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Executive Director of the White House Initiative on HBCUs Dr. Dietra Trent will be the Keynote Speaker at the Benedict College 153rd Commencement Convocation

The Commencement Ceremony will be held  

Friday, May 5 at 7:00 p.m. at the Charlie W. Johnson Stadium.

COLUMBIA, SC., May 3, 2023 – Dr. Dietra Trent will be the keynote speaker for the Benedict College 153rd Commencement Convocation on Friday, May 5, 2023, at the Charlie W. Johnson Stadium. 

Dietra Trent Official Portrait 1Dr. Trent is the Executive Director of the White House Initiative on Advancing Educational Equity, Excellence, and Economic Opportunity through Historically Black Colleges and Universities (WHI-HBCUs).

Dr. Trent, who is an HBCU graduate and Virginia’s former secretary of education, will bring words of encouragement to over 370 graduates. She earned a bachelor’s degree in sociology and criminal justice from Hampton University and a master’s and doctoral degree in public administration and policy from Virginia Commonwealth University. 

“We look forward to welcoming a fellow HBCU alumna who has an extensive background in higher education and a heart for HBCU advocacy,” said Dr. Roslyn Clark Artis, President and CEO of Benedict College. “Dr. Trent has pushed for greater support of HBCUs, which is essential to the survival and long-term growth of our nation’s most precious treasures.” 

Dr. Trent has over twenty-five years of experience working to advance equity for Virginia’s most disadvantaged populations. Most recently, she served in several leadership positions at George Mason University, including chief of staff and interim VP for Compliance, Diversity, and Ethics. In 2016, Dr. Trent was appointed as Virginia’s Secretary of Education. Prior to her appointment, she served as Deputy Secretary of Education, a position she also held during the administration of then-Governor Tim Kaine. Having served in the Administrations of three former Governors (including Mark Warner), as well as the Office of Congressman Bobby Scott, she has a wealth of federal, state, and higher education experience.

5ef531dea52ebd3f901bf258 Marshall C. Grigsby PhotoThe Former President of Benedict College, Dr. Marshall C. Grigsby, will be conferred the Doctor of Laws Degree. In 1985, at age 38, Dr. Marshall C. Grigsby was elected the twelfth president of Benedict College in Columbia, South Carolina.  During his eight-year tenure, programs were initiated that helped the institution achieve national recognition.  He established the first undergraduate environmental health science program in the Southeast and established the first college-wide honors program. 

He initiated Project AFTER (Armed Forces Teacher Education for Retirees), a teacher education recruitment targeting African American male retired military personnel. It later became the forerunner to the Federal Troops to Teachers program. Dr. Grigsby also established the Charter Day Awards Program which recognized the accomplishments of South Carolina corporations in advancing the cause of diversity and inclusion within their ranks.  The Charter Day Awards program became the premiere college fundraising event.


About Benedict College

Founded in 1870 by a woman, Bathsheba A. Benedict, Benedict College is a private co-educational liberal arts institution, offering 25 competitive baccalaureate degree programs. The Midlands HBCU welcomes students from all 46 counties in South Carolina, 30 states across America, and 26 countries around the world. The College also has a diverse faculty and importantly, 80 percent of courses are taught by full-time faculty. 

There are over 18,000 proud Benedict Tigers throughout the nation. Benedict College has been a community leader for over 153 years and is a significant contributor to South Carolina and the region. Contributing $130 million and 1,218 jobs in total local and annual economic impact, a Benedict graduate working full-time throughout his or her working life can expect to earn $1.1 million in additional income because of their Benedict College degree. 

Benedict College has been highly regarded and exceptionally ranked for its programs by several academic and traditional publications.  Benedict was ranked as one of the top baccalaureate colleges in the nation by Washington Monthly magazine for creating social mobility and producing cutting-edge scholarship and research.  In 2019, Benedict College received the 2019 ACE/ Fidelity Investments Awards for Institutional Transformation and was named the HBCU of the Year by HBCU Digest

Benedict College is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges to award baccalaureate and master’s degrees. Five of the College’s degree programs hold national accreditation: The School of Education, Social Work Program, Environmental Health Science Program, Studio Art Program, and the Tyrone Adam Burroughs School of Business and Entrepreneurship. 



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