James Comer to Give December Commencement Address

For more information, contact Barb Steadman - 843.857.4199

HARTSVILLE – Dec. 3, 2012 – Dr. James P. Comer, the Maurice Falk Professor of Child Psychiatry at the Yale University School of Medicine’s Child Study Center in New Haven, Conn., will present the 2012 winter commencement address and be awarded a Doctor of Humane Letters, Coker College President Robert Wyatt announced today.

"We are honored that Dr. Comer has accepted our invitation,” Wyatt said. “Since the Darlington County School District implemented the Comer School Development program in 2011, he has been an integral part of our community.

“His life’s work vividly exemplifies the connections between scholarship, creative problem solving and service to others.  It is especially fitting that we are able to honor him for his pioneering work in early childhood education during this academic year, the year we opened the doors of the Wiggins School of Education at Coker College,” Dr. Wyatt added.

Comer is known nationally and internationally for his creation of the Comer School Development Program. Centered on teamwork, the program engages the collaborative efforts of parents, educators and community members to improve student development and academic learning outcomes for children that, in turn, help them achieve greater school success.

Since early in 2011, Comer has been integral in the roll-out of a comprehensive program to improve education achievements of elementary school students in Hartsville. The program, which is part of Partners for Unparalleled Local Scholastic Excellence (PULSE), is a first-of-its-kind public-private partnership involving the Darlington County School District, the South Carolina Governor’s School for Science and Mathematics, Coker College, Yale University and Sonoco. The five-year, $5 million initiative is funded by Sonoco and administered by the TEACH Foundation.

Charlie Hupfer, TEACH Foundation chairman, applauded Dr. Comer’s successes.

“Four of our elementary schools are in the second year of piloting the Comer School Development program, which is designed to help students achieve academic excellence. We appreciate all Dr. Comer does to help us create an educational environment that develops and educates the whole child,” Hupfer said.

Comer’s work has been featured in numerous newspaper, magazine and television reports and has been published in many academic journals. He is a co-founder and past president of the Black Psychiatrists of America. He has been a consultant to the Children’s Television Workshop, which produces Sesame Street and The Electric Company and has devoted his efforts to numerous local and national organizations serving children.

He has written ten books, including “Maggie's American Dream” and “Leave No Child Behind.”

A native of East Chicago, Indiana, Comer received a Bachelor of Arts in 1956 from Indiana University, a Doctor of Medicine in 1960 from Howard University College of Medicine and a Master of Public Health in 1964 from the University of Michigan School of Public Health.

Between 1964 and 1967, he trained in psychiatry at the Yale University School of Medicine and its Child Study Center. He also completed one year of residency training at the Hillcrest Children’s Center in Washington, D.C.

Winter Commencement will be held at 10 a.m. Dec. 15 in the Watson Theater of Coker College’s Elizabeth Boatwright Coker Performing Arts Center.  Because seating is limited, the service will be broadcast live online. For more information, call 843-857-4111.


Coker College readies undergraduates for personal and professional success through a distinctive four-year program that emphasizes a practical application of the liberal arts as well as hands-on and discussion-based learning within and beyond the classroom. Coker is ranked among the “Best Colleges” in the South by U.S. News & World Report as well as The Princeton Review. Located in Hartsville, S.C., Coker is within two hours of the cultural, financial and recreational resources of Charlotte, Columbia, Charleston and Myrtle Beach.


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