A legendary mayor, a distinguished attorney and a prominent clergyman receive FMU honorary degrees, Dec. 18
FLORENCE – A legendary mayor, a distinguished attorney and a prominent clergyman will be awarded honorary degrees from Francis Marion University during fall commencement ceremonies at 10 a.m. Saturday, Dec. 18, in the Smith University Center gymnasium.
Selected to receive honorary doctoral degrees are Charleston Mayor Joseph P. Riley Jr., Mark W. Buyck Jr. of Florence and Michael Blue of Marion.
Riley will also be commencement speaker for the 326 candidates for FMU degrees. Candidates include 281 students for undergraduate degrees and 45 for graduate diplomas.
A native of Charleston, Riley was first elected mayor in December 1975 and is serving an unprecedented ninth term. Under his leadership, the racial harmony and progress in Charleston have increased and the city has achieved a substantial decrease in crime, experienced a remarkable revitalization of its historic downtown business district, seen the creation and growth of Spoleto Festival U.S.A., built the beautiful Waterfront Park, developed nationally-acclaimed affordable housing, and experienced unprecedented growth in size and population. He has led a city government with an impressive record of innovation in public safety, housing, arts and culture, children’s issues, the creation of park and other public spaces, and economic revitalization and development.
Riley has held numerous national leadership positions and received many awards and distinctions. He served as president of the U. S. Conference of Mayors 1986-87 and currently serves on the U.S. Conference of Mayors’ Executive Committee. He served as chairman of the Cities Task Force of the Southern Growth Policies Board and served as president of the National Association of Democratic Mayors (1988-92).
He was given the Outstanding Mayors Award by the National Urban Coalition, the Distinguished Citizen Award by the National Association of Realtors and named the 1991 Municipal Leader of the Year by American City & County. Riley has received the Order of the Palmetto, been named South Carolinian of the Year, and was given the 1982 Verner Award by the S.C. Arts Commission for outstanding contributions to the arts.
He received many commendations for his leadership of the Charleston community before, during and after Hurricane Hugo in 1989. In June 2000, he was awarded the first President's Award from the U. S. Conference of Mayors for outstanding leadership. In July 2000, he was honored as the first recipient of the Urban Land Institute J. C. Nichols Prize for Visionary Urban Development. In February 2002, he received the Keystone Award, given for exemplary leadership to those who use architecture to transform their communities, by the American Architectural Foundation.
He received the Scenic America Lifetime Achievement Award in 1999, was named one of the 2004 Giants of Design by House Beautiful magazine, was awarded the American Society of Landscape Architects’ 2004 Olmstead Medal and received the S.C. Governor’s Award in the Humanities in 2005.
Riley received the 1994 Thomas Jefferson Award from the American Institute of Architects for Public Architecture for “his exceptional leadership and ‘Jeffersonian’ vision in redefining the promise and, ultimately the future, of our nation and its cities.” In 1997, he received the Seaside Prize from the Seaside Institute for exemplary leadership and contributions to high-quality urban design throughout America. The ASLA named him an Honorary Member for his leadership and vision.
He graduated from The Citadel in 1964 and the USC’s School of Law in 1967. In 1968, Riley was elected to the S.C. House of Representatives, where he served for six years. He and his wife Charlotte have two sons, Joe and Bratton.
A St. Matthews native and longtime Florence resident, Buyck is a senior partner and chairman of Florence’s oldest law firm, Willcox, Buyck & Williams P.A., founded in 1895.
He graduated from USC with an A.S. in journalism in 1956 and its law school in 1959.
Buyck is a member of the Florence County and American Bar associations, and is a past president of the S.C. Defense Trial Attorneys Association. He is a permanent member of the U.S. Fourth Circuit Judicial Conference, former U.S. Attorney for South Carolina, past chairman of the USC Law School Association, and Chairman of a S.C. Bar Committee. Buyck is admitted to practice before all state and federal courts in South Carolina, the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit, and the Supreme Court of the United States. U.S. News & World Report has named him one of the “Best Lawyers in America” for each of the past 10 years.
He is a member of the Board of Trustees of the University of South Carolina, serving as chairman of the Architectural Review Committee. He is a former member of the Board of Visitors of USC, Francis Marion University, and Winthrop College. In addition, Buyck serves on the Board of Trustees for the Drs. Bruce and Lee Foundation and the Board of Directors of Carolinas Hospital System, the Bank of Clarendon and IRIX Pharmaceuticals Inc.
Buyck has been honored by two governors of South Carolina with the Order of the Palmetto, the state's highest award, and has received the prestigious honor of the Judge Hemphill Award for distinguished service to the profession and the public by the S.C. Defense Trial Attorneys Association, and the Compleat Lawyer Award by the USC Law School. He was the 2009 recipient of the prestigious Ralph King Anderson Jr. Award, for his contribution to not only the character and quality of the legal profession but also to the Florence community.
Buyck is past President of the S.C. Historical Society. He served for a decade on the initial Advisory Board of the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C. He is a member of the Executive Committee of the S.C. State Bar Foundation.
He and his wife, Julie, have three children, Mark W. Buyck III, Hugh W. Buyck and Julia B. McKissick.
Blue was born in North Carolina and was reared in Sellers. He is the founding pastor of The Door of Hope Christian Church in Marion and is the founding prelate of the Christian Covenant of Ministries consisting of 40 churches/ministries in South Carolina, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin.
He is also an English teacher at Marion High School, a position he has held for 24 years. Blue was named MHS Teacher of the Year for 2002-03 and Marion District One Teacher of the Year for 2003-04.
In 1985, Blue received a B.A. in English from FMU and in 1988, Blue began a Black History Month choir at Marion High School that ultimately was adopted by the district and developed into an elective course. He also founded the Chosen Generation Community Youth Choir.
In February of 1992, Blue and his wife Malinda became the founding pastors of The Door of Hope Christian Church with only 34 members consisting mostly of children. Blue was ordained to the bishopric in December of 1997, and served as an assistant diocesan and a diocesan (1998-2000) of the Northeast Diocese of the Born Again Church.
Today, the local Ministry and Worship Center, dedicated in 2001, has become a beacon of faith for nearly 1,000 members and countless others.
He has been a soloist and co-producer in several national musical projects. His song “Didn’t I Tell Ya” was the title song for Blackberry Records artist Murphy Pace and the Voices of Power in their 1996 release. Blue released a CD project in 2004 titled God Shall Supply, produced by the nationally renowned Minister Steven Ford: it features Blue and the Voices of Hope Sanctuary Choir rendering original music in a live worship service. The latest recording is a live prayer and worship meeting: The Rewarder - A Prayer Tool, released in 2010.
Blue has also been a featured panelist several times on nationally syndicated television and radio shows.
Besides his roles as minister and educator, Blue has served the community in other capacities: he is a member of the state senator’s advisory council; the Superintendent’s Community Advisory Committee; DAODAS (S.C. Department of Alcohol and other Drug Abuse Services) S.C. Faith Advisory Network; and WELVISTA (healthcare organization for the uninsured) development committee. He was awarded the Doctor of Divinity from Cathedral Bible College, Myrtle Beach, SC, May of 2010. He is presently, 2010-2013, a member of the S.C. State Board of Education for the 12th Judicial District.
He and his wife have two children, Michala and Michael.