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Local businessman awarded APSU's 1st honorary degree

Successful Clarksville businessman, Charles Hand, attended college 3 1/2 years at Austin Peay State University and the University of Tennessee, but his fathers death ended his college career when he returned home to help his family.
Successful Clarksville businessman, Charles Hand, attended college 3 1/2 years at Austin Peay State University and the University of Tennessee, but his father's death ended his college career when he returned home to help his family.

A University committee unanimously recommended Hand for an honorary master's degree. In forwarding Hand's nomination to Dr. Charles Manning, chancellor of the Tennessee Board of Regents, Dr. Sherry Hoppe, APSU president, wrote, “(Charles Hand's) illustrious career … makes him eligible for a honorary Master of Science in Management degree.”

Last Friday during Commencement ceremonies, Hand was awarded an honorary Master of Science in Managementthe first honorary degree ever awarded by APSU.

Hand has had a successful career in the wholesale beer business since 1952. He has served as president of Budweiser of Clarksville, Cookeville and Hopkinsville, Ky., since 1965. In 1998, he was elected the company's chair and chief executive officer. In 2006, Anheuser-Busch Inc. recognized Hand's company for 50 years of service as a wholesaler. Hand also is active in the development and operations of hotels in middle Tennessee.

Hand has a record of community support through local charities and organizations. He has served on the Clarksville Academy Board of Directors and president of its board in 1982 and 1984. He also has served on the boards of directors of the Clarksville Department of Electricity Power, Montgomery County Museum and the Clarksville Area Chamber of Commerce.

He has been a member of the boards of directors of Farmers and Merchants Bank, Marcus Hotels, Clarksville Country Club and the Tennessee Malt Beverage Association.

In 1995, the local Chamber of Commerce voted Hand as the Small Businessman of the Year. In 2000, he received the National Award for Community Involvement by the National Beer Wholesalers Association. Hand was awarded the 2004 William O. Beach Award as Citizen of the Year for Montgomery County. In 2006, he received the Gracey Award for outstanding service to the Custom House Museum. He is sustaining member of the Boy Scouts Club, a member of the Alcohol and Drug Prevention Board and the Clarksville Civitan Club.

Hand is a member of the APSU Tower Club, APSU National Alumni Association and the Austin Peay Foundation Board of Trustees. He has been a longtime supporter of APSU with his total financial gifts nearing $1 million. This includes significant support of athletics, with special emphasis on the baseball program.

The APSU baseball park is named in memory of Hand's father. Hand Village, a unique student-housing complex, is named in memory of his mother. According to Hoppe, despite Hand's generosity to APSU, he never wanted anything named in his own honor, choosing instead to honor his parents.

Hoppe said, “We are delighted to be able to recognize Charles Hand himselffinally. He is most deserving of this honorary degree.”

For more information, contact Carol Clark, executive assistant to the president, by telephone at (931) 221-7570. -- Dennie B. Burke