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College of Arts and Sciences

Dean's Blog

Someone told me it’s all happening at the zoo

March 27, 2015

By: Mary Anne Fitzpatrick

I couldn’t get that old Simon and Garfunkel tune out of my head last weekend. On Friday evening, we celebrated the achievements of four arts and sciences graduates at our annualRecognition of Excellence event held at the Riverbanks Zoo in Columbia. Over one hundred formally dressed celebrants made their way to the party through the houses and cages of the animals of the African plains. Guests stepped carefully around the snakes, the vultures, and the slender tailed meerkats to arrive at the Ndoki Lodge and the cocktail bar strategically placed in front of the elephant habitat.

At this event, the college presents awards not only to the most prestigious graduates of USC for their professional achievements, contributions to society, and support of the university but we also recognize institutions that have supported our programs. Here is a summary.


Michelin North America - Institutional Support Award

Michelin North America is a $7.25 billion dollar a year company operating 19 plants in 16 locations and employs 22,000 people (7,711 of which are employed in South Carolina at six separate facilities in the state) in the manufacture of tires for airplanes, automobiles, farm equipment, heavy duty trucks, motorcycles, bicycles, and previously the space shuttle, headquartered in Greenville, SC. In addition, Michelin's Travel & Lifestyle division produces road atlases, road maps and travel guides for all the major cities in North America. The Raison d'Etre program came to fruition four years ago under the direction of Dr. Lara Lomicka-Anderson, an Associate Professor of French and Applied Linguistics at USC. Centered around collaborative communication tools such as Skype, Twitter, Facebook and e-mail, the program builds community between USC students and students at the Ècole Nationale des Ponts et Chaussées outside of Paris. Students from varied disciplines use technology to improve their spoken language skills, exchange cultural perspectives and expand their horizons outside of their own country. Each week, the students begin video conference sessions with their trans-Atlantic partners. After six months of getting to know one another, the students travel to each other's countries for a 10 day immersion experience. The French students visited USC this past February and participated in a variety of academic, regional and cultural activities. One of the highlights of the trip was spending a day at Michelin's Lexington plant. Michelin's passion for global engagement was a big reason the organization became involved with the program. Students toured the Michelin facility and gained an insider's view on the process of tire manufacturing. Michelin's generosity also helped Dr. Lomicka and seven USC students travel to Paris in March. USC student Erin Smith says, "If Michelin continues to sponsor USC for this program, many more students can gain the confidence they need to work hard to learn the language and see another part of the world they may not have had the opportunity to visit without this program."


Ms. Carolyn T. Polston - Dean’s Award

Carolyn T. Polston graduated from the University of South Carolina with a B.S. in mathematics and computer science as National Merit Scholar, and soon after she received her M.S. degree in mathematics. Upon graduation, Ms. Polston began her professional career by working in the Information Technology and Management Information Services departments for several major companies, including NCNB (now Bank of America), W.R. Grace, and Digital Equipment (now Hewlett Packard). In 1990, Ms. Polston started her career with Edward Jones opening what was, at that time, the only office in Wilmington, NC. She quickly became an integral part of the Wilmington financial community, leading workshops, working closely with area attorneys and CPA's, and meeting with both business and individual investors to address their financial goals and needs. In 2007, she served on the Board of Directors for the Greater Wilmington Chamber of Commerce. Ms. Polston has earned many awards within Edward Jones and has held several leadership positions on national programs and panels as well as within her local region. In May 2000, Ms. Polston was featured as the cover story for Registered Representative magazine, which named her as one of the top 10 Outstanding Brokers in the nation. In 2006, Ms. Polston led a successful effort among her peers to underwrite the "Edward Jones Financial Markets Lab" at the University of North Carolina-Wilmington. Ms. Polston has served on the Board of Visitors for the University of South Carolina’s College of Arts and Sciences since 2008, and currently lives in Wilmington where she is a member and teacher at Winter Park Baptist Church. Her husband, Wayne, and their two grown sons, Tucker and Ross, are all graduates from the University of South Carolina.

Ms. Laura Bauld Turner - Distinguished Service Award

Laura Bauld Turner has been employed with the office of United States Senator Lindsey O. Graham since 2003. As the Senator’s Upstate Regional Director, Ms. Turner manages his Greenville office and oversees community outreach and constituent service activities in South Carolina’s Upstate region. Prior to her current position, Ms. Turner was employed as a Legislative Assistant in Senator Graham’s Washington Office, where she specialized in education, labor, welfare, agriculture, and interior policy. Ms. Turner is a member of the University of South Carolina Arts and Sciences Alumni Council and is a graduate of Leadership Greenville Class 38. She serves on the Board of Directors for the Greenville Symphony Orchestra and the Leadership Greenville Alumni Association. Ms. Turner is actively involved in politics as the Executive Committeeman of her local voting precinct and through volunteer work on statewide and local campaigns. A native South Carolinian, Ms. Turner earned her bachelor’s degree in International Studies and Spanish Language from the University of South Carolina. She is a member of Phi Beta Kappa and upon graduation was recognized as a Caroliniana Award nominee and an Outstanding Senior Award recipient. Ms. Turner lives in Greenville with her husband Jackson and son Earl.

Ms. Anne Hale Miglarese - Distinguished Alumna Award

Ms. Anne Hale Miglarese has been actively engaged in the world of remote sensing, Geographic Information Systems and environmental data for 30 years. Presently, Ms. Miglarese is the President and CEO of PlanetiQ, a Maryland-based company that will launch the first commercial constellation of weather satellites. Previously, she was a Principal Director with Booz Allen Hamilton, leading its geospatial service offerings across defense, intelligence, and civilian accounts. Ms. Miglarese was also the President and CEO of EarthData International, an airborne mapping and GIS company. Ms. Miglarese was instrumental in the establishment of NOAA’s Coastal Services Center in Charleston, SC, and served as its Chief for nearly 10 years, and oversaw the development and implementation of the center’s GIS and remote sensing programs. Ms. Miglarese held various positions in the SC Water Resources Commission, SC Department of Natural Resources, and SC Department of Health and Environmental Control. Ms. Miglarese currently serves on the Board of Directors of PlanetiQ, Waggoner Engineering and TerraGo Technologies; on the Board of Visitors for the University of Maryland College of Computer, Mathematical, and Natural Sciences; and on the Steering Committee of the American Meteorological Society’s Commission on the Weather, Water, and Climate Enterprise. Ms. Miglarese was the first Chair of the National Geospatial Advisory Committee. Ms. Miglarese has a bachelor’s and master’s degree in geography from the University of South Carolina.


Mr. Tommy D. Preston, Jr. - Distinguished Young Alumnus Award

Tommy D. Preston, Jr. is an attorney at Nexsen Pruet, LLC in Columbia, South Carolina where he represents companies and organizations on public policy, regulatory and economic development matters. Mr. Preston graduated cum laude from the College of Arts and Sciences with a degree in Political Science and History and eventually earned his Juris Doctorate from the USC School of Law. As an undergraduate student, Mr. Preston was a Bill and Melinda Gates Millennium Scholar, served as Student Body President, and was the student member on the University’s Board of Trustees. Mr. Preston is the recipient of the prestigious Algernon Sydney Sullivan Award, the highest honor awarded to a USC student. A voice for improving education in South Carolina, Mr. Preston was selected by The State Newspaper as one of their 20 Under 40 Leaders in the community. Mr. Preston is the founder of Cocky’s Reading Express™ (CRE), a statewide initiative dedicated to improving illiteracy in the state which has provided books to nearly 80,000 children in South Carolina. In addition to his work on literacy, Mr. Preston is a national leader on issues related to preserving our nation’s judicial system and protecting citizens’ access to justice. He also served on the American Bar Association’s Task Force for the Preservation of the Justice System; a group that was chaired by famed attorneys, David Boies and Ted Olson. Mr. Preston remains active at his alma mater. He is currently the Chair of the University of South Carolina Board of Visitors. He also served on the College of Arts and Sciences Alumni Council and Board of Visitors. In 2014, he was elected President-Elect of the Carolina Alumni Association. When he becomes President in 2016, he will be the youngest and first person of color in the University’s history to serve in this position. Additionally, Mr. Preston serves as the National President of the Bill and Melinda Gates Millennium Scholars Alumni Association. Mr. Preston represents nearly 12,000 alumni who have received the scholarship since its inception in 1999. He and his wife, Felicia, reside in Columbia and are members of Midtown Fellowship. In their free time, they enjoy traveling, cooking, and spending time with family and friends.

On receiving their award, each of these distinguished individuals made a few remarks to the audience. The audience included members of their families, close colleagues, alumni and friends, in addition to a number of faculty and staff.  Each speaker lauded professors who made a difference in their lives and how valuable their undergraduate degrees had been in helping them to achieve their goals.  Each said that following their passions for their disciplines led them to their career success. Many expressed how proud they are of the great strides the college has made since they graduated.  And  all had a continued interest in seeing the College move forward.

It is clear that these arts and science graduates know how to write well, how to make clear and compelling arguments, and how to be gracious. As the dean of this college, I was very moved by the affection and loyalty that these extraordinary individuals had for their alma mater. The gratitude they expressed for their experiences at Carolina and their pleasure in receiving this award will stay with me forever.  

Someone told me it's all happening at the zoo. I do believe it, I do believe it's true.

Read Previous Posts By Dean Fitzpatrick.