FLORENCE – Francis Marion University recently received a gift from Progress Energy as part of the electric utility’s support of the university’s health physics program.
Progress Energy’s $100,000 donation will help to expand FMU’s nationally recognized health physics program to meet the growing need for health professionals in the nuclear industry.
“Building the energy workforce of tomorrow begins today with investments in education in our region,” said Melody Birmingham-Byrd, vice president of Progress Energy Carolinas’ Southern Region. “Attracting the brightest minds and enabling programs that cultivate that talent is essential to the long-term success of our industry.”
The recent donation from Progress Energy continues the utility’s tradition of supporting educational programs across the Pee Dee region.
“With this $100,000 gift, Progress Energy has given us more than half a million dollars in the past decade,” said FMU President Luther F. Carter. “These donations have funded needs-based scholarships, a library technology center, support for the performing arts center and now our health physics program. In addition to this philanthropic support, Progress Energy has been a strong partner with the university in any number of projects throughout the community and the region.”
The health physics program was the brainchild of physics professors Lynn “Skip” Hendrick and David Peterson. Founded in 1981, FMU’s bachelor’s program in health physics was formed in response to the large demand in South Carolina and nationally for health physicists in the nuclear energy industry.
The first FMU undergraduate health physicists received their degrees in 1983. Since then, nearly 100 students have graduated from the program. This makes FMU the largest single producer of health physicists in the Southeast. The alumni of the program have gone on to work in a variety of health physics areas including nuclear power, environmental health physics, government regulation, medical health physics, consulting, military health physics, academia, etc. As the leading producer of health physicists in the Southeast, FMU is in uniquely positioned to assist in meeting radiation protection workforce demands across the large spectrum of nuclear workplaces.