Commencement May 11 Honored Graduates And AFLAC Founder

Columbus, Ga. --- Columbus State University celebrated its spring commencement May 11 in the Frank G. Lumpkin Jr. Center, conferring degrees to about 400 graduates plus an honorary degree to AFLAC Inc. Founder Paul Amos.

The ceremony's keynote speaker was Jeane Kirkpatrick, former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations and holder of the Medal of Freedom, our nation's highest civilian honor.

A cabinet member for President Reagan from 1981 through 1985, Kirkpatrick served as a member of the President's Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board from 1985 to 1990, the Defense Policy Review Board from 1985 to 1993 and chaired the Secretary of Defense Commission on Fail Safe and Risk Reduction from 1991 to 1992.

She has been awarded presidential medals by two foreign presidents. President Vaclav Havel of the Czech Republic honored her for promoting NATO enlargement, democracy and human rights, and President H.E. Arpad Goncz of Hungary recognized Kirkpatrick for contributions to NATO enlargement and a democratic Europe. In the last two years, she also received the 50th Anniversary Friend of Zion Award from the Prime Minister of Israel and the Casey Medal of Honor from the Center for Security Studies.

She is the Leavey Professor of Government at Georgetown University and a regular contributor to various newspapers and journals. Kirkpatrick is a Senior Fellow at the American Enterprise Institute and serves as Co-Founder and Director of Empower America.

Among those who heard Kirkpatrick was Paul S. Amos, who with brothers John and Bill, established AFLAC (American Family Life Assurance of Columbus) in 1955.

Paul Amos is credited with many of AFLAC's innovative sales methods, including a regional sales coordinator structure that has been acknowledged as key to AFLAC's success. By 1999, AFLAC had become a Fortune 500 company worth more than $37 billion.

In 1991 Amos established a Columbus State University scholarship fund for his employees that has provided more than $750,000 in tuition and fee coverage. As a tribute to Amos' distinguished leadership, the scholarship now extends to employee children and grandchildren, thanks to a second fund established by AFLAC's Board of Directors upon Amos' retirement last year.

Though retired, Amos remains active with AFLAC and in his philanthropic endeavors. He attends AFLAC conventions, associate gatherings and employee events. While chairing the newly formed scholarship selection committee, he also is funding an endowed faculty chair position in CSU's Schwob School of Music.

CSU honored Paul Amos' career as a businessman, philanthropist and supporter of the university by giving him the Doctorate of Humane Letters.

CSU President Frank Brown described Amos as 'a pioneer in his business life, and his involvement with important causes in the community carries that theme of caring on into his personal life.'

'Columbus State is honored to have Mr. Paul's name associated with our institution and we are delighted to honor his meaningful involvement by awarding this highest of all honors, the Doctorate of Humane Letters to Mr. Amos,' Brown said.

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Also notable during commencement was the fact that among the graduates were some of the students from CSU's very first Honors Program 'class.'

Ten students were in the inaugural Honors Program four years ago. According to Director Barbara Hunt, six are now seniors at various stages of their theses. Three graduated, another will finish in August and another two in December.

She notes that from the first 'class' there is at least an 80 percent retention rate at CSU and a 60 percent retention rate in the program.

Since the first class, the Honors Program has grown exponentially. Currently there are 67 students in the program. Hunt expects at least 17 new students to enter in the fall. With about five graduating between now and then, she expects fall total will be about 80 students.

For more information about the Honors Program, contact Barbara Hunt at (706) 568-2054 or go to the Honors Program Web Page at http://uc.colstate.edu/honor_program.htm.

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