"Nothing great was ever achieved without enthusiasm," said Ralph Waldo Emerson, words that exemplify the man we honor this morning. Holding a new degree in chemical engineering, this son of Mississippi went directly into the armed forces in 1941, to serve his country in the European theater until the conflict ended. After World War II, he was encouraged by a fellow veteran to seek his fortune in the Tarheel State capital. Seek he did, bringing along his zest for living and hard work, to change the course of the business, political, and educational life of North Carolina.
Guided by integrity and sound judgment, Charles Clifford Cameron is known to be a consummate gentleman. His contagious enthusiasm has served as a catalyst for the success of others as well as his own. He joined the creative venture that became Cameron Brown Mortgage Company, and when it merged with First Union National Bank in 1966, he came to Charlotte to take the helm of that growing enterprise. Through the next two decades, Cliff Cameron served as president, chairman, and CEO of First Union Corporation, laying the groundwork for its position as a national banking power today. And as he went about his business, he helped to set the competitive but courteous tone of discourse that characterizes commerce in this state, marked by mutual respect and good humor.
Beaming energy and optimism, Cliff Cameron stands tall. He moves through projects with creative impatience, asking not "Why can't we?" but "How quickly?" He has stridden into a hundred boardrooms to discuss finance, education, or government, and inspired those around the table to plunge into the task at hand. He has chaired the boards of the University of North Carolina at Charlotte and of The University Research Park, and served five North Carolina governors in matters of finance, conservation, and economic development. As Governor Jim Martin's executive assistant for budget and management, he was fluent and effective in one of the most challenging fiscal arenas--the allocation of public resources. Elected chair of the Board of Governors of The University of North Carolina system, he led the transition from one great university president to another, and moved through the halls of state government garnering bipartisan support for higher education.
Although Cliff Cameron has shown how active citizenship should accompany business success, few could emulate his extraordinary example. He has defined the alliance between corporation and community, shepherding dozens of projects in the name of the arts, healthcare, and education. For these and other good works, this vigorous leader has been honored by many, receiving numerous awards and accolades, including two previous honorary doctorates.
Because you exhibit the finest attributes of a good citizen morally, ethically, and philosophically;
Because you are resilient to life's challenges and ever responsive to your community;
Because you stand for progress with both discipline and dispatch, inspiring others to do likewise;
And because you have championed the endeavor this institution holds most dear, Davidson College is proud to honor you and names you, Charles Clifford Cameron, Doctor of Laws, honoris causa.