GSSM to Honor Lou and Bill Kennedy with Townes Award

March 8, 2021

GSSM to Honor Lou and Bill Kennedy with Townes Award

Columbia, SC – The South Carolina Governor’s School for Science + Mathematics (GSSM) and its Foundation will honor Lou and Bill Kennedy with the 2021 Townes Award during “Empowering STEM Leaders,” the 27th annual Townes Award Celebration, Wednesday, March 17, 6-9 p.m. at 1208 Washington Place in Columbia.

Named for South Carolinian Dr. Charles Townes, whose visionary spirit and pioneering research led to the invention of the laser, the Townes Award recognizes individuals, businesses, and institutions that have transformed South Carolina and the world.

GSSM will present the Townes Award to Lou and Bill Kennedy to honor their transformational leadership and commitment to empowering future generations of scientists, engineers, and other STEM leaders and innovators. The Kennedys are both South Carolina natives and graduates of the University of South Carolina. They are co-owners of Nephron Pharmaceuticals Corporation, and Lou is the CEO of the company. The Kennedys moved Nephron’s corporate headquarters from Florida to West Columbia, South Carolina, in 2014. Nephron develops and produces safe, affordable generic inhalation solutions and suspension products. The company also operates a 503B Outsourcing Facility division that produces prefilled sterile syringes and IV bags for hospitals across America. A $215 million investment announced in July 2020 will bring 380 new full-time jobs to Columbia by 2024 and add new office, warehouse, and vaccine production space.

“We are thrilled to present Lou and Bill Kennedy with the 2021 Townes Award,” said Beth Dinndorf, executive director of the GSSM Foundation. “We honor them for advancing STEM in South Carolina by making South Carolina Nephron’s headquarters and growing their business here, for partnering with others, and for working tirelessly to improve the lives of all people in South Carolina.”

“The Kennedys have done so much to support education in South Carolina, including welcoming GSSM students as research interns and funding research opportunities for students. It is fitting to honor them with in 2021 with GSSM’s highest honor, the Townes Award,” said Danny Dorsel, GSSM Interim President and GSSM Class of 1990.

In consideration of COVID-19 safety protocols, the Townes Award presentation will be livestreamed on YouTube. Tickets are $25.


One of the few specialized public residential high schools of its kind, the South Carolina Governor’s School for Science & Mathematics (GSSM) exists to push motivated young learners beyond their perceived levels of academic ability. Founded in 1988 under the leadership of the late Governor Carroll Campbell, GSSM has consistently raised the bar for STEM education in the Palmetto State. GSSM’s two-year residential high school program—as well as its virtual high school program, summer camps, and outreach programs—all invite young people to explore the subjects they love in a diverse, inclusive, and uncommonly supportive academic environment. Here, challenge is viewed as a gateway to opportunity. GSSM students embrace the school’s rigorous approach to education and in so doing begin to realize their full potential. Learn more by visiting