CLEMSON – More than 700 Clemson University graduates received their degrees Saturday at a ceremony where state Sen. Harvey Smith Peeler Jr. also received an honorary Doctorate of Humanities.

“I am honored and humbled. Thank you for this honor,” Peeler said. “Clemson University will always have my support. It is one of South Carolina’s greatest assets.”

A 1970 Clemson graduate with a bachelor of science degree in dairy science, Peeler has been instrumental in securing funding for Clemson and its Public Service Activities unit. He has offered particular support for Clemson’s agriculture and public service missions.

“We’re counting on you to use what you have learned during your time at Clemson to be the solution to our state’s and nation’s problems,” Peeler told the graduates. “You have earned this degree. By accepting your diploma you are accepting the responsibility to increase its value.

“Will you increase its value?” Peeler asked the graduates, who responded “yes” in unison.

Peeler is closing in on three full decades since his first election to the South Carolina Senate in 1980. Prior to his election to the Senate he served a four-year term on the Cherokee County Council. In 2005 he was elected majority leader and also serves as chairman of the Senate Medical Affairs committee.

Peeler still lives in Gaffney, the town in which he was born. He married his high school sweetheart, the former LaDonna Caudill. She is a nurse with the Cherokee County School District. They have three children and seven grandchildren.

“August 8th is a good day for me,” Peeler said. “On August 8th, 1969, LaDonna and I were married. Today is our 40th anniversary. A year later, on August 8th, 1970, I graduated from Clemson. And today I am honored to be back here to speak to all of you.”

A number of Clemson students were recognized during the ceremony. Reza Saeidpourazar and Ethan Christopher Smith each received the Board of Visitors Graduate Researcher Award for 2009. The award is given annually to two students for excellence in graduate research.

Stacy Ann Balk and Janine Elizabeth Janoski each received the Board of Visitors Graduate Teaching Assistant Award for 2009. The award recognizes the contributions graduate teaching assistants make to the education of Clemson undergraduate students.

Jordan Nicole Bolte, Noel Ballard Durant, John Adam Holland and Christian Nikolai Kotanen received the Faculty Scholarship Award, created in 1959 by Clemson faculty to recognize the highest scholastic achievement.


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