Betty Dent Receives Doctor of Humane Letters from CIU

May 12, 2011

A South Carolina woman who has served others over her lifetime through the church and the public arena was honored with the Doctor of Humane Letters from Columbia International University during commencement ceremonies May 14.  Betty Dent, the wife of the late Harry Dent, supported her husband as he served in numerous leadership positions in state and national politics, finally serving in the White House under President Richard Nixon. 

Mrs. Dent served as a secretary in Senator Strom Thurmond’s Columbia office and as a leader at Kathwood Baptist Church during the mid-1960s.  In the mid-1970s Betty served on the SC Mental Health Advisory Board and was recognized as one of the Ten Most Outstanding Women in Columbia, SC.

In 1985, Betty and Harry began the ministry Laity Alive, teaching and training lay people.  For the next 13 years, they participated in mission trips to South Korea, Australia, Russia, Romania, Amsterdam, England, and China. Also during the 1980s, Betty participated in, and coordinated Market Place Bible Studies, and assisted her husband Harry when he was chairman of the Billy Graham Crusade in Columbia.

In 1992, Betty and Harry published “Right versus Wrong: Solutions to the American Nightmare,” detailing the stories of their upbringing in dysfunctional and alcoholic homes. In 1993, the two of them received the Edward A. McDowell Award for Distinguished Christian Service. Harry Dent passed away in 2007 after a long struggle with Alzheimer’s disease, opening opportunities for Betty to speak to Alzheimer’s conferences and care groups.

Betty Dent has a long association with CIU beginning in the 1970s when her daughter was a CIU student. Mrs. Dent audited courses at CIU in the early 70s.  The relationship grew over the years, eventuating in her service on the CIU board of trustees from 1993 to 2007.  Today, Betty is a member of a ladies prayer group which meets monthly to pray for God’s blessing on CIU.   

For local media coverage of Betty Dent's honor visit WIS TV:  and The State newspaper:

.To hear the commencement address of Dr. Jerry Rankin, International Mission Board president emeritus, go to: 

To view photos of CIU's commencements visit the CIU Flickr page: