Last updated: October 18. 2013 8:47AM - 1316 Views
By - dvanderford@civitasmedia.com

Martha Pacolette Sarratt Whitener accepts a plaque from Debbie H. Littlejohn, Vice Chair of the Union/Laurens Commission for Higher Education.
Martha Pacolette Sarratt Whitener accepts a plaque from Debbie H. Littlejohn, Vice Chair of the Union/Laurens Commission for Higher Education.
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UNION — Three individuals who have contributed to the growth and development of USC Union were honored Thursday morning at the university.

USC Union held its 18th annual Founders’ Day celebration in the university auditorium Thursday.

Regional Campus Dean Dr. Alice Taylor-Colbert welcomed those in attendance and explained that Founders’ Day is a day to honor those whose energy and efforts have made the university possible.

“We are indebted to them and hundreds of others,” Taylor-Colbert said. “We are also indebted to partnerships that make continuous progress possible.”

Next to speak was Col. Richard Denton, Chair of the Union/Laurens Commission for Higher Education. Denton began by publicly welcoming Dr. Taylor-Colbert, and he commended her for the job she has been doing.

“I want to remind you of what this university means to Union County,” Denton began. “This university is the most impressive asset this community has.”

Denton said the university gives young people an opportunity to achieve higher education locally, and the new Palmetto College program allows students to earn four-year degrees. He also said the commission still has hope of having a nursing school at USC Union.

“Our 50th anniversary is coming up, and we are working to make the campus a show piece for this end of the city,” Denton said.

Denton then introduced the first Founders’ Day honoree — Dr. John J. Duffy.

Duffy, a Charleston native, began his administrative career at the University of South Carolina in August 1959, becoming the first Resident Director of the USC Beaufort Regional Campus, a position he held until 1966. In 1977, Duffy was named System Vice President for University Campuses and Continuing Education. In 1988, he was named Chancellor for University Campuses and Continuing Education. He became Vice Provost and Executive Dean for Regional Campuses and Continuing Education in 1992; and in 1994, Duffy was named Interim Dean for Applied Professional Sciences. He retired in 1998.

Duffy is known as a historian, and he has numerous publications about Southern and South Carolina history, including “The Secession Convention” and “Charleston at the Turn of the Century.”

The next honoree — Martha Pacolette Sarratt “Packie” Whitener — was introduced by Brenda C. Childers, Secretary/Treasurer of the Union/Laurens Commission for Higher Education.

Whitener, a Union native, graduated from Winthrop College (later Winthrop University) with a Bachelor of Arts degree in English, and while attending, she received the Mary Mildred Sullivan Award for outstanding student leadership.

Whitener taught English in public schools as her husband’s military career took the couple to a variety of locations around the U.S., including West Point, New York and Hawaii. Her husband, Col. William J. “Jack” Whitener, was a graduate of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point where he later served as Chief of Staff. Following his retirement from military service, the couple made Union their home, and Col. Whitener served as Dean of USC Union from 1977-1984. Childers mentioned that Mrs. Whitener hosted numerous tea parties and etiquette classes for USC Union honors students during the time her husband was dean, always being supportive of the university and its students.

Childers said Mrs. Whitener is actively involved in education, community and church.

In Union, Mrs. Whitener has served as President of the Union County Music Club and the Union County Historical Society, and as a board member of the Union County Arts Council. Her philanthropic efforts include support for Timken Sports Complex, the Barrett/Whitener student scholarship, and the Union Events Center. She is also engaged in mission work through Grace United Methodist Church.

“Martha Pacolette Sarratt Whitener is the epitome of servant leadership and a role model for generations of USC Union women,” Childers said.

Next, Union/Laurens Commission for Higher Education member Patricia C. Craine introduced the final honoree — Herbert C. Adams.

Adams, a Laurens native, served as president of his senior class at the University of South Carolina, and he returned to the university in 1984 as a member of the Board of Trustees. In 2000, Adams was appointed Vice Chair of the board; and in 2004, he became Board Chair. He was named Chairman Emeritus in 2008.

Craine said Adams has provided exemplary leadership for USC Union’s campus in Laurens and has been instrumental in obtaining funding for the campus. Dr. Taylor-Colbert also commented.

“Adams’ wisdom and guidance during the recent relocation efforts in Laurens have been crucial for our success,” Taylor-Colbert said.

Adams is also an active member of First Baptist Church in Laurens.

Following the presentations, three covered portraits — one of each of the Founders’ Day honorees — were unveiled on the auditorium stage. Duffy’s portrait was unveiled by his granddaughter, Roslyn; Whitener’s portrait was unveiled by her daughter, Martha; and Adams’ portrait was unveiled by a close friend and member of the USC Board of Trustees, A.C. Fennel. The portraits will be displayed in the Main Building at USC Union.

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