ANDERSON, S.C. (courtesy andersonuniversity.edu) — On Wednesday, February 16, family and friends of Anderson University gathered at Henderson Auditorium in the Rainey Fine Arts Center to celebrate Founders Day and commemorate the 111th anniversary of the University’s founding.
Founders Day was created to honor the visionary Anderson area leaders whose desire for a college in Anderson and generous support led to the establishment of what is now Anderson University. Since Dr. Annie Dove Denmark, the fifth president of Anderson University, ushered in the first Founders Day in 1929, Founders Day has been the premier event honoring a great heritage while anticipating a bright future.
During the ceremony, Anderson University recognized the following outstanding graduates with awards:
Dr. Justin Lewis, an internal medicine specialist at AnMed Health and 2013 honors graduate, received the Distinguished Young Alumnus Award. The award is presented to an alumnus no older than 40 who exemplifies in his/her life the educational philosophy of Anderson University. While at Anderson, Lewis was the first biology student to perform cancer research in the Center for Cancer Research and helped organize the university’s inaugural Cancer Summit. In 2018 he earned his doctor of medicine degree from the Medical University of South Carolina. He then went on to complete a successful residency at UF Health in Gainesville, Florida. Dr. Lewis has been honored with many awards, including Resident of the Month, Outstanding Ambulatory Resident for 2019-2020 and 2020-2021, and the 2021 Timothy H. Smith Memorial Award for Excellence in Ambulatory Internal Medicine. He also happens to be the cousin of the late actor Chadwick Boseman, whose mother attended Founders Day festivities along with other members of Dr. Lewis’ family.
Scott Cline, president of Cline Hose & Hydraulics and a 1994 graduate, received the Alumni Achievement Award. The award is presented to an alumnus for his/her significant achievements in his/her professional career. Scott and his brother Glenn represent the third generation of Cline Hose & Hydraulics, which was started by their grandfather in 1948. Cline oversaw the expansion of his family’s company to a second location in Augusta, Georgia in 2018. He attributes much of his success in business and in life to the influences he encountered as an Anderson student. Cline also credits Anderson with his spiritual growth, as he seeks to be a servant leader. Outside of his job, Cline lends his efforts to several Upstate civic and charitable organizations. A licensed pilot, Cline flies mercy medical missions for Angel Flight. During the Founders Day Banquet, Cline expressed his gratitude to Anderson for taking a chance on him.
Frank Alexander, a realtor, radio commentator and a 1968 graduate, received the Alumni Service Award. The award is presented to alumni for their outstanding and unselfish service to their alma mater, community and to humanity. Alexander had a successful career with the Dial Corporation and is currently a Realtor with The Agent Owned Realty. Over the years, Alexander has assisted Anderson University with procuring much needed building space. A sports enthusiast, he provides color commentary of T.L. Hanna High School sports on a local radio station. He also has voiced play-by-play for Trojan basketball games video streams. An avid photographer, Alexander spent many years doing freelance photography for the Clemson Tigers, the Carolina Panthers and the Atlanta Falcons. He also serves as a photographer and greeter at Concord Baptist Church in Anderson. Alexander has served as a member of the Anderson University Alumni Board of Directors. He also taught a Bible study for Haven of Rest Ministries and is an active member of the Anderson Lions Club.
Nancy Simpson, who directed Anderson University athletics for eight years, received the honorary title of Vice President of Athletics Emeritus. During her tenure, Simpson guided Anderson’s seamless transition into the South Atlantic Conference. After Simpson’s arrival on campus in 2007, facility upgrades and the growth of the program were a priority. With the university’s purchase of the former Anderson County Fairgrounds (now the Athletic Campus), the department embarked on developing a premier venue for both student-athletes and fans. Simpson also focused her energies on expanding the Trojan Club to help build community support for AU student-athletes, as well as additional funding for all programs. Simpson has been actively involved in Anderson University and has served on boards and in various community leadership roles. Simpson has served on many committees within the NCAA and also as the Division II representative to the NCAA/NBTA Committee. She was also inducted into the Cal State San Bernardino Hall of Fame in 2015. Simpson and her husband also gave the first gift toward the development of Spero Financial Field on the Athletic Campus.
The speaker for Founders Day was Dr. Gene C. Fant Jr., the eighth president of North Greenville University, a sister institution also affiliated with the South Carolina Baptist Convention. In addition to being a veteran educator of 35 years, Dr. Fant has ancestral roots in the Anderson area going back 200 years, including Rufus Fant, who was part of a community group that called for the establishment of what is now Anderson University.
Referring to scripture in Ecclesiastes and writings of C.T. Studd, a missionary to the Far East, Fant challenged students to seek Christ as they set their life goals.
“Anderson University is a part of God’s plan and God’s purposes, and today we celebrate the history and the legacy of those giants who have gone before us, and one day if we do our work for Christ and for God’s glory, who knows how another generation might celebrate even you and your legacy, but more importantly, maybe one day you’ll stand before God and hear the words ‘Well done, good and faithful servant,’” Dr. Fant said.
Following the Convocation service, all award recipients and their families enjoyed a banquet where President Evans Whitaker presented Dr. Fant with an antique map of Anderson County. There was also a Golden Anchor luncheon, attended by Anderson alumni who graduated 50 years ago or before.
Additional Founders Day attendees included members of the Anderson University Board of Trustees, friends of Anderson University, and various community leaders, including Anderson Mayor Terence Roberts.