Alumni Association

Alumni Awards

Alumni Distinguished Service Award

Cynthia Plair Roddey '67

Cynthia Plair Roddey '67

The Alumni Distinguished Service Award recognizes Winthrop alumni who significantly contribute to the quality of life in their community, the development of values and morals within others and who serve as outstanding citizens. Cynthia Plair Roddey '67 is one of four alumnae who are the 2017 recipients of this award.

Roddey is Winthrop's first African-American woman to enroll at the university and the Rock Hill native was the first African-American graduate student at Winthrop. She came to Winthrop in the summer of 1964 with two bachelor's degrees from Johnson C. Smith University. A married teacher with sons, ages one and two, at the time of her enrollment, Roddey graduated with a M.A.T. in library science in August 1967. In 1990, Roddey earned a Doctor of Ministry from Mid-Atlantic Seminary. Roddey's connections to Winthrop run deep. According to family anecdotes, her paternal grandfather worked as a painter at some point in the construction of Tillman Hall.

The daughter of two Rosenwald school educators, Roddey has earned a Doctorate of Ministry with an emphasis in church administration. She worked in education — every grade from Head Start through the college level — for 55 years, retiring in April 2017. During its Fall Convocation, Clinton College recognized Roddey for 23 years of service. During her tenure, she held the positions of Professor, College Librarian, Director of Information Services, Head of Faculty, Chair of the English Department and Head of the Community Technology Outreach to senior citizens.

A lifetime member of the National Teachers Association and Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc., she is the recipient of numerous educational and community awards. Roddey has served area churches and the Order of the Eastern Star South Carolina District 3 as a musician for more than 40 years.

Roddey's legacy lives on at her alma mater where she was a member of the first Black Alumni Advisory Committee. A former advisor to the Xi Beta Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc., the chapter sponsors a scholarship bearing her name. She also shares in the honor of a university scholarship named for her and Delores Johnson Hurt, Arnetta Gladden Mackey, and Sue Frances Meriwether Steed, three other Afro-American women who enrolled in 1964. The Roddey-McMillan Record, a monthly multicultural student newspaper, also carries her name.

Roddey and her daughter, Oresa D. Roddey, co-founded Special Needs and Abilities Family Empowerment (SAFE), a non-profit advocacy agency for those on the autism spectrum and other special needs. She is the CFO of the organization and the minister for Safe Harbor, the spiritual affiliation of the agency.