SCSU prepares to welcome President Biden for commencement speech

ORANGEBURG, SC (WOLO) — For the almost 2,000 students that attend South Carolina State University and thousands more alumni, the school in Orangeburg holds a special place in their hearts.

Now, a graduate of the HBCU is coming back to his alma mater and bringing the president of the United States with him.

“This is a great weekend for South Carolina State University, make no mistake about it. We will also participate in the Celebration Bowl in Atlanta but our real celebration is these 138 graduates that will graduate on Friday,” said Col. Alexander Conyers, South Carolina State University interim president. 

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“I got on the phone with the congressman and he says ‘Mr. President, I’ve been thinking and I just don’t think I’d be a great commencement speaker.’  I’m thinking ‘Congressman, it’s Thursday! Commencement is a week from now,'” said Conyers.

Instead, Clyburn lined up President Joe Biden to do the commencement speech. It will be the first time a current president has spoken at an SCSU graduation event in its 125 year history.

“This fall commencement is historical for the university. I believe it will be a major propellor for our university to make our alumni and citizens of South Carolina proud,” said Rodney C. Jenkins, SCSU board of trustees chairman.

No matter how high profile of a speaker present or how much preparation is needed beforehand, the interim president insists the commencement is mainly about the degrees being given out.

“I’ve made one thing very clear, this day is about our students and their families,” Conyers said.

Students who decided to choose the state’s only public four-year HBCU for their college education.

“They want the HBCU experience. Many times what you’ll see at other universities is attempts to emulate that HBCU experience,” Conyers said. “It simply isn’t there, but at the end of the day, it’s about the degree. 

Even so, the campus and town of Orangeburg are excited for the arrival of the president.

“It’s just a great time to be a Bulldog,” Jenkins said.

The commencement ceremony will take place at the Smith Hammond Middleton Memorial Center at 10 o’clock Friday morning. 

Categories: Local News, Orangeburg