University of South Carolina

Former USC president pledges $1 million gift for Bernardin chair, gardens

By Jeff Stensland, stenslan@mailbox.sc.edu, 803-777-3686 Former USC President John M. Palms and his wife Norma pledged a $1 million gift to the University of South Carolina, with more than half going to the Joseph Cardinal Bernardin Chair in Ethical, Moral and Religious Studies. The donation also will help fund a refurbishing of the gardens adjoining the president’s house on the Horseshoe.

Palms, who served as USC’s president from 1991-2002, announced the donation Friday during a ceremony renaming the Graduate Research Science Center in his honor. He said Bernardin played an important role in his personal and spiritual life. “He was an extraordinary man who meant a lot me through the years,” Palms said.

Palms first met Bernardin while he was a student at The Citadel and Bernardin was with the Diocese of Charleston. The two stayed in touch and Bernardin later counseled Palms before his marriage, baptized one of his children and even consulted with Palms, a nuclear physicist, on the issue of nuclear deterrence.

Bernardin was born in Columbia and attended USC. He later became a prominent leader in the Roman Catholic Church and served as Archbishop of Chicago from 1982 until his death in 1996. He was an advocate for service, social concern and education. USC’s College of Arts and Sciences established a lecture series in his name in 1999.

During their 11 years at USC, the Palms’ were known to entertain in the gardens behind the president’s house and hosted functions for students, faculty and visiting dignitaries. Palms said the portion going to refurbish and maintain the gardens could total $400,000.

Posted: 11/19/12 @ 3:30 PM | Updated: 11/19/12 @ 4:53 PM | Permalink