SC chief justice to speak at summer commencement

Posted on: 7/15/2015; Updated on: 7/16/2015
By Megan Sexton, 803-777-1421

South Carolina Supreme Court Chief Justice Jean Toal, the first woman to serve on the state’s highest court, will address graduates at the University of South Carolina’s summer commencement exercises Aug. 8.

Also at the ceremony, Ronald A. DeVore, the former director of the Industrial Mathematics Institute at UofSC who is credited with expanding the academic reputation of the university’s math department over three decades, will receive an honorary degree of doctor of science.

The university expects to award 1,526 degrees for baccalaureate, master’s and professional-degree recipients from all eight campuses, including 1,061 from the Columbia campus. The ceremony is at 10:30 a.m. in the Colonial Life Arena. The hooding ceremony for doctoral candidates will be at 8:30 a.m. in the Koger Center for the Arts. David Miller, Carolina Distinguished Professor of English and director of the Center for Digital Humanities, will be the speaker.

Toal, a native of Columbia and a graduate of UofSC’s School of Law, was elected to the South Carolina House of Representatives in 1974, where she served for 13 years, becoming the first woman to chair the House Rules Committee. She practiced law for 20 years before her election to the state Supreme Court in 1988, and she became chief justice 12 years later. She was re-elected chief justice in 2004 and 2014.

In her 27 years on the court, Toal has written opinions addressing a full range of criminal and civil issues. She also has become a chief advocate for the state’s Judicial Automation Project, pushing for technology initiatives to be integrated into the eight levels of the South Carolina Court system. She was recognized by “Government Technology” magazine as one of the 2002 “Top 25 Doers, Dreamers and Drivers” of technology in government. In 2001, Toal was named the first recipient of the National Center for State Courts’ Sandra Day O’Connor Award for the Advancement of Civics Education. She was instrumental in making South Carolina one of the first pilot states for O’Connor’s iCivics web-based civics education program for students.

Toal serves on the board of the American Inns of Court Foundation, is past president of the Conference of Chief Justices and is past chairwoman of the National Center for State Courts.

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