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College of Arts and Sciences

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Recognition of Excellence Celebration

The annual Recognition of Excellence Celebration celebrates distinguished alumni and friends of the College of Arts and Sciences who have demonstrated outstanding achievement, and service to their profession or to society. Recipients join an esteemed group of honorees who are leaders in industry, the arts, nonprofits, and government. The 2023 Honorees - pictured above - were celebrated on November 9, 2023, at a reception with Dean Joel Samuels at the Boyd Horticulture Center at the Hampton-Preston Mansion and Gardens.

See photos from a night to remember!


2023 Award Recipients

Image of Brian Gaines

Distinguished Service Award:

The Honorable Brian J. Gaines, MPA, CPM

Brian J. Gaines has been employed with South Carolina state government since May 2007. He has spent the majority of his career with the Department of Administration where he has held various positions to include Governmental Affairs Director, Policy and Public Affairs Director, and Deputy State Budget Director. 

On January 1, 2017, he was appointed as the State Budget Director where he managed the state’s $40 billion operating and capital budgets and assisted the Governor with his Executive Budget recommendations to the General Assembly.  On May 12, 2023, he was appointed by Governor Henry McMaster to serve as Comptroller General, the state’s chief accounting officer, making him the state’s first African American Constitutional Officer since Reconstruction.

He is a proud graduate of the University of South Carolina where he received his Bachelor of Arts in Political Science and Master of Public Administration degrees. He is originally from Barnwell, SC.

Watch Brian's congratulatory video!

Image of Leroy Chapman

Dean’s Award:

Leroy Chapman Jr.

Leroy Chapman Jr. is the editor-in-chief at The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

Leroy is the first Black journalist to hold the newsroom’s top job in its 155-year history.

Prior to this promotion, Leroy was managing editor, where he directed the newspaper’s daily print and digital news gathering. Reporting teams that cover local, state, and federal government, politics, education, crime and public safety, the economy, sports and breaking news reported to him in that role.

Leroy has held a variety of editing and leadership roles at the AJC since his arrival in 2011. During his tenure, Leroy has been among the newsroom leaders who transformed the AJC into a more efficient, digitally focused breaking news and digital operation. He has put the AJC on the frontlines of some of the biggest breaking news nationally and has built reporting teams to deliver around-the-clock breaking news, timely enterprise on emerging topics and hyperlocal news.

Under his leadership, AJC reporting teams have won local, regional, and national journalism awards for local news, business, education and politics coverage.

As editor-in-chief, Leroy is leading the AJC’s transformation into a modern media company, as it invests in digital storytelling, podcasting and documentary film.

Leroy lives in Lawrenceville with his wife Dawn. They have three adult children and a dog.

Watch Leroy's congratulatory video!

Image of Frank Avignone, PhD

Distinguished Faculty Award:

Frank T. Avignone III, PhD

Dr. Avignone joined the USC Faculty in 1965 with a Ph.D. degree in Nuclear Physics from Georgia Tech, where he had been a veteran student, graduate student and instructor. He was named Department Chair of Physics and Astronomy in 1979, where he served for 19 years during which the Department became known internationally in several research areas. Presently he leads USC’s Particle Astrophysics Group. Among other honors, he was awarded two Russell Research Awards, the Governor’s Award, and the Jesse Beams Medal of the American Physical Society, in which he is a Fellow. Dr. Avignone holds Honorary Doctoral Degrees from the University of Buenos Aires, Argentina and the University of Zaragoza, Spain. He has mentored 30 Carolina Ph.D. students, and authored or co-authored more than 350 articles in the scientific journals. Following his Korean War Naval service, he remained an active seagoing reservist, retiring after the Gulf war in 1991.

Watch Frank's congratulatory video!

Image of Justin Tupper

Distinguished Alumni Award:

Justin Tupper

Justin Tupper serves as a Senior Vice President Of Content and Strategy for NBC Sports NEXT and Fandango. He was CEO and founder of Revolution Golf that was acquired by NBC Sports Group in 2017. Since the acquisition he has helped build Golf Pass and also oversees Rotten Tomatoes. Justin enjoys playing golf and spending time traveling with his wife Torrie Wilson. Justin and Torrie live in Orlando, Florida with their two dogs Pepper and Daisy.

Watch Justin's congratulatory video!

Image of Jennifer Bartell Boykin

Distinguished Young Alumni Award:

Jennifer Bartell Boykin

Jennifer Bartell Boykin is the Poet Laureate of the City of Columbia. She teaches at Spring Valley High School, where she was named the 2019-2020 Teacher of the Year. She was born and raised in Bluefield, a community of Johnsonville, SC. She received the MFA in Poetry from the University of South Carolina. Her debut book of poetry, Traveling Mercy, will be released in November 2023 under the name Jennifer Bartell. Her second book of poetry Only Believe is forthcoming from The Word Works. Her poetry has been published in Obsidian, Callaloo, pluck!, The Raleigh Review, kinfolks, Jasper Magazine, the museum americana, Scalawag, and Kakalak, among others. She is a 2023 Academy of American Poets Poet Laureate Fellow. An alumna of Agnes Scott College, Jennifer has fellowships from Callaloo and The Watering Hole. She is pursuing a Master of Library and Information Science at USC to become a school librarian.

Watch Jennifer's congratulatory video!

Image of Ethel S. Brody Charitable Foundation logo

Institutional Support Award:

the Ethel S. Brody Charitable Foundation

The Brody Foundation was established in honor of Ethel S. Brody (1923-2014). Brody was a philanthropist of Columbia, SC, and she, along with her sister, were heavily involved with the Columbia Museum of Art for five decades.  She was even given the Elizabeth O’Neill Verner Governor’s Awards for the Arts in 2013 by the South Carolina Arts Commission Board, which is the highest honor for the arts in the state.

The Brody Foundation established an Estel S. Brody Program Endowment Fund that supports promising undergraduate syudents pursuing Art Education at the University of South Carolina.

Watch the Ethel S. Brody Charitable Foundation's congratulatory video!

Previous Winners 

  • Distinguished Service Award: Kassy Alia Ray, Ph.D.
  • Dean's Award: Kelly Adams
  • Distinguished Faculty Award: Loren Knapp, Ph.D.
  • Distinguished Alumni Award: Richard J. Youle, Ph.D.
  • Distinguished Young Alumni Award: Kari Croft
  • Institutional Support Award: Jim and Elaine Johnson
  • Distinguished Service Award: Major General Cornell A. Wilson, Jr.
  • Dean's Award: Karen Painter Randall
  • Distinguished Faculty Award: Susan Ellenbast Anderson
  • Distinguished Young Alumna: Chanda Jefferson, M.T./Ed.M.
  • Distinguished Young Alumnus: State Representative Marvin R. Pendarvis, Esq.
  • Institutional Support Award: Zeus
  • Distinguished Service Award: Ann Cameron
  • Distinguished Young Alumna: Lindsay Richardson
  • Distinguished Young Alumnus: Allen Klump
  • Distinguished Alumnus Award: Neil Jacobs
  • Dean's Award: Henrie Treadwell
  • Institutional Support Award: The Knight Foundation Donor Fund at the Central Carolina Community Foundation
  • Distinguished Alumna Award: Marva A. Smalls
  • Distinguished Young Alumnus: Ryan C. Holt
  • Distinguished Service Award: Vasa W. Cate, M.D.
  • Dean's Award: Tommy Hickman
  • Institutional Support Award: The Duke Endowment
  • Distinguished Alumnus: Major General James M. Richardson, Jr.
  • Distinguished Young Alumnus: Jotaka L. Eaddy
  • Distinguished Service: Gregory Thomas Alia (posthumously)
  • Dean's Award: John C. Parry
  • Institutional Support Award: DEA Survivors Benefit Fund
  • Distinguished Alumna: Ms. Anne Hale Miglarese
  • Distinguished Young Alumnus: Mr. Tommy D. Preston, Jr.
  • Distinguished Service: Ms. Laura Bauld Turner
  • Dean's Award: Ms. Carolyn T. Polston
  • Institutional Support Award: Michelin North America
  • Distinguished Alumna: Ms. Marcia Lee Hale
  • Distinguished Young Alumnus: Mr. Mike Randal Colter
  • Distinguished Service: Ms. Shirley D. Mills
  • Dean's Award: Mr. John Kevin Hoey
  • Institutional Support: Mr. Jeffrey Leving, Father's Rights
  • Institutional Support Award: Bilinski Educational Foundation
  • Distinguished Alumna: The Honorable Kathryn S. Smith
  • Distinguished Young Alumnus: Mr. Robert Temple Samuels
  • Distinguished Service: Dr. Jason C. Hu
  • Dean's Award: Mr. Michael Tongour
  • Distinguished Alumna: The Honorable Lindsey O. Graham
  • Distinguished Young Alumnus: Mr. Nicholas Ray Morris
  • Distinguished Service: Dr. Walter B. Edgar
  • Dean's Award: Mr. Scott Howell
  • Distinguished Alumna: Dr. Gail M. Morrison
  • Distinguished Young Alumnus: Mr. Daniel D'Alberto
  • Distinguished Service: Ms. Lynn Robertson
  • Dean's Award: Dr. Lois Duke Whitaker
  • Institutional Support Award: Watson-Brown Foundation
  • Distinguished Alumnus: Dr. Janine Anne Davidson, Mr. Mike Randal Colter
  • Distinguished Young Alumnus: Mr. Francis John Person
  • Distinguished Service: The Honorable James E. Smith, Jr.
  • Institutional Support Award: IAVO Research and Scientific


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