Riley Institute names Wilkins award winners

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Maj. Gen. Charles F. Bolden, a former astronaut and administrator of NASA, will receive the David H. Wilkins Award for Excellence in Civic Leadership. Photo by NASA.

Furman University’s Riley Institute has announced the winners of its David H. Wilkins Awards for Excellence.

Rep. Weston Newton, R-Beaufort and Jasper counties, will receive the Award for Excellence in Legislative Leadership, and Maj. Gen. Charles F. Bolden, a former astronaut and administrator of NASA, will receive the Award for Excellence in Civic Leadership.

The awards dinner will take place at Columbia’s Metropolitan Convention Center on Tuesday, Jan. 9, the first night of the 2018 legislative session.

Newton, who was elected to the S.C. House of Representatives in 2013, is “known for working across the aisle on legislation that improves the lives of South Carolinians,” according to a press release. He is the chairman of the Legislative Oversight Committee and also serves on the Judiciary Committee.

Bolden, who was born and raised in Columbia, spent 34 years in the Marine Corps, earning military decorations like the Defense Superior Service Medal and Distinguishing Flying Cross. He also spent 14 years as a NASA astronaut, orbiting Earth four times and deploying the Hubble Space Telescope. Bolden most recently served as the 12th administrator of NASA under former President Barack Obama.

“At a time when civility in public discourse and cooperative bipartisanship are critical to making progress, South Carolina’s citizens look to their leaders to put aside differences and work together for the good of our state,” said Don Gordon, executive director of the Riley Institute. “Weston and Charles exemplify the kind of leadership that moves our state forward.”

The annual awards are named for David H. Wilkins, who served as speaker of the S.C. House of Representatives and as U.S. Ambassador to Canada. Wilkins will co-host the event with former U.S. Secretary of Education and former two-term Governor of South Carolina Dick Riley and Furman President Elizabeth Davis.

A reception for all registered attendees will begin at 6 p.m. on Jan. 9, with the dinner and awards presentation following at 7 p.m. Tickets are $125 each and can be purchased by calling 864-235-8330 or visiting the Riley Institute website.

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