United States District Judge Richard Mark Gergel along with College of Charleston professors Susan E. Farrell and Stephen W. Litvin will be the featured speakers during the 2022 College of Charleston Spring Commencement ceremonies.
These illustrious individuals will deliver addresses to members of the Class of 2022 during three commencement ceremonies in the Cistern Yard on May 6 and 7, 2022.
Farrell, a Kurt Vonnegut scholar and professor of English, will address graduates from the School of Humanities and Social Sciences and the School of Languages, Cultures, and World Affairs at 4 p.m. on May 6, 2022.
Litvin, a researcher and professor of tourism and hospitality, will give the commencement address to the graduates of the School of Business and the School of Education, Health, and Human Performance at 10 a.m. on May 7, 2022.
Gergel will speak to graduates of the Graduate School, the School of the Arts and the School of Sciences and Mathematics and receive an Honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters Degree during the 4 p.m. ceremony on May 7, 2022.
Above (L-R): Rep. Gary Simrill, Rep. Leon Stavrinakis and John Winthrop
During the ceremonies, honorary degrees will be presented to:
- Philanthropist John Winthrop
- State Representative Gary Simrill
- State Representative Leon Stavrinakis ’88
More than 2,000 students are expected to receive degrees during the three ceremonies.
If necessitated by health-related concerns or mandates by local, state or federal guidance, the College reserves the right to make changes to ceremony plans, including the number of in-person guests allowed after the release of tickets. While the College does not foresee this happening, it is highly recommend that guests seek refundable travel plans where possible.
Susan E. Farrell
Susan Farrell is a professor of English at the College of Charleston and the 2009 Bill Moore Distinguished Teacher-Scholar Award recipient. She joined the CofC faculty in 1993 after completing her graduate studies at the University of Texas at Austin. She specializes in contemporary American fiction and teaches a variety of courses in American literature, contemporary fiction, women’s studies and academic writing. She has published articles on contemporary American authors Toni Morrison, Alice Walker, Alice McDermott and Louise Erdrich, among others.
Her research has focused largely on American war literature, culminating in her most recent book, Imagining Home: American War Fiction from Hemingway to 9/11. Farrell’s research and published work on American war fiction are closely intertwined with her teaching, which includes courses on 20th and 21st century war fiction as well as past courses on the Vietnam War and 9/11 war fiction. She finds that her students embrace the subject of war fiction and recognize that the world of literary fiction allows authors to tell war stories through an emotional perspective that facts cannot create.
Farrell is a founding member of the international Kurt Vonnegut Society and has published books on Kurt Vonnegut and Tim O’Brien. The Vonnegut Society has members from across the country, including some of the nation’s top Vonnegut experts who hold panel discussions at literary conferences, collect scholarly papers and advocate for his inclusion in high school and college literature courses.
Stephen W. Litvin
Teaching is Steve Litvin’s third career. Originally a CPA with two international accounting firms, he became an entrepreneur, starting a travel agency in Phoenix, Arizona, that grew to be the largest independent travel agency in the state. After the business was acquired by a New York Stock Exchange company, Litvin earned his doctor of business administration from the University of South Australia. His first teaching positions were in Singapore, where he and his wife, Allegra, lived for eight years before he joined the College of Charleston as a professor of hospitality and tourism in 2001.
At the College, Litvin’s main research areas relate to tourism issues affecting communities and tourism consumer behavior. He has been ranked the seventh most productive tourism researcher in the world for the decade 2000–10 and has received the Outstanding Researcher Award in the School of Business four times. He has published more than 100 research articles in academic journals.
Litvin has been very active working with the City of Charleston on tourism issues affecting the community. He is proud to have been awarded the University of Guelph, Ontario, Canada Fulbright Research Chair in Sustainable Commerce. Litvin served for three years on Fulbright selection committees, followed by a U.S. State Department appointment as a Fulbright Scholar Alumni Ambassador, traveling to universities across the country to promote the Fulbright program.
Richard Mark Gergel
Columbia, South Carolina, native Richard Mark Gergel is a United States district judge for the District of South Carolina. A graduate of Duke University (B.A. summa cum laude, 1975) and the Duke University School of Law (J.D., 1979), Judge Gergel has practiced law in Columbia, South Carolina, for more 30 years, specializing in complex civil litigation. He was nominated to the District Court bench by President Barack Obama in December 2009 and confirmed by the United States Senate in a unanimous vote in August 2010. Judge Gergel presides in the J. Waties Waring Federal Judicial Center in Charleston, South Carolina.
Judge Gergel is the author of Unexampled Courage: The Blinding of Sgt. Isaac Woodard and the Awakening of President Harry S. Truman and Judge J. Waties Waring and co-author with his wife, Dr. Belinda Gergel, of In Pursuit of the Tree of Life: The History of the Early Jews of Columbia, South Carolina. The Gergels have two sons, Robert Richard, an attorney in Charleston, and Joseph, an art curator and consultant in Lagos, Nigeria.