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Furman History and Traditions

Commencement Speakers

Commencement Speakers 1958 to present>
Year Spring Commencement Summer Commencement
1958 Roy Oliver McClain (Pastor, First Baptist Church, Atlanta, Ga.) David Clarence Pulley
1959 Sidney Walter Martin (President, Emory University) Alfred S. Reid
1960 John Ollie Edmunds (President, Stetson University)  
1961 Carlyle Marney (Pastor, Myers Park Baptist Church, Charlotte, NC) Robert Cinnamond Tucker (Librarian, Furman)
1962 L.D. Johnson (Pastor, First Baptist Church, Greenville) Henry Jackson Flanders, Jr. (Chaplain of the University, Professor of Religion)
1963 Donald S. Russell (Governor of S.C.) John Henry Crabtree (Associate Professor of English)
1964 Theodore August Distler (President of the Association of American Colleges) Albert Neely Sanders (Professor of History)
1965 Frank Graves Dickey (Executive Director of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools) Carl Wesley Cobb (Associate Professor of Modern Languages)
1966 Robert E. McNair (Governor of South Carolina) Joseph Glenn McCracken (Superintendent, Spartanburg City Schools, District Seven)
1967 Abner V. McCall (President, Baylor University) John Otts (Dean, School of Education, S.C.)
1968 Logan Wilson (President, American Council on Education) Frank E. Kinard (Executive Director, The South Carolina Commission on Higher Education)
1969 Robert Evander McNair (Governor of South Carolina) Cyril B. Busbee (State Superintendent of Education)
1970 Terry Sanford (President, Duke University) James A. Morris (Commissioner of South Carolina Commission on Higher Education)
1971 Andrew David Holt (President Emeritus, University of Tennessee) J. Floyd Hall (Superintendent of Education of Greenville County Schools)
1972 John Edwin Johns (President, Stetson University) Joseph Wightman (President, Erskine College)
1973 Alexander Heard (Chancellor, Vanderbilt University) David Clarence Pulley (Director of Graduate Studies)
1974 Martha Peterson (President, Barnard College) Howard R. Boozer (Executive Director of the South Carolina Commission on Higher Education)
1975 George Brown Tindall (Kenan Professor of History, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill) Leon M. Lessinger (Dean, College of Education, University of South Carolina)
1976 Gordon Williams Blackwell (President, Furman University) Bill Morgan Holcombe (Superintendent, Richland Country School District One)
1977 Alastair Cameron Walker (Minister, First Baptist Church, Spartanburg) Laurin Currie McArthur, Jr. (Professor of Education, Furman)
1978 Benjamin Lewis Barnett (School of Medicine, University of Virginia) H.E. Corley (Superintendent, Richland County School District 2)
1979 Richard Wilson Riley (Governor of South Carolina) Marguerite Chiles (Vice President for Student Affairs, Furman)
1980 Marguerite Moore Chiles (Vice President for Student Affairs, Furman) Albert Neely Sanders (Professor of History, Furman)
1981 James A. Rogers L.D. Johnson (Chaplain, Furman)
1982 David Clyde Garrett, Jr. (President, Delta Airlines) Ernest E. Harrill (Professor of Political Science, Furman)
1983 No address indicated Schaefer Kendrick (Professor of Economics)
1984 Ernest F. Hollings (South Carolina U.S. Senator) Gerda Prevost McCahan (Professor of Psychology, Furman)
1985 J. Peter Grace (Chairman and CEO, W.R. Grace & Co.) Donald Gene Kubler (Professor of Chemistry Emeritus, Furman)
1986 James H. Billington (Director of Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars) Roy Truby (Superintendent, School District of Greenville County)
1987 Jean Galloway Bissell (Judge, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit) Ann Riley
1988 William Lockhart Ball, III (Secretary of the Navy) William Edward Leverette, Jr.
1989 David Richmond Gergen (Editor at Large, U.S. News & World Report) Carl Thomas Cloer, Jr.(Professor of Education and Director of Special Services Program)
1990 Pat Conroy (Novelist) Donald Lloyd Gordon (Professor of Political Science)
1991 Gordon Rea Herring (Executive Vice President of TeleCable Corporation) David Anthony Smith (Reuben B. Pitts Professor of Religion Emeritus)
1992 Samuel Ruthven Williamson (Vice-Chancellor and President, The University of the South) Albert Lemuel Blackwell (Reuben B. Pitts Professor of Religion)
1993 Nick Andrew Theodore '52 (Lieutenant Governor of South Carolina) Ann Wyatt Sharp (Professor of English)
1994 Schaefer Bryant Kendrick (Professor of Economics Emeritus), delivered by Mary Bethany Kendrick Tally Marian Elizabeth Strobel (Professor of History)
1995 John Hope Franklin (James B. Duke Professor of History Emeritus, Duke University)  
1996 Josephine Humphreys (Novelist)  
1997 Robert Shaw (Music Director Emeritus and Conductor Laureate, Atlanta Symphony Orchestra  
1998 David Emory Shi '73 (President, Furman University 1994-2010)  
1999 Robert E. Stillwell (Senior Minister, Buncombe Street United Methodist Church)  
2000 Keith Lockhart ’81 (Conductor, Boston Pops Orchestra)  
2001 Marshall Clement "Mark" Sanford, Jr. '83 (Governor of S.C. 2003-2011) Robert Paul McNamara (Associate Professor of Sociology)
2002 Peter John Gomes Theodore Lloyd Benson (Walter Kenneth Mattison Associate Professor of History)
2003 Kensey Susan Cone ’03, Steven Edward Buckingham ‘03 Alvin L. Prince III (Professor of Modern Languages and Literatures)
2004 Jamie Forsh ‘04  
2005 Jodi Marie Tovay ’05, Joseph Patrick Waters ‘05 Elaine Cathcart Nocks (Professor of Psychology)
2006 Allison Lauren Jarrett ‘06 C. Thomas Cloer (Professor of Education Emeritus and former director of Academic Assistance)
2007   William James Pierce (Professor and Chair of Health & Exercise Science)
2008 George W. Bush, President of the United States Lon B. Knight, Jr. (Charles Ezra Daniel Professor of Chemistry)
2009 Margaret-Elliotte Czentnar ‘09 Linda B. Bartlett (Professor of Modern Languages and Literatures)
2010 Andrew P. McCarthy ‘10 Rodney A. Smolla (President, Furman University)
2011 Elizabeth Rivers Trenary ‘11 Richard Letteri (Professor of Communications Studies)
2012 Richard Wilson Riley '54 (Former Governor of South Carolina) C. Maurice Cherry (Carey Shepard Crantford Endowed Professor of Modern Languages and Literatures)
2013 Sister Margaret Ann O’Neill (Director, Art Center for Peace, El Salvador)  
2014 Carl F. Kohrt ’65 (Interim President, Furman University)  
2015 Harold C. Warlick, Jr. ‘68 Lesley Ann Quast, Ed.D. (Professor of Education)
2016 W. Randy Eaddy ‘76 John S. Beckford, D.M.A., Professor of Music
2017 Alexander Stubb ’93 (Former Prime Minister of Finland) Katherine Palmer Kaup (James B. Duke Professor of Asian Studies and Politics and International Affairs)
2018 Frances S. Ligler '72 David H. Bost (professor emeritus of modern languages and literature)
2019 Eleanor Beardsley '86 Erik K. Ching, Ph.D. (Director of Undergraduate Research, Professor of History)