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A businessman, state senator and former mayor to receive FMU honorary degrees, Dec. 13

FLORENCE – A businessman, state senator and former mayor will be awarded honorary degrees from Francis Marion University during fall commencement ceremonies at 10 a.m. Saturday, Dec. 13, in the Smith University Center gymnasium.

Selected to receive honorary doctoral degrees are William Hayne Hipp of Greenville, Sen. Gerald Malloy of Hartsville and Francis Eugene Willis of Darlington.

Hipp will also be the commencement speaker for the 248 candidates for FMU degrees. Candidates include 194 students for undergraduate degrees and 54 for graduate diplomas.

Hipp is founder of Liberty Fellowship, a two-year program of seminars and service projects conducted in partnership with the Aspen Institute and Wofford College. Drawing primarily from the business and non-profit sectors, Liberty Fellowship is designed to identify and sustain values-added leadership in and for the State of South Carolina. This highly successful program is entering its fifth year of operation.

Hipp is former chief executive officer of The Liberty Corporation, an owner of insurance companies and television stations with additional investments in media, real estate and technology ventures. He joined Liberty Investments in 1969, becoming CEO in 1979. Hipp is now a private investor.

A graduate of Washington and Lee, Hipp earned an M.B.A. from the Wharton Graduate School of Business and completed additional studies at Harvard University.

He has served on numerous corporate boards and has been active in civic and non-profit organizations in South Carolina and on a national level.

He is chairman of the Peace Center for Performing Arts. He is also a trustee of Aspen Institute and former trustee of the Palmetto Business Forum, Greenville County School District, National Urban League, Washington and Lee University, and S.C. Research Authority. Hipp is the former chairman of the S.C. Chamber of Commerce, Greater Greenville Chamber of Commerce, Greater Greenville Forum, Greenville Hospital System Board, Greenville Urban League, Greenville YMCA and The Alliance for Quality Education.

He is also past vice chairman of the State Development Board. Hipp is a former trustee of St. Francis Hospital, American Council of Life Insurance in Washington, D.C. and S.C. Independent Colleges and Universities. He also served as a director of the Hollings Cancer Center, Committee for Economic Development in Washington, D.C., and the Citadel Development Foundation. Hipp serves as a director of SCANA Corporation. He is also a former director of Liberty Corporation, Dan River Inc., SCN Corporation and Wachovia Corporation.

Hipp and his wife, Anna Kate, reside in Greenville and have three children.

Malloy was elected to represent S.C. Senate District 29 (Chesterfield, Darlington, Lee and Marlboro counties) by way of a special election in 2002. Also an attorney and Chesterfield County native, Malloy is owner of the Law Offices of Gerald Malloy.

He earned the juris doctorate from the University of South Carolina in 1988 and a bachelor’s degree from U.S.C. in 1984.

Malloy is a member of several organizations including the Darlington County Bar Association, Jerusalem Men's Ensemble of Jerusalem Baptist Church, Lions Club, Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Alumni Board of the University of South Carolina, 4th Judicial Circuit Young Lawyers Division of the South Carolina Bar Association, Indigent Defense Commission, S.C. Gov. School for Science and Mathematics Foundation Board, Appeals Committee for the S.C. Commission on Higher Education Board, Center for Educator, Recruitment, Retention and Advancement (CERRA) and South Carolina Bar Association.

He is also chairman of the S.C. Criminal Justice Task Force in the S.C. Senate, chairman of the Hartsville Recreation Committee, former president of the Hartsville Northern Youth Basketball League, chairman of the Public Defenders Board of Darlington County Bar Association and past-president of the South Carolina Trial Lawyers' Association. Malloy is also a player representative of the National Basketball and Football associations.

Malloy is the recipient of the Home Rule Award by the South Carolina Association of Counties and South Carolina Library Association Friend of the Libraries Award. In 2007, he was recipient of the South Carolina Public Defender Association Legislator of the Year Award and this year’s recipient of the South Carolina Commission on Indigent Defense Distinguished Service Award. The latter award was named the Gerald Malloy Distinguished Service Award and will be awarded annually.

He was inducted into the National Honor Roll for the National Library Association in 2005 and recognized by the S.C. Department of Juvenile Justice for support of Teen After School Centers (TASC) Program in 2007.

He and his wife of almost 20 years, Davita, reside in Hartsville with their four children Donovan, Jonathan, Jordan and Morgan.

In his first attempt at political office, Willis was elected mayor of Florence in 1995, serving until 2008. A graduate of the University of South Carolina, he is credited with ushering in an era of economic expansion as the City of Florence rapidly grew into a regional business hub for the eastern Carolinas.

Willis is known for his commitment to bringing well-paying jobs to the region. In fact, many attribute the relocation and expansion of numerous industries in the Pee Dee Region such as Roche Carolina and Honda of South Carolina Manufacturing Inc. to Willis.

Some of his most recognized accomplishments as mayor are the expansion of the Freedom Florence Complex; establishment of the Mayor's Initiative for a Drug Free Florence, Mayor's Coalition of Juvenile Crime, Florence Pee Dee Regional Water and Sewer Master Plan, Veterans Memorial Park and the Florence Animal Shelter; and the acquisition of accreditation for the Florence Police Department.

Willis is the third longest-serving mayor in Florence history after David H. McLeod (16 years) and Herbert Gilbert (20 years).

The Marlboro County native earned a reputation as a problem solver prior to serving as mayor when he chaired the Florence County Economic Development Authority. Seeing the need for regional collaboration to make economic development a success, he believed there was a greater chance of success in promoting an entire region than just one county. Economic development became his passion.

In 1980, he co-founded the S.C. Transportation Policy and Research Council (originally known as South Carolinians for Better Transportation), which is an organization that addresses the needs of South Carolina’s transportation system.

For nearly four decades, Willis has been the chairman of Willis Construction Company. He resides in Florence with his wife Marguerite.

#73 / 12-04-08

Last Published: December 10, 2008 1:46 PM
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