James E. Bostic, Jr., PhD

James Edward Bostic, Jr., PhD, looks to one of America’s greatest literary figures, Ralph Waldo Emerson, for inspiration, Emerson wrote: “There is a time in every man’s education when he arrives at the conviction that envy is ignorance; that imitation is suicide; that he must take himself for better for worse as his portion; that though the wide universe is full of good, no kernel of nourishing corn can come to him but through his toil bestowed on that plot of ground which is given to him to till.” Bostic’s fist plot of ground to till was a farm in Marlboro County which he shared with his parents and eight younger brothers and sisters. His mother, valedictorian of her high school class was unable to go to college. She encouraged her children to get an education. Bostic went to Clemson university and earned a bachelor of science degree in textile chemistry in 1969. He used a Ford Foundation Fellowship, which would have allowed him to attend any university in America, to stay at Clemson to study chemistry and to improve race relations on campus. In 1972 he became the first African-American to earn a doctorate at Clemson University. “I believe we live in a great country that has more opportunities than any other in the world,” Bostic said. “Our ability to realize those opportunities is made better by the preparation we receive in school.” After graduating from Clemson, Bostic was selected to participate in the prestigious White House Fellowship program and appointed as assistant to the secretary of agriculture. Begun by President Lyndon Johnson in 1965, this program provided this young African-American with the opportunity to participate in the highest levels of the federal government before taking his experience and using it in business and his local community. Because of the appointment, Bostic got the rare chance to visit the People’s Republic of China in 1973. In President Richard Nixon’s administration, Bostic served as Deputy Assistant Secretary in the US Department of Agriculture. Then, he joined Riegel Textile Corp as a corporate regulatory director. After eight years he joined the Georgia Pacific Corp as general manager of the Convenience Products Division. He became the general manager of Georgia Pacific’s Commercial Products and System Division in 1989. In 1980, he was elected chairman of the Commission on Higher Education in South Carolina. During his tenure as chairman, the “South Carolina Master Plan for Higher Education” was approved by the South Carolina General Assembly and the “South Carolina higher Education Desegregation Plan” was approved and initially funded. “I have a very strong interest in education, especially higher education,” Bostic said. “Students must have high expectations of themselves the moment they begin school as children, through their college years and into the world of work. Students learn that through hard work, their dreams can come true.” In 1991, Bostic was elected an officer of Georgia Pacific Corp. as vice president of Butler Paper and Mail-Well. One year later, he was named the group vice president of Communication Papers and is operating head of the largest printing and writing paper business in the United States. Bostic is a member of the board of trustees of Tuskegee University, Wofford College, and the President’s Commission on White House Fellowships. Also, he is on the board of directors of the Wachovia Bank of Georgia. Bostic has served on the board of directors at South Carolina National Corporation and the South Carolina National Bank. He has received numerous honors and awards for his notable achievements. Bostic is still working his plot of ground. “You have to take the task at hand and use your tools to make a difference,” he said. “You know you are successful when you impact the lives of others.”