CSU graduates more than 700 students on Saturday

May 9, 2023

Charleston Southern University’s commencement marked some firsts and lasts on Saturday, May 6, 2023. Approximately 710 students graduated with bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral degrees. Kherry Cohea received the first aeronautics degree, and the first class of engineering students received their degrees. Dr. Jacqueline Fish, vice president for academic affairs, was the 2023 commencement speaker and received the title of professor emerita of criminal justice and provost emeritus. Clark Carter, former vice president for student life and dean of students, received the title of vice president emeritus, and Dr. Mela Wyeth, professor of business, received the title professor emerita of business.

Beloved President Dr. Dondi Costin presided over his final Charleston Southern commencement as he has accepted a position as president of Liberty University. Costin told graduates they had done things they perhaps didn’t think they could do. “I can’t wait to hear what God does through you,” Costin said.

In her address to the Class of 2023, Fish said, “Today’s theme is ‘Our God is an Awesome God.’ There are uncounted personal miracles which happen every day. Each of us has experienced the work of God in our lives. Each of you chose to seek your degree at a Christian university. Now you are about to enter a new season. Open your hearts and minds to what God has for you. Make sure your plan is God’s plan.”

Kelly Venning delivered the senior class statement. She challenged her fellow graduates to love others and remember the power of prayer. “Leave here today and be intentional in your prayer life. Bring your petitions before the Lord and watch Him work. Be intentional listeners. Wait expectantly for His answer. Let the Lord guide your steps.”

Special Recognitions:

Chaplain, Major General (Ret.) Charles C. Baldwin, Honorary Doctor of Christian Leadership

  • Baldwin retired as Air Force Chief of Chaplains and served as senior pastor to more than 710,000 active-duty, Guard, Reserve, and civilian forces and led an Air Force Chaplain Service of 2,200. Baldwin graduated from the U.S. Air Force Academy in 1969 and the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in 1977. Prior to becoming a chaplain, he was a rescue helicopter pilot. He is a member of the CSU Board of Visitors.

Dr. Gary L. Hollingsworth, Distinguished Service Award

  • Hollingsworth retired as South Carolina Baptist Convention Executive Director-Treasurer. He was formerly a pastor.

Kyle B. Kallander, Distinguished Service Award

  • Kallander is retiring as the commissioner of the Big South Conference. He is the longest-serving commissioner in the league’s 39-year history and is the second-longest tenured Division I commissioner in 2022-2023. CSU is a founding member of the Big South Conference.

Dr. Melinda Walker, professor of biology and chair of the department, is the 2023 winner of the Excellence in Teaching Award.

 Student Awards:

  • The Myrtle E. Hamrick Award: Keiara Nikelle Williams, a biochemistry major, aerospace minor, from Niceville, Florida. She was commissioned into the U.S. Air Force during the commencement ceremony.
  • The John A. Barry Scholar Award: Caleb Richard Young, biochemistry major, Honors Program graduate, from North Charleston
  • The Hunter Cup: Annah Elise Junge, chemistry major, Honors Program graduate, a member of the softball team, from Ballwin, Missouri
  • Carolyn Killen Hunter Outstanding Christian Teacher Endowed Scholarship and Award: Grace Abigail Daniel, senior, middle grades education major, from Simpsonville

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About Charleston Southern University 

Founded in 1964 in the heart of the Charleston metro area, Charleston Southern University is a private, Christian liberal arts university. With an enrollment of nearly 3,500 students, CSU offers more than 80 academically rigorous and faith-integrated undergraduate, graduate, and doctoral programs. Charleston Southern has been recognized by U.S. News & World Report as #39 nationally for Best Online Bachelor’s Programs and #22 for Best Online Bachelor’s Programs for Veterans. Students can learn online or in a traditional classroom setting, all while discovering their pathway to purpose.