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Three to receive honorary degrees during Birmingham-Southern College’s commencement

Three to receive honorary degrees during Birmingham-Southern College’s commencement

For Immediate Release
May. 15, 2017

BIRMINGHAM, Ala.--Birmingham-Southern College will grant three honorary degrees in addition to more than 260 undergraduate degrees at its 158th spring commencement ceremony at 9 a.m. on May 27 in Bill Battle Coliseum on campus.

The honorary degree recipients, who have devoted their lives to service and the betterment of humanity, are William “Bill” Raines Battle III, former BSC trustee, businessman, and college athletics director; Henrietta Boggs-MacGuire ’40, the former First Lady of Costa Rica who helped lead that country’s 1948 revolution; and Derry Brice Bunting ’69, BSC trustee and philanthropist."Bill" Raines Battle III

Battle will receive an honorary Doctor of Law for his enormous impact on higher education in the state and nation. He is the father of collegiate athletic licensing as it is known today; in 1981, he founded the Collegiate Licensing Co., which started in Alabama and quickly grew to represent almost 200 of the nation’s top colleges, universities, bowl games, and athletic conferences. He sold the company in 2007 and recently retired as athletic director for the University of Alabama, his alma mater.

Battle’s has deep ties to Birmingham-Southern; the college’s Bill Battle Coliseum is named for his father, William Raines Battle Jr., who served as BSC’s athletics director from 1952-1974 and was inducted into the inaugural class of the BSC Sports Hall of Fame. Battle’s uncle, BSC graduate Laurie Battle, served three terms as a U.S. Congressman, and numerous other family members attended the college. Bill served on the BSC Board of Trustees from 1998-2009, and has given generously to the college--providing support for the Hall of Fame Room in the coliseum, for Battle Field at Panther Stadium, and for the college’s general programs.

Henrietta Boggs-MacGuire ’40Boggs-MacGuire will receive an honorary Doctor of Humanities to acknowledge her lifelong promotion of social change and equality. When the 22-year-old Boggs-MacGuire---then a junior at Birmingham-Southern--decided to visit her aunt and uncle in Costa Rica, she had no idea she would end up influencing the fate of that nation. On that visit, she met and fell in love with Jose Figueres, a coffee farmer who would go on to lead the democratic revolution against the corrupt power structure. She married him on Oct. 18, 1941 and spent two years with him in exile in Mexico and El Salvador. After the disputed presidential election of 1948 led to civil war, Figueres led the rebel army to victory and became president of the temporary junta.

As president, Figueres directed the creation of a new constitution and enacted numerous popular reforms--many of them stemming from the perspective his wife brought with her from the U.S. In her 18 months as first lady of Costa Rica, she pushed her husband for important changes, especially giving women the right to vote. Figueres abolished the army, freeing up money for education and social benefits. He relinquished power in 1949, turning the government over to the country’s rightfully elected president; Figueres later served two more terms, but by then Boggs-MacGuire had left the marriage, returning home to the U.S., where she was active in civil rights, women’s rights, and labor activism. She currently lives in Montgomery (she turned 99 on May 6); the recent award-winning documentary film First Lady of the Revolution has shared her story with the world.

Derry Brice Bunting ’69Bunting will receive an honorary Doctor of Law for her lifelong commitment to service and her alma mater. She and her husband, Dr. Peter Bunting ’66, provided the seed money and established an endowed fund to enhance and support BSC’s service-learning program, now called the Bunting Center for Engaged Study and Community Action. The center fit their philosophy that education provides a way to make the world a better place. They also wanted to make a distinction between volunteering and service-learning, which blends meaningful service with instruction and reflection to solve deep societal problems. Since the center’s founding in 2007, hundreds of BSC students have benefitted from its programs, taking part in engaged service through their coursework, with community partners, across the world during Exploration Term, and on Alternative Spring Break.

Derry graduated with a degree in elementary education. She has served on the BSC Board of Trustees since 2014 and has been involved with the Birmingham Museum of Art and the Altamont School, along with numerous other community organizations in Birmingham. She and Peter have supported BSC as members of the Endowment Builders Society; by funding the Peter D. Bunting Physical Chemistry Laboratory in the Stephens Science Center, and by establishing the Derry Brice and Peter Douglas Bunting M.D. Endowed Scholarship, which supports pre-medical students from single-parent homes.

About Birmingham-Southern College:
Birmingham-Southern College is a four-year, private liberal arts institution in Birmingham, Ala., founded in 1856 and affiliated with the United Methodist Church. It enrolls about 1,300 students from more than 30 states and 15 foreign countries.