In December 2022, George Ducworth retired following more than 18 years of teaching and leadership roles at the Anderson University School of Public Service and Administration.
Ducworth came to Anderson University with a wealth of public service experience that included 20 years as solicitor for the 10th Judicial Circuit, which encompasses Anderson and Oconee counties, and being an aide to United States Senator Strom Thurmond (R-SC).
From the time Ducworth joined the faculty of the School of Public Service and Administration, Criminal Justice programs have expanded and the Command College of South Carolina has been established. Command College graduates have included U.S. Marshall Chrissie Lattimore, Anderson County Sheriff Chad McBride, Anderson Police Chief Jim Stewart and Greenville Police Chief Howie Thompson. The list of graduates goes on to include a Secret Service agent and a retired London policeman. In summary, it’s basically a “Who’s Who” of law enforcement professionals across South Carolina and beyond.
“George has been a huge influence on my career, he’s been a huge encouragement, provided a lot of wisdom to me throughout my campaigns and throughout my role as an elected sheriff,” said Sheriff McBride, an early Command College graduate and also part-time instructor in the program. “Being a graduate from the Command College, I learned so much extremely valuable content that I’ve been able to utilize in my role as CEO, basically, of our Sheriff’s Office.”
When he was teaching at Anderson University as an adjunct professor, Dr. Clarence Williamson met Ducworth and got to know him. Dr. Williamson was preparing to retire as bureau commander in the Guilford County, North Carolina, Sheriff’s Office when Ducworth encouraged him to come to Anderson full time after retiring.
“George has that kind of influence and has kind of shown that to me, but he’s also shown me about relationships and really caring about people,” said Dr. Williamson, who is now dean of the School of Public Service and Administration. “He recruited me, but I think in a roundabout way he prepared and trained me for the role I’m in now.
Every student that’s doing an internship in the Criminal Justice program pretty much comes through him. That’s really important because sometimes students don’t really know how to get an internship or don't know how to connect with an organization. George has been just great at guiding students to that, making sure they have an internship. If they don’t know where to go, he connects them; that goes back to relationships. He guides students through that internship process as well as he’s the recruiter for the Criminal Justice program and the Command College.”
Planning for Growth
Ducworth recalled how the Command College began and how the vision became reality.
“In about 2007… we were having an advisory meeting of our criminal justice program. The then chief of police of Anderson, Marty Brown, said he wanted to develop a lot of leaders in his department and he said the only places you can go for leadership training in law enforcement was the FBI Academy or the Southern Police Institute in Louisville. He asked, ‘Why can’t we do something like that here?’,” Ducworth said. “In that same meeting we had, Jeff Black was there and he was enrolled in the command college in Georgia. We ended up going down and looking at their program, did a little research and found out that there were other colleges in the state who had thought about doing something like this for 20 years, I guess, and nobody had actually tried to do it.”
Ducworth was also instrumental in moving the School of Public Service and Administration to its current location in downtown Anderson.
“We realized we needed to have more space because of the way the Command College operated. They came to campus two days a month and they had to have a classroom all day long for those two days. It’s very difficult to get classes on campus where you could have one classroom or two classrooms for all day,” Ducworth said. “Duke Energy had been trying to sell this building for some time. We worked out a good arrangement with them and got this building.”
Since Anderson County Emergency Services leases the upstairs of the building, Anderson University Homeland Security majors and others have benefited from this close proximity.
“We’ve had a really good arrangement with the Anderson County Sheriff’s Office in this building. It’s been a very good partnership,” Ducworth said. He’s optimistic about the future of the School of Public Service and Administration, saying it’s in good hands under the leadership of Dean Clarence Williamson and experienced professors.
Ducworth also loves Trojan athletics and has done play-by-play coverage of men’s and women’s basketball games. He looks forward to the AU Football Team’s inaugural season in 2024 and is optimistic that many of the players will be enrolled in the School of Public Service and Administration.
Looking back, Ducworth noted two role models who were outstanding in his life.
One was legendary Clemson Football Coach Frank Howard, for whom he played as defensive end for the Tigers. Ducworth, whose brothers also played for Howard, said “He didn’t mind working you hard, but it was fun.”
Another role model was U.S. Senator Strom Thurmond, for whom he began working while a law student at the University of South Carolina. Ducworth then joined Thurmond’s staff full-time and moved to Washington, D.C.
“He had unbelievable energy. He cared about people. He was very big on constituent service,” Ducworth said of Senator Thurmond. “He said if a constituent comes to you with a problem, that might seem minor to you, but it’s the most important thing in that person’s life. I always remembered that.”
What Retirement Looks Like
Ducworth may be retiring from Anderson University, but he will still be actively serving his community. He’s leading efforts to replace the more than 60 year old Anderson County Jail.
“I remember going to the grand opening of that jail when I was six or seven years old; I’m 73 now. That gives you some idea of how outdated it is. Not only are we wanting to build a new jail, but we want to implement a lot of good criminal justice programs to make the whole system more effective and efficient in Anderson County,” Ducworth said. “We’re looking at establishing a mental health court and veterans court, and also set up a good transitioning program for people who are getting out of prison, helping them transition into the community to be good useful citizens and not being returned to prison later.”
Ducworth also plans to write for his grandsons a family history book.
“There are a lot of things I wished I asked my grandfathers about while they were living and didn’t do it, so I’ve gone back and done some family history research and then written about my life, memories of my life up until the time I became solicitor. I’ve got most of it done, but I’ve got to do some tweaking on it,” Ducworth said.
Command College graduates, many who are in leadership at various law enforcement agencies across South Carolina, joined Anderson University administration honoring Ducworth December 8 with a retirement reception at the University.
The Anderson University School of Public Service and Administration is committed to educating today's law enforcement officers, private investigators, federal agents and leaders, as well as prospective law students with an interest in criminal law. Recognizing the importance of coordinated emergency responses to natural disasters and terrorism, programs in emergency management are also offered.
Details about the Anderson University School of Public Service and Administration can be found online.