Columbia, SC -- April 24, 2012 -- The Benedict College Spring Commencement Ceremony for the Class of 2012 will be held at 9 a.m. on Saturday, May 5, 2012, at the Charlie W. Johnson Stadium located on Two Notch Road and Read Street in Columbia, South Carolina. Dr. Benjamin F. Payton will give the keynote address during the College's 142nd Commencement Exercises.
After 29 years of exemplary service and extraordinary accomplishments, Dr. Benjamin F. Payton, the fifth President of Tuskegee University, retired June 30, 2010. Dr. Payton is credited with leading a makeover of the learning environment at Tuskegee University. During his tenure, the University added the General Daniel "Chappie" James Center for Aerospace Engineering and Health Education, the National Center for Bioethics in Research and Health Care, and the Kellogg Hotel and Conference Center. Under his leadership, the school has also made strides in the significant academic, research and training enhancement in the School of Veterinary Sciences. In addition, two doctoral programs have been launched - one in Materials Science and Engineering and another in Integrative Biosciences. More than $300 million has been invested in student scholarships and campus infrastructure. At the same time, the university's endowment grew from $15 million to more than $102 million.
Prior to joining Tuskegee, Dr. Payton was program officer, Higher Education and Research, The Ford Foundation, New York City (1972-81); president of Benedict College, Columbia, SC. (1967-72); executive director, Commission on Religion and Race and the Department of Social Justice of the National Council of Churches in the U.S.A. (1966-67); director, Office of Church and Race, Protestant Council of the City of New York (1965-66); and assistant professor, Howard University and director of the
Howard University Community Service Project, Washington, DC (1963-65).
Payton received a B.A. degree with honors from South Carolina State University in 1955; the B.D. degree from Harvard University in 1958; the M.A. degree from Columbia University in 1960; and the Ph.D. degree from Yale University in 1963.
In recognition of his leadership, intellectual and scholarly achievements, as well as his dedicated service to education, Dr. Payton has received many honors and honorary degrees. He was appointed by President George W. Bush in 2002 to chair the newly-formed Board of Advisors on Historically Black Colleges and Universities. This was Dr. Payton's third presidential appointment. He was also appointed by President Ronald Reagan to the Board for International Food and Agricultural Development and named by President George W. Bush to lead the Task Force on Agricultural and Economic Development to Zaire.
Other honors include: the Danforth Graduate Fellowship (1955-63); First Place winner of the Harvard Billings Prize (1957); South Carolinian of the Year (1972); and the Napoleon Hill Foundation Award for Outstanding Leadership in Education (1987). Additionally, Dr. Payton was the first recipient of the Benjamin E. Mays Award at South Carolina State University.
He is a member of many professional and social organizations, including the American Council on Education, the American Higher Education Association, Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc. and Sigma Pi Phi Boul. His academic honors include membership in Phi Beta Kappa and Alpha Kappa Mu Honor Society.
Dr. Payton serves or has served as director on numerous boards including AmSouth Bancorporation, AmSouth Bank, Ruby Tuesday, Inc., Liberty Corp., Praxair Corp., the ITT Corp., SONAT, Inc. and Morrison Management Specialists, Inc. Additionally, he has served on the boards of the National Action Council for Minorities in Engineering, the American Society for Engineering Education, National Advisory Council, the Alabama Shakespeare Festival Royal Council, and the Board of Governors of the U.S. Air Force Civil Air Patrol. He has also served as a member of the Visiting Committee for the Board of Overseers at Harvard University and MIT, the Board of Visitors at Air University, Maxwell Air Force Base, and as a director of the Association of Governing Boards.
Dr. Payton is in strong demand to give speeches and lectures across the country. He was selected to give the first George Washington Carver Lecture at the Annual Meeting of the National Association of State Universities and Land-Grant Colleges in San Francisco in 1999.
He is married to the former Thelma Plane of Evanston and they have two children, Mark Steven and Deborah Elizabeth.
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