Kathy Johnson

Leaders in Education, Housing and Music to Receive UK Honorary Degrees

Published: Dec 14, 2012

LEXINGTON, Ky. (Dec. 14, 2012) ― As part of its December Commencement Ceremonies today, the University of Kentucky will honor three individuals with honorary doctorates.  An honorary degree pays tribute to those whose lives and work exemplify professional, intellectual, or artistic achievement and who have made significant contributions to society, the state, and the university.


Honorary doctorate recipients are:


James Dee ("J.D.") Crowe, a native of Lexington and resident of Nicholasville, began playing the banjo when he was 12 years old and was informally apprenticed to the late bluegrass music great, Earl Scruggs. In the mid 1950s, he was offered a job with Jimmy Martin's Sunny Mountain Boys while still in his teens.


In the late 1960s, Crowe formed the Kentucky Mountain Boys, principally performing in Central Kentucky and other areas of the Commonwealth. By the early 1970s, Crowe changed the band's name to The New South and included material from rock and country music sources. Many important musicians have been a part of the band over the years, including Ricky Skaggs, Keith Whitley, Tony Rice, Jerry Douglas, and Doyle Lawson.


After recording more than a dozen albums and having played literally all over the United States and in numerous foreign countries, Crowe is universally recognized as a great ambassador for Kentucky, and for bluegrass music. Inducted into the

International Bluegrass Music Association's Hall of Fame in 2003, he is also a recipient of the Kentucky Governor's Award in the Arts for his contributions to the state's folk heritage.


This banjoist and bandleader's sense of service to the University of Kentucky is real and demonstrable. When asked by UK faculty, he has freely and repeatedly donated his time to appear in English and music classes where students learn about Appalachian music and bluegrass music, as well as Kentucky and southern culture and history. 


Crowe will receive an honorary Doctor of Arts degree during the undergraduate Commencement ceremony at 6 p.m. today, Friday, Dec. 14, in Memorial Coliseum.


David L. Lollis is the past president of Appalbanc and is the past president of the Federation of Appalachian Housing Enterprises (FAHE). Appalbanc is an award-winning Community Development Financial Institution whose primary mission is to promote individual and community development in rural central Appalachia through the financial products developed by the Human/Economic Appalachian Development Corporation, the FAHE, and the Appalachian Federal Credit Union.


Lollis has worked for more than 40 years in both the public and private sectors. As president of FAHE, Lollis was responsible for the federation’s programs. He has an extensive background in administration and management, much of which has been in housing programs.


His federal government experience includes positions in the Commerce Department’s Office of Business Economics; in the Labor Department’s Employment and Training Administration; and in the Office of Economic Opportunity/Community Services Administration.


At the state government level Lollis served in the Kentucky Governor’s Office, the Office of Policy and Management, and the Office of the Secretary of the Department for Human Resources. He was elected Chair of the Appalachian Advisory Council and was appointed by the Governor as a Commissioner of the Kentucky Appalachian Commission.


At the annual Kentucky Governor’s Housing Conference in 1992, Lollis was presented the Dorothy J. Williams' Lifetime Achievement Award for his contribution to conceptualizing and directing quality housing programs in Kentucky.


In retirement, he continues to serve on a number of national, regional, and local boards, and serves as a consultant on various projects. Lollis will be presented with an honorary Doctor of Letters degree during the graduate Commencement Ceremony at 1:30 p.m. today in Memorial Coliseum.


Charles L. Shearer, a native of Louisville, earned a bachelor of science degree in accounting, followed by a master's in diplomacy and international commerce, both from the University of Kentucky.


Intrigued by his first teaching assignment in higher education as an instructor at UK's Henderson Community College in the late 1960s, Shearer went on to pursue further graduate study, attaining his doctorate in economics from Michigan State University. Following additional teaching and administrative assignments, first at Michigan State, then at Albion College, Charles was named Vice President for Finance at Transylvania University in Lexington in 1979.


He was selected as president of Transylvania in 1983, beginning what would become a long and distinguished tenure, during which the institution's student enrollment grew by more than 75 percent, with corresponding growth in the number of faculty members and majors offered. Fundraising, together with financial aid and scholarship programs, increased exponentially under his leadership. Ratings for the university's academic quality attained unprecedented heights. The school's endowment grew to an all-time high. A number of state-of-the-art academic buildings, a new campus center, new residence hall, and greatly-improved facilities for athletics and recreation were added during Shearer's nearly three decades as the university's top officer.


He oversaw the school's move from the scholarship-based National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics to the non-scholarship Division Three of the N-C-A-A. This placed Transy among its peer institutions, with a dedication to the student-athlete ideal in the context of the overall academic and social purposes of the university.


With a dedication to community service, Shearer instituted the First-year Urban Program where freshmen actively participate in service projects. Other student service initiatives begun under his direction include Alternative Spring Break, Jump-Start, and an annual holiday party for children of the Big Brothers/Big Sisters of the Bluegrass. He has served on the boards of countless organizations and was selected as a recipient of numerous local, state, and national awards.


Shearer will receive an honorary Doctor of Letters degree during UK's undergraduate ceremony at 6 p.m.


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