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Coastal Carolina University graduates largest

May 6, 2000

Coastal Carolina University recognized 492 candidates for graduation, the largest graduating class in the university's history, during commencement exercises Saturday, May 6. Spring and summer 2000 candidates for graduation were recognized.

Sigmund Abeles, a world-renowned artist recognized for his drawings, paintings and prints, delivered the commencement address and received the honorary degree of Doctor of Fine Arts.

John Hope, Tropical Weather Expert for The Weather Channel, received the honorary degree of Doctor of Public Service.

Born in Brooklyn, N.Y, Abeles grew up in Myrtle Beach, S.C. Interested in art from an early age, he frequently visited Brookgreen Gardens throughout his youth and spent many hours making drawings of the sculptures there. Abeles' works have been displayed in solo exhibits throughout the United States and are part of the permanent collections of more than 50 museums including the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Museum of Modern Art, the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, the Philadelphia Museum of Arts, and the British Museum in London.

In his address to the graduates, Abeles spoke on how art can be instrumental in shaping and defining lives. "Each one of you is unique with your own voice to find and follow," said Abeles. "The question is how can the arts enrich your lives as you wrestle with the day-to-day trials of coping with your futures, finding and keeping love, forming partnerships and creating families, earning a living and at the same time, being responsible for our, at best, delicately balanced society and environment. I assure you, as well as offering enjoyment, art is nourishment for the psyche and soul. Be open to it. All of you graduates, go out and have marvelous, rewarding lives that in their own way are a work of art."

During his 50-year career in weather forecasting, Hope, a native of Stowell, Pa., has earned international recognition for his achievements. His distinguished career in meteorology began in 1941 when he became a weather observer and forecaster in the U.S. Army Air Corps. After 37 years in the National Weather Service, Hope joined The Weather Channel in 1982 as the tropical coordinator and on-camera meteorologist. Although officially retired, Hope continues to provide around-the-clock coverage, as needed, during the annual hurricane season. In January 2000, The Weather Channel established the John R. Hope Scholarship in Atmospheric Sciences.

Robert Clinger, III, a senior finance major of Conway, S.C., received the President's Award for Academic Achievement. Clinger graduated summa cum laude with a 4.0 cumulative grade point average.

More than 120 people viewed the ceremony live on Coastal's Web site on the Internet. Relatives and friends of graduates from as far away as Australia, Germany and Finland viewed the ceremony on the Web.