2006 honorary degree recipients
What follows is a copy of the honorary degree citations presented during commencement, May 6, 2006, in McAlister Field House.
Stephen E. Buyer
The Honorable Stephen E. Buyer, a congressman from Indiana, embodies the highest qualities of a citizen-soldier through his leadership, character and service - qualities that are essential values of a Citadel education.
A member of the Class of 1980 and a distinguished military graduate, Congressman Buyer holds a Bachelor's Degree in Business Administration from The Citadel. He was commissioned as a second lieutenant in the U.S. Army Reserve upon graduation and continued his education at Valparaiso University, earning a law degree. He then served three years on active duty with the Judge Advocate General Corps.
After he was discharged, Congressman Buyer returned to his hometown in Indiana where he practiced law until 1990, when duty called again. With only a three-day notice, he joined the forces participating in Operation Desert Shield/Desert Storm and served as a legal advisor to the troops, assisting forward-deployed units on matters of international law and the treatment of detainees.
In 1992, the highly decorated citizen-soldier returned to Indiana where he ran for Congress. His constituents have returned him to Capitol Hill seven times. Congressman Buyer remains a colonel in the Army Reserve, making him one of the few members of Congress to be active in the armed forces while also serving in Congress. Because his military service gives Congressman Buyer a valuable perspective on the needs of veterans and active duty personnel, he was named chairman of the House Veterans' Affairs Committee beginning with the 109th Congress.
Throughout his career, Congressman Buyer has retained close ties to his Alma Mater. His achievements have been recognized by The Citadel Alumni Association, which named him The Citadel Man of the Year in 1995. Last year, following a proposal from his classmates, The Citadel Board of Visitors named the auditorium in Mark Clark Hall the Stephen E. Buyer Auditorium.
Therefore, in recognition of his leadership, achievements and service to this nation, The Citadel Board of Visitors is proud to present the Honorable Stephen E. Buyer with the honorary degree of Doctor of Laws.
John E. Courson
John E. Courson is a respected member of the South Carolina Senate whose work in the General Assembly has enhanced our educational system and improved our environment.
As a past United States Marine Corps Reservist, Senator Courson has a special understanding of the needs of military personnel. As a successful businessman, he is attuned to the impact of government on the economy. His leadership and experience have allowed this distinguished legislator to make a difference in the lives of South Carolinians.
Senator Courson has provided 22 years of support to The Citadel as a member of the General Assembly. His background in the Marine Corps gives him a unique understanding into the ideals and principles associated with the Military College of South Carolina.
A 1968 graduate of the University of South Carolina, Senator Courson cultivated an interest in politics while in college. Upon graduation, he launched a successful career in business, leading to his current position as senior vice president of the Columbia-based Keenan & Suggs Insurance Agency.
Senator Courson is currently chairman of the Senate Education Committee. His work has earned him praise from educators across the state. The South Carolina Association of School Administrators gave Senator Courson the Excellence in Education Award for 2005, the same year the State Department of Education honored him with the Outstanding Contributions Award. Midlands Technical College has established a scholarship in his name. Both the South Carolina Student Government Association and the South Carolina College Republicans have named him Senator of the Year, and Clemson University has recognized Senator Courson for his support of higher education.
Senator Courson's service on various committees dealing with veterans' affairs earned him the Distinguished Service Award from the Marine Corps League in 2003. He has also received the Order of the Palmetto, the state's highest civilian award.
Therefore, in recognition of his professional achievements and service to South Carolina, The Citadel Board of Visitors is proud to present Senator John E. Courson with the honorary degree of Doctor of Public Administration.
General Peter Pace
As Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Peter Pace serves as the principal military advisor to the President, the Secretary of Defense, and the National Security Council. When he was sworn in to the nation's highest military office, our country had been involved in the Global War on Terrorism for 48 months. His unwavering dedication to a strong future for the United States makes him the ideal leader of our armed forces during this time of challenge.
General Pace has a broad education. He graduated from the United States Naval Academy in 1967, and later earned a Master's Degree in Business Administration from George Washington University. He attended Harvard University's program for Senior Executives in National and International Security and is also a graduate of the Infantry Officers' Advanced Course, the Marine Corps Command and Staff College, and the National War College.
General Pace began his military service in 1968 as a Rifle Platoon Commander in Vietnam. He has since served in overseas billets in Thailand, Korea, and Japan. Throughout his career, General Pace has held command at virtually every level - to include leadership of several of the most demanding operational commands in our armed forces.
As President of Marine Corps University, he also served as Deputy Commander, Marine Forces, Somalia, and as Deputy Commander, Joint Task Force - Somalia. After an assignment as the Director for Operations on the Joint Staff, he served as the Commander, U.S. Marine Forces, Atlantic/Europe/South and then, after being promoted to general, assumed duties as the Commander in Chief, United States Southern Command.
His outstanding performance has earned General Pace numerous honors and awards including the Defense Distinguished Service Medal with two oak leaf clusters, the Defense Superior Service Medal, the Legion of Merit, the Bronze Star Medal with Combat V, the Defense Meritorious Service Medal, the Meritorious Service Medal with gold star, the Navy Commendation Medal with Combat V, the Navy Achievement Medal with gold star, and the Combat Action Ribbon.
General Pace is the first Marine to serve as either vice chairman or chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
Therefore, in recognition of his remarkable achievements and service to the United States, The Citadel Board of Visitors is proud to present General Peter Pace with the honorary degree of Doctor of Military Science.
Carl Edward Renken, Sr.
Charleston native Carl Edward Renken, Sr. is a highly respected businessman who has worked tirelessly to improve life in the Lowcountry.
A member of the Class of 1958, Mr. Renken was one of the most sought-after high school athletes ever to come to The Citadel when he entered in 1954. When a back injury forced him to give up football, Mr. Renken turned his talents to tennis, winning several varsity awards. He graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree in Commerce and earned his law degree from the University of South Carolina Law School in 1961.
His business career began when he joined the family business, Renken Boat Manufacturing Company, which he purchased in 1987. He subsequently expanded his entrepreneurial interests to include a number of other businesses related to boating and financial services.
Many community groups have benefited from Mr. Renken's time and talents. He is a past president of the West Ashley Jaycees, and an active member of the Hibernian Society, the Optimist Club and the Arion Society. He serves on the Advisory Board of the Salvation Army and as president of the congregation of St. Matthews Lutheran Church.
His Alma Mater has also benefited from his leadership. An honorary member of The Citadel Athletic Hall of Fame, he is a former president of The Citadel Brigadier Foundation and has established two athletic scholarships. He has also served as president of The Citadel Alumni Association and the Charleston Citadel Club, and as a class agent for The Citadel Foundation. His gift of The Renken Dining Room in the Holliday Alumni Center has created a popular meeting place for alumni as well as college and community groups
Therefore in recognition of his professional achievements and service to the community and his Alma Mater, The Citadel Board of Visitors is proud to present Carl Edward Renken, Sr. with the honorary degree of Doctorate of Business Administration.
William Jones Skilton
In a remarkable career that has spanned four decades, Bishop William Jones Skilton has selflessly and tirelessly worked to help others and to serve God.
A native of Cuba, he came to the United States at age 16 to work in a North Carolina camp, intending to stay only for the summer. But when political unrest prevented his return home, he was taken under the wing of Citadel alumnus William Workman and his wife.
He graduated from The Citadel in 1962 and earned a degree in Theology from the University of the South. In 1965, he and his wife went to the Dominican Republic as missionaries during a time of revolution and instability. He made a difference, founding an Episcopal high school that still provides students with a quality education. After helping with the election and consecration of the Dominican Republic's first Episcopal bishop, the Skiltons returned to South Carolina.
Bishop Skilton then worked with campus ministries, primarily serving St. Alban's Chapel at The Citadel and the College of Charleston. He was the canon chaplain of the Cathedral of St. Luke and St. Paul in Charleston and the rector of Holy Trinity. Following a second assignment in the Dominican Republic, Bishop Skilton became rector of St. Thomas in North Charleston in 1988. In 1995, he was elected to the Episcopate, and in 1996, he was consecrated as a bishop.
His responsibilities as Suffragan Bishop of South Carolina include overseeing the Episcopal Church's work in world missions, social ministries, college ministries and clergy development. His work with many boards includes serving as president of the National Board of the Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge and president of the Board of the Christian Action Council.
Therefore, in recognition of his service and commitment to the spiritual development of all people, The Citadel Board of Visitors is proud to present Bishop William Jones Skilton with an honorary degree of Doctor of Divinity.
Stanhope S. Spears
As the Adjutant General of South Carolina, Major General Stanhope S. Spears directs the 10,500-member South Carolina Army and Air National Guard. His responsibilities include supervising the state's emergency preparedness and response as well as military functions relating to homeland defense, information technology and a host of other areas.
General Spears is the senior Adjutant General in the United States.
The York, South Carolina, native earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Business Administration from the University of South Carolina in 1959. In the years since, he has balanced extremely successful business and military careers. He worked as an executive with Marsh-McLennan, Inc., the world's largest insurance brokerage, until he retired after 27 years of service.
Major General Spears' military career began in 1959 when he enlisted in the South Carolina Air National Guard and was later commissioned as a second lieutenant in the Army National Guard. For the next 32 years, while serving as a traditional Guard member, his career progressed rapidly. He achieved the rank of Brigadier General and, after various commands, became Assistant Adjutant General for the South Carolina Army National Guard.
Major General Spears was elected Adjutant General in 1994, and has the distinction of being the nation's only elected Adjutant General. He has received many military and non-military awards including The Order of the Palmetto - the state's highest civilian honor, the Distinguished Service Medal, the Legion of Merit Medal, the United States Meritorious Service Medal, the Army Commendation Medal, the Army Achievement Medal, the Army Reserve Components Achievement Medal, the Armed Forces Reserve Medal, the National Defense Service Medal, and the Distinguished Eagle Scout Award. He has also rendered valuable service to the college as a member of The Citadel Board of Visitors.
In recognition of his personal achievements and service to South Carolina, The Citadel Board of Visitors is proud to present Major General Stanhope S. Spears with the honorary degree of Doctor of Military Science.