Former Gov. McNair, Two of His Aides To Receive Honorary Degrees at FMU
FLORENCE---The South Carolina governor who played a major role in the creation of Francis Marion University 35 years ago, along with two of his former top aides, will be given honorary degrees during May’s commencement exercises.
Former Gov. Robert E. McNair, who signed the legislation creating FMU in 1970, along with James S. Konduros, who served as chief of staff under McNair, and Philip G. Grose Jr., the governor’s former press secretary, will all be honored at the May 7 graduation ceremony in Smith University Center gymnasium.
The ceremony is part of FMU’s 35th anniversary celebration as the university pays tribute to three state leaders who played a key role in the university’s founding. It was in 1969, in his state-of-the-state address that McNair threw his weight behind the Florence college proposal being touted by longtime Florence representative, the late Pete Hyman. McNair proposed that the Florence school be the state’s first new four-year college created in the 20th century, a regional campus that would serve the northeast quadrant of South Carolina.
The McNair Science Building, completed on campus in 1972, is named in his honor.
McNair also will be the commencement speaker. He will talk about the role he and his staff played in the creation of FMU.
Degree candidates include 302 students for undergraduate degrees and 16 for graduate diplomas. In addition, 28 bachelor’s degrees will be awarded through a cooperative nursing program with the Medical University of South Carolina. This is the final year that MUSC nursing degrees will be awarded at FMU, as FMU will take over the program effective July 1.
McNair was born in Cades and was educated in the public schools of South Carolina. He served in the U.S. Navy from 1942 to 1946 in the Pacific Theatre and was awarded the Bronze Star for meritorious service. Following his tour of duty, he returned to South Carolina and completed his bachelor’s degree from the University of South Carolina in 1947 and earned a law degree in 1948.
He began his law practice in Moncks Corner and then moved to Allendale. He was elected to the S.C. House of Representatives in 1951. In 1962, he was elected lieutenant governor and served until he succeeded Donald S. Russell as governor in 1965. He was just 41 when he became the state’s governor. In 1966, McNair was re-elected to a full term as governor, serving, at that time, an unprecedented six years in that office.
His years as governor were marked by the Civil Rights Movement and the tragedy at Orangeburg where three S.C. State University students were killed. However, Gov. McNair used his tremendous power of persuasion to keep the state calm, rebuilding bridges across the racial divide and keeping the state moving forward. When the federal courts ordered school desegregation in 1970, he used television to urge calm, and keep the state’s schools open, sparing the state from the violence that wracked many communities.
Under McNair’s leadership, South Carolina became known as a moderate Southern state and that was good for business. Economic development became the cornerstone of his administration. A strong supporter of education, he also pushed for a penny increase in the sales tax to fund teacher salaries and a statewide kindergarten program.
Upon leaving the governor’s office, McNair established the law firm of McNair, Konduros & Corley, now McNair Law Firm, in Columbia and has served continuously as the firm’s senior shareholder and chairman. Over the last three decades, he has built one of the most prestigious and powerful law firms in the southeast with offices in Anderson, Charleston, Columbia, Georgetown, Greenville, Hilton Head Island and Myrtle Beach, as well as Charlotte and Raleigh in North Carolina.
Appointed to many business and civic boards, he also continues to be involved in industrial recruitment as an ambassador for the State of South Carolina. He has been awarded honorary degrees from seven other universities and was inducted into the S.C. Hall of Fame in 2004.
McNair is married to the former Josephine Robinson of Allendale, and they have four children and six grandchildren.
A native of Anderson, Konduros is a graduate of the University of South Carolina where he earned a law degree in 1954. He served as an officer in the U.S. Air Force for two years, and in 1961, joined the staff of the late U.S. Senator Olin D. Johnson as legislative assistant. Upon leaving the senator’s office, he served three years on IBM’s regional staff in Washington, D.C.
Returning to South Carolina in 1966, he served under Gov. McNair as the first director of the state’s Appalachian program. In 1967, the governor appointed him as executive assistant, responsible for the coordination of state and federal programs in the executive agencies of state government.
In 1971, Konduros became a founding member of the McNair Law Firm. A member of the S.C. Bar and the American Bar Association, Konduros has served on the State Board for Technical and Comprehensive Education, as a member of Clemson University’s Educational Foundation, and the State Chamber of Commerce. Konduros is a recipient of the Order of the Palmetto, the state’s highest recognition for distinguished public service. He currently serves on the S.C. Higher Education Commission, representing Congressional District 2.
Konduros is founding director and chairman of the board of directors of the Psaras Foundation and the Psaras Fund. He served on the board of the Learning Channel and the American Community Service Network.
He is married to the former Kathy Diane Huggins of Columbia, and they have three children and six grandchildren.
A native of Greenville, Grose was director of the Executive Institute of the Budget and Control Board from 1989 to 2004. He currently serves as a senior consultant to that organization.
He also serves as a research fellow at the Institute for Southern Studies at the University of South Carolina. He has written a biography of Gov. McNair, scheduled for publication by USC Press in 2006 and is currently working on a biography of Gov. John C. West.
A former reporter and editor with the Charlotte Observer, Broadcasting magazine, and The State newspaper, Grose served as news secretary and research assistant for Gov. McNair from 1968 to 1971. From 1971 to 1975, he was executive assistant for public affairs to Gov. West and then executive assistant to the president of the University of South Carolina in 1975. He then served as chief deputy commissioner of the S.C. Department of Social Services from 1975 to 1976 and director of the S.C. Reorganization Commission from 1976 to 1987, before becoming assistant executive director of the Budget and Control Board from 1987 to 1989.
Today Grose serves as a member of the advisory committee of the Non-Profit Leadership Institute at FMU, the Founders Board of the Drummond Center at Erskine College, the Regional Advisory Committee of the Leadership Institute at Columbia College and the Program Advisory Board at the Amy V. Cockroft Nursing Leadership Development Program at the USC College of Nursing. He also is secretary of the James E. Clyburn Scholarship and Research Foundation and a member of the Kosmos Club.
He has a number of publications to his credit and has served on dozens of other community, state and college boards.
Grose earned a bachelor’s degree from Washington and Lee University in 1960. He is married to the former Virginia Maxwell, and they have one child and two grandchildren.
#139 / 4-11-05