In Memoriam: Ernest Adolphus Finney Jr., 1931-2017

Ernest A. Finney Jr., the first African American to serve as Chief Justice of the South Carolina Supreme Court and the former interim president of South Carolina State University, died on December 3 in Columbia, South Carolina. He was 86 years old.

A native of Smithfield, Virginia, Finney’s mother died when he was 10 days old. His father became a dean at what is now Claflin University in Orangeburg, South Carolina. Finney earned a bachelor’s degree at Claflin in 1952. He then earned a law degree at South Carolina State University. That law school closed in 1966 after the desegregation of the University of South Carolina.

After teaching for five years in the public schools of Conway, South Carolina, Finney set up a law practice in Sumter, South Carolina. He defended the Friendship 9, a group of Black college students who were arrested for their efforts to desegregate the lunch counter at McCrory’s in Rock Hill, South Carolina.

Finney served in the South Carolina legislature before being elected to a circuit court judgeship. He was appointed an associate justice of the South Carolina Supreme Court in 1985 and was named Chief Justice in 1994. He retired from the bench in 2000 and later served as interim president of South Carolina State University.

Related Articles

Leave a Reply

Get the JBHE Weekly Bulletin

Receive our weekly email newsletter delivered to your inbox

Latest News

Three African Americans Appointed to New Academic Positions

Leon Prieto, Kofi Afrifah, and Andrea Moore have been appointed to new academic positions at Clayton University, Bowie State University, and Savannah State University, respectively.

Historic HBCU Landmark Revitalized Through National Park Service Grant

Through three restoration grants totaling $2 million, the Rosenwald Practice School and Principal House will be fully restored, becoming the new home for the Northeastern North Carolina African American Research and Cultural Heritage Institute.

Five Black Leaders Appointed to Administrative Positions

Here is this week’s roundup of African American who have been appointed to new administrative positions at colleges and universities throughout the United States. If you have news for our appointments section, please email the information to

North Carolina A&T University Establishes Research Partnership with Collins Aerospace

“There are direct relations to the research we do in the College of Engineering and the mission purpose of Collins Aerospace,” said Stephanie Luster-Teasley, interim dean of the College of Engineering at North Carolina A&T State University. “Being able to partner with Collins really gives our students the opportunities for hands-on research at each level – undergraduate and graduate.”

Featured Jobs