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Wofford to confer two honorary degrees at Commencement

Frederick S. Middleton / Thomas C. Brittain
2010-04-05

Frederick S. Middleton III, Thomas C. Brittain to be recognized May 23

SPARTANBURG, S.C. – The founder and president of the Southern Environmental Law Center and a South Carolina attorney and former chair of the Wofford College board of trustees will receive honorary degrees from the college during 2010 Commencement Exercises on Sunday, May 23, 2010, on the lawn of Main Building.

Frederick S. (Rick) Middleton III of Charlottesville, Va., founded the Southern Environmental Law Center in 1986 and serves as its president and executive director. He has been at the forefront of the environmental movement in the United States for nearly 40 years.

Thomas C. Brittain, a 1975 Wofford graduate, served as the chairman of the college’s board of trustees from 2004 to 2009. He is an attorney with the Myrtle Beach, S.C., firm of Hearn, Brittain and Martin.

The Commencement Exercises will be held beginning at 9:30 a.m. on the lawn of Main Building. Wofford will confer more than 270 degrees during Commencement, and the Class of 1960 will be featured participants in the ceremonies and events surrounding it.

Also at Commencement, the college will present 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 will be presented to faculty members.

BIOGRAPHIES OF HONORARY DEGREE RECIPIENTS:

Frederick S. (Rick) Middleton III is founder, president and executive director of the Southern Environmental Law Center (SELC), a nonprofit advocacy organization that uses law and policy to protect the environment in the Southeast.

A native of Birmingham, Ala., and a high-honors graduate of the University of Virginia, Middleton received his J.D. degree from Yale Law School in 1971, at a time when the nation was enacting groundbreaking environmental legislation. He became one of the first environmental lawyers in the country and has devoted his legal career to the betterment of the South and the protection of its natural resources and special places. Early in his career, Middleton held positions in private practice, state government and a national nonprofit environmental group. Recognizing that the South needed a strong environmental champion, he founded SELC in 1986. Today, SELC is considered the regional leader in environmental protection and conservation in the Southeast and has earned a reputation as one of the most effective environmental organizations in the country.

At SELC, Middleton oversees a law and policy team of more than 40 attorneys who are dedicated to defending healthy air and clean water; to reining in our region’s outsized contribution to global warming; to protecting our forests, coasts, wetlands and other native landscapes; and to promoting livable communities. Working in six states (Alabama, Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee and Virginia), SELC is currently engaged in more than 100 cases and projects across the Southeast and collaborates with more than 100 local, state and national partner groups.

Thomas Casey Brittain, a native of Swansea, S.C., graduated magna cum laude, Phi Beta Kappa, from Wofford in 1975, majoring in history. He received his J.D. degree in 1978 from the University of South Carolina School of Law. From 1978 to 1982, he served in the U.S. Army as an attorney, posted at Fort Hood, Texas. In 1982, he returned to South Carolina and entered the private practice of law in the Conway-Myrtle Beach area, where he remains.

Since 1989, Brittain has practiced in the firm of Hearn, Brittain and Martin. He has been involved in many of the more significant trials, both civil and criminal, in recent South Carolina history. He is a member of the Fourth Circuit Judicial Conference, a Fellow of the American Board of Trial Advocates, and a member of the American College of Trial Lawyers. He has received the highest rating possible from Martindale-Hubbell, the gold standard of attorney certification. He has been selected as “Criminal Law Attorney of the Year” by a Myrtle Beach publication; has been named one of South Carolina’s “Super Lawyers” in the past two years; and was the recipient of the “Compleat Lawyer Award” from the University of South Carolina School of Law Alumni Association in 2004.

In 1997, Brittain was elected to the Wofford College board of trustees, where he served until the end of his term in 2009. From 2004 to 2009, he served as chair and guided the board through significant improvements to the campus and college program. He and his wife, Kathy, are the parents of three children, each of whom has graduated from Wofford, and all of whom now are in the practice of law with their father.

MEDIA: For high-resolution (300 dpi) photos, click on the thumbnails below, right-click and download to your computer. If you have problems, contact Laura Corbin (laura.corbin@wofford.edu).

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Middleton, left; Brittain, right