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A distinguished mayor and attorney, a notable state representative and a legendary nurse leader to receive FMU honorary degrees, Dec. 17

FLORENCE – The mayor of the state’s capital and prominent attorney, a notable S.C. representative and a nurse leader will be awarded honorary degrees from Francis Marion University during fall commencement ceremonies at 10 a.m. Saturday, Dec. 17, in the Smith University Center gymnasium. 

Selected to receive honorary doctoral degrees are: Mayor Steve Benjamin of Columbia; Rep. Carl Anderson of Georgetown; and former chair of FMU’s Department of Nursing Dr. Sylvia Lufkin of Florence. 

Benjamin will also be the commencement speaker for the 313 candidates for FMU degrees. Candidates include 260 students for undergraduate degrees and 53 for graduate diplomas. 

Benjamin, Steve 2011In a record turnout, Steve Benjamin was elected Mayor of Columbia in April 2010. Benjamin made history as the first African-American mayor of South Carolina’s capital city.  

He has worked very actively in community initiatives with numerous public and private organizations dating back to his years at the University of South Carolina where he served as president of Student Government and graduated in 1991.  He also served as Student Bar Association president at the USC School of Law where he graduated in 1994. 

Mayor Benjamin has continued that service through the present, serving on numerous boards for nonprofit organizations such as the Columbia Urban League, Benedict College, the Greater Columbia Chamber of Commerce and as a Founding Board Member of the Eau Claire Promise Zone. He also served as a founding member of Choose Children First. 

In 1999, at age 29 Benjamin was appointed to Gov. Jim Hodges’ Cabinet as director of the state’s second largest law enforcement agency, the Department of Probation, Parole, and Pardon Services. 

In 2009, Benjamin drew national attention by representing prominent radio host Tom Joyner and securing a pardon for Joyner’s great uncles wrongfully convicted in the death of a 73-year-old Confederate veteran and executed in 1913. In a landmark decision, the South Carolina Board of Paroles and Pardons voted unanimously to grant the posthumous pardon, the first for South Carolina in a capital case.

Mayor Benjamin’s first term has been characterized by his firm belief in Columbia’s potential and the intense focus on economic development and job creation that helped secure more than $543 million in new investment and created more than 2,300 new jobs in the midst of a national recession. Combined with the rebirth of Main Street, these accomplishments have drawn national attention and accolades including his being awarded an Aspen Rodel Fellowship, his election to the U.S. Conference of Mayors Advisory Board and, most recently, his being named in The Washington Post’s “2011 The Root 100 List of African-Americans Influencers and Iconoclasts.” 

In addition to his work as mayor, Benjamin practices law with Ogletree, Deakins, Nash, Smoak & Stewart. He and his wife DeAndrea Gist Benjamin, a circuit court judge in South Carolina’s Fifth Judicial Circuit, have two daughters, Bethany (6) and Jordan Grace (4). 

Anderson, Carl 2011Anderson hails from Georgetown and represents it and Williamsburg counties, District 103. Elected to office in 2004, Anderson is completing his fourth term in office. He holds a business administration degree from Horry-Georgetown Technical College and also attended L.R. Nichols Seminary and Christian Bible College. 

He was a member of the agricultural committee in the General Assembly and for the past five years, Anderson has served on the Labor, Commerce and Industry Committee in the General Assembly. 

During his tenure, Anderson began the annual District 103 meeting where he provides information to constituents and receives input for the coming legislative session. In addition, Anderson established a scholarship fund to purchase South Carolina history books for students in grades three through 12. 

In his community, Anderson served as a member of the following: Salvation Army Board, Horry-Georgetown Technical College Advisory Board, Horry-Georgetown Minority Business Board, Kensington Elementary Advisory Board, Georgetown County Boys Mentor Group, Battery-Park Elementary School Improvement Council, Waccamaw Regional Planning Commission and Williamsburg Care Inc. Board. He has recently become a member of the Georgetown Port Dredging Task Force. 

Anderson is the pastor of Greater St. Stephen A.M.E. Church and is an insurance agent in Georgetown. He is married to Doris C. Smith and has three children, Carletta, the late Airman First Class Carl Jr., and Ki'Maro. 

Lufkin, Sylvia 2011Lufkin joined the FMU faculty as professor of nursing and chair for the Department of Nursing in 2004. She retired from FMU in 2010 after heading the school’s startup nursing program. 

As the chair for the FMU Department of Nursing, Lufkin worked to effect the transfer of the Bachelor of Science in nursing program from the Medical University of South Carolina to FMU, participating in planning a new Department of Nursing building on the campus and providing the leadership for the development of the baccalaureate program to meet the needs of the Pee Dee. 

Lufkin had been employed with McLeod Health for nearly 11 years.  Prior to that, she served in administrative roles for Mayo Medical Center in Rochester, Minn., and Richland Memorial Hospital in Columbia. Lufkin also served as associate professor, department chair and program director for MUSC’s College of Nursing satellite program at FMU from July 2000 until September 2003.  She also has taught in the College of Nursing at USC.

She received her Doctor of Education degree from USC and her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in nursing from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.  She has completed post-doctoral work at the University of Pennsylvania, the University of Minnesota and MUSC. 

Her professional memberships include serving as a member of the South Carolina League for Nursing, and a member of the National League for Nursing, the American Nurses Association, Sigma Theta Tau--the National Honor Society for Nursing and the International Association for Human Caring. 

Lufkin resides in Florence and has two daughters, Marci and Roslyn.

#39 / 12-5-11


Last Published: December 19, 2011 9:00 AM
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