124th Founders’ Day Weekend to Honor SC State University’s Legacy


Reverend Bollie Levister and the graduating class of 1913 sit on the steps of Morrill Hall on the brink of students receiving their degrees

Founders’ Day Weekend is a celebration of SC State University’s 124 years of excellent service to the community, state, nation and the world. The Founders’ Day Program will be held on Sunday, Feb. 23, at 4 p.m. in the Smith-Hammond-Middleton Memorial Center. This year’s theme is: “Celebrating Our Legacy, Embracing Our Future.”

Founded in 1896 as the state’s sole public college for African American youth, SC State has played a key role in the education of students from South Carolina and afar. The university has educated scores of teachers for public schools and has evolved into a center of learning and research, producing leaders in various industries. 

Every year, the university community gathers to celebrate the institution’s journey in providing a quality higher education.

Reverend Dr. Gwendolyn E. Boyd, the 22nd national president of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority Inc., will keynote this year’s Founders’ Day Program.

Boyd is a native of Montgomery, Alabama. She is an engineer and is described as a dynamic and relevant leader, prolific motivational speaker, powerful preacher and prominent advocate for science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) education.

In 2000, she was elected to serve as president of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority Inc., an international organization of more than 300,000 members. During her tenure, from 2000-2004, she was deemed a creative and innovative leader. She was known as the “Technology President,” as she facilitated the establishment of technology usage and capacity in all facets of the sorority’s activities and administration. 

Additionally, she led the sorority through the process of obtaining Non-Governmental Organization (NGO) status at the United Nations with the Economic and Social Council, making Delta Sigma Theta the second African American organization to obtain this designation. With the receipt of the NGO status, Boyd introduced and led the sorority to have its first annual Delta Day at the United Nations. As national president, she also led the sorority’s humanitarian, education and advocacy efforts.

Boyd’s professional career, which spans more than three decades at the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory, is highlighted by exemplary leadership and dedicated service as part of engineering teams. 

She was selected to serve on the inaugural team of the Johns Hopkins Diversity Leadership Council (DLC) for Johns Hopkins University and served as chair of the DLC from 2001-2013, as the Council worked on issues of diversity, inclusion, civility and respect across the various divisions of Johns Hopkins. 


Rev. Dr. Gwendolyn E. Boyd

Boyd is a nationally recognized champion of education, especially as it relates to STEM disciplines. In 2009, she was nominated by former President Barack Obama and received U.S. Senate confirmation to serve as a trustee to the Barry M. Goldwater Scholarship and Excellence in Education Foundation. In 2014, Obama appointed Boyd and 14 other individuals to serve on the President’s Advisory Commission on Educational Excellence for African Americans. 

She returned to her alma mater, Alabama State University (ASU) in January of 2014, and became its first female president. As the university’s 14th president, she served for three years. Highlights of her presidency include acquiring the university’s very first engineering degree program with approval for a Bachelor of Science degree program in biomedical engineering. Boyd and her team also had the university removed from accreditation warning status with the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges, which resulted from previous financial instability at the university. The largest freshman class was documented during her tenure.

Boyd is a minister and an ordained itinerant elder in the African Methodist Episcopal Church.  She serves on the ministerial staff of Ebenezer AME Church in Fort Washington, Maryland, and mentors young people interested in careers in science and engineering.

For her varied contributions to the community, she has received numerous honors, awards, citations, commendations and tributes. Her awards include the Carver Medal from Simpson College; Chancellor’s Award from North Carolina Central University; numerous congressional city and state recognitions; “Keys to the City” from 38 cities and many other civic, leadership and professional awards for her achievements in the fields of engineering, higher education and community activism.  

She received a full scholarship to attend ASU, where she graduated summa cum laude with a Bachelor of Science degree in mathematics with a double minor in physics and music. She also received a full fellowship to pursue graduate studies at Yale University, where she was the first African American woman to earn a Master of Science degree in mechanical engineering. She earned both the Master of Divinity and the Doctor of Ministry degrees from Howard University. 

The Founders’ Day Program will also honor distinguished alumni and community leaders. The honorees are as follows:

Distinguished Alumni Award: Combined philanthropic gifts totaling over $1 million

Class of 1959, 1969 and 1974


Distinguished Young Alumnus Award

Travis Love, actor and filmmaker, ’02


Distinguished Alumnus Award

Charlton Singleton, founding member of Grammy Award-winning band, Ranky Tanky, ’94


Distinguished Alumna Award

Gloria Pyles, student enrichment advocate; SC State University Title III director, ’70


Distinguished Community Service Award

Cecil Williams, renowned photographer; historian


Outstanding Accomplishments and Achievements Award 

William “Bill” Hamilton, MEAC Hall of Famer; retired SC State University Sports Information director, ’73, ’79


Other events held annually during Founders’ Day Weekend include the Thomas E. Miller Society Induction Ceremony, Quarter Century Club Luncheon and Scholarship Gala and Tribute.

The Thomas E. Miller Society is the university’s largest giving society. The organization houses members who each give cumulative philanthropic gifts that total at least $100,000, and are committed to serving SC State University.

2020 Thomas E. Miller Society Inductees 

Earl, ’77 and Mary G. Wilson, ’78 

Dr. Odell Stuckey, ’67


The Quarter Century Club of SC State honors employees who have 25 years or more of distinguished service to the institution.  Annually, membership is increased in this select body of men and women who have contributed to the continued growth and development of SC State University.  

2020 Quarter Century Club Honorees

Cynthia Davis, instructor, Math and Computer Science

Rodney James, research associate, 1890 Research and Extension

Derral Linder, professor, Industrial and Electrical Engineering Technology

Chrystel Rogers, paralegal, Office of the General Counsel

Jafar Sadighi, instructor, Math and Computer Science

Philip Scriven, associate professor, Counselor Education Program 

The Scholarship Gala and Tribute is the signature fundraiser for the SC State University Foundation, and its proceeds are allocated to student scholarships. The event, which features an awards ceremony, is also an annual opportunity to honor students, called ‘Shining Stars,’ who have distinguished themselves by demonstrating a commitment to service, integrity and excellence.

2020 Shining Stars

Alexis Douglas, senior, accounting major

Carena Kelly, junior, nuclear engineering major 

Taylor Guthrie, junior, special education major

Niyah Hopkins, junior, criminal justice major

Brandon Sutton, junior, biology major  

For more information about Founders’ Day Weekend, call (803) 536-8597 or email [email protected]

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