FLORENCE, S.C. – Francis Marion University presented its 2011-2012 alumni awards at an Alumni Appreciation Dinner, Jan. 26.
The Outstanding Alumnus is John S. Nichols (’78) of Columbia; the Benjamin Wall Ingram III Young Alumnus is Dr. Toby L. Nelson (‘01) of Oklahoma City, Okla.; and the Alumni Volunteer of the Year is Dr. Shirley C. Bausmith (‘91) of Florence.
"We are proud of these three alumni and are delighted to celebrate their accomplishments on this occasion,” said FMU President Fred Carter. “They are exemplary representatives of our university in every respect."
At the awards ceremony, Carter announced that the university will honor five additional alumni annually who have attained exceptional achievements or gained prominence in his or her profession. The accomplishments of these alumni will be honored during the FMU Alumni Awards Event, with honorees selected from five distinct fields: business and industry; the sciences; the arts; public service and law; and education.
Nichols received a B.S. degree in mathematics from Francis Marion College in 1978, and a J.D. degree in 1985 from the University of South Carolina School of Law. He worked for Rogers and Koon (now Rogers, Townsend & Thomas) in Columbia, from 1985 to 1986, and in July 1986, Nichols was hired as a staff attorney with the South Carolina Court of Appeals. He became chief staff counsel in 1993, and at times served as temporary law clerk for Chief Judge Alexander M. Sanders Jr., Associate Judge Randall T. Bell, and Acting Associate Judge C. Bruce Littlejohn.
Nichols was admitted and argued before the Federal Multi-District Litigation (MDL) Panel. In 2000, John and his partner, Marti Miles Bluestein, formed Bluestein & Nichols LLC, which is now known as Bluestein, Nichols, Thompson & Delgado, LLC. The firm currently has eight lawyers and offices in Columbia and Florence. His primary focus is on appellate practice and general tort litigation. Nichols is a member of the American Association for Justice (formerly the American Trial Lawyers Association), SC Association for Justice, Southern Trial Lawyers Association, the Roscoe Pound Institute, and the John Belton O’Neill Inn of Court.
Having authored and co-authored a number of legal publications, he is published in the Trial Handbook for South Carolina Lawyers (Thompson West) with Judge Alex Sanders.
Nichols is married to Tina Michelle Cooke Nichols, and has a daughter, Beth Nichols Levy, who lives in Columbia.
Nelson obtained his B.S. in chemistry from Francis Marion University in 2001. After graduation, he joined IRIX Pharmaceuticals as a chemist. He then worked with John J. Lavigne on conducting plastic assemblies for biogenic amine detection as it relates to food spoilage at the University of South Carolina, and was awarded his Ph.D. in 2007.
He designed and synthesized conducting plastics for printable electronics such as plastic solar cells as a postdoctoral research associate with Richard D. McCullough at Carnegie Mellon University from 2007 until July 2011. Nelson joined the Oklahoma State University chemistry faculty in September 2011 where he designs and synthesizes conducting plastics for sustainable energy. His research has been published in top peer-reviewed journals such as the Journal of American Chemical Society and highlighted in Science and Chemical & Engineering News.
Nelson has received the UNCF•Merck Postdoctoral Science Research Fellowship, IRIX Pharmaceuticals Award, E. I. Dupont Fellowship Award, Alfred P. Sloan Scholarship, Bouknight Teaching Award, SREB Dissertation Year Fellowship Award and Francis Marion University Chemistry Award.
Bausmith received her bachelor’s degree in elementary education from Francis Marion College in 1991. She graduated summa cum laude (4.0) and with College Honors. She received her Master of Education in 1994 from FMU and her Doctor of Philosophy from the University of South Carolina in Special Education in 2000. While pursuing her doctorate, she taught students with learning disabilities at West Florence High School, where she served as the special education department chair and received West Florence High School’s 1998 Teacher of the Year Award.
Bausmith is currently an associate professor of education and serves as the director of graduate studies and special programs. Bausmith served on the Alumni Advisory Board/Board of Directors from 1994-2011 and as the alumni president from 2001-2003.