About Senator Hollings

The 2021 EPP/MSI Undergraduate Scholarship application is now closed. The 2022 application period will open on September 1, 2021.

Sen. Ernest “Fritz” Hollings, Spearheaded laws to safeguard America's coasts and oceans

About the Honorable Senator Ernest F. Hollings

Over his long career in state and federal politics, Senator Ernest “Fritz” Hollings of South Carolina was a champion for ocean policy and conservation. When Senator Hollings retired in 2005, the Ernest F. Hollings Scholarship was established in his honor to bolster undergraduate training in NOAA mission sciences, as well as increase environmental literacy.

Senator Hollings served in the U.S. Senate for 38 years, from 1966 to 2005. He began his political career representing Charleston in the South Carolina House of Representatives (1949-1954); he was elected Lieutenant Governor for the state for one term, and at the age of 36, was elected Governor of South Carolina in 1958. He was then elected to represent South Carolina in the U.S. Senate in 1966.

Emphasizing "practical conservationism," Senator Hollings spearheaded an extraordinary range of laws to safeguard America's coasts and oceans, including many of the seminal environmental laws of the 1970s. In 1970, Senator Hollings played a major role in the establishment of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). He was instrumental in the enactment of:

  • the Coastal Zone Management Act (1972),
  • the Marine Mammal Protection Act (1972),
  • the Oceans Dumping Act (1976), and
  • the Sustainable Fisheries Act (1996).

In 2000, he led the effort to pass the Oceans Act, which created the U.S. Commission on Ocean Policy to provide a comprehensive review of the nation's ocean and coastal policies and offer recommendations that continue to drive ocean governance and policy today.

Before leaving the Senate, Senator Hollings authored the Coastal and Estuarine Land Protection Act and the Oceans and Human Health Act, and also increased the national focus and priority of ocean and coastal conservation and research.

NOAA Hollings Scholars from the classes of 2011 and 2012 met with Senator Ernest F Hollings (center) at the University of South Carolina’s Hollings Library.
NOAA Hollings Scholars from the classes of 2011 and 2012 met with Senator Ernest F Hollings (center) at the University of South Carolina’s Hollings Library. (Claudia Benitez-Nelson)

Senator Hollings was an avid champion of civil rights over his long career, took up the cause of fighting poverty, as well as advocated for education and fiscal responsibility. As a veteran, Senator Hollings supported a strong military and services for veterans and military families.

Senator Hollings is a native of Charleston, South Carolina, and a graduate of The Citadel and University of South Carolina Law School. He served as an officer in the U.S. Army from 1942 to 1945, during World War II.

Senator Hollings has received many awards and honors for his military and political service to the United States. In addition to the NOAA Ernest F. Hollings Scholarship Program, the National Marine Sanctuary Foundation Ernest F. Hollings Ocean Awareness Trust Fund and the Hollings Marine Laboratory are named in honor of the Senator's commitment to oceans conservation.

  • January 1, 1922
  • 1942
    Graduated from The Citadel
  • 1942-1945
    Military Service (WWII)
  • 1947
    Graduated from University of South Carolina Law School
  • 1949 - 1955
    Served in South Carolina House of Representatives
  • 1951 - 1953
    Speaker Pro Tempore of South Carolina House of Representatives
  • 1954
    Elected Lieutenant Governor of South Carolina
  • 1959-1963
    Served as Governor of South Carolina
  • 1966
    Elected as U.S. Senator
  • 1970
    NOAA established
  • 1972
    Coastal Zone Management Act and Marine Mammal Protection Act
  • 1976
    Oceans Dumping Act
  • 1996
    Sustainable Fisheries Act
  • 2000
    Oceans Act
  • 2005
    Ernest F. Hollings Scholarship established
  • 2005
    Retired from U.S. Senate
  • 2013
    1,000th Ernest F. Hollings Scholarship awarded