Campus News

Parting thoughts

Sylvia Hutchinson

Alumnus, emerita professor will speak at fall graduation exercises

James H. Shepherd Jr., chairman of the Shepherd Center in Atlanta, will be the speaker for fall undergraduate Commencement exercises Dec. 16 at 9:30 a.m. in Stegeman Coliseum.

During the ceremony, the university will award Shepherd, along with his parents, J. Harold and Alana Shepherd, honorary degrees for their philanthropic commitments and contributions to UGA and the state of Georgia.

Sylvia McCoy Hutchinson, professor emerita of reading education at UGA, will speak at the graduate Commencement exercises at 2:30 p.m. in Stegeman Coliseum.

A 1973 UGA business graduate, Shepherd leads the country’s largest catastrophic care hospital, which specializes in the treatment of people with spinal cord injuries, acquired brain injuries, multiple sclerosis, other neurological disorders and urological problems. A native of Atlanta, Shepherd experienced a near-fatal ­bodysurfing ­accident after graduating from UGA, which led to the founding of the Shepherd Center two years later.

Currently, Shepherd divides his time between the Shepherd Center and other family businesses. He is chairman, CEO and treasurer of the Plant Improvement Co. and vice president of Shepherd Construction Co. Inc. He remains actively involved on a national level in advocating for people with disabilities.

An emerita faculty member in UGA’s Institute of Higher Education, Hutchinson first arrived on campus as an undergraduate student in 1960. During the next 15 years, she earned her bachelor’s and master’s degrees, both in ­elementary education, and a Ph.D. in reading education from UGA.

After teaching at Southwest Texas State University for three years, Hutchinson returned to UGA as an assistant professor in 1978, where she remained until her retirement in 2002. During her tenure, she served as coordinator for a number of UGA faculty support and development programs, including postdoctoral teaching and peer consulting.

Hutchinson continues to serve the university, working with the 20 Emeriti Scholars who mentor students in The Coca-Cola Foundation’s First Generation Scholarship program on campus. The mentors volunteer their time to help the first-generation students navigate the university system.

Trey Sinyard of Athens will be the student speaker during the undergraduate exercises. Sinyard will receive dual bachelor’s degrees in finance and biochemistry and molecular biology.

Both ceremonies will be broadcast live on channel 15 of the university and Charter cable systems and streamed live at