SWU celebrates more than 400 graduates

CENTRAL — Family members and friends joined Southern Wesleyan University faculty and staff in applauding the university’s winter graduates on Dec. 9 and 11.
The graduation ceremonies were held at Southern Wesleyan University’s campus in Central. Students graduating from the university’s traditional program participated in the ceremony on Thursday, Dec. 9, at 3 p.m.
The speaker for the Dec. 9 graduation ceremony was Dr. Colleen Keith, president of Spartanburg Methodist College since July of 2009. Keith is a native of upstate New York, with more than 20 years of experience in higher education. A cancer survivor, Keith encouraged the graduates not to be afraid when life is difficult.
“We can become frozen by fear,” she said. “Find the courage to face your fears and work like heck to overcome them.”
Prior to coming to SMC, Keith served as executive director of development at Ohio University in Athens, Ohio.
She holds a bachelor’s degree in political science from State University of New York in Binghamton, a master’s degree in education from the University of Pittsburgh and a Doctor of Philosophy in Higher Education Administration and Student Affairs from The Ohio State University.
Keith urged the graduates to be persistent, never compromise their values and to take their time when they are faced with big decisions.
“Falling down does not signify failure, but staying down will,” she said. “Go forth, enjoy the life that you’re about to build for yourself.”
The Dec. 11 morning and afternoon ceremonies featured Dr. Phillip Baldwin, pastor of Bethlehem Baptist Church and founder of Bethlehem Christian Academy in Simpsonville, S.C.
There were two separate graduation ceremonies on Saturday, Dec. 11, for students graduating from the university’s Adult and Graduate Studies programs. The 10 a.m. ceremony on Dec. 11 was for students earning associate degrees, bachelor’s degrees and master’s degrees from the Central, Greenville, Greenwood and Spartanburg locations.
The 3 p.m. ceremony on Dec. 11 was for students earning associate degrees, bachelor’s degrees and master’s degrees from the Columbia, Charleston and North Augusta locations.
Baldwin credited God for the achievements of the graduates and said they should keep their focus on God’s plan for their lives.
“You are here today because of the unfailing grace of God,” Baldwin said. “I urge you to follow your passion and purpose.”
Baldwin is a native of Pittsboro, N.C., and is the eighth of nine children. He earned a bachelor’s degree in industrial technology from North Carolina A and T State University in Greensboro, N.C. Baldwin received his master of divinity degree from Erskine Theological Seminary in Due West, S.C. He earned his doctorate of ministry degree at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Ky.
In 1993, Baldwin was called to serve as pastor of Bethlehem Baptist Church in Simpsonville. Bethlehem Baptist Church now has two worship services, more than 40 ministries, an after-school program, summer camp and a Christian academy.
“There is no greater fulfillment in life than knowing you’re doing what God created you to do,” Baldwin told the graduates. “Keep your hand in God’s unchanging hand.”
The December 2010 Graduation Exercises of Southern Wesleyan University were held in Newton Hobson Chapel and Fine Arts Center on the Southern Wesleyan University campus in Central, S.C.
The university conferred approximately 425 degrees, according to Registrar Rock McCaskill. For additional photos and graduation details, go to
Southern Wesleyan University prepares students for leadership and graduate study in such fields as religion, education, music, business, medicine, law and a variety of civic and social service professions. Southern Wesleyan offers 41 degree programs in the areas of business, education and ministry. The university’s main campus is in Central and there are regional learning centers across South Carolina, in locations such as Greenville, Columbia, Charleston and North Augusta. Classes are also offered in Spartanburg and Greenwood.