Longtime Coker Faculty Member Jim Lemke Dies at 67

UPDATE: Due to inclement weather, the service to remember and celebrate the life of esteemed Professor Jim Lemke will be postponed until Friday, January 31 at 2 p.m. to accommodate individuals traveling from out of state. Classes will resume a normal schedule on Thursday and be suspended from 1:30 p.m. until 5:30 p.m. on Friday so that any who desire to attend the service may do so.

Professor of political science and philosophy was a passionate advocate of the classical liberal arts

Memorial services for Dr. James "Jim" Wayne Lemke, 67, will be held at 2 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 30 in Davidson Auditorium on the campus of Coker College. The service will be simulcast to Watson Theater in the Elizabeth Boatwright Coker Performing Arts Center. The Rev. Dr. Dan Sansbury and Dr. Deane Shaffer will officiate. Brown-Pennington-Atkins Funeral Home is serving the family. The family will receive friends from 5 to 7 p.m. on Wednesday at their home, 411 Prestwood Dr.

Dr. Lemke died Sunday, Jan. 26, 2014. Born in Chicago, IL, he was a son of Albert Wayne and Joan Hermes Lemke.

The only full professor tenured in two disciplines at Coker College, Lemke was a scholar, sought-after political strategist, author, coach, mentor and community leader.

A member of the Coker College faculty since 1973, Lemke’s influence touched nearly every aspect of the institution, and the impact of his personal service to students, colleagues and the public extended throughout the community and the state.

"The Lion of our Senate, Jim Lemke was a powerful man by every measure, yet students, faculty and colleagues trusted him as a dear friend and a kind mentor," said Coker College President Robert Wyatt. "Nancy, Lara and I extend our deepest sympathy to Harriett and their family, and to the hundreds in our community whose lives Jim has forever enriched. He will be deeply missed."

At the time of his passing, Lemke was director of the Coker College Center for Research, Leadership and Community Development, a role which, among other things, included guiding students from a wide variety of majors through Coker’s pre-law specialization. He also served as a member of the Budget Committee of the Coker College Faculty Senate and as an assistant coach to the men’s and women’s golf teams.

A 1969 graduate of Southeastern Louisiana University with a major in political science and a minor in history, Lemke went on to achieve a PhD in political science at Louisiana State University with a dissertation titled, "Political Theory and the Problem of Explanation."

"Jim was the intellectual heart of the college," said Coker College Provost Emeritus Patricia Lincoln. "This was not only because he was remarkably intelligent, but because of his fervent belief in the transformative effects of a liberal arts education. The compelling and profound way in which he practiced that belief enriched the lives of virtually every one of his students. Much to the enduring benefit of all, he was invariably generous with his wisdom.

"Because of his leadership and his commitment to Coker College, Jim’s work is the center of the culture of Coker College just as much as Davidson Hall is the center of the College’s physical being," Lincoln said.

Since 2010, Lemke had spearheaded the annual Celebration of Academics, a week-long campus-wide event that showcases faculty and faculty-mentored scholarship in the liberal arts and sciences that was developed initially to commemorate the inauguration of Coker College President Robert Wyatt. The event was designed to cultivate and demonstrate the signature characteristics of the Coker Experience, including, in particular, the special nature of Coker’s Roundtable Learning, which employs peer-based Socratic dialogue as a means of exploring and testing academic concepts and theories.

In April 2013 Lemke was honored with the South Carolina Independent Colleges and University’s Excellence in Teaching Award given in recognition of teaching that encourages students to strive for excellence in their studies and intellectual pursuits.

Other prestigious honors he has received include being named a Master Professor at Coker College, a Visiting Professor of the Preventive Diplomacy Program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington D.C., and a member of Phi Kappa Phi, Pi Sigma Alpha and Pi Gamma Mu. He also received a departmental assistantship and a National Defense Education Act Fellowship while he was at Louisiana State University.

Pursuing research interests that included contemporary political theory, history of political thought, political parties and international politics, Lemke served as an editor, associate editor or review board member of a number of scholarly journals including numerous issues of "Humanity and Society" and the "Louisiana State University Journal of Sociology."

In 2003, Lemke helped establish and was the first and only director of the Coker College Center for Research in Leadership and Community Development. A laboratory for a variety of community development and leadership programs, the Center creates, implements and evaluates models for partnerships between higher education, community organizations, local, state and national government and funding agencies. Working closely with Stedman Graham and the Leadership Institute of Chicago, and with a coalition of community-based organizations, area school districts, businesses, industry, and local government, Lemke had been a passionate champion for effective youth development initiatives in Florence and Darlington Counties.

Over the course of his tenure at Coker College, Lemke served as chair of the Department of Behavioral Sciences, faculty representative to the Coker College Board of Trustees, chair of the Coker College Faculty Senate and, in 2012, on the implementation committee for the College’s first Honors Program.

Jim is survived by his wife of 30 years, Harriett Courtney Lemke, Coker College Class of 1972; mother and father of Baton Rouge, LA; sisters, Cindy (Brad) Black, Patty (Mike) O'Neal, and Suzy (Don) Nauck, all of Baton Rouge, LA; brother, Rick Lemke of Nashville, TN.

Memorials in Lemke’s honor may be made to Coker College, 300 East College Ave., Hartsville, SC 29550, and will be used to support the Celebration of Academics program, which is being renamed in his honor.

The memorial service will be webcast here.

Online condolences can be given atwww.bpafuneralhome.com.

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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.

For more information, contact Chris Dougherty - 843.383.8018

 
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