NGU Graduates First Doctoral Class

In his address on Thursday, December 12, John G. Rocovich, Jr.  told the assembled graduates at North Greenville University's fall commencement service to be intellectually curious, have a love for learning, and a thirst for knowledge. “These are hallmarks of people with truly great accomplishments,” said Rocovich, attorney and founder of Edward Via College of Osteopathic Medicine.

“I want to encourage you to enter a process of being intellectually curious and setting out a goal to learn new things every day. Be interested. Not just in your career, but in the world around you,” said Rocovich. “Set out a pattern of continuing to apply information and knowledge and don’t put that pattern down until they put you in the grave.”

This commencement ceremony was historic for NGU. The school awarded a total of 176 degrees from its undergraduate and graduate programs.  Three degrees awarded were the school’s first from the Doctor of Ministry program. Ronald Grant Barker from Chapin, Randy Dean Bradley from Greenville, and Terry Kimper Lanford from Gaffney were the school’s recipients of NGU's DMin degree.

Rocovich told the graduates that they have to think their life all the way through if they want to have direction and purpose; to know where they’re going in order to reach the only worthy destination. He said the direction of their pathway determines their destination.

He left the graduates with three secrets: Begin a process of lifelong learning; put forth the extra effort and the world will reward you greatly; whatever you do, work at it with all your heart as if working for the Lord, not for men. 

Rocovich closed his speech with a quote from the world’s most famous “doctor,” Doctor Seuss.

“Seize the day, seize the hour, seize the moment,” said Rocovich.

Rocovich was born in Roanoke, Va. He graduated from Blacksburg High School in 1963 and attended Virginia Tech, graduating cum laude from its College of Business in 1966. He attended law school at the University of Richmond, earned his Juris Doctor, then passed the Virginia bar in 1967. Rocovich then entered New York University, where he graduated with his Master of Laws in Taxation in 1968.

He returned to Roanoke to establish the law firm Moss & Rocovich, where he currently practices taxation and trusts as well as estate law with his daughter, Elizabeth. He has been admitted to the bar in Virginia, District of Columbia, U.S. Supreme Court, U.S. Tax Court, U.S. Court of Federal Claims, and the 4th and 8th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals.

He founded the Edward Via College of Osteopathic Medicine in Blacksburg, VA which now has a location in Spartanburg, SC. He is the Chairman of its board of directors.

Approximately eleven NGU students have been accepted to Edward Via and have graduated or are still in the program. One student has been accepted to enter in 2014.    

At the conclusion of Rocovich’s address, the university awarded him an honorary Doctor of Christian Leadership.

“I enjoy [Edward Via College of Osteopathic Medicine's] relationship with North Greenville University. I love the students you send us. We are the only medical college in America that trains missionary doctors. We operate full-time clinics in Latin America,” said Rocovich. “I love to get your students. They show up with a missionary heart.”

In addition, Ralph S. Hendricks from Simpsonville was awarded an honorary Doctor of Christian Leadership.

Hendricks was born in Bowman, Ga. April 27, 1917 and was the oldest of six children. Growing up during the depression, Mr. Hendricks family moved several times during his early childhood.  Since Mr. Hendricks was the oldest child, he had to start work at a very early age to help support their family. Due to this fact, he never received much education which resulted in Mr. Hendricks having a strong desire to encourage young people to get a good education before stepping out in the world to pursue their dreams. 

After World War II, Hendricks secured a job with his father-in-law who was part-owner of a building supply operation in Simpsonville, SC. Later in 1957, Mr. Hendricks father-in-law retired and gave him the opportunity to purchase his interest and become part-owner and manager of the building supply business. After many years of hard work, the business grew during the decades of the 1970’s and 1980’s providing Mr. Hendricks the opportunity to expand his business interests by getting into land development where he specialized in selling lots and building homes.

In 1985, Mr. Hendricks’ first wife Virginia passed away suddenly but before her death, this special couple had discussed and explored ways they could give back to the Lord by helping young people in the Simpsonville area. From this desire to help others, Mr. Hendricks decided to create the Ralph and Virginia Hendricks Foundation with the primary mission of providing college scholarships to young people.

In 1986, Mr. Hendricks married the second love of his life, Ms.  Marion Hubbard, and they have worked together on this special foundation to make a difference for God’s kingdom and assist young people. In fact, the Hendricks Foundation has helped nearly 425 students from Hillcrest High School and Woodmont High School with scholarships to attend Greenville Tech, Anderson University, Furman University and most importantly North Greenville University.

Earlier this year, Ralph was awarded the Order of the Silver Crescent Award from the South Carolina State Senate. The Order of the Silver Crescent is awarded to residents of South Carolina for excellent performance, contribution, and achievement within the community. It is the state's highest award for volunteer and community service. The SC Senate signed the proclamation in Hendricks' honor on May 7, 2013 recognizing his service on the City Council in Simpsonville for nearly fifteen years, including twelve years as mayor of Simpsonville. In November, Ralph was the recipient of NGU’s 2013 Board Leadership Award given to a board of trustee member whose support of NGU serves as an example to others.

The Hendricks have also supported several capital projects: the Athletic Field House is named in their honor and the President’s Box in the new Jimmy & Gretchen Epting Athletic/Worship Center will also bear their name.

At the age of 96, Mr. Hendricks is still very active and enjoys going to the office to take care of the day to day operations of his business, Hendricks Properties, Inc.

“I’m so thankful for this award today. I want to say to the students that you’ve just made one step up. There are many more steps to make,” said Hendricks. “Always remember: in the good times and the bad times, come to the Lord. He’s working for you.”




L to R: Dr. Larry McDonald, Dean of the Graduate School of Christian Ministry; Terry Kimper Lanford; Ronald Grant Barker; and Randy Dean Bradley.