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Riley Institute announces Wilkins award winners

Jay Lucas

Jay Lucas

The Riley Institute at Furman University has announced that Rep. Jay Lucas (R-Darlington), South Carolina Speaker of the House, and Bill Barnet, former mayor of Spartanburg, are recipients of the Institute’s annual David H. Wilkins awards recognizing outstanding legislative and civic leadership in the state.

Lucas will be honored with the 2014 Wilkins Award for Excellence in Legislative Leadership, while Barnett will receive the Wilkins Award for Excellence in Civic Leadership.

The 10th annual awards dinner will take place at the Metropolitan Convention Center in Columbia Tuesday, Jan. 13, 2015 on the first night of the legislative session. The keynote speaker for the event is Bob Schieffer, Emmy Award-winning reporter and host of CBS News “Face the Nation.”

Bill Barnet

Bill Barnet 

A reception for all registered attendees will begin at 6 p.m., and the dinner and awards presentation will follow at 7:15 p.m.  Tickets are $125 each and can be purchased by calling 864-235-8330 or visiting the Riley Institute website.  Table sponsorships are also available.

The annual ceremony honors David Wilkins, who served as speaker of the South Carolina 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.

Lucas, who represents District 65, was elected speaker of the South Carolina House of Representatives on Dec. 2.  First sworn in as state legislator from the Pee Dee in 1998, he was elected speaker pro tempore in 2010 and became acting speaker in September 2014. During his 15 years as a state representative, Lucas has served as co-chairman of the South Carolina House Rural Caucus and as ex officio member of the operations and management committee.  He has been named the legislator of the year by Paul’s Foundation, South Carolina Recreation, Parks, and Tourism, and the South Carolina Solicitors’ Association.

Barnet is a community leader and the former mayor of Spartanburg (2002-2009) as well as CEO of Barnet Development Corporation. From working for the passage of the Education Accountability Act to chairing the state’s Education Oversight Committee, he has played a key role in education improvement in South Carolina. He currently serves on the boards of the International African American Museum, the South Carolina Institute of Medicine and Public Health, and The Duke Endowment.  He is also chair of the Northside Development Corporation in Spartanburg, a community partnership that is transforming a neighborhood and creating an infrastructure of opportunity for its residents.

The Riley Institute at Furman offers a broad array of programs designed to engage students and citizens across South Carolina in the various arenas of politics, public policy and public leadership.

For more information, contact the Riley Institute at 864-294-3546 or e-mail

Last updated December 8, 2014
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Clinton Colmenares
News & Media Relations Director