University of South Carolina

S.C. House speaker to deliver Commencement address

Robert William “Bobby” Harrell Jr., Speaker of the South Carolina House of Representatives, will address December graduates of the University of South Carolina’s eight campuses during Commencement ceremonies Monday, Dec. 14, at Colonial Life Arena.

Harrell, who also will receive an honorary degree of doctor of public service during the 3:30 p.m. ceremony, will speak to graduates who have earned baccalaureate, master’s and professional degrees from the Aiken, Beaufort, Columbia, Lancaster, Salkehatchie, Sumter, Union and Upstate campuses.

Also receiving honorary degrees will be Joe Huddleston, executive director of the Multistate Tax Commission in Washington, D.C., and distinguished biomedical scientist Claude Bouchard, whose groundbreaking research into genetic predisposition to fitness and obesity spawned an entire line of study.

A separate ceremony for graduates receiving doctoral degrees will take place at 1:30 p.m. that day at the Koger Center for the Arts. Dr. John H. Dawson, Carolina Distinguished Professor and chair of the department of chemistry and biochemistry, will speak.

The university expects to award nearly 2,500 degrees, including 1,717 from the Columbia campus. The Columbia total includes 1,156 baccalaureate degrees, 434 master’s degrees, 86 doctoral degrees, 20 graduate certificates, 11 specialist degrees, five law degrees and five associate degrees.

Totals from the other campuses are as follows:

  • Aiken: 177 baccalaureate degrees, five master’s degrees;
  • Beaufort: 68 baccalaureate degrees, three associate degrees;
  • Lancaster: 25 associate degrees;
  • Salkehatchie: 18 associate degrees;
  • Sumter: 10 associate degrees;
  • Union: four associate degrees;
  • Upstate: 452 baccalaureate degrees.

Real-time streaming video of the ceremony will be available online at

Harrell, an Orangeburg native, earned his bachelor’s degree in business administration from the university in 1978. While a student, he served as a page in the S.C. Senate, learning firsthand the legislative process of which he would ultimately be key component.

Harrell was first elected to the House in 1992 as a representative of District 114, which includes portions of Charleston and Dorchester counties. He was chairman of the Freshman Caucus in 1993, House Majority Leader from 1997 – 99 and chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee from 1999 - 2005. He was elected Speaker of the House in 2005 and has served in that capacity since. He has also served as chair of the Economic Development and Public Education Subcommittee of the Ways and Means Committee. In his legislative leadership role, Harrell is known for his focus on education, tax reduction and economic development.

Huddleston, who earned his bachelor’s degree in political science from the university in 1971, heads an organization consisting of 47 participating state governments that promote equitable and efficient administration of tax laws that apply to multistate enterprises. The Multistate Tax Commission regularly advises Congressional committees and members of Congress on the impact of state tax on federal legislation. The Pleasant Hill, Tenn., native, nationally recognized as a speaker at state tax forums, previously served as commissioner of the Tennessee Department of Revenue, during which he was president of both the Federation of Tax Administrators and the Southeast Association of Tax Administrators. He will receive an honorary degree of doctor of laws.

Bouchard’s research has focused on the genetics of fitness and of body composition, obesity and related metabolic disorders. He was the first researcher to systematically investigate the role of genetic differences in adaptation to exercise. His HERITAGE Family Study has resulted in more than 130 scientific publications; moreover, several genes associated with cardiorespiratory endurance and with changes in insulin metabolism have been identified. Bouchard also was the first scientist to study the potential role of genetic variation in the causes of obesity. Among his many awards are the TOPS Award from the North American Association for the Study of Obesity in 1998; the W. Henry Sebrell Award from the Weight Watchers Foundation in 1999; and the Earle W. Crampton Award in Nutrition from McGill University in 2005. He will the honorary degree of doctor of science.

December Commencement

  • Who: Bobby Harrell, S.C. House Speaker, to deliver address; tax expert Joe Huddleston and scientist Claude Bouchard also to receive degrees; nearly 2,500 graduates to receive diplomas
  • When: 3:30 p.m. Monday, Dec. 14
  • Where: Colonial Life Arena

By Office of Media Relations

Posted: 12/08/09 @ 12:00 AM | Updated: 12/13/09 @ 4:49 PM | Permalink