North Greenville University (NGU) has announced that James Mikell “Mike” Burns, representative of the South Carolina House District 17, will be the December commencement speaker on Saturday, Dec. 8 at 10 a.m. in Turner Chapel on the NGU campus.
A Travelers Rest, SC native, Burns graduated from the University of South Carolina with a Bachelor of Science in Education in Education in 1974. He returned to the Upstate to forge a successful career in business. Beginning on the manufacturing floor at Renfrew Bleachery, Burns worked his way through the textile industry until he started and owned several plants. In all, Burns has started five corporations in the Upstate, including a restaurant. He currently works as a general contractor in the commercial construction industry.
Burns contributed his business acumen to NGU in the early 2000s, working as the Director of Development for the Athletic Foundation. During this time he supervised the construction of Younts Football Stadium. Upon completion of the stadium project, Burns began the Small Business Incubator program at Greenville Technical College.
Burns has been an active member of Enoree Baptist Church since 1959, serving as a Sunday School teacher, deacon, trustee, and treasurer. He also currently serves on the boards of the Taylors Free Medical Clinic and the Davis-Lar International Children’s Fund.
Since being elected to the South Carolina House of Representatives in 2013 Burns has devoted himself to helping his constituents navigate state government and crafting legislation for the common good. He serves on the Agricultural and the Environmental and Natural Resources committees in the House, while also sitting on the boards of the Upstate Appalachian Regional Council of Governments, Greenville-Pickens Area Transportation Study, and the Legislative Liaison Committee to Renewable Water Resources (chairman).
Burns married his high school sweetheart, Anne, in 1974. They have four children, three of whom hold degrees from North Greenville, and five grandchildren.