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College of Hospitality, Retail and Sport Management

  • Chip Wade

20 years later, UofSC employee earns second degree

Posted May 2, 2019
By Allen Wallace,

Chip Wade may have spent more time on the University of South Carolina campus than any other member of the graduating class of 2019.

Wade will claim his master’s degree in sport and entertainment management May 11, two decades after he earned his bachelor’s degree from South Carolina. He has remained a part of the campus community throughout those 20 years, serving as marketing director for the Carolina Coliseum (in its days as an event venue) and the Koger Center for the Arts since 2000.

"The sport and entertainment management faculty is filled with professors that have real-world experience and I think that makes a big difference.”

“I was actually an usher at the Koger Center when it first opened its doors 30 years ago,” Wade says. “Having worked there and at the Carolina Coliseum for so long, I have been very fortunate to see some amazing performances. If I had to pick one, I would say having the Boston Pops perform at the Coliseum for the university’s bicentennial celebration would rank at the top.”

Wade, who majored in graphic design as an undergrad, learned marketing mostly on the job, and often considered pursuing a master’s degree to advance his knowledge. For years, he couldn’t find the time, but as the Coliseum shifted from an event venue to an academic building, he found his schedule a bit more flexible.

“I decided that it was time to take advantage of the tuition assistance program [for university employees] and further my education,” he says. “Sport and entertainment management seemed to be the ideal fit for me, so I spoke to Tom Regan [the department’s director of graduate studies] about the program. He encouraged me to take a couple of classes before I applied to make sure this was what I wanted. The first class was a little tough, but I loved it and I have really enjoyed the whole program.”

Wade says it was frightening to return to the classroom after so long, but he received nothing but encouragement from Regan and others.

“He was more confident about my abilities than I was in the beginning,” Wade says of Regan. “Dr. Shaomian has been wonderful too. When I took his classes, he would have me teach occasionally, and it made me see that teaching might be my next opportunity. Honestly, though, I have enjoyed all my instructors. The sport and entertainment management faculty is filled with professors that have real-world experience and I think that makes a big difference.”

Wade has a unique perspective, and his advice for other students is simple.

“Go to class, participate in the classroom and do the readings before class, not after,” he says. “Do internships because you make connections that can lead to jobs. You get what you put into your education, so if you put in the time you will get a better education. Also, your instructors want you to succeed, so if you are having issues in a class go to the instructor and talk to them. They will be glad to help you.”

As an entertainment management professional, Wade has been around countless end-of-year events at South Carolina over the decades. But, this year’s commencement ceremony will be perhaps the most special of all as he gets to take the stage as a graduate. After graduation, he will continue to work at the Koger Center, applying his advanced entertainment management skills, and remain an active part of the South Carolina community.

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