabeth Dodge, Duncan; John Paul Duncan, York; Heather Anita Emch, summa cum laude, Chapel Hill, N.C.; Adam Greene Fritzsche, Gaffney, S.C.; Stephanie Lyn Gauthier, Irmo; Sara Grace Goodman, Columbia; Heath Ian Gray, Greer; Daniel Carl Habermann, Simpsonville; Brandon Scott Hammond, summa cum laude, Belmont, N.C.; Robert Logan Hammond, summa cum laude, Belmont, N.C.; Todd Costner Handell, Spartanburg; Molly Elizabeth Harpe, Anderson; Hillary Marie Henry, Charlotte, N.C.; Philip Monroe Herring, Dillon; Tiffany Sharda Hester, Clinton; James Hoatson, Ramsgate Kwa-Zulu Natal, South Africa; Rachel Abbott Hope, summa cum laude, Due West; Tyler Wayne Jones, McCormick; James Arthur Lang III, Myrtoe Beach; Thomas Jonathan Leaptrott, Jacksonville, Fla.; Kevin Franklin Loucks, Greenville; Heath Jackson Major, magna cum laude, Anderson; Christopher Brandon Manley, Anderson; Elisabeth Anne Massey, Greenville; Meghan Nicole Matthews, Mocksville, N.C.; Rachel Reid Matthews, White Oak, S.C.; Mattison Garic McClure, Waynesville, N.C.; Sarah Ann McLaughlin, Rembert; Leighton Danielle Morgan, summa cum laude, Greenville; Eric Gordon Moxley, Mountain Rest; Neely Marie Nelson, Lake Wales, Fla.; Binh Thanh Nguyen, Plano, Texas; Myra Lee Nicks, cum laude, Hickory, N.C.; Abigail Marie O’Reilly, magna cum laude, Acworth, Ga.; Fernando Perez, Gastonia, N.C.; Heather Elizabeth Perry, Indian Land; Marcos Raul Petrovich, Rock Hill; Morgan Sherrill Purcell, magna cum laude, Duncan; Richard Brandon Quarles, Landrum; Rachel Lynn Ramsbottom, Myrtle Beach; Matthew James Rice, summa cum laude, Greer; Heather Lauren Richey, Abbeville; Larissa Chardai Shannon, Newberry; Corey Dean Sorrell, Walton, Ky.; Kelsey Leigh Spurrier, summa cum laude, Mint Hill, N.C.; Victoria Julienne Stephens, Cumming, Ga.; Chelsea Scarlett Strupper, Simpsonville; Jordan Ashley Suther, Loganville, Ga.; Bradley Wayne Sutherland, cum laude, Anderson; Anna Elizabeth Thies, Fort Mill; Kevin Thomas Ussery, Clover; Taylor Martin Wall, Summerville; Candace McDill Walters, Winnsboro; Christopher Lee Waugh, Gastonia, N.C.; Haley Anne Whitney, Anderson; Andrew Ray Willingham, Hodges

Candidate, Aug. 15, 2013: Amanda Leigh Faris, Richburg


Erskine and Due West Skyline

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Erskine College admits students of any race, color, national and ethnic origin to all the rights, privileges, programs, and activities generally accorded or made available to students at the school. It does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national and ethnic origin in administration of its educational policies, admissions policies, scholarship and loan programs, and athletic and other school-administered programs.

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