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Citadel News Service
20 Mar 2010

The Palmetto Award honors local cadet and engineering professor

Two men who have distinguished themselves among Citadel faculty and the South Carolina Corps of Cadets have been recognized with the prestigious Palmetto Award.

The Palmetto Award is one of the highest honors The Military College of South Carolina and its Board of Visitors can bestow. The highest is an honorary degree.

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Leonard Fulghum, '51, emeritus member of The Citadel Board of Visitors, congratulates Cadet Trey Swinton, '10, a 2010 Palmetto Award winner at The Citadel.

The Palmetto Award is presented annually to cadets, faculty, staff or alumni in recognition of exceptional performance that reflects great credit on the college or the state of South Carolina. The awards were presented during the military dress parade on Saturday, March 20, which was Corps Day marking the 167th birthday of the Corps of Cadets.

This year’s Palmetto Award recipients are Cadet Maj. William James “Trey” Swinton III and Civil and Environmental Engineering professor Thomas R. Dion.

A resident of Mount Pleasant, S.C., Swinton is the Regimental Human Affairs Officer and a senior Business Administration major. During his cadet career he has pursued numerous extracurricular activities that included the Bulldog-Bullpup mentoring program and the Toastmaster’s and Investment clubs. He has been active in the community as well, volunteering at local retirement communities, and organizing the collection and distribution of care packages for military men and women of The Citadel now deployed around the world. Cadet Swinton is the recipient of the Good Conduct Award and earned placement on the Commandant’s List for outstanding military and academic achievement. He will receive a commission in the United States Air Force upon graduation.

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Simms M. Leitner, an appointee of State Education Superintendent Jim Rex on The Citadel Board of Visitors, presented Col. Thomas R. Dion, '68, with the Palmetto Award. Dion is a professor in the School of Engineering.

“It is rare to find the word ‘community’ in the vocabulary of a young person these days, but Trey is among those emerging leaders at The Citadel that personally lives by the ideals of service to others,” said Assistant Commandant Col. Pamela Barton. “His is the kind of leadership many admire but fail to attain – positive, encouraging and selfless service to others.”

A Summerville, S.C., resident, Dion is a 1968 graduate of The Citadel and has been a professor in the civil and environmental engineering department for more than 30 years. During his tenure, Dion has been active in preparing admission and curriculum guidelines for the recently approved Master’s of Science in Project Management degree and spearheading approval of the department curriculum and educational requirements needed to become a licensed land boundary surveyor in South Carolina. In addition, he has been extensively involved in the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) student chapter at The Citadel, giving students an opportunity for valuable hands-on experience working on various projects to improve the college campus.

Dion has been described as an exceptional teacher who demands excellence from his students. He gets that excellence with outstanding communication skills, a caring teaching approach and genuine interest in the success of his students, said Dennis Fallon, dean of the School of Engineering.

“Professor Dion is most worthy of this very prestigious award. His direct impact on the lives of the numerous engineering graduates that The Citadel has produced over his 34 years of service is immeasurable,” Fallon said. “He personifies and serves as a role model of a professional engineer as well as an educator to all his students and colleagues. I am extremely proud to have him as a member of the faculty in The Citadel School of Engineering.”

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