FLORENCE---A network television executive, a physician and a university professor will be awarded honorary degrees from Francis Marion University during spring commencement ceremonies at 10 a.m. Saturday, May 8, in the Smith University Center gymnasium.
Selected to receive honorary doctoral degrees are: Marva Smalls, executive vice president of public affairs and chief of staff of Nickelodeon, Nick at Nite, TV Land, Noggin and Spike TV; Sompong Kraikit, a Florence physician; and Charlene Wages, professor of psychology at Francis Marion University.
Smalls also will be the commencement speaker for the 260 candidates for FMU degrees. Candidates include 234 students for undergraduate degrees and 26 for graduate diplomas. In addition, 27 bachelor’s degrees will be awarded through a cooperative nursing program with the Medical University of South Carolina.
Headquartered in New York, Smalls is the chief administrative officer for three networks and their ancillary businesses, coordinating and directing financial resources, personnel, and facilities for their New York, Los Angeles, Orlando and international offices. Nickelodeon is the number one kids’ entertainment brand; TV Land, the highest rated cable network to launch within the past six years; and Spike TV, the first network for men.
In her public affairs role, Smalls oversees Nickelodeon’s pro-social and corporate responsibility initiatives and the company’s relationships with child advocates, government officials, educators and non-profit organizations. Most recently, she helped launch Let’s Just Play, a national multi-media campaign and grassroots effort to get kids more physically active and encourage more positive, healthy and playful lifestyles. She also spearheaded The Big Help, Nickelodeon’s award-winning national campaign that for over nine years has encouraged and empowered kids to pledge over 380 million hours of volunteer service to their communities. The campaign has been recognized for its achievements by both the Clinton and Bush Administrations and has garnered the support of the top names in the entertainment industry.
Smalls serves on several boards that are active in causes that improve the quality of life for children including: the National Democratic Institute, Brookgreen Gardens, the largest permanent outdoor exhibition of American sculpture in the world based in South Carolina, Northside Center for Child Development in New York City, and Big Brothers - Big Sisters of America. In addition, she was elected to serve on the board of the National Bank of South Carolina and the South Carolina Educational Television Endowment Commission. She was also named to the University of South Carolina’s Education Foundation and National Alumni Council and serves on the board of Noggin, Nickelodeon’s educational digital channel. In addition, Smalls is an active member of the Executive Leadership Council, an organization representing the top African-Americans in corporate America.
Prior to joining Nickelodeon in 1993, Smalls’ career in the public sector included serving first as staff director of South Carolina’s Private Industry Council for Gov. Richard Riley and later as chief of staff for Congressman Robin Tallon for 10 years. She has a long history of political activism and public service in South Carolina, and across the United States having served in a variety of positions in government on the state and national level and the NAACP.
A native of Florence and a graduate of Wilson High School, Smalls has a master’s degree in public administration and a bachelor’s degree from the University of South Carolina. She is also a member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority and Trinity Baptist Church in Florence.
Dr. Kraikit, a native of Nakornsawan, Thailand, has practiced medicine in the Florence community since 1976. A specialist in nephrology and hypertension, Dr. Kraikit was medical director of Florence Dialysis Center for 20 years. He currently is medical director of Darlington Dialysis Center and Florence Home Dialysis Center. For 10 years, he was medical director of the Acute Dialysis Unit, Medical Intensive Care at McLeod Regional Medical Center.
Since 1977, he has been a clinical assistant professor of medicine at the Medical University of South Carolina.
Dr. Kraikit earned his degree in medicine from the University of Chiengmai. He interned at Chiengmai Hospital and at Beverly Hospital in Massachusetts, before conducting his residency at the Medical University of South Carolina. He also did clinical fellowships in nephrology at the University of Colorado Medical Center and at the University of Oklahoma Medical Center.
Dr. Kraikit is a member of the American Board of Internal Medicine, the Subspecialty Board of Nephrology, the American College of Physicians, the American Society of Nephrology, the International Society of Nephrology, the American Federation for Clinical Research, the Society of Sigma Xi, the International Society for Peritoneal Dialysis, the American Medical Association, the S.C. Medical Society and the Florence County Medical Society. He was chairman of the Department of Medicine at McLeod Regional Medical Center from 1984-87 and at Bruce Hospital from 1978-79. He is currently chairman of the bylaws committee of Carolinas Hospital System.
Chairman of the FMU Foundation and actively involved in the university’s $12 million capital campaign, Dr. Kraikit established an international education fund at the university in honor of his wife. He also established a renal education fund at McLeod Regional Medical Center and a nursing fund at Florence-Darlington Technical College, where he serves on the nursing program’s advisory board. He is on the boards of trustees at Trinity Collegiate School and the Florence Museum.
Dr. Kraikit is a two-time winner of the Arthur V. Williams Award from the National Kidney Foundation of South Carolina. He is a charter member of the Huntington Society of Brookgreen Gardens.
A professor of psychology, Wages has been a member of the FMU faculty since 1986 and has served as chair of the general faculty for the last four years. She will be the first FMU faculty member to be presented an honorary degree.
A native of Atlanta, Ga., Wages has also taught at Georgia State University, Georgia Institute of Technology, Morris Brown College and Spelman College. She earned a bachelor’s degree at the University of Georgia and master’s and doctoral degrees at Georgia State.
Active in faculty governance since her arrival at FMU, Wages was elected chair of the faculty in 2000 and has been re-elected each year since. She is stepping down from that post June 30. She was presented with the shared governance award in 2001 by FMU’s chapter of the American Association of University Professors. That same year, she also received the FMU Faculty Service Award.
A charter member of FMU’s Chapter of AAUP, she is serving a three-year term on that organization’s National Committee on Governance. She also is a member of the American Psychological Society, Phi Kappa Phi, the S.C. Chapter of the Society for Neuroscience, the S.C. Psychological Association and the S.C. Women in Higher Education.
Gov. Mark Sanford appointed Wages to the Governor’s Advisory Committee to Study the Goals of the Commission on Women. She has been a board member of the Pee Dee Alzheimer’s Coalition, president of the Florence League of Women Voters and on the nominating committee for the S.C. League of Women Voters. She has served on the Florence County United Way Agency Allocations and Review Committee and on the Florence Task Force on Recycling and Waste Management.
Wages has co-authored numerous articles for professional publications and has received several research grants.
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