Jane T. Upshaw, PhD. has been named the 2019 Peggy May Inspiration Award honoree by the Foundation for Educational Excellence.
Upshaw is the Distinguished Chancellor Emerita of the University of South Carolina Beaufort. For more than three decades, Upshaw has dedicated her professional life to the advancement of education throughout the Lowcountry.
Upshaw moved to the area in 1981 from Atlanta with her husband, Tom, and their three children. While embracing her new home in the Lowcountry, Upshaw was given the opportunity to return to her true passion: education.
"It was always my calling to be in education," she said.
Upon arrival in the Lowcountry, Upshaw taught math at May River Academy and was then named an adjunct professor at the Universi-ty of South Carolina Beaufort. In 1986, she became a full-time faculty member, teaching mathematics.
A decade later, Upshaw transitioned into an administrative role as the college's director of development, tasked with developing a plan to raise money for a new campus on donated land.
"I was privileged to lead an incredible team of faculty and staff," Upshaw said. "They were in the boat, with me, rowing in the same direction to achieve that goal."
In 1999, Upshaw was selected as the first female dean of the Univer-sity of South Carolina Beaufort. Her goal during her tenure at USCB was to establish the college as a regional and comprehensive four-year university.
That vision was achieved just five years later, in 2004, when the first baccalaureate graduates of USCB received their diplomas. In that same year, a beautiful new 200-acre campus opened at the gateway to Hilton Head Island.
In 2015, she retired from education.
The Peggy May Inspiration Award recognizes persons who demon-strate extraordinary dedication, passion and skills that influence and inspire local students.
Upshaw said she is deeply touched to be the recipient of this year's award, a recognition that was named for her dear friend and fellow advocate for the advancement of education in Beaufort County. Upshaw and May became friends after serving on the board of The Literacy Center.
"I so valued my friendship with Peggy for all those years," Upshaw said. "She was such an inspiration as she provided in a very quiet and unassuming, yet dedicated and hardworking way."
Upshaw will be presented with the award at The Foundation's an-nual Jewels & Jeans event to be held from 6 to 9:30 p.m. March 2 at the Country Club of Hilton Head.
For tickets and more information, visit FoundationEdExcellence.com or call 843-301-7150. The Foundation is a 501(c)(3) and a fund of Community Foundation of the Lowcountry.
Nicole Schultz is a freelance writer.