Inspiration Award

The Inspiration Award celebrates someone who is supportive of Beaufort County schools and has demonstrated extraordinary dedication, passion, and skills that influence and inspire students. 

The Foundation for Educational Excellence is proud to honor

Dr. Jane T. Upshaw 

Distinguished Chancellor Emerita, University of South Carolina Beaufort
as the 2019 recipient of the Peggy May Inspiration Award

Dr. Jane Upshaw relocated to the area in 1981 from Atlanta with her husband and their three children. While embracing her new home in the Lowcountry, she was given the opportunity to return to her true passion: education.

Dr. Upshaw taught mathematics at May River Academy and then as an adjunct professor at the University of South Carolina Beaufort. In 1986, she was offered a full-time faculty position with USCB. A decade later, Dr. Upshaw transitioned into an administrative role as the college’s Director of Development. She was tasked with developing a plan to raise money for a new campus on donated land. In 1999, Dr. Upshaw was nominated and selected as the first female Dean of the University of South Carolina Beaufort. Her ultimate goal during her tenure at USCB was to establish the college as a regional and comprehensive four-year university. That vision was achieved in 2004, when the first baccalaureate graduates of the University of South Carolina Beaufort received their diplomas. In that same year, a new 200-acre campus opened at the gateway to Hilton Head Island.

Throughout her professional career, Dr. Upshaw has dedicated her leadership skills to the advancement of education in the Lowcountry. Her vision for USCB and the courage to grow a small two-year college into a baccalaureate institution has provided an enduring contribution to our area and its residents. 


In 2015, Dr. Upshaw was awarded the Order of the Palmetto, South Carolina’s highest civilian honor for recognition of extraordinary work and dedication to the citizens of the state. She retired from education that same year. Today, she utilizes her leadership skills through her involvement in First Presbyterian Church. She has served as the Chair of the Nomination Committee and the Stewardship Committee. Dr. Upshaw is also Chair of the Pat Conroy Literary Board, a new initiative established by family and friends to honor the late author. Even in retirement, she continues to serve the Lowcountry as a dynamic leader and educator.


Dr. Upshaw is deeply touched to be receiving the Peggy May Inspiration Award, a recognition that was named for her dear friend and a fellow advocate for the advancement of education in Beaufort County.

  • 2018 Recipient; Dr. Emory Campbell, recognized for contributions in the cultural and environmental heritage of the Lowcountry

  • 2017 Recipients; The Esquivel Family, champions for the Latino community

  • 2016 Recipient; Dr. Narendra P. Sharma, the founder of the Neighborhood Outreach Connection

  • 2015 Recipient; Peggy May, a retired educator, former chair of the Foundation for Educational Excellence, and former county and state Director of Adult Literacy

  • 2014 Recipient: Candice Glover,  2008 Beaufort High School graduate, who rose through the ranks to become the 2013 American Idol on FOX 

  • 2013 Recipient: Dr. Wayne Carbiener, former Beaufort County School Board member and avid supporter of the Foundation for Educational Excellence

  • 2012 Recipient: Orchid Paulmeier, accomplished chef, finalist of The Next Food Network Star television series and active parent volunteer at children's schools in Beaufort County

  • 2011 Recipient: David Vincent Young, renowned chef and entrepreneur and 1989 graduate of Hilton Head Island High School

  • 2010 Recipient: Jonathan Green, recognized as one of our nation's outstanding African American artists and 1973 graduate of Beaufort High School