An American diplomat, a distinguished health care practitioner and advocate, and an accomplished academic leader to receive FMU honorary degrees, May 5
FLORENCE – Francis Marion University will award honorary degrees to a former U.S. Ambassador, a local dentist and health care advocate, and a distinguished faculty chair during fall commencement ceremonies at 10 a.m. Saturday, May 5, in the Smith University Center gymnasium.
Selected to receive honorary doctoral degrees are: FMU Faculty Chair Dr. D. Keith Best of Florence; Dr. John L. Bruce Jr. of Florence; and U.S. Ambassador (Ret.) Joseph H. Melrose Jr. of Collegeville, Pa.
Best will also be the commencement speaker for the 356 candidates for FMU degrees. Candidates include 339 students for undergraduate degrees and 17 for graduate diplomas.
A native of Valdosta, Ga., Best arrived at FMU in 1993 upon earning the Master of Fine Arts in Theatre at the University of Louisville in 1993 and the Bachelor of Fine Arts in Theatre from Valdosta State University in 1986.
For the past four years he has served as chair of the faculty at FMU. Best was a member of the faculty senate for 11 years prior to serving as secretary and vice-chairman of the senate. President of the local chapter of the American Association of University Professors (AAUP) from 2004-2008, he has also served on more than 20 university committees. Best received the Charlene Wages Shared Governance Award in 2005 for his commitment to the principles of shared governance between the faculty, administration and the board of trustees.
Best has performed professionally and has maintained a strong artistic presence in the community, frequently appearing in local productions. He also directs and appears in university productions and is an accomplished playwright. He serves on the executive board of the Florence Regional Arts Alliance and as Treasurer for the S.C. Theatre Association.
A native of Florence, Bruce is the son of Dr. John L. Bruce and Janie F. Bruce. He graduated from Wofford College in 1973 with a Bachelor of Science in biology and from the Medical University of South Carolina’s (MUSC) College of Pharmacy in 1976 with a Bachelor of Science in Pharmacy. He received his Doctor of Dental Medicine (D.M.D.) from MUSC’s College of Dentistry in 1982.
In the community, he has served on the boards of trustees of All Saints’ Episcopal Day School and Bruce Hospital System. Bruce currently serves as a member of Carolinas Hospital System Advisory Board, and The Drs. Bruce & Lee Foundation Board of Trustees as vice chairman and a member of the grants committee.
Married to Emma Dennis Walters, the couple has three daughters: Elizabeth Blanton, Dr. Kaki Bruce, and Martha Bruce.
A native of Philadelphia, Pa., Melrose serves as the acting U.S. Representative for Management and Reform at the U.S. Mission to the United Nations. He also serves as the Ambassador in Residence and Professor of International Relations at Ursinus College in Collegeville, Pa. Prior to joining the mission, he served as a Foreign Service Officer with the U.S. Department of State for more than three decades, including service as U.S. Ambassador to Sierra Leone. Melrose has served in Vietnam, in Syria, as Consul General in Karachi, Pakistan, and as Deputy Chief of Mission in Nigeria. He has also held a wide range of domestic positions.
In 1966, Melrose earned the Bachelor of Arts degree from Ursinus College and the Master of Arts degree from Temple University in 1969. He received an honorary degree in Democratic and Human Rights studies from Hilla University in Iraq and an honorary Doctor of Laws from Ursinus College. He has also studied at the University of Michigan under a National Science Foundation program.
His awards include Ursinus College’s H. Lloyd Jones Award for distinguished advising and mentoring, the U.S. Department of State's Distinguished Honor Award and Superior Honor Award, the U.S. Department of State’s Secretary of State's Career Achievement Award, and the Presidential Distinguished Service Award. He also received the World Islamic Federation, the Award of Merit from the World Islamic Federation, and the Silver Beaver Award from the Boy Scouts of America.