Dr. Joab “Joe” Mauldin Lesesne, Jr. was born on June 21, 1937, in Greenville, SC. He graduated from Dixie High School (but played football at Abbeville High School), where he played basketball and baseball there and at Erskine College. His father was the President at Erskine College in Due West, where Dr. Lesesne earned his B.A. in 1959. He earned his master’s degree from the University of South Carolina in 1961 and then his Ph.D. in history in 1967. Dr. Lesesne quickly made a name for himself in the academic world with a brief stint at what is now Coastal Carolina University and then at Wofford College between 1964-1972 before being named Wofford’s ninth President in 1972.
A leadership role he held until his “retirement” in 2000. While President of Wofford, he led Wofford through some of its most pivotal growth as an institution academically, athletically, and physically on campus as he ushered in the coeducation of Wofford (the school allowing women to attend) and many of the modern athletic facilities for which Wofford is known, such as Gibbs Stadium and the Richardson Physical Activities Building. He led Wofford College as a D1 athletic program into the Southern Conference and home to the Carolina Panthers Training Camp.
After his “retirement” as President of Wofford, Dr. Lesesne continued to teach history classes and serve as a volunteer assistant football coach. As a football coach, he served as a Wofford assistant between 1965-1968, and then returned to coaching after his time as President to work with the tight ends (2001-2004). He became the director of football operations for the legendary Coach Mike Ayers where he served in that capacity until 2016. At that time, Dr. Lesesne took a step back in his role to become an advisor to Coach Ayers and the athletic department until 2020. He and wife of nearly 64 years, Ruth, have four children, eleven grandchildren and two great grandchildren.