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South Carolina Honors College

  • Two photos of Jim Stuckey, one of him as a sophomore journalism student on the left and Stuckey in present day on the right.

Powering the state, empowering its citizens

Good writing moves. Jim Stuckey, ‘89 South Carolina Honors College graduate and Carolina scholar, heard this metaphor in an Honors writing class taught by Professor Carolyn Matalene. But for the young student from Bishopville, South Carolina, the phrase could have been a literal prediction.

Strong writing skills have kept Stuckey’s professional life in motion, initiating a career spanning from news journalism to the South Carolina Governor’s office to vice president and general counsel of Dominion Energy.

In Stuckey’s mind, however, the catalyst behind his career trajectory and impact on the state is much more down-to-earth.

Jim Stuckey posing with his wife and three sons.
Stuckey met his wife Bernita Weaver Stuckey (‘91, pharmacy) during their first week at USC. Their three sons (left to right) Evan (‘24, media arts), Brandon (‘20, engineering) and Justin (‘17, public health) are also USC alumni.

“My lineage instilled the fundamentals,” he says. “Strong work ethic, a devotion to family, a devotion to community and a respect for the value of education.”

He also knew that his family had worked hard to position him to pursue opportunities. His maternal grandfather, for example, was a business owner and civil rights activist in Orangeburg County.

“I didn't want to drop the ball,” Stuckey says, reflecting on his family’s efforts. “I wanted to live up to that.”

And so he embodied their values: He studied diligently in high school and started driving a school bus at sixteen. Being named a Carolina scholar, USC’s signature scholarship for in-state students, empowered him to excel further. With an eye on law school, Stuckey enrolled as a political science major but switched to journalism to diversify his skillset.

Enticed by the Honors College’s small class sizes and dynamic discussions, Stuckey’s intellectual curiosity flourished. In Professor Hal French’s Honors class, “Gandhi, King and the Legacy of Non-Violence,” a visit from civil rights activist Modjeska Simkins reinforced the importance of connecting class content to the real world. The lesson was not lost on Stuckey, who was eager to make beyond-the-classroom connections. After attending adjunct professor Howard Simons’ lecture at the School of Journalism and Mass Communications, he decided to introduce himself.

“[Simons] had been the managing editor of the ‘Washington Post’ during Watergate,” Stuckey recalls. “[I] told him that I was in the Honors College, that I had just switched my major to journalism, and I was interested in learning how to get my foot in the door.” This conversation led to Stuckey landing a job with the 'Columbia Record' newspaper and putting his journalism skills into practice.

Jim Stuckey as a student
Stuckey as a sophomore journalism major.

As much as he enjoyed journalism, however, Stuckey still envisioned a legal career and valued “the impact lawyers and practicing law could have on society.” He graduated from the Duke University School of Law in 1993, and his journalism training was an ideal foundation: “I maintain that the media law class that I took at USC was as strong as any course I ever took in law school.” Early in his legal career, Stuckey drew upon the fact-finding, synthesizing and writing skills he developed as a journalist.

His prowess was evident. In 1998, he interviewed with newly elected South Carolina Governor Jim Hodges, and once again, Stuckey made the most of the opportunity.

“They brought me on as his chief legal counsel,” he says. “I was one of four senior advisors to the governor."

One of Stuckey’s achievements from his time in the Hodges administration was working to establish a state lottery. The South Carolina Education Lottery has since provided over 2.5 million scholarships to students. “[My parents] were both public school educators,” Stuckey recalls, “and growing up, I just listened to their discussions about the importance of education.”

He was also involved with initiatives to remove the Confederate flag from the State House dome. Throughout his time in the governor’s office, his written and verbal communication skills were imperative to achieving the administration’s goals. And he developed, not only as a lawyer, but as a leader.

“I gradually focused more on building teams of people who work effectively together,” he reflects. “I stopped worrying as much about whether I was the most knowledgeable person on a given topic and redirected my focus to developing people that are committed to doing their jobs well and helping each other succeed.”

His impact on the state, and on the people he leads, is far from over. He now serves as the vice president and general counsel of Dominion Energy, which provides energy to hundreds of thousands of South Carolinians.

Stuckey with W. Keller Kissam
Stuckey and W. Keller Kissam, president of Dominion Energy South Carolina, at the International African American Museum’s opening.

His current goals: Powering the state and empowering the telling of some important stories. Dominion Energy contributed funds for the construction of Charleston’s new International African American Museum, and for the grand opening in 2023, Stuckey was invited to attend.

“It was overwhelming,” he says of the experience. And then, ever the writer, he notes the storytelling at work. “The museum really focused on not just the origin story, but the survival story of African Americans in this country and how Charleston was really the point of entry for most of them.”

For Stuckey, whose family history in the state stretches back over 150 years, the museum is a point of reflection and opportunity.

“Dominion Energy was able to facilitate the construction of a beautiful museum in South Carolina that would tell the story of these folks for generations, and that’s again consistent with the legacy of my family to promote education and community service,” he says. “It was an honor for me to participate.” 

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