This infographic, fifth in the 2021 SCICU Infographics series, was sent to all members of the South Carolina General Assembly on March 17, 2021.
TIGERVILLE, S.C. (courtesy ngu.edu) — North Greenville University’s board of trustees begins 2021 with a new chair in Dr. Mike Hamlet, a new vice-chair in Mandie Boyd, and a new secretary in Shana Sands. The slate of new board members for the current term includes five new members who began their five-year terms on Jan. 1.
Board Chair Hamlet is the senior pastor of First North Baptist in Spartanburg. Boyd, a 2005 alumna, is The Boyd Team real estate group’s co-owner with her husband Justin (’05). After serving many years as a quality control leader at General Electric, Sands is the ministry coordinator and a women’s ministry leader for Kingdom Life Church in Simpsonville, where her husband, Alex, is pastor.
The five board members starting full terms are Ronald K. Edwards, retired attorney; Keith Broadus Giddens, CEO-President of Liquid Combustion Technology; Ron E. Hewitt, Jr., Global Asian Marketing Director with Sage Automotive Interiors; Isaac Johnson, Jr., attorney and judge; and Dr. Brian Lee Spearman, senior pastor, Marietta First Baptist Church.
NGU trustees are nominated through the South Carolina Baptist Convention (SCBC) nominations process for entities affiliated with the convention. The trustees are elected by the vote of messengers from SCBC churches during the convention’s annual meeting each November.
“We are pleased to welcome these new trustees, whose range of perspectives, deep expertise in their respective fields, and wealth of volunteer experience will bring singular voices to the board’s deliberations during a time of unique challenges and opportunities for the University,” said NGU President Dr. Gene C. Fant, Jr.
Ronald K. Edwards, from Greenville, begins his sixth term on the NGU Board of Trustees, where he has served as secretary and chairman. He is a graduate of Furman University, Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary, and the University of South Carolina School of Law. Edwards is a member of the South Carolina Bar Association and previously served as a trustee for LifeWay Christian Resources. He also has served on the SCBC Nominating Committee and the SCBC Order of Business Committee. Edwards is a past president of the Greer Chamber of Commerce and Greer Kiwanis Club. He is a retired attorney, and he and his wife, Missy, are members of Taylors First Baptist Church.
Keith Broadus Giddens, of Simpsonville, begins his first term on the NGU Board. He is a graduate of the University of Georgia and is CEO-President of Liquid Combustion Technology in Travelers Rest. Giddens is a member of the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants and the South Carolina Association of Certified Public Accountants. He is a former board member and chair of the Piedmont Women’s Center and former board member for Miracle Hill Ministries. He and his wife, Kristi McClellan Giddens, a 1985 North Greenville alumna, are members of Rocky Creek Baptist Church in Greenville, where he currently serves as a deacon and is a past chair of the finance committee. The Giddens have three adult sons: Keith Jr., Daniel, and Samuel.
Ron E. Hewitt, Jr., from Moore, begins his first term on the NGU Board. He is the Global Asian Marketing Director for Sage Automotive Interiors in Greenville. He received his associate’s degree from the University of South Carolina and his bachelor’s degree from Limestone University. Hewitt is a member of the South Carolina Manufacturers Association and is a board member for Fire Pit Ranch, The Encouraging Word, Three Pines Country Club, and the Fellowship of Christian Athletes. He is chairman of Shrine Bowl Players Sponsors. He is also a member of the U.S. Army National Guard Infantry and JROTC Battalion Commander. Hewitt and his wife, Runette, are members of the First Baptist Church of Spartanburg. They have three adult children: Matthew, Nicholas, and Andrew.
Dr. Isaac Johnson, Jr., of Simpsonville, also begins his first term on the NGU Board. He is an attorney and serves as a municipal judge for both Greer and Gray Court. He also works with the Social Security Administration. Johnson received his bachelor’s degree in 1981 and his Juris Doctor degree from the University of South Carolina in 1986. He is a member of the South Carolina Summary Court Association, the Greenville County Bar Association, and the South Carolina Bar Association. Johnson is vice chairman of Sunbelt Human Advancement Resources, former board chair of the Urban League of the Upstate, and former board member of the South Carolina Board of Optometry. He and his wife, Cheryl, are members of Edwards Road Baptist in Greenville, where he is a deacon. The Johnsons have two adult children: Lauren and Taylor.
Dr. Brian L. Spearman, a three-time NGU graduate from Easley, begins his first term on the NGU Board. He is the senior pastor and former student pastor at Marietta First Baptist Church. He received his bachelor’s degree in elementary education in 2000, master’s degree in Christian ministry in 2010, and his Doctor of Ministry degree in 2014. He comes from an NGU family. Spearman’s father, Rev. Richard Spearman, and his mother, Nan Neves Spearman, are 1970 North Greenville graduates; his sister, Becky Mason, is a 2002 graduate, and his brother-in-law, Scott Mason, is a 1995 graduate. Spearman and his wife, Angela, have three sons: Nate, Stephen James-Patrick, and Alexander.
As I prepared this message, I reflected on the words I wrote for my 2020 New Year’s where I discussed our vision for the next ten years for Converse and noted that, “2020 will be a pivotal year for Converse. It will deepen our commitment to developing a vibrant community, expanding our tradition of academic excellence, and working together to ensure a strong and sustainable future for Converse.”
Well, here we are, at the close of one the most unusual years we have ever seen and I can honestly say it has been quite the pivotal year. But, my message for 2020 remains true today.
We were driven to adapt and evolve – from classrooms to residence halls to food service to the very way we provided Converse’s distinctive educational experience to our students. Because of the hard work of our campus community, the College was able to successfully navigate the return to campus during an unprecedented year. It is clear to me that despite the challenges we faced, Converse was able to support a healthy learning and living environment – together.
In addition to successfully operating this fall during a pandemic, Converse celebrated a number of institutional achievements, including:
And, despite all of the changes, we were thrilled to see that our alumni stepped up and increased their giving this year and helped us to once again break records for Rock the Tower, our annual giving day.
As we look to 2021, we will continue the work we are doing to make Converse a stronger university and one that is a destination of pride nationally and internationally.
The difficult decisions we made in 2020 have made us stronger and more resilient during this pandemic and have placed Converse on the path to be a thriving institution in the decades to come.
Merriam-Webster revealed that their word of the year for 2020 is “pandemic.” But for Converse I believe that our word of the year is “together.” Together we took on the challenge to return to campus during a pandemic and we did so with a positive, can-do attitude. Together, we successfully and safely adapted to meet and learn in this new environment, taking care of each other by following our safety guidelines. Together, we supported each other and grew as a community.
As we plan for the rollout of our name change to Converse University on July 1, 2021, we have begun the introduction of a new brand and marketing campaign for Converse that captures the energy and optimism our campus has for the future as well as Converse’s “can do” attitude.
That is why we chose the battle cry “We Will”. This message highlights that we will be agents of transformation, never standing still and refusing to be complacent. We will foster the future leadership of this country by helping our students find the power of their own voices and then teaching them how to use their voices to make a real difference. We will provide a rich educational experience that is accessible to all qualified students. We will demonstrate to each other and our community that we are born of creativity and ingenuity, as we innovate, problem-solve and mentor the groundbreaking and ceiling-smashing leaders of tomorrow. We will embrace the diversity and perspectives of all while providing a supportive community. And we will do all of these things together – as a student-focused community of scholars.
Together, we will celebrate one another, and we will lift each other up, and by doing so we will drive our institution, our city, and our region forward.
Together we will become nationally recognized as an excellent doctoral university, acclaimed as a center for creative thinking and learning, and will set the bar for how a community can produce engaged citizens who effect positive change. We are who we are at Converse because of our community, and our commitment to each other and our collective success.
I am immensely grateful for each student, faculty and staff member, parent, alumni, and friend. Thank you for your love and support of Converse.