I.S. Leevy Johnson to address USC graduates
Columbia lawyer I.S. Leevy Johnson will speak at the University of South Carolina summer commencement exercises for baccalaureate, master’s and professional-degree recipients from all eight campuses at 10:30 a.m. Saturday, Aug. 7, in the Colonial Life Arena.
Johnson also will receive an honorary doctoral degree in law.
Commencement exercises for doctoral candidates will take place at 8:30 a.m. in the Koger Center. Dr. David S. Shields, the recipient of the 2010 USC Educational Foundation Award for Research in Humanities and Social Sciences in the College of Arts and Sciences, department of English language and literatures, will speak.
The university expects to award 1,055 degrees from the Columbia campus, including one associate’s degree, 552 baccalaureate degrees, eight law degrees, one pharmacy degree, 10 graduate certificates, 388 master’s degrees, five specialist’s degrees and 90 doctoral degrees.
Also receiving degrees will be the graduates of the university’s regional and four-year campuses: Aiken – 61 baccalaureate and two master’s degrees; Beaufort – 38 baccalaureate degrees; Lancaster – 14 associate’s degrees; Salkehatchie – five associate’s degrees; Sumter – 10 associate’s degrees; Union – eight associate’s degrees; and Upstate – 239 baccalaureate degree and four master’s degrees.
Johnson, a Midlands native, was among the first African Americans elected to the S.C. General Assembly since Reconstruction. Five years later, in 1975, he and law school classmate William T. Toal and former legislative aide Luther J. Battiste organized the Johnson, Toal, and Battiste Law Firm in Columbia. Johnson has practiced law for more than 40 years and was the first African-American president of the S.C. Bar. He also is a fellow in the American College of Trial Lawyers. In 1995, Johnson became owner of Leevy’s Funeral Home in Columbia, which was established in 1932 by his grandparents.
He earned an associate’s degree in mortuary science from the University of Minnesota, a bachelor’s degree from Benedict College and a law degree from the USC School of Law in 1968. He is a graduate of C.A. Johnson High School in Columbia.
He is an active member of the American Bar Association, serving as chairman of the ABA’s Center for Racial and Ethnic Diversity and representing the South Carolina bar as a delegate to the ABA. He has received numerous professional awards, including the Durant Distinguished Public Service Award; the Compleat Lawyer Award from the USC School of Law; the John W. Williams Jr. Distinguished Service Award from the Richland County Bar; the Matthew J. Perry Medallion from the Columbia Lawyers Association; and the Founders Award from the South Carolina Association for Justice. He also received the Hyman Rubin Award from the Greater Columbia Community Relations Council and, in 1999, the Order of the Palmetto, the state’s highest civilian award.