Karen Lear Edwards


Distinguished Achievement Award

Karen Lear Edwards, Coker University class of 1998, has been named the 2018 recipient of the Coker University Alumni Association’s Distinguished Achievement Award. This prestigious award is given annually by the Coker University Alumni Association and is presented to a graduate who has reached an outstanding level of achievement in his or her profession.

Edwards earned her B.A. in History from Coker and a Juris Doctor degree from University of South Carolina School of Law in 2000. She was Chair of the Coker University Board of Trustees 2009-2010 (member 2002-2011), and is also the class representative for Coker’s class of 1998.

Since 2006, Edwards has been a senior instructor in the Department of Retailing at the University of South Carolina. She is the recipient of the 2017 University of South Carolina (U.S.C.) Faculty Integrity Award, the 2016 U.S.C. College of Hospitality, Retail and Sport Management (H.R.S.M.) Brian and Linda Mihalik Global Scholar Award, and the 2010-11 Harry E. Varney Distinguished Teacher of the Year Award. Her teaching and research focuses in the areas of legal issues affecting retailers and best practices in teaching. She is a member of South Carolina Women in Higher Education, the International Anti-Counterfeiting Coalition, American MENSA, and the South Carolina Bar.

From January 2015–May 2017, Edwards served at U.S.C.’s Center for Teaching Excellence as the Associate Director for Distributed Learning Pedagogy. She was responsible for working with faculty and to promote awareness and implementation of best practices in distributed learning pedagogy and course design among those who teach at U.S.C. More specifically, her duties included supporting the Provost’s Distributed Learning grantee cohort, developing and presenting workshops on distributed learning and related topics, conducting individual consultations with faculty regarding best practices for teaching online and blended courses, helping develop CTE programming and speaker events related to distributed learning, promoting scholarship and research related to distributed learning on campus, and serving as a senior-level resource on distributed learning.

Prior to working at U.S.C., Edwards was the Senior Associate Attorney at Duff & White in Columbia, S.C., from 2001-2006.

Edwards has published extensively in a variety of journals and publications. She is a successful grant writer and fundraiser for U.S.C. and the U.S.C. College of H.R.S.M. She has chaired and participated in many university committees and initiatives, including the Provost’s Advisory Committee on Women’s Issues, the Faculty Senate’s Committee on Intellectual Property, and U.S.C.’s Committee on Instructional Development.

Edwards’s community service includes the Central South Carolina Mensa, the Committee on Law Related Education, S.C. Bar Association, and Big Brothers & Big Sisters of Greater Columbia. She is an active member at Shandon Baptist Church in Columbia.

Edwards lives in Columbia, S.C., with her husband Dave Edwards, and is the proud stepmother of two wonderful young men, Colby Edwards, of Atlanta, Ga., and Kyle Edwards, of Columbia, S.C.

Edwards’s award will be presented at 5:30pm on Saturday, February 10, at Drengaelen House during Coker University’s alumni Homecoming reception.

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