Todd Turner was announced as commencement speaker for the 28th Ecumenical Church and University Convocation

May 9, 2024

The Ecumenical Church and University is proud to announce Todd Turner as the commencement speaker for its 28th Convocation, taking place at 3:30 pm on Sunday, May 19, 2024, at the Columbia Metropolitan Convention Center, located at 1101 Lincoln St., Columbia, SC.

Todd Turner, a visionary entrepreneur and a key figure in the hospitality industry, co-founded Extended Stay America in 1995 alongside Corry Oakes under the guidance of George Dean Johnson, Jr. His leadership led to the company’s unprecedented growth, making Extended Stay America the fastest growing Owner-Operated chain in lodging history, featuring 475 hotels across 42 states within nine years. The company’s remarkable journey from inception to becoming a public entity and its subsequent sale to Blackstone Group for over $3 billion in May 2004 marked the largest public-to-private transaction in South Carolina’s history.

Following this monumental success, Turner and his esteemed colleagues embarked on a new venture, OTO Development, LLC. This endeavor aimed at developing and managing premier select-service hotels across the top markets in the United States, further establishing their legacy in the hospitality industry. OTO Development thrives under The Johnson Group, representing a conglomerate of companies embodying excellence and shared values.

Turner’s rich experience in entrepreneurship and leadership, spanning pivotal roles within the hospitality sector and beyond, makes him an inspiring figure for the next generation of leaders. The anticipation for his commencement speech is palpable, promising to imbue graduates and attendees with wisdom, motivation, and insights drawn from his illustrious career.

The Ecumenical Church and University warmly invites all graduates, faculty, and the community to celebrate this significant occasion. Todd Turner’s participation as the commencement speaker underscores the convocation’s theme of leadership, achievement, and community service, reflecting the values at the heart of the Ecumenical Church and University’s mission.


About the Ecumenical Church and University

The Ecumenical Church and University Convocation celebrates academic achievement and intercultural fellowship and marks a significant milestone in our ambitious human development project. We proudly announce our involvement in a monumental endeavor: constructing 5000 schools and churches across 40 African and Asian countries (500 Completed). This initiative seeks to provide educational and spiritual foundations in regions crucial for fostering growth and development. South Carolina, known historically as a port of entry for African slaves, now plays a pivotal role in this narrative of return and rebirth. The descendants of those once brought here in chains are now leading a movement back to their ancestral lands, not as slaves but as builders of a future where education and faith serve as pillars of community and progress.
The Ecumenical Church and University is committed to fostering academic excellence, leadership, and global community service. Its diverse programs and initiatives aim to prepare students for meaningful societal contributions and inspire lifelong learning.