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Federal Judge Wilkins to deliver CCU's commencement

April 24, 2006

Coastal Carolina University will recognize 739 candidates for graduation during commencement exercises Saturday, May 6 at 8:30 a.m. in Brooks Stadium. May and August candidates will be recognized. The public is welcome to attend.

U.S. Chief Judge of the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals William W. Wilkins will deliver the commencement address and receive the honorary degree Doctor of Public Service. David Harwell, a retired chief justice of the Supreme Court of South Carolina, will also receive the honorary degree of Doctor of Public Service, as will Gerrita Postlewait, superintendent for Horry County Schools. Myrtle Beach photographer Jack Thompson will receive an honorary doctorate of fine arts.

Wilkins, of Greenville, was appointed to the U.S. District Court of South Carolina in 1981. In 1986, President Ronald Reagan nominated Wilkins to a seat on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit. He was the first federal judge in the nation appointed by Reagan. Since 2003 he has served as chief judge. Wilkins is a graduate of Davidson College and the University of South Carolina School of Law. He was the first solicitor elected in South Carolina on the Republican ticket since Reconstruction; he was also the youngest solicitor in the state at that time.

Harwell, of Myrtle Beach, is a retired chief justice of the Supreme Court of South Carolina. He has been a member of the South Carolina Bar Association since 1958 and was a judge for 21 years (Circuit Court 1973-1980, Associate Justice 1980-1991, Chief Justice in 1991-1994. He also served in the South Carolina House of Representatives from 1963 to 1973. Prior to beginning his judicial career, Justice Harwell maintained a general law practice. Currently, Harwell is a certified mediator and arbitrator in both state and federal courts and is special counsel to the law firm of Nelson Mullins Riley & Scarborough, LLP. He graduated from the University of South Carolina School of Law and holds an honorary Doctor of Humanities degree from Francis Marion University.

Postlewait, of Myrtle Beach, has served as superintendent of Horry County Schools since 1996. She has been named Superintendent of the Year by the South Carolina Association of School Administrators (SCASA) and will represent South Carolina in the National Superintendent of the Year competition. She is currently president of the South Carolina school superintendents' group and was selected as a member of the governing board of the American Association of School Administrators. She also serves on several state and national committees, including the Governor's Council for Economic Competitiveness, the Education Oversight Committee's Common Ground initiative, the Superintendency Institute of America, and as a superintendent representative on a national panel for the federal No Child Left Behind law. Postlewait earned a bachelor's degree, master's degree and Ph.D. from West Virginia University.

Thompson began taking pictures of Myrtle Beach in 1951 when he was 13. He is considered the keeper of the Grand Strand's photographic history. A sample of his extensive pictorial collection is documented in his most recent book Memories of Myrtle Beach. Thompson, who grew up in Greenville, graduated with honors from Myrtle Beach High School in 1957. He went on to found Myrtle Beach's first news magazine, Insight into the Grand Strand, followed by the area's debut golf magazine, Grand Strand Golfer. Other books he wrote and photographed included Reflections in Time and Growing Up with Shoeless Joe, co-authored with his brother. He has held numerous exhibitions of his work, including Photographic Reflections of Old Myrtle Beach at Coastal Carolina University's Rebecca Randall Bryan Art Gallery. He chaired the All Aboard Committee, credited with restoring the old Myrtle Beach Train Depot. Thompson works from his downtown studio, Jack Thomspon Studios in Myrtle Beach.

In case of inclement weather, the commencement ceremony will be split into two ceremonies, both in Kimbel Gymnasium in the Williams-Brice Recreation Center. The first ceremony, at 9 a.m., will be for degree candidates in the Wall College of Business and the Spadoni College of Education and Interdisciplinary Studies. The second ceremony at 1 p.m. will be for candidates in the Edwards College of Humanities and Fine Arts, College of Natural and Applied Sciences.

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