Palms is first recipient of Mepkin Wisdom Award

MONCKS CORNER — The monks of Mepkin Abbey announced that John M. Palms, Ph.D., president emeritus of the University of South Carolina, is the first recipient of the newly established Mepkin Wisdom Award.

The  award, to be given annually, honors individuals who best exemplify a lifetime of achievement based on the highest human aspirations. It will be presented to Palms on April 24 at “An Evening for Mepkin,” a gala in the gardens of the historic Mepkin Plantation.

“The striving for excellence that leads to growth in true wisdom parallels the monastic life in its quest for purity of intention and selfless giving,” Abbot Francis Kline said. “In our society, the public witness of a life of high accomplishment devoted to the common good is a rare gift that benefits everyone.”

The abbot described the award as a “celebration of the gracious talent that God bestows on the greatly gifted and a sign of our gratitude to them for their fidelity and abundance of heart.”

Palms was chosen as the first recipient because: “In  his 32 years of administration in the most complex arena of university education, Dr. Palms was recognized as fair in his judgments and visionary in his initiatives, always honoring the right before the expedient,” Abbot Kline said.

“We honor not only the achievements of his past, but also the generative wisdom that he shares in his many public responsibilities still today,” said Abbot Kline.

“During his 11-and-a-half-year tenure at the University of South Carolina, Dr. Palms assembled a brilliant team of managers and advisors with whom he worked closely to arrive at wise policy, to articulate clear positions, and to discourse on the great array of concerns that are the province of the president of a great university,” said Abbot Kline. “He never retired from his academic field of nuclear physics, and after a long career in administration, he has returned to the classroom with enthusiasm and to the research laboratory with acclaim.

“Dr. Palms has focused his scientific work on low-energy basic atomic and nuclear physics and the effects of radiation on humans and the environment,” Abbot Kline said.

Palms has also applied his scientific knowledge and management skills and ethics in areas of diagnostic nuclear medicine, commercial nuclear power, radioecology, economic development and national security issues.

Since 1987 he has served on the board of the Institute for Defense Analyses, a high-ranking advisory institute to the Secretary of Defense and Congress, and he currently is chairman of that board. He is also chairman of Assurant Inc., a financial service and insurance company.

In explaining the Mepkin Wisdom Award, Abbot Kline said that recipients should be individuals whose lives and accomplishments reflect many of the attributes of wisdom, including balance in one’s life, an inner peace based on faith, self-awareness, generosity, humility and honesty.

 Proceeds from “An Evening for Mepkin” will benefit the Clare Boothe Luce Library and Conference Center and the Mepkin Abbey Gardens. For information call (843) 761-5244.