Speakers and Honorary Degree Recipients

Pulitzer Prize winning columnist Kathleen Parker, and CEO/President and professor emeritus Bernard Powers are the featured speakers for the 2020 College of Charleston Spring Commencement ceremoniesHonorary degrees will also be presented. 


Kathleen Parker

Kathleen ParkerPultizer Prize winning columnist Kathleen Parker writes a twice-weekly column on politics and culture for the Washington Post.
Parker has been syndicated by the Washington Post Writers Group since 2006.

Parker started her column in 1987, when she was a staff writer for the Orlando Sentinel, and it became nationally syndicated in 1995. Her columns have been praised for “attacking ignorance and stupidity with vividness and originality” by the judges of the H.L. Mencken Writing Award, which she won in 1993. She has also contributed articles to the Weekly Standard, Time, Town & Country, Cosmopolitan and Fortune Small Business, and she served on USA Today’s Board of Contributors and writes for that newspaper’s op-ed page. Her book “Save the Males: Why Men Matter, Why Women Should Care” was published in 2008 by Random House.

As an undergraduate, Parker studied in both the United States and abroad, including the University of Valencia in Spain. She holds a master’s degree in Spanish from Florida State University and is writer in residence at the Buckley School of Public Speaking in Camden, S.C.

In 2010, she received the Pulitzer Prize for Commentary for “her perceptive, often witty columns on an array of political and moral issues, gracefully sharing the experiences and values that lead her to unpredictable conclusions.” Her columns appear in more than 400 media outlets. Parker is  a popular guest on TV news programs and a regular guest on NBC's "Meet the Press" and MSNBC's "Hardball." A few of her latest columns include, Nikki Haley and Tim Scott give us hope for the Republican Party and The miseducation of America: Whether from critical race theory, or Trump’s “patriotic education,” our kids’ historical education is threatened.


Dr. Bernard Powers

Bernie PowersAfter teaching history at the College for twenty-six years, Dr. Bernard E. Powers, became its founding director of the Center for the Study of Slavery in Charleston and a professor emeritus of history for the university. He’s an expert on African American history and culture and the role of slavery in American history. Dr. Powers is also the interim CEO of the International African American Museum, opening in Charleston in 2022. Charleston — the city where the civil war started and where 40% of all enslaved Africans brought to the United States entered the country — has long been a center of African American history and culture. Over his 40-year academic career, Powers has published numerous books and articles in this field of research. His Black Charlestonians:  A Social History 1822-1885 examines the socioeconomic history of the city’s vibrant free Black population and the changes caused by emancipation after the Civil War, and won the “Outstanding Academic Book” award by Choice Magazine. Most recently, he co-authored the 2016 book We Are Charleston: Tragedy and Triumph at Mother Emanuel.

He appeared in films, including the PBS production, African Americans: Many Rivers to Cross and 2019's Emanuel: the Untold Story of the Victims and Survivors of the Charleston Church Shooting. Dr. Powers serves as a consultant to historic preservation organizations. In 2019 the Association for the Study of African American Life and History recognized his commitment to “research, writing, and activism in the field of African American life and history” with the Carter Godwin Woodson Scholars Medallion.


» Want to nominate a future commencement speaker? Or view the list of previous honorary degree receipients? Visit the Committee on Commencement Speakers and Honorary Degree Recipients webpage.