CLEMSON – Clemson University officials held two ceremonies Thursday to recognize achievements of the school’s graduates. Officials awarded degrees to approximately 1,250 students in Bon Secours Wellness Arena in Greenville, and 82 received doctoral degrees at Clemson’s first Doctoral Hooding Ceremony earlier that day in the Brooks Center on campus.

Clemson doctoral student Joyce Senior Angulo’s mentors drape the doctoral hood over her at Clemson’s first Doctoral Hooding Ceremony in the Brooks Center for the Performing Arts, Dec. 17, 2015. (Photo by Ken Scar)

Clemson doctoral student Joyce Senior Angulo’s mentors drape the doctoral hood over her at Clemson’s first Doctoral Hooding Ceremony in the Brooks Center for the Performing Arts.
Image Credit: Ken Scar

The doctoral hood is a symbolic honor bestowed upon scholars who have attained the highest level of formal education, representing a typical range of five to seven years of study beyond a bachelor’s degree. The new Ph.D.s had their doctoral hoods draped over their shoulders by the faculty members who mentored them.

“Doctoral education is a lengthy, challenging and demanding process,” Clemson President James P. Clements said, thanking the enthusiastic crowd of friends and family members that filled the Brooks Center for the ceremony and expressing a sentiment he would repeat at the afternoon ceremony: “You honor us and these graduates with your presence. We owe each of you very special thanks for the important part that you played in helping these amazing scholars achieve this goal.”

Clements told the new Ph.D.s that they will leave Clemson with exceptional academic credentials.

“I encourage you to use your talents and your education to make a positive difference. I challenge you to make sure that your life matters, and I ask that you use the incredible knowledge that you have gained and the research that you have performed to make a positive impact on others.”

University officials bestowed an honorary Doctorate of Humanities on South Carolina Supreme Court Chief Justice Jean Hoefer Toal at the graduation ceremony in Greenville for her devotion to law, public service and the people of South Carolina.

In 1988, Toal became the first woman to serve as a justice of the South Carolina Supreme Court. She is retiring Monday after serving as chief justice since 1996.

South Carolina Supreme Court Chief Justice Jean Hoefer Toal displays her father's Clemson Class of 1929 ring during her remarks at the fall 2015 commencement ceremony.

South Carolina Supreme Court Chief Justice Jean Hoefer Toal displays her father’s Clemson Class of 1929 ring during her remarks at the ceremony.

Toal noted that nine of her family members have received or will receive degrees from Clemson, including her father and three uncles who were members of the Clemson Corps of Cadets when Clemson was a military college.

Her father, Herbert Wellington Hoefer, was a double major who graduated in 1929.

“I am wearing his class ring today,” she said. “I now become the 10th Hoefer to receive a Clemson degree. I’m very confident I won’t be the last.”

Toal described how she came to Clemson to aid in the signature project of her administration as Chief Justice: digitizing records to modernize the South Carolina court system.

“We became a national model,” she said. “With increased use of digital records comes major issues of data security, and I knew I would have to get the very best engineering minds to assist in the task involving data security. Security of court records and a redundant offsite backup for disaster recovery is fundamental. Where did I go? I immediately came to Clemson University. The South Carolina Judicial Department has partnered with Clemson to develop and host our offsite disaster recovery system. What a pleasure it is to work with these highly skilled professionals.”

Toal said she was happy to stand before a group of graduates that represent the future of South Carolina.

“As I look at your faces, I am filled with optimism about the unparalleled progress we’ll make in your hands as I join you in receiving this most highly prized Clemson degree. I wish you godspeed and God bless you all.”

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