March 22, 2000
The Honorable James Hovis Hodges will speak at The Citadel's commencement exercises for the Corps of Cadets in McAlister Field House at 9:30 a.m. on Saturday, May 13.
Governor Hodges was born in Lancaster, South Carolina. As a young man, Gov. Hodges continued his family's tradition of working summers in the textile mills to pay for his college education. He attended Davidson College and later transferred to the University of South Carolina where he earned a bachelor's of science degree in business administration. He was named Outstanding Student in Economics and inducted into Phi Beta Kappa-an undergraduate honors program recognizing and fostering excellence in the liberal arts and sciences. In 1979, Gov. Hodges returned to further his education and earned his juris doctorate from the University of South Carolina Law School. After graduation, Gov. Hodges returned to Lancaster and served as the county attorney from 1983 until 1986.
In 1986, Gov. Hodges was elected to the South Carolina House of Representatives where he served 11 years. He was Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee in 1992 and Chairman of the Joint Communication of Judiciary Screening in 1993. In 1995, Gov. Hodges was elected House Democratic Leader. While in the General Assembly, he was a leader of numerous legislative initiatives including judicial screening, reapportionment and state government restructuring. He was also rewarded for his accomplishments around the state. Some of his accomplishments include: Consumer Advocacy Award, Legislator of the Year from the South Carolina Association of Aging and Legislator of the Year Award from the S.C. Chamber of Commerce. In 1994, Gov. Hodges received the Compleat Lawyer Silver Medallion from his alma mater, USC, and in 1996 he received the Guardian of Small Businesses Award from the National Federation of Individual Business.
Gov. Hodges has also played a very active role in his local community. As a member of First United Methodist Church in Lancaster, he taught Sunday school there for more than ten years. He has received many awards and recognition from the community including the Consumer Advocacy Award, the Leadership South Carolina Award and the Paul Harris Fellow award from the Lancaster Rotary. He also served on the Board of Directors for the Lancaster County Chamber of Commerce from 1986 until 1989.
Upon taking the oath of office in January 1999, Hodges became the 114th governor of South Carolina. As governor, he promises to "focus like a laser-beam on improving our schools." In his first year in office, Gov. Hodges successfully won approval for a 2000 referendum on a state education lottery, provided $1 billion for school construction without raising taxes and launched the First Steps to School Readiness early childhood education initiative.