Academics Faculty

Lucy Quinn

Over a period of six decades in the registrar’s office, Lucy Quinn had a profound influence on generations of Wofford students.

Ms. Quinn came to Wofford in 1963 as the secretary to then-registrar Bates L. Scoggins, a 1930 graduate of the college. When he retired, she continued to assist his successor Edward H. (Ned) Sydnor. All the while, she took courses, usually one per term, and by 1983, she had earned enough credits to receive her bachelor’s degree in English, magna cum laude. She probably had the task many semesters of posting the grades her professors assigned onto her transcript.

In that 24 years as the secretary to the registrar, she learned how the office worked, and when Ned Sydnor retired in 1987, she was the obvious choice to fill the position. She earned her master’s in higher education from USC and led the registrar’s office until the fall of 2008. After her retirement, she was named registrar emerita.

The registrar serves a unique role on a college campus as the person who is primarily responsible for maintaining the catalogue, building the class schedule, recording and maintaining grades, and enforcing degree requirements. There’s also a lot of reporting of data to internal and external agencies. The registrar has her fingers on nearly all aspects of academic life at the college. Every student interacts at some point with that office.

During much of her tenure, the registrar did a lot of coordinating of academic advising, and Lucy Quinn had a keen eye for a student who was struggling academically. The student body was a lot smaller during much of her time at Wofford, and she knew most of the student body. Before some of the technology changed, students had to come to the registrar’s office to file a lot of their paperwork, which gave her a chance to talk with a lot of students. She understood their needs, sometimes even more than they did themselves. Doyle Boggs once observed that her early intervention often made the difference in a student being able to recover academically and remain in college and dropping out. He believed she was worth a few points in our retention numbers every year. Many students agreed, often saying she had helped keep them on track for graduation.

She was a great advocate for students, and in an era when we didn’t have some of the resources we have today, she knew how to point students in the right direction. She once told me of a lesson she learned from Mr. Scoggins, her mentor, which was “do not give the students the runaround.” In other words, help them if you know the answer, and if you don’t know the answer, don’t just send them away to figure it out for themselves.

Ms. Quinn wasn’t the first woman to serve as the college registrar, that was Miss Dorothy Woodward, who served in that capacity during World War II. But, when she came to Wofford, the student body was still all-male. The faculty was almost all male as well. She witnessed desegregation in the 1960s as well as the arrival of women day students and resident students in the 1970s. She was one of the few women in administration when she became the registrar. In some recent oral history interviews, many of the college’s earliest Black students remembered many acts of kindness and support that Ms. Quinn showed them.

On a personal level, Lucy Quinn was one of those people who had a significant impact on my own Wofford experience. After I graduated, but before I came back to work at the college full time, she was one of the people I always visited when I was on campus. She was always knowledgeable about what was going on around campus, and always invited me to lunch during visits to campus. When I came back to work here in 1999, she was a generous mentor, inviting me to lunch with a group of staff from around campus on Fridays where I soon realized some of the real business of running the college took place.

Lucy also showed me the importance of having a network of friends. She was active in Altrusa, a local service club perhaps best known around Spartanburg for their annual Souper Bowl chili sale in early February. She enjoyed traveling, and I went on several South Carolina Orbiting Seminars with her before she retired. She knew a lot of the alumni on those trips from her years of work on campus. Her close friends were almost like an additional layer of family for her, and they all looked out for each other personally as well as professionally. Her death last week reminded me of how many of those people who were important in my own Wofford experience have passed on.

By Phillip Stone

I've been the archivist of Wofford College and the South Carolina United Methodist since 1999. I'll be sharing college, Methodist, and local history, documents, photographs, and other interesting stories on this blog, which I've been keeping since December 2007.