Blue Ridge Electric Cooperative donates to Greenville Tech Foundation in honor of Kenneth Southerlin

Blue Ridge Electric Cooperative has donated $50,000 to the Greenville Tech Foundation to name a classroom at the Prisma Health Center for Health & Life Sciences on Greenville Technical College’s Barton Campus in honor of Kenneth Southerlin, a retired educator and member of both the Blue Ridge Electric board and the college’s governing board.

After graduating from Clemson University, Southerlin entered the education profession as a teacher in 1971. Five years later, Southerlin became principal of Blue Ridge High School at age 27, one of the youngest people on the staff at that time and possibly the youngest principal in South Carolina, serving at the high school where he had graduated in 1968. He continued in that role for 29 years before retiring in 2006. In retirement, Southerlin continues to be dedicated to education and to his community in northern Greenville County, serving on the Greenville Technical College Area Commission for 13 years, on the board at Blue Ridge Electric Coop for 16 years, as chairman of the board of deacons at Mt. Lebanon Baptist Church, as a fire commissioner, and in many other capacities.

The Prisma Health Center for Health & Life Sciences, now under construction, will be a three-story, 125,000 square foot building that will serve as a hub at the heart of campus, impacting 90 percent of Greenville Technical College students, welcoming 150,000 visitors annually, and serving all of the 500-600 health science graduates that the college contributes to the local workforce each year. This flexible and dynamic learning environment will support rapidly changing workforce needs, promote deeper engagement between faculty, staff, students, and the community, and support varying modes of learning and delivery of instruction.

“Kenneth Southerlin has served as a leader during his many years in education and now in retirement,” said Jim Lovinggood, CEO of Blue Ridge Electric Cooperative. “His contributions deserve to be recognized, and we are look forward to seeing his name on a classroom at Greenville Technical College’s newest facility, where students of the future will gain the skills they need to succeed, an objective that has guided many of his career and community efforts.”

Blue Ridge Electric Cooperative has been a strong supporter of the college and the Greenville Tech Foundation since 2001. In 2015, Blue Ridge Electric created a $50,000 endowed scholarship to help students pursue and complete a college education. Through UpCountry Fiber, the cooperative has expanded high-speed broadband internet access in rural parts of the Upstate that were formerly without computer access, allowing students in those areas to learn remotely during the pandemic and beyond.

“We are grateful to Kenneth Southerlin for the expertise in education and dedication to student success that he brings to board service at the college,” said Keith Miller, president of Greenville Technical College. “He has been instrumental in progress at the college over many years, and it is fitting that his name on a classroom be a visible reminder of the difference he has made.”