Deliberate, committed, innovative, inspiring: these are just a few of the words to describe the five featured speakers who will address members of the Class of 2021 during the College of Charleston spring 2021 Commencement ceremonies May 6-8.
The five speakers include:
- Helen Turner Hill, CEO of the Charleston Area Convention and Visitors Bureau, will be the featured speaker for the Commencement ceremony at 2 p.m. on Thursday, May 6, at the College of Charleston Patriots Point Soccer Stadium.
- Andrew Lewis, retired associate dean for the School of Education, Heath, and Human Performance (EHHP) at the College, will be the featured Commencement speaker for the School of Humanities and Social Sciences at 2 p.m. on Friday, May 7, in the Cistern Yard.
- Andrew Sobiesuo, associate provost emeritus of international education at CofC, will be the featured Commencement speaker for the the Graduate School; School of Languages, Cultures, and World Affairs; and School of Sciences and Mathematics at 6 p.m. on Friday, May 7, in the Cistern Yard.
- Nigel Redden, general director of Spoleto Festival USA, will be the featured Commencement speaker for the School of Business at 9 a.m. on Saturday, May 8, in the Cistern Yard.
- Valerie Morris, dean emeritus of the College’s School of the Arts, will be the featured Commencement speaker for the School of the Arts and School of Education, Health, and Human Performance at 1 p.m. on Saturday, May 8, in the Cistern Yard.
Together, former CofC administrators Andrew Lewis, Andrew Sobiesuo and Valerie Morris have more than 92 years of tenure at the College, each blazing a path for future generations in their respective fields.
A total of 1,897 members of the classes of 2020 and 2021 are expected to participate in the Commencement ceremonies. For the ceremony at Patriots Point, each participant will receive four general admission tickets. Due limited capacity in the Cistern Yard because of COVID-19 precautions, participants in the Cistern Yard ceremonies will each receive two general admission tickets for a satellite location. For more information, visit the Commencement Information website.
Helen Turner Hill
Helen Turner Hill is the chief executive officer of Explore Charleston (also known as the Charleston Area Convention & Visitors Bureau). The nonprofit organization represents 800 member businesses and ten municipal governments in the tri-county region with the mission to create overnight visitation and support responsible development through travel and tourism strategies. Growing up in Charleston provided Hill with unique insights that she has put to use throughout her more than 30 years of promoting the region as a leisure and business destination. Hill will be awarded an Honorary Degree of Doctorate Letters from the College.
Andrew H. Lewis retired in 2017 after 40 years of service to the College of Charleston. During his tenure, Lewis served in the following administrator positions: department chair for the Department of Health and Human Performance for 11 years (first African American to chair an academic department); interim assistant dean for undergraduate studies; associate dean for the School of Education, Health, and Human Performance; and director of Professional Development in Education. Lewis, who was among the first African American professors to join the College’s faculty in the 1970s, says, “My students are my legacy.”
Andrew M. Sobiesuo served as associate provost for the Center for International Education at the College of Charleston and senior international officer. He provided vision and leadership in the development, implementation and management of all international programs and services in compliance with college, state and federal regulations. He retired in 2020 after 30 years of service at the College. As a crusader for study abroad and international education Sobiesou says, “Creating opportunities for students to see the world – for students to get to know that there’s more beyond their own comfort zones – has been the highlight of my career at the College.”
Nigel Redden is the general director of Spoleto Festival USA. Redden began his career with Spoleto while still in college as a studente assistente at the Festival of Two Worlds in Italy. He rejoined Spoleto Festival USA in October 1995 after having previously served as the festival’s general manager from 1986 to 1991. As general director, Redden has ensured the economic security of the festival, spearheading an endowment campaign and carrying Spoleto through many difficult times, most recently the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. At Spoleto Festival USA, Redden has championed emerging artists, commissioned new operas and overseen significant art exhibitions. Redden has also been instrumental in the restoration of both the Dock Street Theatre and Festival Hall, formerly Memminger Auditorium. In 2013, Redden received an Honorary Degree of Doctorate Letters from the College.
Valerie B. Morris served as dean of the College of Charleston’s School of the Arts from the fall of 1998 until she retired in 2020. As dean, she oversaw the departments of Art History, Music, Studio Art, and Theatre and Dance, plus programs in arts management and historic preservation and community planning. She was responsible for the production of approximately 200 events per year and provided leadership in cultural education, programming and scholarships for the school and community.