The College of Charleston has announced the speakers for Spring Commencement ceremonies on May 6 and 7, 2016, in the Cistern Yard. This year’s speakers are:Commencement 2015 embed

  • United States Air Force Secretary Deborah Lee James, who will speak at the graduation ceremony on May 6, which begins at 4 p.m.
  • The Hon. Michael Luttig, executive vice president of The Boeing Company, will speak at the ceremony on May 7 at 10 a.m.
  • Mike Couick, president & CEO of the Electric Cooperatives of South Carolina, will speak at the ceremony on May 7 at 4 p.m.

Honorary degrees will be presented to:

  • The Hon. Richard E. Fields, retired South Carolina Circuit Court judge, and
  • S.C. Sen. Hugh Leatherman of Florence, S.C.

More than 2,000 students are expected to receive degrees during the three ceremonies in the Cistern Yard.

For more details on the ceremonies visit the Commencement website.

Commencement Speakers

Secretary of the Air Force Deborah Lee James

Air Force Secretary Deborah Lee James

James is the 23rd Secretary of the U.S. Air Force and is responsible for the affairs of the Department of the Air Force, including the organizing, training, equipping and providing for the welfare of its nearly 664,000 active duty, Guard, Reserve and civilian airmen and their families. James has 30 years of senior homeland and national security experience in the federal government and the private sector. Prior to her current position, James served as president of Science Applications International Corporation’s technical and engineering sector.


The Hon. Michael Luttig

Michael Luttig

Luttig is executive vice president and general counsel of The Boeing Company, a position he has held since May 2006. Luttig is also a member of the company’s executive council. Luttig joined Boeing after having served as a judge for the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit for 15 years. At the time of his 1991 appointment by President George H. W. Bush, Luttig was the youngest federal appeals court judge in the country.




Mike Couick

Mike Couick

Couick is the president and chief executive officer of the Electric Cooperatives of South Carolina, Inc. He previously served as general counsel for the S.C. Senate Judiciary Committee for 21 years before being elected by the Electric Cooperatives of South Carolina in 2005.


Honorary Degree Recipients

The Hon. Richard E. Fields

The Hon. Richard E. Fields

Fields was admitted to practice before both the bars of the District of Columbia and South Carolina in 1948. A year later, he returned to Charleston to begin his law practice.

In 1969, he was appointed associate municipal court judge for the City of Charleston and in 1971 became the court’s presiding judge. In 1974, Fields was elected by the S.C. General Assembly to the position of family court judge in Charleston County and served in this capacity until 1980 when he was elected by the General Assembly to serve as a circuit court judge in South Carolina, where he served with distinction until he retired in 1992.


S.C. Sen. Hugh Leatherman, Sr.

S.C. Sen. Hugh Leatherman, Sr.

Leatherman has been a South Carolina Senator representing the 31st District since 1981. As chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, Leatherman also sits on the state’s Budget and Control Board.

He was elected president pro tempore of the S.C. Senate on June 18, 2014.