University of South Carolina

Chaplain Barry Black will be the August commencement speaker
Chaplain Barry Black will be the August commencement speaker

Senate chaplain to address graduates

By Megan Sexton,, 803-777-1421

Barry C. Black, chaplain of the U.S. Senate and the former chief of chaplains for the U.S. Navy, will address graduates at the University of South Carolina’s summer commencement exercises on Saturday, Aug. 10.

Black, the first African-American and first Seventh-day Adventist to be elected Senate chaplain, also will receive an honorary degree of doctor of public service. Kaye Gorenflo Hearn, associate justice of the S.C. Supreme Court, will receive an honorary doctor of laws degree at the commencement ceremony.

The university expects to award 1,504 degrees for baccalaureate, master’s and professional-degree recipients from all eight campuses at 10:30 a.m. in the Colonial Life Arena. The hooding ceremony for doctoral candidates will be at 8:30 a.m. in the Koger Center for the Arts. Anna Scheyett, dean of the College of Social Work, will be the speaker.

Black joined the U.S. Navy in 1976, and his counseling and preaching skills led to rapid advancement in military chaplaincy. He capped his 27-year naval career in 2003 as chief of chaplains of the U.S. Navy, the senior chaplain of the Navy Chaplain Corps. In that job, he advised and provided ministry to the chief of Naval Operations, the secretaries of the Navy and defense department and the commandants of the Marine Corps and Coast Guard. He retired from the Navy with the rank of rear admiral.

Black, a native of Baltimore, earned his bachelor of arts degree in theology from Oakwood College in 1970, his master of divinity degree from Andrews Theological Seminary in 1973, a master of arts in counseling from North Carolina Central University in 1978, a doctor of ministry in theology from Eastern Baptist Seminary in 1982, a master of arts in management from Salve Regina University in 1989, and a doctor of philosophy in psychology from United States International University in 1996.

During his military career, Black received the Navy Distinguished Service Medal, the Legion of Merit Medal, two Defense Meritorious Service Medals, both Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medals and numerous unit awards, campaign and service medals. He is the author of “From the Hood to the Hill” and “The Blessing of Adversity: Finding your God-given Purpose in Life’s Troubles.”

In 2003, Black was elected chaplain of the U.S. Senate. A 2010 profile of Black by Politico said: “To the outside world, Barry Black is the dapper, bow-tie-wearing chaplain whose baritone voice soothes the volatile Senate chamber with an opening prayer every morning … a barometer of the Senate chamber’s mood, providing a subtle glimpse into the public and private tensions in the lives of senators.”

Hearn, an associate justice of the South Carolina Supreme Court, earned a juris doctorate from the University of South Carolina School of Law, cum laude, in 1977. She was elected to the S.C. Supreme Court in 2009, becoming the second woman in state history to serve on the state’s highest court.

News and Internal Communications

Posted: 07/11/13 @ 2:00 PM | Updated: 08/09/13 @ 11:17 AM | Permalink

About USC commencement

  • When: 10:30 a.m. Saturday, Aug. 10
  • Where: Colonial Life Arena
  • Who: Baccalaureate, master's and professional degree recipients from all eight campuses
  • Speaker and honorary degree recipient: Barry Black, U.S. Senate chaplain
  • Honorary degree recipient: Kaye Gorenflo Hearn, associate justice of the S.C. Supreme Court
  • Watch commencement here:



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