Lou Holtz to speak at Carolina's winter commencement

COLUMBIA, S.C. (USC) -- Legendary football coach Lou Holtz, who led the University of South Carolina team from 1999 to 2004, will speak at USC's winter commencement exercises Dec. 17.

The 3:30 p.m. ceremony for baccalaureate, master's and professional-degree recipients from all eight campuses will be in the Colonial Life Arena.

Holtz will receive an honorary doctorate of education at the commencement ceremony. Cathy Novinger, a retired executive of SCANA Corp., community leader and philanthropist, will receive an honorary doctorate of public service. Wenliang Wang, chairman of Rilin Enterprises Ltd., a global construction and logistics firm based in Dandong, China, and a major benefactor of higher education programs that focus on U.S.-China relations, will receive an honorary doctorate of business administration.

The doctoral hooding ceremony will be at 1:30 p.m. at the Koger Center for the Arts. Peggy Hewlett, dean of the USC College of Nursing, will speak.

The university expects to award 1,912 degrees from the Columbia campus, including two associate's degrees, 1,194 baccalaureate degrees, eight law degrees, two medical degrees, 32 graduate certificates, 492 master's degrees, five specialist's degrees and 177 doctoral degrees.

Also receiving degrees will be graduates of: USC Aiken, 211 baccalaureate and 10 master's degrees; USC Beaufort, four associate's degrees and 75 baccalaureate degrees; USC Lancaster, 36 associate's degrees; USC Salkehatchie, 12 associate's degrees; USC Sumter, 31 associate's degrees; USC Union, 15 associate's degrees; and USC Upstate, 439 baccalaureate degrees and three master's degrees.

Holtz, who grew up in East Liverpool, Ohio, graduated from Kent State University. He earned his master's degree in arts and education from the University of Iowa, where he began his coaching career as a graduate assistant. His first head coaching position was at the College of William and Mary, followed by positions with North Carolina State, the New York Jets, the University of Arkansas, the University of Minnesota and Notre Dame. His tenure at Notre Dame included an undefeated season and the 1988 national championship.

After spending two years as a commentator for CBS Sports, Holtz arrived at USC, where he received National Coach of the Year honors from "Football News" and "American Football Coaches Quarterly" in his second season. His six years at Carolina helped turn around the football program by posting AP Top 25 finishes in 2000 and 2001. He left USC in 2004 with a career record of 249-132-7.

Holtz and his wife Beth had an impact at USC beyond the football field. The two established an endowment at the Thomas Cooper Library to provide for the addition of library materials and resources for undergraduate students. The couple also made substantial gifts to Columbia's winter homeless shelter, which was renamed in their honor in 2003.

Holtz is also an ESPN sportscaster, author and motivational speaker. He has written or contributed to 10 books, serves on the Catholic Advisory Board of the Ave Maria Mutual Funds and is a champion of charitable and educational causes, including libraries, the Juvenile Diabetes Foundation and centers for the homeless.

The other two honorary degree recipients have also contributed to both their communities and USC.

Novinger is a former chair of the Greater Columbia Chamber of Commerce and headed the Midlands Housing Alliance, which was instrumental with the United Way in raising nearly $12 million to build a homeless transition center in Columbia. A survivor of ovarian cancer, Novinger helped form the Riverbanks Region Chapter of the South Carolina Ovarian Cancer Foundation and as its chair helps promote ovarian cancer education, awareness and fundraising. With her husband, she created a planned gift for the USC School of Medicine that will assist medical students with their education. She represents the School of Medicine on the Carolina's Promise Capital Campaign Committee and is co-chair of the School of Medicine's Board of Advisors.

Wang, in addition to his role as an industrialist, is a major benefactor engaged in U.S.-China relations, Southeast Asia relations and relations on the Korean peninsula. He has supported the creation of various scholarly and exchange programs at the National University of Singapore, New York University and USC's Darla Moore School of Business. At the Moore School, he established the Hodges Scholars Program to fund research and scholarships for students and faculty in China.