Harrell, Hicks to speak at Commencement ceremonies

Monday, December 4, 2006

ORANGEBURG, SC – This year, fall Commencement Ceremonies at South Carolina State University will be held on Saturday, Dec. 16, 2006, at the Smith-Hammond-Middleton Memorial Center, and will feature two speakers, Rep. Bobby Harrell, S.C. House Speaker, and Dr. A. James Hicks, a National Science Foundation administrator. Harrell will speak at 9 a.m. and Hicks will speak at the 2 p.m. ceremony.

Students participating in the morning ceremony will represent the College of Business and Applied Professional Sciences and the College of Education, Humanities and Social Sciences. The afternoon ceremony will include students representing the College of Science, Mathematics and Engineering Technology and the School of Graduate Studies.

In 2005, the Honorable Robert W. Harrell Jr. (R-Dist. 114, Charleston-Dorchester Counties.) was overwhelmingly elected by his colleagues in the S.C. House of Representatives to become the Speaker of the House. He was first elected to serve in the State House in 1992, and was appointed to the House Ways and Means Committee in 1994 and became its chairman in 1999. Harrell was elected to serve as House Majority Leader in 1997.

He has served as the president of the Exchange Club of Charleston, the vice president of the Charleston Chamber of Commerce, and on the board of directors for the Boy Scouts of America, Child Abuse Prevention Center, Crime Stoppers and the Junior League Advisory Committee, among many others.

Harrell is the recipient of numerous awards and recognition, including “Legislator of the Year” awards given by the S.C. Public Health Association (2006), YMCA (2006), SC Solicitors Association (2004) and SC Adult Education Directors (2000); the S.C. Association of Tax Payers’ “Friend of the Tax Payer” awards (2000 and 2005); “House Member of the Year,” as named by the Fraternal Order of Police (2004); and a service award for “Contributions in Public Education” given by the Palmetto State Teacher Association (1999).

Harrell earned a bachelor’s degree in business administration from the University of South Carolina. He and his wife, Cathy, own and operate a State Farm insurance agency in Charleston, S.C., and have two children, Trey and Charlotte.

Dr. A. James Hicks serves as program director for the National Science Foundation’s (NSF) Louis Stokes Alliances for Minority Participation (LSAMP) in Washington, D.C.

Prior to becoming LSAMP program director, Hicks served as chairman and professor of biology (1977-1988), and dean of the College of Arts and Sciences (1988-1997) at North Carolina A&T State University.

Under his leadership as biology chairman, the research capacity of the biology department was enhanced by the acquisition of major research grants and equipment, and renovations of facilities to include more research space. As a scientist, his research focus has been in the area of plant taxonomy and he has reported his work at various scientific seminars and in peer review journals. While serving as dean, major renovations for physics, chemistry and fine arts buildings were completed and plans for a $34 million general classroom building were approved.

Hicks is well known at local, state and national levels for his service on numerous committees and advisory boards. In North Carolina, he served on the Greensboro Bog Garden Advisory Board; N.C. Plant Conservation Board; Guilford County Advisory Board for Environmental Quality; Natural Areas Advisory Committee of the Department of Natural Resources and Community Development; and the N.C. Biotechnology Center Facilities and Infrastructure Review Committee.

Also at the national level, Hicks has served on several panels of proposal evaluators for the National Academy of Sciences; Directorate for Science and Engineering/NSF; Department of Education/Minority Institutions Science Improvement Program; NSF Minority Graduate Fellowship Program; and the NSF Research Apprenticeship for Minority High School Students Program. In 1995, he was a member of the North Carolina delegation to Baden-Wurttemberg, Germany, which negotiated a Memorandum of Understanding to allow student and faculty exchanges between North Carolina and Germany.

Hicks has received numerous honors and awards for his achievements in science and for his efforts in promoting the advancements of underrepresented groups in science, engineering and mathematics. Most notably, in 1988, he received the White House Initiatives’ Faculty Award for Excellence in Science and Technology with a letter from President Ronald Reagan. He has also received the Director’s Award for Administrative Excellence in 1998 at NSF, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Group Honor Award for Excellence in 2001 for establishing a national awards program honoring outstanding teachers and research scientists at Historically Black Colleges and Universities.

In 2005, Hicks received four major recognitions for long-term achievements in broadening participation of underrepresented minorities in science, technology, engineering and mathematics at the national level. Those awards include Congressional recognition for the 2006 Educational Think Tank TEC Champion Leadership Award, given by the National Education Association; the Emerald Honors Award for Career Achievement from Spectrum Magazine; the Torch Bearer Award for Distinguished Service to the Field of Student Retention from the Consortium for Student Retention Data Exchange; and induction into the Tougaloo College Hall of Fame.

Hicks received a bachelor’s degree in biology from Tougaloo College, earned a Ph.D. in botany from the University of Illinois-Urbana and received postdoctoral training at the Missouri Botanical Garden in St. Louis.

Hicks and his wife, Pearl, are the proud parents of two daughters, Dr. Roselyn M. Hicks and Renee Hicks-Mitchell, and a granddaughter, Sasha.