This year’s honorary degree recipients are: Stephen P. Coonts, a best-selling novelist, and Fred T. Tattersall, former senior vice president of what is now Bank of America.
Considered higher education’s most prestigious recognition, honorary degrees are awarded to individuals selected through a nomination process. WVU’s 2014 honorary doctorates will be recognized during Commencement exercises May 9-11.
Stephen P. Coonts
Born in Morgantown and raised in Buckhannon, Coonts graduated from WVU in 1968 with a bachelor of arts degree from the College of Arts and Sciences, where he majored in political science with minors in English, history and economics.
He immediately went into the United States Navy and was designated a naval aviator in August 1969. He made two combat cruises to Vietnam in the final years of the Vietnam War, flying A-6 Intruders from the deck of USS Enterprise. He left active duty in 1977 and attended the University of Colorado School of Law. He was admitted to the bar in West Virginia and Colorado.
In 1986 his first novel, “Flight of the Intruder,” was published and spent 28 weeks on The New York Times bestseller list. He has been a professional novelist ever since, with 26 books to his credit. A total of 16 of those have become bestsellers. He is also the co-author of an additional nine novels. His latest novel is Saucer: Savage Planet. His works have been translated into 26 languages and published around the world.
Coonts believes an undergraduate class in creative writing at WVU was a pivotal point in his life, one where he realized he had a talent for writing.
He and his wife, Deborah Jean Coonts, reside in Colorado.
Coonts will receive his honorary doctorate of letters from the Eberly College of Arts and Sciences at 2 p.m. on May 11 at the WVU Coliseum.
Fred T. Tattersall
Tattersall graduated with honors from WVU’s College of Business and Economics with a bachelor of science in finance in 1970. He was elected to Beta Gamma Sigma, an international business honor society, in his junior year. He credits his finance professors at WVU for laying the groundwork for his success in money and investing.
He was a senior vice president of what is now Bank of America, and then became a partner at Lowe, Brockenbrough, Tierney and Tattersall, where he began to build an institutional fixed income division.
After a successful spinoff in 1997, which created the Tattersall Advisory Group, he was the sole proprietor of a registered investment advisor with more than $6 billion in assets under management. TAG was sold to First Union Bank in 1999 and Tattersall stayed on as CEO. When Tattersall retired from the company in 2004, the firm was managing more than $18 billion in assets.
Tattersall is now chairman of 1607 Capital Partners, a Richmond-based investment management company established in 2007. The firm manages more than $2.8 billion in assets, specializing in investing in closed-end funds.
Tattersall serves as the chair of investment committee on the WVU Foundation Board of Directors. He is also a member of the executive committee.
Tattersall’s greatest contributions outside of business have been to The First Tee organization, focused on impacting young people by providing educational programs that build character, instill life-enhancing values and promote healthy choices through the game of golf.
Fred and his wife, Roddy, have two children and five grandchildren.
Tattersall will receive his honorary doctorate of business from the College of Business and Economics at 6 p.m. on May 10 at the WVU Coliseum.
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