Joe Lesesne graduated from Erskine College and earned his master’s degree and Ph.D. from the University of South Carolina. He served as president of Wofford College for 28 years—from 1972 until 2000. During his tenure, the campus doubled in size, the number of majors increased from 15 to 23, and the college’s endowment grew from $3.5 million to over $100 million.
Lesesne has served as chairman of the boards of the Spartanburg Area Chamber of Commerce, the Spartanburg County Foundation, and the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources. His many honors include the Neville Holcombe Distinguished Citizenship Award, the Spartanburg Area Chamber of Commerce (1992); the Daniel Morgan Award, United Way of the Piedmont (1997); the Sergeant William Jasper Award, South Carolina State Chamber of Commerce (1995); and the Order of the Palmetto (2000). He is also a brigadier general and brigade commander of the South Carolina Army National Guard, now holding the rank of major general, retired.