Students studying outside the library

Wofford College presents two honorary degrees

May 14, 2006

SPARTANBURG, S.C. – Wofford College presented two honorary degrees on Sunday, May 14, during its 152nd Commencement Exercises at which 265 graduates received their diplomas.

The college also presented the prestigious Algernon Sydney Sullivan and Mary Mildred Sullivan Awards to two students and two non-students. The Roger Milliken Award for Excellence in the Teaching of Science and the Philip Covington Award for Excellence in the Teaching of Humanities and Social Sciences also were presented to faculty members.

Receiving honorary degrees were Russell C. King Jr., a 1956 Wofford graduate and former member and twice-chairman of the board of trustees; and the Rev. Dr. Marion Josiah Hatchett, one of the premiere liturgical scholars of the Episcopal Church of his generation and a 1947 graduate of Wofford.

Russell C. King Jr. was born in 1934 in Darlington, S.C., where his father, a Wofford alumnus, was the public school superintendent. After graduating from the local high school, King followed in his father’s footsteps to Wofford. He was a varsity baseball player and student leader while enrolled, graduating in 1956. Through the Army ROTC program, King was commissioned as a lieutenant and recorded eight years active and reserve service.

King joined Sonoco Products Co. in Hartsville, S.C., as a management trainee in 1956, leading to a nearly 40-year career with this major South Carolina public corporation. He worked in various capacities in sales, marketing and manufacturing before becoming a division vice president in 1973. His responsibilities increased through the years, and he was president and chief operating officer when he retired in 1994. Under King’s leadership, Sonoco became a multibillion-dollar international manufacturer of industrial and consumer packaging products with more than 15,000 employees.

From 1976 through 1988, King served on the Wofford College Board of Trustees and was its chair from 1986 until 1988. He returned to the board in 1994, and his term will expire in the spring of 2006. He served a second stint at chair of the board from 1998 to 2002. After a three-day board planning retreat in 1986, King was selected to chair a yearlong planning process involving more than 100 trustees, faculty, students, alumni and other friends of the college. The outcome was Wofford’s first masterplan, which generated energy and direction for the college for over 15 years. In more than 150 years, Wofford has had only 10 presidents, but King’s leadership of the presidential search committee in 2000 ensured a smooth and successful transition in the president’s office from Joab M. Lesesne to his successor, Benjamin B. Dunlap.

King chaired the Great Expectations Campaign for Wofford, the largest and most comprehensive fundraising program in college history. The initial goal for the effort was $71.5 million, but more than $90 million was realized by its formal conclusion in 2001. The college’s endowment reached $100 million during his chairmanship, and he was instrumental in the planning for dramatic enhancements to the central campus landscaping and the development of the Roger Milliken Science Center. In his own right, King has been a major donor to the college, and his recent seven-figure gift make it possible to build the Russell C. King Field and return NCAA Division I baseball to the campus.

The Rev. Dr. Marion Josiah Hatchett is known by his peers and other colleagues as one of the premiere liturgical scholars of the Episcopal Church in his generation. A 1947 graduate of Wofford, Hatchett earned a bachelor of divinity from the School of Theology at the University of the South (Sewanee) in 1951, and began a 15-year career in the parish ministry of the Episcopal Church. His service in the local church during that period was all in South Carolina, including time in Spartanburg, Gaffney, and Charleston.

Hatchett seized the opportunity to join the faculty of the School of Theology at Sewanee in 1969, and has remained there since, officially retiring in 1999. He continues today to serve the school as an adjunct professor, teaching Hymnody for the Christian Church.

He served on the drafting committees of the Book of Common Prayer (1973-76) and on the Standing Liturgical Commission (1976-82). He was convener and chair of the ecumenical committee which produced the “Common Eucharistic Prayer,” included in the Book of Common Prayer as Eucharistic Prayer D, and in various other liturgical books in the USA and abroad. He was chair of the committee which produced the first Book of Occasional Services (1979). Hatchett served on the Standing Commission on Church Music, serving as chair of the text committee for The Hymnal 1982 (the primary Episcopal hymnbook today). He is also a leader in the ongoing dialogue between the Episcopal church and the Moravian church.

Hatchett has been widely honored. In 1999, he was featured in the Episcopal periodical The Living Church as one of the five “Shapers of the Church in the Twentieth Century.” At the time of his retirement that year, he was honored with the publication of a festschrift, edited by the Right Rev. Dr. J. Neil Alexander, “With Ever Joyful Hearts,” to which 23 international scholars contributed essays in tribute to Hatchett.