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About Joab M. Lesesne Jr.

May 1997 Commencement Speaker

Joab Mauldin Lesesne Jr. was the ninth president of Wofford College. He began his tenure at age 34 on June 30, 1972, and served until 2000.

Born in Greenville, South Carolina, in 1937, Lesesne grew up in Due West, while his father, a Wofford alumnus, served as president of Erskine College. Lesesne received a bachelor's degree in history from Erskine College, and a master's degree and Ph.D., both in history from the University of South Carolina in 1961 and 1967, respectively. In addition, he studied at the Institute for Educational Management at the Harvard Business School and is a graduate of both the Army Command and General Staff College, and the Army War College.

Lesesne taught history and political science art Coastal Carolina College from 1960 to 1962 and served as assistant director form 1961 to 1962. During that time, the college was a branch campus of the University of South Carolina and the enrollment was approximately 100 students.

In 1964 Lesesne joined the faculty of Wofford College as an assistant professor of history. Three years later he was appointed assistant dean and served as director of development until he was named dean of the college in 1970, and became the youngest academic dean in the college's history. Under his tenure as president, Wofford received national recognition for its leadership in liberal arts education. 

Lesesne served on the state Commission on Higher Education and the American Council on Education, and as president of the Southern University Conference and chairman of the National Association of Independent Colleges and Universities.

Lesesne received the honorary degree Doctor of Humanities from Wofford College in 2000. United States Senator Ernest "Fritz" Hollings recognized Lesesne's service with a tribute presented to the United States Senate in September 2007.

Lesesne received the honorary degree Doctor of Humane Letters from Coastal Carolina University during the May 1997 commencement ceremony.