The founder of the University of South Carolina Dance program has just earned one of the state’s foremost honors.
Distinguished Professor Emeritus Susan Anderson was presented the Order of the Palmetto on the evening of April 9 by UofSC Interim President Harris Pastides and First Lady Patricia Moore-Pastides. Anderson received the award on the stage of the Koger Center for the Arts prior to the UofSC Dance Company’s “R/Evolutions in Movement” concert.
Inaugurated in 1971, the Order of the Palmetto is an award bestowed by the Governor of South Carolina to recognize SC natives or residents who have demonstrated a lifetime of extraordinary achievement, service, and contributions on a national or statewide scale. Recipients must be nominated for the award.
In his remarks, President Pastides noted Anderson’s tenacity in forging the university’s dance program into one of the strongest in the region.
“All of these years, Susan has persevered,” he said. “Her dance [program] was in a squash court at the bottom of the Blatt Physical Education Center and now we have…one of the best dance facilities in the country and one of the only dance majors – and the best one – in the southeastern United States.”
Upon receiving the framed award, Anderson reflected on how special it was to be honored as a citizen by the state.
“All of my other awards have been professorial – they’re about being an educator,” she said. “And this is about being a citizen of this fine state. This state has embraced me and allowed me to flourish and build this beautiful dance program, and I’m very thankful.”
Professor Anderson started at the University of SC in 1976 after having performed as a professional ballet dancer in California and earning an MFA in Dance from UC-Irvine. The university’s dance program officially began its BA in Dance degree track in 2004 and opened a state-of-the-art dance facility in 2009. She previously received the Carnegie Foundation’s SC Professor of the Year award (2011), the University of South Carolina’s Michael J. Mungo Distinguished Professor Award (2009), and the Governor’s Professor of the Year award (2009).