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Wofford College presents four with honorary degrees

Sunday, May 22, 2005

SPARTANBURG, S.C. – Wofford College conferred four honorary degrees during its Commencement Exercises on Sunday, May 22.

Being recognized with honorary degrees are Michael J. Copps, a 1963 graduate of Wofford and a member of the Federal Communications Commission; Dr. J. Lawrence McCleskey, the resident bishop of the Western North Carolina Conference of the United Methodist Church; Dr. Robert M. Panoff, founder and executive director of The Shodor Education Foundation Inc.; and Minor Mickel Shaw, former chair of the Wofford College Board of Trustees and community leader.

Commencement exercises were held at 9:30 a.m. on the lawn of Main Building.

Copps was appointed to the FCC by President George W. Bush in 2001; his term runs until June 30 of this year. A native of Milwaukee, Wisc., he received his bachelor’s degree from Wofford and earned a Ph.D. in United States history from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He taught at Loyola University of the South from 1967 to 1970. In 1970, Copps joined the staff of Sen. Ernest F. Hollings (D-S.C.), serving as administrative assistant and as chief of staff. From 1985 to 1989, he was director of government affairs for Collins and Aikman Corp., and from 1989 to 1993, he was senior vice president for legislative affairs at the American Meat Institute. From 1993 to 1998, he was deputy assistant secretary for basic industries, a component of the Trade Development Unit.

Copps served until January 2001 as assistant secretary of commerce for trade development at the U.S. Department of Commerce, where he worked to improve market access and market share for nearly ever sector of American industry.

He is married to Elizabeth Catherine Miller of New Orleans. They have five children and live in Alexandria, Va.

McCleskey, a native of Atlanta, Ga., is a graduate of Duke University, receiving his Bachelor of Arts degree in 1962 and his Bachelor of Divinity degree in 1966. He earned his Doctor of Ministry degree from Princeton Theological Seminary in 1984. He was awarded an honorary Doctor of Divinity degree by Claflin College in 2002.

He served 24 years in pastoral ministry, holding pastorates in New London, South Point in Belmont, Bethel in Midland, Irving Park in Greensboro, First in North Wilkesboro, First in Gastonia, and Myers Park in Charlotte. He was the superintendent of the Winston-Salem District of the United Methodist Church from 1982 to 1988. McCleskey was elected as a bishop in 1996, serving until 2004 as bishop of the South Carolina Conference. In 2004, he was assigned as resident bishop Western North Carolina Conference.

McCleskey represents the Council of Bishops on the denomination’s General Board of Higher Education and Ministry. He also served as president of the Southeastern Jurisdiction College of Bishops (2003-04) and is a member of the board of trustees of Duke University.

He and his wife, Margaret Fowler McCleskey, have three adult children.

Panoff and The Shodor Foundation provided Wofford with assistance in establishing its Emphasis in Computational Science, for which Wofford received an NSF-CCLI grant to develop the program and online educational modules for two new courses.

The Shodor Foundation, a non-profit education and research corporation dedicated to reform and improvement of mathematics and science education by appropriate incorporation of computational and communication technologies.

Panoff received his bachelor’s degree in physics from the University of Notre Dame and his master’s and Ph.D. in theoretical physics from Washington University in St. Louis, undertaking both pre- and post-doctoral work at the Courant Institute of Mathematical Sciences at New York University. At Kansas State University and Clemson University from 1986 to 1990, he developed a fully interdisciplinary computational science and engineering course. He was director of the Carolinas Institute in Computational Science, an NSF-funded initiative in Undergraduate Faculty Enhancement from 1991 to 1993, which led to the founding of the Shodor Foundation. His work has won several major science and education awards, and in recognition of Panoff’s efforts in undergraduate faculty enhancement and curriculum development, the Shodor Foundation was named in 1996 as a Foundation Partner of the NSF for the revitalization of undergraduate education.

Shaw served on the Wofford College Board of Trustees for 12 years, from 1992 to 2004; she was chair her last two years on the board. During her tenure, she was involved in every major project undertaken at the college, was a significant contributor and was a volunteer in the Great Expectations Campaign for Wofford, during which more than $92 million was raised. She also was a leader on the Presidential Search Committee.

A native of Georgia, Shaw grew up in Greenville, S.C. She attended Randolph-Macon Woman’s College and graduated from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. She worked briefly in various roles for C&S Bank of Georgia.

Shaw is president of Micco Corp., the family holding company, and is president of Mickel Investment Group. She is chair of the Daniel-Mickel Foundation, a trustee of the Duke Endowment, a director of Nations Funds, Piedmont Natural Gas Co., the Hollingsworth Funds, the Belle Baruch Foundation, the Peace Center, the United Way of Greenville County, the Greater Greenville Chamber of Commerce, the South Carolina Independent Colleges and Universities Foundation, the Alumni Association of the University of North Carolina, and the Urban League of the Upstate. She also is vice chair and trustee of the GSP International Airport Commission.