During the 10th ISFLC, as I was no longer president of SFL, I only delivered one talk on the main stage: to present SFL's Alumnus of the Year Award to Dr. Tom G. Palmer. It may have been short, but I consider it one of the most meaningful speeches I have had the honor of delivering.
Over the years, the Alumnus of the Year Award has been given out to some notable individuals. They have all been an inspiration to young libertarians in some way. But this year’s Alumnus of the Year is someone who has played an important role in the lives of more young libertarians than anyone will ever know.
Students today can communicate with hundreds of activists by sending mass-emails that take ten minutes to write and send. When he was a student, he would take rolls of quarters to the pay phone at the end of his dormitory hallway and monopolize that prized tool for hours on end just to reach a handful of other libertarian students and check in on how they were doing.
This individual is the embodiment of the phrase, “a gentleman and a scholar.” There is no person who carries him or herself with greater poise or generosity. He did not go down the traditional academic route after receiving his DPhil from Oxford in philosophy, but he has written more books and articles than I can count, including editing and contributing to all 5 of SFL’s books from The Morality of Capitalism to Why Liberty. What’s more, he is an activist, putting his own safety on the line for the sake of others, exemplified by his experience smuggling copies of the Declaration of Independence into Russia at the height of the Cold War.
Nine and a half years ago, when we were organizing the first Students For Liberty Conference, he saw the potential in this movement long before we would. When we turned that conference into a nonprofit organization, he helped raise money, secure speakers, and advise us at every step. When SFL went international, he began recruiting new leaders for us in country after country visited. Since then, he has been SFL’s strongest advocate.
There is no greater role model that young libertarians today should strive to emulate.
Ladies and gentlemen, the 2017 Alumnus of the Year, the Atlas Network's George M. Yeager Chair for Advancing Liberty and Executive Vice President for International Programs, Dr. Tom Palmer.
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