SWU hosts elected officials

Pickens County Council Chairman Neil Smith, left, Rep. Davey Hiott and Sen. Larry Martin, right, listen to one of the speakers during an appreciation luncheon for elected and appointed officials Feb. 24 at the university’s campus in Central.

CENTRAL — Elected and appointed officials at the federal, state and local levels were honored with an appreciation luncheon Feb. 24 at Southern Wesleyan University in Central.

Attendees included members of the Pickens County Legislative Delegation, Sen. Larry Martin and Rep. Davey Hiott. Present were representatives from the offices of U.S. representatives Jeff Duncan and Trey Gowdy, along with representatives from Senator Lindsey Graham and Senator Tim Scott’s office. Also in attendance were county council members from Pickens and Oconee counties, as well as representatives from South Carolina Independent Colleges and Universities (SCICU), the town of Central and the Clemson Area Chamber of Commerce.

“We appreciate the good work of our area elected and appointed officials who ensure this corner of South Carolina remains a great place to live, work and attend school. It is only fitting that we, as Southern Wesleyan University, demonstrate our gratitude in some public way,” said the event’s host, Dr. Lisa McWherter, vice president for Development.  “It has been a great day of connecting with law and policy makers,” she said “where student achievement was celebrated and officials were credited.”

University President Todd Voss presented an update on enrollment and recent improvements to the Central campus. He also shared Southern Wesleyan’s strategic plan for enrollment and facilities growth and highlighted the achievements of student-athletes, including two NCCAA national champions.

“We are making a difference together,” Dr. Voss concluded.  “We know how hard you work on the behalf of students, and we hope you see how it shows in the life of this vital University.”

Voss also applauded the University Singers, a student group who performed inspirational and patriotic music at the luncheon. Voss noted their extensive touring, which included military installations in the Eastern U.S.

Britney Fernandez, a biology/pre-medicine major from Easley minoring in music and chemistry, expressed gratitude for receiving Palmetto Fellows, a scholarship given to academically talented students in South Carolina.

“All of the great things that have been happening to me since coming to Southern Wesleyan would not have been possible without the aid of scholarships,” Fernandez said. “I want to thank the legislators who are here today for all that you do for our school.”

“Through your support and gracious generosity, you make it possible for students like me to attend this faith-based institution,” said Kaitlin Messick, a first-generation college student from Pelzer majoring in psychology.

Mike LeFever, president and CEO of SCICU, expressed gratitude from the podium for support from federal, state and local government leadership that benefits the university and its students. LeFever commented that more than 33,000 students attend private, nonprofit colleges and universities, 47 percent of which are minorities and 60 percent are women.

“Your hard work and support of universities like Southern Wesleyan really counts – and that’s with the individual students. It’s about your academic choice and being able to choose a college in which you will thrive academically, emotionally and socially,” LeFever said.

Sen. Martin, Rep. Hiott and Pickens County Council Chairman Neil Smith took the opportunity to address the audience, praising Southern Wesleyan’s progress and the achievement of its students.

Southern Wesleyan University is a Christ-centered, student-focused learning community devoted to transforming lives by challenging students to be dedicated scholars and servant-leaders who impact the world for Christ. For details about degree programs, visit