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The Spartanburg County Commission for Higher Education will hold its 46th annual Founders Day Celebration where it will honor seven individuals who have contributed greatly to the University of South Carolina Upstate. Founders Day will be held on Thursday, February 21 at 6:00 p.m. in the Sansbury Campus Life Center Ballroom.

“The Spartanburg County Commission for Higher Education is pleased to host this celebration each year as it provides an opportunity to pay particular tribute to individuals who have made outstanding contributions in support of USC Upstate and on behalf of the people we serve,” said Thomas R. Young, III, chairman of the Spartanburg County Commission for Higher Education.

The Award for Distinguished Service honors those who have demonstrated a long and distinguished career of service to the University, characterized by exceptional dedication to the work at hand, and to the institution. Ms. Ina Minsky, Dr. Judith S. Prince, and Dr. James Reese will receive the Award for Distinguished Service.

Ina Minsky began her career at USC Upstate with Upward Bound, a grant-funded program that prepares students to do well in high school in order to be ready to start college. In 1997, the University was awarded another grant to assist entering freshman students and Minsky was selected to direct the Opportunity Network program. Here she worked with first-generation college students, many of whom came from low-income families and were leaving home for the first time. Minsky’s role was to help these students make a successful transition from high school to college, all the while becoming thriving members of the USC Upstate community. Minsky helped hundreds of students, and their families, navigate the waters of uncharted territory, until her retirement in May 2012.

Dr. Judith S. Prince has served the USC System for 33 years. From 1980 to 1992, she was director of Graduate Regional Studies on the USC Upstate campus. Since 1992, she has held several positions on the USC Upstate campus, including assistant dean for Graduate and Special Programs and associate professor in the School of Education, assistant vice chancellor for Graduate Programs and Extended Learning, associate vice chancellor for Academic Affairs, and interim executive vice chancellor for Academic Affairs. Until January 31, 2013, Prince was vice chancellor of the USC Upstate Greenville Campus where her commitment to non-traditional students was legendary. Her outreach to the Greenville community has resulted in enrollment growth at the USC Upstate Greenville Campus. Prince has assumed a new role as director of academic engagement for the USC Upstate Greenville Campus.

Dr. James Reese became an associate professor of economics at USC Upstate in 1982. He spent his summers abroad gaining extensive international teaching experience in Japan, Germany, and China where he gave lectures about exports and robotics. In 2002, Reese made two trips to Cuba. He attended a seminar with the Council of International Exchange of Scholars at the University of Havana and he went on the first trade mission that South Carolina officials took to Cuba. Upon returning from Cuba, Reese started his podcast Radio Economics, a series aimed at educating his listeners on economic and financial issues. Upon retiring from USC Upstate in 2009, Reese had laid a strong foundation for teaching online classes and forming important relationships and partnerships with entities abroad.

The Founders Day Awards provides recognition to those persons in the larger community who have been of exceptional assistance to the University. Receiving the Founders Day Awards are Ms. P. Kathryn Hicks and Dr. Lawrence E. Roël.  This couple has given generously to USC Upstate and made lasting impacts on the campus. Their contributions include serving on the campaign team that raised funds for the construction of the Health Education Complex, financing a named lab in the School of Education, and providing the lead gift for the establishment of the Dr. Lawrence E. Roël Garden Pavilion. They are currently serving on the Advisory Panel for the Capital Campaign.

Katie Hicks was hired in 1974 as the University’s first full-time visual arts faculty member. She grew the art department to include studio art education and art history, established the first Studio Art Club, and established an art gallery to exhibit the works of local, regional and international artists and an art gallery to exhibit the works of University students. After 28 years of teaching, Hicks retired in May 2002. A permanent home for the arts, The P. Kathryn Hicks Visual Arts Center, was named in her honor. Dr. Lawrence E. Roël has made many botanical and architectural contributions to the Susan Jacobs Arboretum and contributed to the establishment of the Lawrence Roël Bog Garden, which is located in the Arboretum. Roël volunteers his time teaching 11- and 12-year-olds in the summer Watershed Ecology courses led by Dr. Jack Turner and taught at the University.

The Chancellor’s Council Distinguished Gold Dome Award, the highest and greatest honors USC Upstate can present, recognizes sincere loyalty and commitment through faithful and generous gifts of support. The J M Smith Foundation will receive the Chancellor’s Council Distinguished Gold Dome Award. The J M Smith Foundation whose accumulated giving has exceeded $1 million and includes support for: numerous gifts to the Susan Jacobs Arboretum and other campus beautification projects; the math and computer labs in the G.B. Hodge Center; the J M Smith Foundation Board Room in the Health Education Complex; the technology wing in the George Dean Johnson, Jr. College of Business and Economics; and the recent leadership gift to the Mary Black School of Nursing Simulation Center.

“We are pleased to present these awards at Founders Day,” said Chancellor Tom Moore. “The service of the Founders Day and Distinguished Service honorees is what has made this University one of the finest, strongest and fastest growing in the State of South Carolina. And, it is not every year that we present the Chancellor’s Council Distinguished Gold Dome Award. To recognize a donor of this magnitude is an extreme honor for USC Upstate.”

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