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Chief U.S. District Judge and two electric cooperative leaders to receive honorary degrees

JudgeSeymourHonorary degree recipient - KeelsHonorary degree - Nettles2

The Chief U.S. District Judge in South Carolina and the leaders of two electric cooperatives will be awarded honorary degrees from Francis Marion University during fall commencement ceremonies at 10 a.m. Saturday, Dec. 15, in the Smith University Center gymnasium. 

Selected to receive honorary doctoral degrees are: Chief U.S. District Judge Margaret B. Seymour; Floyd Keels, president and chief executive officer for Santee Electric Cooperative, Inc.; and Toy Nettles, president and chief executive officer for  Pee Dee Electric Cooperative, Inc.

Seymour, who will also deliver the commencement address, has been the Chief U.S. District Judge for South Carolina since January 2012.  Prior to her appointment to the position of U.S. District Judge for the District of South Carolina on Oct. 30, 1998, she served as a U.S. Magistrate Judge for the Florence Division, District of South Carolina from 1996 to 1998.

Prior to assuming the bench, she served in the Office of the U.S. Attorney, District of South Carolina, from December 1990 until May 1996. Judge Seymour served as interim U.S. Attorney from January to May 1996 and also from April to May 1993, was chief of the Civil Division from June 1992 to May 1996, and an assistant U.S. attorney in the Civil Division from 1990-1992.

Judge Seymour spent a number of years in private practice in Columbia. Prior to relocating to South Carolina, she was a Senior Trial Attorney with the U.S. Department of Education, Office for Civil Rights, 1980-1988; Attorney Advisor with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, Office of Systemic Programs, 1979-1980; and held numerous policy positions with the U.S. Department of Health, Education, and Welfare, 1967-1979.

A native of Washington, D.C., she received a bachelor of arts degree from Howard University in June 1969 and a juris doctorate from The American University in June 1977. 

Keels, an established veteran with more than 35 years in the electric utilities industry, oversees planning, organizing and directing the day-to-day operations of the cooperative, Santee Electric, which  provides power to nearly 45,000 accounts in Clarendon, Florence, Georgetown and Williamsburg counties.

Keels joined Santee Electric in April 1998 as the assistant general manager, bringing 25 years of responsible experience in operations, management and leadership positions from Progress Energy's predecessor, Carolina Power & Light. He assumed responsibilities as president and chief executive officer for Santee Electric in May 1999.  He is a board member of First Citizens Bancorporation of South Carolina, Central Electric Power Cooperative, the Electric Cooperatives of South Carolina, Lower Florence County Hospital, Rotary Club of Lake City, the North Eastern Strategic Alliance and Jehovah Missionary Baptist Church of Sumter. He is past board member of the Coker College Board of Trustees, Exchange Bank of South Carolina and the FMU Foundation. In 2003, Keels was appointed by Gov. Mark Sanford to serve on his Commission on Management, Accountability and Performance.

A native of South Carolina, Keels attended the University of Wisconsin, the University of South Carolina and earned the bachelor of business management and the master of business administration degrees with honors from Golden Gate University. Keels is also a decorated military veteran. Floyd and his wife, Bessie, have one son and a granddaughter.

Nettles became the president and chief executive officer of Pee Dee Electric Cooperative, Inc., on Aug.  25, 2005.  Prior to that, he served as  acting manager, Pee Dee Electric Cooperative, Inc., (July 1, 2005-August 25,  2005). He  also served as  assistant chief executive officer and vice president; and vice president of economic development, legal, and government affairs. He was director of legislative affairs/deputy legal counsel, Office of the Governor, State of South Carolina, 1999-2003.

He served in the S.C. House of Representatives from 1982-1992, where he was a member of the Judiciary Committee and Chairman of the  Criminal Laws Subcommittee. He was a partner at  Nettles, Turbeville & Reddeck from 1982-1999. He began his legal career in 1979 as a law clerk for  The Honorable David W. Harwell, South Carolina Supreme Court.

Nettles graduated from Wofford College with a Bachelor of Arts  in 1976, and the University of South Carolina School of Law in 1978. Nettles has been a member, Florence Regional Airport Authority since 1998 and served as its Chairman, from 2003 to 2005. He has been a member of the Board of Trustees, Electric Cooperatives of South Carolina, Inc.  since 2005 and is currently serving as its Chairman. He is also a member of the Board of Trustees, Cooperative Electric Energy Utility Supply  and is a member of the Board of the Francis Marion University Foundation.

He is married with two children.

Last Published: January 17, 2013 9:45 PM
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