When Rock Hill native Hiram Hutchison IV walks across the stage of McAlister Field House on Saturday to accept his diploma, he will be the fourth person named Hiram Hutchison to graduate from The Citadel – 100 years after his great-grandfather made the same walk.
Hutchison, who goes by “Bo,” graduates Saturday from the senior military college with a degree in criminal justice. The 22-year-old, who graduated from Rock Hill High School in 2011, is following in the footsteps of his great-grandfather, Hiram Hutchison Sr., who graduated in 1915; his grandfather, Hiram Hutchison Jr., who graduated in 1957; and his father, Hiram “Chip” Hutchison, who graduated in 1986.
Per school tradition for legacy graduates, Hiram Jr. and Chip will be onstage to present Bo’s diploma to him.
“It’s ironic that my father finished The Citadel in 1915, and now Bo is finishing in 2015. That makes it special,” Hiram Jr. said. “My father died when I was about 14 or so. I knew he always had that in mind for me to do that.”
The Citadel was the only college he applied to, Bo said, and he “didn’t know anything else” growing up.
“I didn’t see myself going anywhere else. It was just kind of expected,” he said. “I’m happy to have had the opportunity to keep that tradition going.”
Bo recalled the day he learned he had been accepted. Hiram Jr. had purchased a Citadel memento rifle, and engraved on it was the year 1915.
“After that, there was a blank spot where 2015 could go if I went there,” Bo said. “When he pulled that out that night – it just kind of all fell into place.”
Hiram Jr. recently got the rifle engraved with Bo’s 2015 date.
“This will be my dad’s third trip, including his own trip,” Chip said. “He crossed the stage by himself, he crossed it with me and now he’s doing it with his grandson.”
Joining Bo today will be 33 other legacy cadets in the class of 2015, who will accept diplomas from their alumni parents and grandparents, all of whom were in the Corps of Cadets. The tradition dates back to 1962 and was later adapted by The Citadel Graduate College.
“If they graduate, they are entitled to make the presentation to their child when they graduate from the Corps of Cadets,” said Shamus Gillen, associate director of admissions for The Citadel. “There’s a wonderful opportunity to embody that transition in such a ceremony. The senior alumnus is present on that stage to make that presentation of the diploma to the soon-to-be young alumnus.
“Metaphorically, it connotes what the school is about – passing on these values to the next generation.”
When he left home four years ago to attend The Citadel, Bo said, his father and grandfather passed on their advice and the lessons they learned there.
“I owe it to both of them,” he said. “My grandfather kept me encouraged and knowing what to expect. I am definitely a chip off the old block. My dad and I are a lot alike; he owes his college education to The Citadel too.”
Throughout the 1900s, according to the school, there was not a male Hutchison who did not attend The Citadel. Hiram Sr.’s older brother, Eugene Hutchison, graduated in 1905. Eugene’s two sons – Eugene Jr. and Theodore – graduated in 1927 and 1928.
Chip said all of the Hutchisons who graduated from The Citadel also graduated from Rock Hill High School. But the Hutchisons’ century-plus at The Citadel might end with Bo, whose younger brother Teddy is graduating from Rock Hill High this year.
“He said he’s not going to The Citadel,” Chip said with a laugh, “because it’s a Hiram thing.”
Teddy Kulmala • 803-329-4082