Honorary degree recipients recognized at Class of 2019 commencement ceremonies

Citadel brand signature white on blue

Anually at graduation, The Citadel presents honorary degrees to the speakers for the commencement ceremonies for The South Carolina Corps of Cadets and The Citadel Graduate College, as well as those who have demonstrated exceptional commitment to the college during their lifetime.

The 2019 honorary degree recipients are as follows:

The Honorable Francis G. Delleney, Jr.

The Honorable Francis “Greg” Delleney, Jr., is a Citadel graduate, a former U.S. Navy officer and a public servant who has dedicated his life to service.

After graduating from The Citadel in 1974, Delleney served in the U.S. Navy, and later, the Navy Reserve until 1977 when he retired with the rank of commander.

An attorney by profession, he was elected to the South Carolina House of Representatives in 1991, representing House District 43, where he served with distinction until 2018. During his tenure in the House of Representatives, the Chester County native rose to the position of chairman of the House Judiciary Committee.

As a member of the General Assembly, Delleney was an ardent advocate for his alma mater and could always be counted on for counsel and support.

In recognition of a lifetime of service to his country, his state and his alma mater, The Citadel Board of Visitors is proud to award former Representative Francis G. Delleney, Jr., an honorary Doctorate of Public Administration.

Charleston A. Laffittee, Jr.

Charles A. Laffitte, Jr., is a businessman whose commitment to community service and his alma mater demonstrate his devotion to The Citadel’s core values of Honor, Duty, and Respect.

A Citadel Class of 1961 graduate, Laffitte is the chairman and chief executive officer of Palmetto State Bank in Hampton, South Carolina. In this role, he led the small bank’s growth to a half-billion dollar financial institution with seven branch locations.

An active member of the Hampton community, Laffitte has a passion for service. His volunteer support of his alma mater includes his past service to The Citadel Alumni Association as a district director, alumni recruiter and member of the executive committee.

A passionate supporter of Citadel Athletics, Laffitte has been a long-standing Bulldogs season-ticket holder, member and former director of The Citadel Brigadier Foundation. Additionally, he is a member of both the Mark Clark Society and the Order of the Tartan.

For his love and support of his alma mater, The Citadel Board of Visitors is proud to award Charles A. Laffitte, Jr., an honorary Doctorate of Commerce.

Gen. Kenneth F. McKenzie, Jr.

Gen. Kenneth F. McKenzie, Jr., is a decorated flag officer in the U. S. Marine Corps and a 1979 Citadel graduate.

A native of Birmingham, Alabama, McKenzie has commanded at the platoon, company, battalion, Marine Expeditionary Unit, component, and theater levels. As colonel, he led the 22nd Marine Expeditionary Unit on combat deployments to Afghanistan and Iraq. McKenzie also served as the Military Secretary to the thirty-third and thirty-fourth Marine Corps Commandants.

As a general officer, McKenzie served as Deputy Director of Operations on the Joint Staff in the Military Command Center. In 2008, as Director of the Chairman’s New Administration Transition Team, he coordinated the efforts of the Joint Staff and the combatant commands in preparing for and executing a wartime transition of administrations. In 2009, he reported to the International Security Assistance Force in Kabul, Afghanistan, where he served as the Deputy to the Deputy Chief of Staff for Stability.

McKenzie served as Director for Strategy, Plans and Policy for the U.S. Central Command; the Marine Corps representative to the Quadrennial Defense Review; Commander of U.S. Marine Corps Forces at Central Command; and Director of Strategic Plans and Policy for the Joint Staff, and later, as the Director of the Joint Staff.

In March of 2019, McKenzie was awarded a fourth star and assumed duties as Commander, U.S. Central Command. On May 4, he provided the commencement speech for The South Carolina Corps of Cadets Class of 2019.

For his distinguished military service to his country, The Citadel Board of Visitors is proud to award Gen. Kenneth F. McKenzie, Jr., an honorary Doctorate of Foreign Affairs.

The Honorable Paul E. Short, Jr.

The Honorable Paul E. Short, Jr., is a community leader and a loyal Citadel graduate whose accomplishments demonstrate his commitment to his fellow man. Judge Short received a Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science from The Citadel in 1968 and his Juris Doctorate from the University of South Carolina School of Law in 1971.

After serving in the South Carolina National Guard and the U.S. Army Reserve, Short practiced law in Chester County for twenty years. He was elected to the South Carolina House of Representatives in 1982 where he served as House Majority Leader. In 1991, Short was elected to the South Carolina Circuit Court, initially serving at large and then from the Sixth Judicial Circuit.

He served two terms as president of the South Carolina Association of Circuit Court Judges. He began his current tenure on the South Carolina Court of Appeals in 2004.

For his courageous spirit of leadership and his service to his state, The Citadel Board of Visitors is proud to award Judge Paul E. Short, Jr., an honorary Doctorate of Jurisprudence.

Lt. Gen. John B. Sams, Jr.

Lt. Gen. John B. Sams, Jr., is a retired U.S. Air Force command pilot with more than 6,000 flight hours, including 700 combat hours over Vietnam.

A respected business leader and a 1967 Citadel graduate, Sams served in the Air Force for 32 years before joining the Boeing Company and later starting his own aerospace consulting firm. Additionally, Sams served for six years on The Citadel Board of Visitors, the final two as board chair.

A life member of The Citadel Alumni Association, Sams founded the Scott Air Force Base Citadel Club, and he and his wife, Suzanne, hosted Citadel gatherings at almost every assignment.

Along with the Class of 1967, Sams played a vital role in the building of The Citadel War Memorial, which was unveiled at homecoming 2017 during their fiftieth reunion.

A well-known leader in The Citadel community, and a member of the Summerall Society, Sams served as interim president for the college in 2018.

For his dedication, leadership and unwavering support of his alma mater, The Citadel Board of Visitors is proud to award Lt. Gen. John B. Sams, Jr., an honorary Doctorate of Aerospace Studies.

Douglas A. Snyder

Douglas A. Snyder, a 1982 Citadel graduate, spent the past 37 years serving his alma mater and his community by sharing his vision of service leadership and contributing his time and talents to organizations that promoted that vision.

Through Snyder’s professional experiences as a certified public accountant, audit manager, chief financial officer and business coach to individuals and companies, he has advocated teamwork and financial leadership as building blocks leading to successful businesses and organizations.

In 1996, Snyder was first elected by the South Carolina General Assembly for a six-year term to serve as a member of The Citadel Board of Visitors. In the more than 23 years since that first election, Snyder was re-elected for two more terms, served a committee chair, vice-chair and Chair of the Board and now remains on the Board as Member Emeritus. During his service the board,  he has proven to be a dedicated contributing member of The Citadel Board of Visitors.

In recognition of commitment to leadership and service, The Citadel Board of Visitors proudly awards Douglas A. Snyder an Honorary Doctorate of Civic Engagement.

Secretary Robert L. Wilkie

The Honorable Robert L. Wilkie is dedicated to the veterans whose selfless service and sacrifice protect America’s freedoms and ensure its democracy. As the Secretary of Veterans Affairs, one of the largest government agencies, Wilkie is responsible for providing veterans and their families with the benefits and services they have earned.

The son of an Army artillery commander, Wilkie grew up in Fort Bragg, North Carolina. Wilkie currently serves in the U.S. Air Force Reserve in the Office of the Chief of Staff. With more than twenty-five years of federal service at the national and international levels, Wilkie’s resume includes serving as the Undersecretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness. In this role, he was the principal advisor to the secretary and deputy secretary of defense for total force management as it relates to readiness, National Guard and Reserve component affairs, health affairs, training, and personnel requirements and management.

For his tireless work in support of veterans and their families and for his lifetime of public service, The Citadel Board of Visitors is proud to award Secretary Robert L. Wilkie an honorary Doctorate of Public Administration.