Harmon and Nadine Wilkinson
On September 9, 2002, at the Opening Convocation of Chapman University, the 2002 Albert Schweitzer Award of Excellence was presented to Harmon and Nadine Wilkinson. Harmon has been a trustee of Chapman University for many years and both of the Wilkinson’s have been advocates for peace and justice throughout their lives. At this festive occasion Dr. Marvin Meyer, Director of the Albert Schweitzer Institute, offered the following comments:
“For two decades the Albert Schweitzer Award of Excellence has been presented, at the Opening Convocation of Chapman University, to an individual or organization that exemplifies Schweitzer’s ethics of reverence for life and his dedication to a life of service. Previous recipients of the award include Linus Pauling, Norman Cousins, Valerie Scudder, Rhena Schweitzer-Miller, Dr. Helen Caldicott, Givat Haviva, and, last year, the Southern Poverty Law Center and Habitat for Humanity.
“This year the award is presented to two people whose contributions to the academic, ethical, and spiritual life of Chapman University have been enormous: Harmon and Nadine Wilkinson. The Wilkinson name is one of the most familiar on our campus. The Wilkinson name is connected to the Wilkinson College of Letters and Sciences and to one of the fine, traditional buildings on the campus, and the name celebrates the outstanding contributions of Harmon’s father as well as Harmon and Nadine.
“The commitment of Harmon and Nadine to issues of peace and social justice spans their lifetimes. During World War II, a “popular” war in the eyes of many Americans, Harmon served as a conscientious objector. His alternative service was in the field of mental health, and Nadine accompanied him. They and others helped to humanize the institutions in which they worked. Harmon reflects upon this experience in these words: “I would never have become a pacifist had I not attended Chapman. I can’t imagine any other school at that time that would have influenced me as strongly in the area. Chapman had faculty and students who were reacting very strongly against the results of World War I-its tremendous loss of life wasted uselessly by inept leadership and a war fought for imperial advantage. I was strongly influenced by this.” Among the figures that shaped his thinking, Harmon recalls, were Mahatma Gandhi and Albert Schweitzer.
“Additionally, Harmon and Nadine have been deeply involved in church and community. For a time they even raised goats to help feed the poor, and Harmon remembers how one day he returned home to see that one of the frisky critters had jumped onto the roof and was grazing there.
“Since 1969 Harmon has served very effectively on the Chapman University Board of Trustees, and for years he was chair of the Academic Committee of the Board. In that capacity his leadership as an advocate of the liberal arts and of ethical concerns is well known. The Delp-Wilkinson Chair in Peace Studies at Chapman was founded with the support of Harmon and Nadine. The Wilkinsons have entered personally into the life of the university, and their presence with faculty and students has been a joy for us all.
“At a time when we draw near to the anniversary of the events of September 11, and when the renewed saber-rattling in the United States appalls so many of us, we are reminded of the great contribution of Harmon and Nadine, with their lifelong commitment to respect and reverence for life. It is with great pleasure that I present to you the recipients of the Schweitzer Award of Excellence for 2002, Harmon and Nadine Wilkinson.”