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From Left, Dr. Steve Adamson, Dr. Sanita Cousar, Jane Shelton Dale, And Walker Riley

Erskine alumni and friends find fellowship at Alumni Day 2024

Dr. James Gettys

Alumni and friends mingled on a mild spring day in Due West Saturday, April 13, in celebration of Erskine Alumni Day 2024. At the Alumni Association meeting in the morning, Jane Shelton Dale ’73 received the Alumni Distinguished Service Award, several other awards were presented, changes to the constitution and bylaws were approved, and a special announcement was made to attendees.

The day’s activities were highlighted by an “Erskine Eras Reunion Picnic” on the Mall and included music by Prettier Than Matt (with Jessica Skinner Sims ’09); reunions for the Class of 1964 and the “Class of 1984 & Friends”; a Kids’ Corner on the Mall; a special event for educators, “Teachers Talk under the Towers”; and a journey through the “History of the Alumni House with McDonald-Boswell Professor Emeritus Dr. James W. Gettys ’62. A Garnet, Gold & Boom silent auction, scrimmage, and barbeque dinner were also on the day’s agenda.

The Alumni Association meeting in Bowie Chapel was led by Dr. Sanita Cousar ’77, president, who took the podium following a welcome by Vice President for Advancement and Alumni Relations Paul Bell ’84, who told attendees, “We hope you will enjoy one another’s company and end this day with gratitude that Erskine has been a part of your life.” Cousar invited Tripp Boykin ’92 to give the invocation and introduced Erskine President Dr. Steve Adamson, who offered greetings to the assembled alumni.

From left, Walker Riley, Michael Whitehurst, Dr. Sanita Cousar

“We’re just so excited that you all are here,” the president said. “This is a joyous time to thank everybody for what they have done. We’re not finished yet. It is April and the fiscal year at Erskine College ends in June. There are still opportunities, and we are grateful for your continuing support.” He expressed thanks for the Lord’s blessings and said he expects Erskine to end the fiscal year in the black.

Cousar spoke about the Alumni Association Board of Directors’ “busy but fruitful year” in the service of their alma mater. Citing the review and revision of the board’s constitution and bylaws, she recognized Dr. David Danehower ’74, who led this work “with passion, thoroughness, and commitment.”

She also thanked board members who took a leadership role in the Annual Fund Campaign—the Rev. Dr. J. Barry Dagenhart ’82, ’93 (Sem.)Sarah Dagenhart ’82Jacob DeLuca ’15, Crystal Noble ’01, Michael Noble ’99, and Kenneth Robinson ’78. “I am pleased to report that the Alumni Board participation with contributions and pledges is 100 percent,” Cousar said. She noted that $2,057,000.00 has been raised for the Annual Fund to date this fiscal year.

“Thank you to all who have given and to all of you who are going to give after enjoying this wonderful day together!” Cousar said. “The fiscal year isn’t over until June 30. Let’s help Erskine have a tremendously strong finish to this year and a strong launch into its next year.”

Class of 1994

A quorum was present, allowing approval of changes to the constitution and bylaws as well as confirmation of a new secretary and a class of new board members.

After the votes, Cousar introduced Erskine’s Vice President for Athletics Ralph Patterson, who announced that a new soccer field is under construction, to be named in honor of former Erskine soccer coach Ralph Lundy. “This project will help out at least 250 of our students,” he said, adding, “Our student athletes deserve it.”

Noting that Erskine College has “a rich history in soccer” because of Ralph Lundy, Patterson introduced the famed coach, who spoke with great feeling about the school he served as a young man (1976-1986). “Erskine cares about their students. Erskine cares about taking care of their students,” Lundy said. “Erskine grows and develops them, just like they grew and developed me.”

President-elect of the Alumni Board Walker Riley ’18, who presented the alumni awards, began by acknowledging Lundy, saying that among those who follow soccer in South Carolina, “If you hear the name Ralph Lundy, you know that’s a legendary name.”

Class of 1984 and friends

The Alumni Distinguished Service Award honors service to church, community, profession, and alma mater over a lifetime. Riley paid tribute to recipient Jane Shelton Dale, a retired educator who has been a member of Camden ARP Church in Camden, Alabama, since childhood and has also served the Marion Junction ARP Church. “When she was informed that she had been selected to receive this award,” Riley said, “Jane Shelton’s first words were, ‘Oh, my! I don’t think I deserve that.’”

Dale has served on the ARP Board of Publications as well as on the Women’s Ministries Historical Concerns Committee. She has been a member of Bonclarken Conference Center’s board of trustees and board of advisors and was chair of Bonclarken’s 100th Anniversary Celebration Committee. “She’s done all that even though she lives in Alabama, and Bonclarken is located in Flat Rock, North Carolina!” Riley said.

Nearer her Alabama home, she is active in local historical societies, has chaired the American Legion Auxiliary of Alabama Girls State for more than 30 years, and has been instrumental in the decision of several students from Alabama to attend Erskine College.

“Jane Shelton has served Erskine with fervor,” Riley said. “As the class agent for the Class of 1973, she has helped organize class reunions and smaller gatherings of Erskine friends for 51 years and has no plans to stop.” She has served numerous terms on the Alumni Association Board of Directors, has chaired the Living Endowment campaign twice, and received the Erskine Service Award in 2004. In 2019, she served on the Reconciliation Committee with Alumni Board and Board of Trustee representatives.

Class of 1964

“The Alumni Association is pleased to recognize this generous contributor of time, talent, and treasure as our 2024 Distinguished Service Award recipient,” Riley said.

Dale said that in her family, loving Due West and supporting Erskine “was just what you did.” Expressing gratitude for her Erskine friends from many generations and decades, she concluded, “The Bible tells us that much is expected from those to whom much is given. I just hope I’ve always done what was expected of me.”

The Outstanding Young Alumni Award, recognizing alumni of the last 15 years who have begun to be a positive and encouraging influence in their church, community, profession, and alma mater, was presented to the Rev. Jennifer Jennings ’16 of Marion, N.C. Currently Associate Pastor to Children and Families at First Baptist Church in Marion, where she is described as “a shining example of a woman in leadership, in service, and ministry,” she also works with childcare initiatives in Marion. In her nomination of Jennings, Rachel Talbot Reihing ’15 said, “She inspires me every day to be a better neighbor, mother, friend, wife, and believer.” Jennings was unable to attend the meeting. Her mother, the Rev. Amy Jennings, accepted the award on her behalf.

The Erskine Service Award was given to C.E. “Ed” Poore, Jr. ’61. In addition to his 30-year military career, he served for 27 years as an auditor for the South Carolina State Department of Revenue, rising to the rank of Chief Auditor of the Sales and Use Tax Division. Active in his church, the VFW, and the Masons, he has served two terms on the Alumni Board. “When a call to action is put out…Ed is always the first to respond,” Riley said. “Deeply grateful for his own Erskine experience, Ed makes it a priority to ensure that future students also have the opportunity to attend Erskine.”

Michael Whitehurst, chairman of the Erskine Board of Trustees, received this year’s Honorary Alumni Award. A trustee since 2019 and board chairman since 2021, Whitehurst is the father of Cameron Whitehurst ’17, whose roommate was Riley Walker, the presenter of the award. “While Cameron was here at Erskine, his parents were active members of the Parents’ Council, and you could find them at all of Cameron’s soccer games, cheering on the Flying Fleet and selling concessions,” Riley said, adding that Lisa Whitehurst was “a second mom” to him.

Riley described Whitehurst’s attitude and work ethic. When he began his work as a trustee, “He enthusiastically took on any task assigned and found none too large to tackle or too small to be worthy of his attention.” As chairman, “He insists that the board pursue excellence and generosity and has led by example on both fronts,” Riley said. “In making you an honorary alumnus, the Alumni Association hopes to express to you our gratitude for your leadership, your partnership, and your friendship.”

From left, Brian Melancon, Riley Walker, Christen Davis, Dr. Sanita Cousar, and Brooke Clinton

In her closing remarks, Alumni Association President Sanita Cousar congratulated the award winners and praised the work of Vice President for Advancement and Alumni Affairs Paul Bell ’84 and the Advancement and Alumni Office staff members. The Chamber Singers, conducted by Assistant Professor of Music Dr. Hannah Timms ’14, gave a brief concert and former Alumni Board president E. Phillip Cook ’92 offered a closing prayer.

Incoming members of the Alumni Association Board of Directors are Brooke Clinton ’98; Christen Davis ’98; Thomas Holland ’00; Brian Melancon ’08; and Donald “Trey” Watts ’20. Current board member Mary Pratt Horne ’22 will serve as secretary.

Members completing their service were recognized, including Peggy Harrill ’76, who served as secretary; David Danehower ’74, leader of the board’s constitution and bylaws revision efforts; John Wingate ’99, chairman of the Alumni Engagement Committee; Tripp Boykin ’92, who has completed his second two-year term; and Ed Poore ’61, who has also served on the board twice.

Pictured at top of page, from left: Dr. Steve Adamson, Dr. Sanita Cousar, Jane Shelton Dale, and Walker Riley 

See more Alumni Day 2024 photos here. 

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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