CCU board of trustees approves speaker for spring commencement ceremony

February 18, 2022
Vanessa E. Wyche, a native of Conway, S.C., will serve as CCU’s Spring 2022 commencement ceremony speaker.

During its spring meeting today, the Coastal Carolina University board of trustees approved the selection of Conway, S.C., native Vanessa E. Wyche as the University’s Spring 2022 commencement ceremony speaker.

Wyche will deliver the University’s spring commencement ceremony keynote address on Saturday, May 7, at 9 a.m. in Brooks Stadium, and also receive the honorary degree Doctor of Science.

Wyche is the director of NASA’s Johnson Space Center, home to America’s astronaut corps, Mission Control Center, International Space Station, Orion and Gateway programs, and its more than 10,000 civil service and contractor employees. She is responsible for overseeing a broad range of human spaceflight activities, including development and operation of human spacecraft, commercialization of low-Earth orbit, and Johnson’s role in landing the first woman and first person of color on the surface of the Moon.

Wyche previously served as deputy director at Johnson, a position she held since 2018. Other key leadership positions include: assistant and acting deputy director of Johnson; director of the Exploration Integration and Science Directorate; flight manager of several missions of the retired Space Shuttle Program; executive officer in the Office of the NASA Administrator; and leader of additional center-level technical and program organizations. Before joining NASA in 1989, Wyche worked for the Food and Drug Administration in Washington, D.C.

Wyche earned a Bachelor of Science in engineering and Master of Science in bioengineering from Clemson University. In recognition of her contributions to the engineering profession, she was inducted into the Thomas Green Clemson Academy of Engineers and Scientists at Clemson University in 2019.

In other action, the board approved the renewal of seven, one-year lease agreements.

During the board’s finance and audit committee meeting on Feb. 17, David Frost, CCU’s senior vice president for finance and administration/chief financial officer, shared that Moody’s Investors Service has assigned a strong rating to a $38 million revenue bond series issued by the University. Moody’s has assigned an A1 rating to the bond issue and also affirmed an A1 rating in reference to all of the University’s outstanding debt.

According to Moody’s, the A1 rating “reflects the University’s very good brand and strategic positioning, driven by continued healthy student demand. The University’s improving retention rates, location near the city of Myrtle Beach, and variety of academic programing continue to support the University’s overall enrollment that includes a steady draw of non-resident students. … the University continues to benefit from a local [Horry County] sales tax that has provided revenue available for capital projects and debt service. …

“The stable outlook reflects Moody’s expectations that the University will continue to maintain sound operating performance through continued careful budgetary oversight while sustaining healthy student demand, including the University’s strong non-resident enrollment.”

The board’s next scheduled meetings are May 5-6, 2022.