FLORENCE---Two state officials will be awarded honorary degrees from Francis Marion University during fall commencement ceremonies at 10 a.m. Saturday, May 10, in the Smith University Center gymnasium.
Selected to receive honorary doctoral degrees are: Inez M. Tenenbaum of Lexington, who is serving her second term as South Carolina’s 15th state superintendent of education, and John Henry Waller Jr. of Marion, associate justice of the S.C. Supreme Court.
Tenenbaum also will be the commencement speaker for the 264 candidates for FMU degrees. Candidates include 235 students for under-graduate degrees and 29 for graduate diplomas. In addition, 27 bachelor’s degrees will be awarded through a cooperative nursing program with the Medical University of South Carolina.
Throughout her career, Tenenbaum has been an energetic and determined advocate for children. A former schoolteacher and an attorney, she is committed to raising the quality of education in South Carolina through comprehensive and sustained reform. Her priorities include raising academic standards through accountability, making sure every child starts school ready to learn, improving the quality of the state’s principals and teachers, ensuring that schools are safe and healthy places for learning, and increasing the support of parents and communities in public schools.
Under Tenenbaum’s leadership, high school students are improving their SAT scores at the fastest rate in the nation. More children are testing ready for school than ever before in the state’s history, and a record number of South Carolina teachers have achieved National Board certification. Her accomplish-ments include leading the successful effort to provide more than $750 million for school construction without raising taxes, reducing class size, raising teachers’ salaries, and providing more guidance counselors and resource officers for our schools. She created the first-ever School Leadership Executive Institute to train our principals and superintendents and helped launch the landmark First Steps to School Readiness initiative to ensure that every child starts school ready to learn.
Tenenbaum received her bachelor of science and master of education degrees from the University of Georgia. She taught elementary school; served as director of research for the Medical, Military, Public and Municipal Affairs Committee of the S.C. House of Representatives; and entered the University of South Carolina Law School. She received her law degree in 1986. She practiced with the law firm of Sinkler & Boyd, P.A., from 1986 to 1992 in the areas of environmental, health and public policy law. She is the recipient of several honorary degrees and has been recognized by a number of state and community organizations for her civic work.
A native of Hawkinsville, Ga., she is married to Samuel J. Tenenbaum, and they live in Lexington County.
Justice Waller holds seat four on the State Supreme Court. He served in the State House of Representatives from 1967 to 1976 and was House Majority Leader in 1975-76. He served in the State Senate from 1977 to 1980 when he was elected resident judge of the 12th Judicial Circuit. He was elected associate justice of the Supreme Court in 1994.
He was a Democratic Executive Committeeman from 1964 to 1966. He is a Mason, Shriner, member of Kappa Sigma Fraternity, past secretary of the Jaycees, recipient of the Alpha Nu Chapter of Kappa Sigma Fraternity man-of-the-year award. He also received the Distinguished Service Award from the Municipal Association of S.C. in 1968. He was a charter member and first president of Mullins Rotary Club. He also was a charter member and served on the first board of directors of Pineland Country Club.
A native of Mullins, Justice Waller earned his bachelor’s degree at Wofford College in 1959 and his law degree from the University of South Carolina in 1963. He was a captain in the U.S. Army.
A member of Macedonia Methodist Church, he is married to the former Debra Ann Meares, and they have four children.
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