Hollings is a former Governor and United States Senator, and Willis is a longstanding upstate historian and Professor at Converse College in Spartanburg. The awards will be presented at a luncheon to be held on October 31, 2007 in the Vista Room at the South Carolina State Museum.
Senator Hollings is well-known to South Carolina as a dedicated public servant. After graduating from the Citadel, Sen. Hollings served as an Army officer in WWII and received a Bronze Start. He graduated from the USC School of Law, and was elected as a state legislator in 1948. He later became lieutenant governor and was elected governor in 1958. In 1966 he was elected to the U.S. Senate, and was re-elected six times. He was a presidential candidate in 1984.
His legacy in government includes recruiting industry to South Carolina, helping establish the state’s technical education system and advocating for community health centers to provide affordable and accessible health care to low- and moderate- income Americans. As a senator, Hollings chaired the Senate Budget Committee and Senate Commerce Committee. He is being recognized for his longstanding support for the National Endowment for the Humanities and SC Humanities.
Dr. Willis is the Andrew Helmus Professor of History Emeritus at Converse College and serves as the college archivist. Dr. Willis graduated from Furman University and earned his doctorate in British history at the University of Virginia. After teaching at Randolph Macon Women’s College and The Citadel, Willis came to Converse in the 1960s.
As a devoted professor at Converse for more than 40 years, he established the popular “London Term” program where students live and study in London for a term. He has served on the board and as president of the Spartanburg County Historical Association. His prodigious research on the county and upstate have earned him the title “the go to guy” for questions about local history.
Dr. Willis has published three books of photographic history—“Spartanburg: A Postcard History,” “Converse College,” and “Remembering Greenville: Photographs from the Coxe Collection.” He wrote a number of articles for the Hub City Writers Project—“Textile Town,” a history of Spartanburg County’s textile industry and its workers. Dr. Willis is being recognized for the enormous contributions he has made to the humanities and local history through his tireless efforts as a teacher and volunteer.
Established in 1991, the Governor’s Awards in the Humanities recognize outstanding achievement in humanities research, teaching and scholarship; institutional and individual participation in helping communities in South Carolina better understand our cultural heritage or ideas and issues related to the humanities; excellence defining South Carolina’s cultural life to the nation or world; and exemplary support for public humanities programs. From 1991-2006, 44 individuals and organizations have received awards. SC Humanities is completing its 34th year as the state-based program of the National Endowment for the Humanities.