Saturday, March 17, 2007
ORANGEBURG – The National Association For Equal Opportunity in Higher Education (NAFEO) honored two SC State alums who have attained a level of excellence in their personal and professional lives.
Award-winning journalist Rudolph A. Pyatt Jr., ’56, and noted jurist Colonel Ned E. Felder, ’59, ’61, received NAFEO Distinguished Alumni citations at a March 17 ceremony at the Grand Hyatt Hotel in Washington, D.C.
Typically, NAFEO Distinguished Alumni are representative of professional excellence, innovation, entrepreneurship and the spirit of political and civic engagement that marks so many alumni of historically and predominantly black colleges and universities.
Rudolph A. Pyatt Jr., a Charleston, S.C., native, graduated from SC State with a bachelor of arts degree in English in 1956, where he was also commissioned as a second lieutenant in the U.S. Army. He served three years on active duty as an officer in an anti-aircraft missile battery and as an instructor in an army air defense school.
After his discharge from the Army in 1960, Pyatt taught English at Wilson High School in Florence, S.C., before returning to Charleston, where he taught English and journalism at the former C.A. Brown High School.
In 1964, Pyatt went to work for the Charleston News & Courier, becoming the first black reporter for a major newspaper in the South. In 1968, he was assigned to work in Washington, D.C., as a correspondent for the News & Courier and the Charleston Evening Post. (The two papers were later merged and renamed The Post & Courier.)
Pyatt later worked as a reporter at WETA-TV, in the nation’s capital, before going to work at the Washington Star as a staff writer covering business news. While at the Star, he subsequently held the position of metropolitan news editor before being named deputy business editor, a post he held until 1981 when the Star closed. Shortly thereafter, he went to work for The Washington Post as a business columnist, a position he held until his retirement in 2000.
In noting Pyatt’s retirement from The Post, one editor wrote, “At their best, Rudy’s columns… were perfect blends of viewpoint and reportage… Through two decades of profound change, both at The Washington Post and in the business community it covers, Rudy’s has been a voice of consistency and sophistication.”
In an interview with Quill magazine, shortly after Pyatt was transferred to the Charleston papers’ Washington bureau, J. Douglas Donehue, who had been Pyatt’s city editor at the News & Courier, told a writer for the magazine: “Rudolph Pyatt is one of the best reporters this newspaper has had in the 12 years I’ve been here. And, he’s one of the best I’ve seen anywhere.”
An award-winning journalist, Pyatt is a Washington Post-Duke University Fellow; an honorary member of the Knight Center for Specialized Journalism, where he had been a charter member of the advisory board; a retired member of the Communications Workers of America; and a member of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity Inc.
He and his wife, Jacqueline, live in Fort Washington, Md., and they have two sons.
Colonel Ned E. Felder, a Charleston, S.C., native, graduated from SC State with a bachelor of science degree in business administration in 1959 and a Juris Doctor degree in 1961. He was commissioned a second lieutenant in the Finance Corps through the ROTC program. After law school, he served as finance officer in Korea and Fort Totten, N.Y. He transferred to the Judge Advocate General’s Corps in 1963.
As a judge advocate, Felder served as prosecutor, defense counsel and trial judge throughout the United States; Berlin, (West) Germany; Turkey; and Vietnam. His criminal legal experience reaches from misdemeanor to capital offenses. In 1975, he was appointed an appellate judge to the U.S. Army Court of Criminal Appeals. He was later assigned to Fort Meade, Md., as the Staff Judge Advocate. He served a second term as Senior Judge on the U.S. Army Court of Criminal Appeals immediately prior to his retirement in December 1988.
In addition to his military awards and decorations, which include the Legion of Merit for being “one of the most respected jurists in the Army,” he was inducted into the SC State University Army ROTC Hall of Fame and honored by civilian employees at Fort Monmouth, N.J., as “one of the Army’s Black Defenders of the Constitution.” He is the recipient of awards from Freedom Foundation at Valley Forge; a Federal Bar Association award presented by Supreme Court Chief Justice William Rehnquist; the National Bar Association Outstanding Jurist Award; and the Delta Sigma Theta Sorority Meritorious Achievement Award for “over 27 years of advancing the cause of equal rights throughout the Army.”
Since retiring, Felder has embarked on a personal campaign to increase the number of African American judges in the military. The Buffalo JAG Officers honored him for his contributions to enhancing their careers, and the Charleston, S.C., Club of Los Angeles, Calif., presented him with their Judicial Leadership Award. In celebration of African American History Month, February 2002, he was the featured speaker and honored at a program sponsored by The Judge Advocate General’s School and The National Ground Intelligence Center at the University of Virginia, Charlottesville, Va.
Felder serves as president of the Charleston, S.C., Club of Washington, D.C. He is a past president of the Washington, D.C., Alumni Chapter of the SC State University National Alumni Association (SCSUNAA); an active charter member of the SC State Military Alumni Association; and currently serves as SCSUNAA national parliamentarian. He maintains membership in Ebenezer African Methodist Episcopal (AME) Church in Charleston, S.C., and attends services at Howard University in Washington, D.C.
He is married to the former Carrie Boddie Barnes and they have five children.
NAFEO was founded in 1969 by a group of HBCU presidents as the professional association of the presidents and chancellors of the nation’s historically and predominantly black colleges and universities (HBCUs). NAFEO represents approximately 400,000 students and their families and African Americans across the higher education spectrum. NAFEO members collaborate efforts to increase technology access; improve persistence and graduation rates; improve institutional performance; and educate the public about the importance of HBCUs.