WPU Awards Honorary Doctorate Degrees to Three Leaders

May 8, 2023

Three recipients were awarded an Honorary Doctorate Degree in Humanities by William Peace University in 2023. Rev. Dr. Ed McLeod, Dr. S. David Frazier and Dr. Garrett Briggs (posthumously) were celebrated at Commencement on May 6.

William Peace University’s honorary doctoral degree was established as the highest academic award in 2011.

“These three individuals have demonstrated incredible dedication to William Peace University,” said Dr. Brian C. Ralph, WPU President. “We are incredibly grateful for their commitment and passion for our students — they are truly exemplary leaders for the University and their greater communities.”

Rev. Dr. Ed McLeod

Rev. Dr. Ed McLeod has served as a WPU Board of Trustee member for the past 19 years. 

McLeod became acquainted with the University when he moved to Raleigh in 2004 to be the Senior Pastor of the First Presbyterian Church of Raleigh, located a few blocks from the school. Traditionally, the pastor of the church has served on WPU’s board. 

McLeod knew the opportunity to be a member of WPU’s board would be a unique way to grow himself as a leader while impacting community near his church. 

“I had a lot to learn at the start, like getting to know the president and board,” he said. “However, as I got to know the University, it didn’t take long for me to realize it’s an impressive institution. I really came to admire the dedication of the faculty and was impressed by this historic institution in downtown Raleigh.”

During his time on the Board, McLeod has served as Vice Chair of the Board, on a Board organizational committee, on the Presidential Search Committee, and the Advancement Committee. He appreciates how serving here has taught him organizational management and leadership and communication skills.

“It’s humbling to receive the Honorary Doctorate Degree. I’ve been proud to serve this institution in whatever way I could,” he said. “WPU has had a really outstanding board assembled over the years and I am grateful to be numbered among them.”

McLeod is retiring from his post as the Pastor and from his role as a Trustee here at the University this year. He is currently the longest-tenured Trustee and he will be missed.

A native of North Carolina, McLeod previously served in three churches in South Carolina. He and his wife Jenny have two children and four grandchildren. The couple enjoys watching movies, traveling and dining out.

Dr. S. David Frazier

Dr. S. David Frazier served as the seventh President of William Peace University, then known as Peace College. 

During his 23 years at Peace, he left a legacy through his leadership, helping to build the College’s academic and athletic programs, enhancing Peace College’s endowment by $14M, doubling the size of the campus with seven new buildings and renovations, and continuously elevated the quality of the academic experience at the College.

While he served from 1965-88, he strived to make Peace a leader in intercollegiate athletics for women in the South. Peace had nationally ranked-teams in both tennis and basketball during this era. Today, his legacy still impacts the Athletics Department with the annual presentation of the Frazier Cup to a deserving student.

“Peace is a good school. It has good academics, good faculty and staff, and good students,” he said. “It means a lot to me to receive the Honorary Doctorate Degree. It’s a privilege to be awarded it.”

Along with receiving the Honorary Doctorate, Frazier has been honored by being inducted into the Peace College Athletics Hall of Fame in 2009 and receiving the President’s Medallion from the Alumni Association in 1985. He also is the President Emeritus. 

Before accepting the role of Peace College President in 1965, Frazier was the Dean of Students and Admissions for Young Harris College. Dr. Frazier and his late wife, Jean, have two grown children.

Dr. Garrett Briggs

Dr. Garrett Briggs served as the eighth President of William Peace University, then known as Peace College. 

Briggs’ time as Peace College President was notable for his warmth and endearing nature toward all. His decade of service, from 1988-98, is recounted fondly by the students who attended during his term.

Under Briggs’ leadership, the school’s endowment nearly doubled, and the College went from a two to four-year program that offered five separate baccalaureate degrees. 

“Never, anywhere, in my educational and professional experiences have I witnessed such a warmth of spirit and devotion to an institution as I have from the alumnae of Peace College,” Briggs said at his Inaugural Address in 1989.

Briggs’ supported the faculty by offering professors the opportunity to travel and further their education and by enlarging the number of its members. He also ensured the funding of more scholarships for students.

Before Peace, Briggs held the role of North Carolina State University (NCSU) dean of the College of Physical and Mathematical Sciences. 

He was married to Susan Lynn Walters and had four children. Their daughter, Molly, is a 1992 graduate of Peace College. 

Briggs passed away in December 2022. To read more about his time at Peace, visit here.

If you would like to make a donation in the honor of any of these three recipients, please visit www.peace.edu/give.

Give Courageously to Peace

Thanks to the generosity of William Peace University supporters, current and future WPU students have access to the resources needed to learn through immersive experiences, build upon their courage and develop the confidence needed to turn passion into purpose.
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