Retired 4-Star General, former Secretary of State Colin Powell Will Visit USC Upstate for Dr. John B. Edmunds, Jr. Distinguished Lecture Series

Wednesday, January 15, 2020 10:45 am

Retired four-star U.S. Army General and American statesman Colin L. Powell will be the featured speaker at the University of South Carolina Upstate’s seventh annual Dr. John B. Edmunds, Jr. Distinguished Lecture Series. The event will be held at 7 p.m. on March 19, in the G.B. Hodge Center.

Powell will speak on the theme of leadership, drawing from his personal experiences as a military leader, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and secretary of state.

“As USC Upstate continues to grow, our capability to bring in dignitaries like General Powell serves to underscore the impact we’re having on the Upstate region and beyond,” said Chancellor Brendan Kelly.

Powell, a native of New York City, served in the U.S. Army for 35 years. From 1987 through 1989, he was the national security adviser for President Ronald Regan’s administration.

Powell was promoted to four-star general under President George H.W. Bush and made history by becoming the first African American appointed as chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff—the highest military position in the Department of Defense.

President George W. Bush appointed Powell Secretary of State in 2000. At the time, it was the highest office in civilian government ever held by an African American. He retired in 2004.

“With his extensive military and political service, General Powell is well-positioned to offer insight and perspective on past political decisions as well as the future challenges that face America and the world,” said Dr. Rob McCormick, interim dean of USC Upstate’s College of Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences.

In addition to his extensive military honors, Powell has garnered prestigious civil awards, including two Presidential Medals of Freedom, the President’s Citizenship Medal, the Congressional Gold Medal and the Secretary of Energy Distinguished Service Medal. His awards from more than two-dozen countries include a French Legion of Honor and an honorary knighthood bestowed by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II.

Tickets for the event are $25. For sponsorship opportunities, please contact University Advancement at 864-503-5234. For general information, please contact Special Events at 864-503-5984.


In its seventh year, the Dr. John B. Edmunds, Jr. Distinguished Lecture Series is dedicated to bringing significant scholars and leaders in history, political science, philosophy and religion to the University of South Carolina Upstate and the Upstate community. Sponsored by the Department of History, Political Science, Philosophy and American Studies at USC Upstate, the series has hosted Peggy Noonan, Rick Atkinson, David McCullough, Bob Woodward, Jon Meacham, and Retired Four-Star Admiral and 16th Supreme Allied Commander of NATO Jim Stavridis. 


Dr. John B. Edmunds, Jr. 

Dr. John B. Edmunds, Jr. served for 43 years as a professor of American history at the University of South Carolina Upstate. A Spartanburg native, Dr. Edmunds earned his Ph.D. in history from the University of South Carolina, where he specialized in the history of the Palmetto State. In 1967, as the first professor hired by the University of South Carolina Upstate, Dr. Edmunds began a career distinguished by excellence as a teacher, a scholar, and an administrator. For more than four decades, Dr. Edmunds inspired Upstate students with his enthusiastic teaching. 

Dr. Edmunds was known for his encyclopedic knowledge of South Carolina history, his deep affection for his native state, and his ability to convey his love for South Carolina to his students. He was the author of two books, “Francis W. Pickens and the Politics of Destruction” and “The Episcopal Church of the Advent: History and Records, 1848-1998,” as well as numerous articles on South Carolina. 

About USC Upstate

The University of South Carolina Upstate is a regional comprehensive university offering more than 45 undergraduate and graduate programs in the liberal arts and sciences, business administration, nursing, and education. Located along the I-85 corridor in Spartanburg between Greenville and Charlotte, USC Upstate is ranked by U.S. News & World Report at No. 1 among Top Public Schools. It serves as a major talent producer for the region, with more than 6,000 students, approximately 1,300 new graduates a year, and nearly 30,000 alumni, many of whom live and work in the state. The USC Upstate Spartans compete in 17 NCAA Division 1 sports as a member of the Big South Conference. For more information, visit

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