The North Greenville University (NGU) community gathered on Oct. 8 at the Cannon Centre in downtown Greer for a Red Carpet Gala in thankfulness to its annual financial supporters. The evening was filled with musical performances from the Cline School of Music faculty and students and testimonials from current students. 

During the event, the University recognized donors who have shown exemplary service and commitment to giving in 2019-20. The 2020 Red Carpet Gala Awards were presented to:   

The Tip of the Sword Award recognizes those who have made a significant contribution to NGU through their financial support, dedication, and passion regarding Crusader Athletics.

Don and Kelly Denny, owners of Utilities Supply in Winder, GA
Don and Kelly Denny, owners of Utilities Supply in Winder, GA

Don and Kelly Denny are owners of Utilities Supply in Winder, GA. The family business was started by Don’s father, Don Denny, Sr., in 1967 in Decatur, GA. Before the beginning of the current Utilities Supply Inc., in 1990, the Dennys began other pipe endeavors in the 1970s. With the core value of customer service in mind, the Dennys believed that they could make a difference in the pipe, valve, fittings industry and soon became a full-service supplier of water and gas products. The company has made a difference in their respective sectors; it has also made a difference for NGU's women's golf team. Learning that the athletic program needed a new vehicle to transport the team to tournaments, the Dennys met that need by purchasing and custom-wrapping a new van for the program in the spring of 2020.  

The Faculty/Staff Heritage Award is given to a current or retired member of the university family whose gifts embody the institution's spirit.

Rosemary Thrasher who joined the NGU faculty full time in August 2001.
Rosemary Thrasher who joined the NGU faculty full time in August 2001.

Rosemary Thrasher joined the NGU faculty full time in August 2001. She started her higher education teaching career in 1992 at Spartanburg Community College and has taught as an adjunct professor at Furman, Presbyterian, the University of South Carolina Upstate, Greenville Technical College, and Spartanburg Methodist College. Throughout her life, she has been an educator, teaching at private Christian schools in Illinois, Tennessee, and South Carolina early in her career.

Thrasher earned a bachelor's degree in education from Bob Jones University, a master's degree in teaching history from Bob Jones, and a second master's degree in history from Clemson University.

A student of history and geography, she has traveled in Europe and Asia and across the United States. She conveys a rich knowledge of history to her students. She also conveys a deep love for her University and her colleagues. In the fall of 2019, she and her husband Steven honored her long-time colleague, Dr. Shirley Ann Hickson, by fully funding the Dr. Shirley Ann Hickson and Rosemary Nelson Thrasher Endowment Fund.

In 2010, the Dr. Shirley Ann Hickson Endowment Fund was initiated by retired history professor Dr. Shirley Hickson. Rosemary wanted to make a significant gift to grow the fund, which helps NGU history professors and students extend their learning outside the classroom.

When making the endowment gift, she said that she hopes it will help students and faculty integrate their Christian faith with their historical learning and encourage them to use their research skills to serve the community.

NGU is grateful for Thrasher’s vision to enhance the endowed fund and honor Dr. Hickson. Through her teaching, and now through her generosity, she is creating learning opportunities for our students and faculty.

The Board Leadership Award is presented to a member of the University’s Board of Trustees whose support serves as an example to others.

Dr. Travis Agnew
Dr. Travis Agnew

Dr. Travis Agnew will complete his first term as chair of NGU's Board of Trustees in December 2020. He will be linked to this memorable year in the annuals of the University’s history. At a time when the Board of Trustees would need to stay abreast of issues tied to COVID-19 and fulfill its duties during a global pandemic, Agnew has provided dedicated and consistent leadership, drawing on his preparation for life through a commitment to discipleship growth.

While serving the University well, he continued providing vital leadership as senior pastor of Rocky Creek Baptist Church in Greenville. He is a 2003 North Greenville graduate, earning a bachelor of arts degree in Christian studies, with a minor in music. He earned a Master of Divinity degree and a Doctor of Ministry degree from The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. His doctoral focus was on family discipleship, which he continues to stress in his ministry work at Rocky Creek, at NGU (where he has led sessions on discipleship for faculty and staff), and in settings across the region.

His leadership work extends to the written page, as he is the author of “Distinctive Discipleship” and at least six other books. He has also developed a LifeWay curriculum with the Kendrick Brothers, including several Bible studies focused on prayer and parenting.

Before serving Rocky Creek, he served in associate pastor roles at North Side Baptist Church in Greenwood. He also has taught on the religion faculty at Lander University. You can find his informative and relevant blog at

Travis and his wife, Amanda, have two sons, Obadiah and Eli, and one daughter, Gloria.

The Leo Vernon Powell Legacy Award recognizes individuals who have significantly impacted NGU through their leadership, inspiration, service, and financial support to NGU and its mission.

Billy Wood
Billy Wood

Billy Wood, a Spartanburg resident, actively supports NGU's Christian Ministry Scholarship Fund through the Billy and Betty Wood endowment. He also supports the University’s annual fund.

Wood is a U.S. Army veteran, having served in the military after he graduated from Wofford College in 1950.

When he completed his time with the Army, he went to work for Duke Energy. He would work in sales for the utility until his retirement in 1989. He has a tradition of making commitments and sticking with them for decades. The best demonstration of that tradition is his faith in Jesus Christ. His faithful attendance at his church, Southside Baptist, allowed him to meet his wife, Betty. They were married for 60 years before Betty passed away in March of 2018 after a lengthy illness. Today, he is carrying forward a tradition he and Betty established as a couple. The Woods have invested heavily in the lives of college students across the Upstate.

Wood has told of how he received a small scholarship from Spartan Mills when he was a student. He did not walk away from that support. Instead, he has been an exemplary donor; funding endowed scholarship funds at three institutions. He and Betty also have actively served their community as volunteers with Mobile Meals and supported the Hope Center for Children and the Salvation Army.

Through his active involvement with NGU, Wood creates opportunities for NGU students to complete their degrees and launch into service and leadership careers. He is a consistent example of faithful stewardship of what God has provided and challenges all of us to create traditions of generosity to God’s glory.

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