Arts at Winthrop

Medal of Honor

2013 Recipients


Karen Collins

Medal of Honor - Recipients - Karen CollinsKaren Collins, a Rock Hill resident and Winthrop alumna, has worked on numerous documentaries and special projects as a producer/director and as an assistant director for films and television. She has worked with such directors as Terrence Malik, Edward Zwick, David Mamet, John Gray, and Allan Arkush.

Collins earned a bachelor's and master's degree, both in history, from Winthrop. Whenever possible, she has hired Winthrop students to work as interns on films sets, including the 2008 horror movie "Asylum" shot on campus. Her 2006 documentary "Laugh at Us" was nominated for three regional Emmys and received a nine-year run on PBS as it followed the struggles of an acting troupe of adults with developmental disabilities.

She served as producer for "Crossroads Charlotte: The Movie" on WTVI which offered four plausible stories about Charlotte's future response and action by people and organizations. Shot on location in eight days with a 41-person cast, it received two regional Emmy nominations.

More recently, Collins has taken up photography and has had photos accepted in three juried competitions. She is the festival director for both the Underexposed Film Festival 2013, an international independent short film festival, and the Underexposed Film Series director for the Arts Council of York County. The festival was founded in 2012 by the Arts Council staff, Terry Rouche and Collins.


Medal of Honor - Recipients - Diana Of The Chase - Anna Hyatt Huntington

Brookgreen Gardens

Brookgreen Gardens, located at Murrells Inlet, S.C., became America's first public sculpture garden when Archer and Anna Hyatt Huntington founded it in 1931. Designated as a National Historic Landmark, it contains more than 1,400 works spanning the entire period of American sculpture from the early 1800s to the present.

In recent years, Brookgreen has expanded its mission to include the interpretation of the history and culture of the Lowcountry on the four former rice plantations that make-up what is now known as Brookgreen Gardens. Through interpretation of the archeological sites along the Lowcountry Trail and the Oaks Plantation History and Nature Trail, Brookgreen tells the story of the European settlers of enormous wealth who owned plantations and the enslaved Africans who worked the land.

Brookgreen also contains a garden with more than 2,000 species and subspecies of plant life native to the Southeast United States, as well as plants which have adapted to this climate. It has an accredited zoo with indigenous animals and birds, along with a butterfly area and house.

Named a S.C. Governor's Cup Tourism Award recipient, Brookgreen has won other tourism and sculpture awards and a S.C. Arts Commission Elizabeth O'Neill Verner Award.


Larry Barnfield

Medal of Honor - Recipients - Larry BarnfieldLarry Barnfield has been the director of fine arts since 1999 at Dorchester School District Two in Summerville, S.C. During his time there, he has worked to increase the number of arts opportunities and arts faculty in South Carolina schools and earned the district national recognition. The Kennedy Center Alliance for Arts Education has recognized Barnfield's work in District Two on three occasions.

He is a recipient of the 2010 Elizabeth O'Neill Verner Governor's Award for the Arts, led two schools which were recognized as Arts Schools of Distinction, earned Lifetime Achievement Award from the S.C. Art Education Association and won a Disney American Teacher Award and Teacher of the Year honors for Dorchester School District Two and Berkeley County School District, and made a South Carolina Honor Roll teacher.

Beginning in 2010, he created, produced and hosted annually six programs during the Spoleto Festival titled "Rising Stars," that presented artistically gifted youth from S.C. He also brought in more than $3 million in funds for arts programs for District Two and the district earned a U.S. Department of Education grant to create a neighborhood arts-focused middle school.

Barnfield earned a bachelor's degree in art and music and a master of science degree in art education, both at Eastern Illinois University, in addition to postgraduate work at five other higher education institutions. He is nationally board certified for early adolescence through young adulthood art.


Jerry Helton

Medal of Honor - Recipients - Jerry HeltonJerry Heltondiscovered his knack for teaching while studying at the Academy of Vocal Arts in Philadelphia from 1964-69. While he had many of his own successes — singing with such American greats as Beverly Sills, Franco Corelli, Richard Tucker, and Jerome Hines with various opera companies in Charlotte, Cincinnati, Brooklyn, Boston, New Orleans, Philadelphia, and Barcelona,  Spain, and winning awards — Helton found teaching equally rewarding.

He started teaching voice performance at Winthrop in 1970 and groomed many students to sing in major opera companies around the world, including the Metropolitan Opera, the New York City Opera, the San Francisco Opera, and the Newberry Opera Company. Helton has had numerous students place or win in district and regional voice competitions including the Metropolitan Opera and San Francisco Opera auditions.

Helton, who remains in demand as a teacher of voice, is now professor emeritus of music at Winthrop. The Van Lear, Ky. native, a tenor, studied voice at the Cincinnati College Conservatory of Music and privately in New York and Europe.


Tony & Gale DiGiorgio

Medal of Honor - Recipients - DiGiorgios PortraitDuring their 24 years of selfless service to Winthrop University, President Emeritus Tony DiGiorgio and his wife, Gale, have made the arts an integral part of their lives and life on Winthrop's campus.

Tony assumed the role of Winthrop's ninth president in 1989. Under his steadfast leadership, Winthrop has grown into a national-caliber, comprehensive university of distinction that ranks consistently among the best of its kind in the U.S. Along the way, the university has also become a respected symbol of the vital role that the arts play in higher education. With an artistic eye that finds expression in photography and digital images, Tony has a keen appreciation for the concept of Phi — the basis for the divine proportion, golden mean, or simply put, the beauty found in nature. Early in his presidency, Tony instituted a strategic planning process to reshape Winthrop's scenic grounds into places where the transformative beauty of art blends with the functionality of a university campus. Tony has transformed the campus into an ever-changing canvas. The results are visible everywhere. Tony's collaboration with the Departments of Fine Arts and Facilities Management developed into a dynamic long-range plan to provide spaces for temporary art installations as well as permanent pieces — such as "Sweet Dreams," Leitner Wall, and Hardin Family Garden, to name a few — created by Winthrop faculty and staff, students, and alumni. Tony's vision of public art and his belief in the importance of the citizen-artist has left a tangible and enduring mark on the campus environs.

Gale, who has devoted herself to service for most of her life, has been involved in the York County arts community for many years, serving in both leadership and volunteer roles. The former chair of ARTS etc.'s Artist Series Selection Committee, she was a member of that organization's Executive Committee, the Arts Education Committee, the Taste of the Arts Fundraising Committee, and the Strategic Planning Committee. In 2001, ARTS etc. merged into the Rock Hill Arts Council, where Gale joined the council's Board of Directors in July 2000 and served through June 2004 as vice president of programming. Later the council changed its name to the Arts Council of York County, and, in 2005, ACYC awarded Gale its highest volunteer honor, the Ben Ardrey Volunteer Award. Last October, Winthrop recognized Gale's service to the university and local community with an honorary doctoral degree.