The University’s rich history as the nation’s first public university and its future as a top global and public research institution will be the subject of Chancellor Carol L. Folt’s keynote address at University Day on Oct. 12.
“As we celebrate Carolina’s 222nd birthday, we honor our pioneering leaders and the generations who have come before us,” Folt said. “We are also working to realize a bold vision for the future — one that reflects the University’s historic commitment to our state and anticipates the needs and opportunities of this great global public research university well into the 21st century.”
Folt’s priorities for Carolina include preserving and expanding the University’s academic excellence, access and affordability, and deep commitment to North Carolina’s future. Under her leadership as Carolina’s 11th chancellor, the University recently was named first among public universities for the 11th consecutive year in U.S. News & World Report’s “Great Schools, Great Prices” category.
Folt, an internationally recognized scientist and award-winning teacher, took office in 2013. (Details about those who have served as chief executive officers of The University of North Carolina, the Consolidated University and the UNC System are available online.)
This year’s celebration will take place at 11 a.m. in Memorial Hall. Classes will be canceled from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m., and all members of the Carolina community are invited to attend the festivities. The event also will include faculty and staff processing into Memorial carrying gonfalon-style banners that identify each school. The procession will be organized by the date of the establishment of each school.
Carolina first celebrated University Day in 1877, after Gov. Zebulon B. Vance, a member of the class of 1852 and acting as chair of the Board of Trustees, ordered that the day “be observed with appropriate ceremonies under the direction of the faculty.”
Since 1971, the faculty has presented the Distinguished Alumna and Alumnus Awards on University Day to recognize alumni who have made outstanding contributions to humanity.
This year’s recipients will be:
Jacqueline Charles ’94, Caribbean correspondent and senior Haiti reporter for the Miami Herald. Charles has covered the politics, culture and people of Haiti and other island nations for nearly 20 years. During that time, she has developed a reputation for stories that educate and inspire change. Charles has been named a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize and has twice been honored by the National Association of Black Journalists: first in 2010 as International Reporter of the Year and again in 2011 as Journalist of the Year. Charles also co-produced a documentary on Haiti that won a 2011 regional Emmy Award.
Mona Carol Frederick ’76, executive director of Vanderbilt University’s Robert Penn Warren Center for the Humanities. Over the course of her distinguished 30-year career, Frederick has emerged as a passionate and effective advocate for humanistic research and teaching, especially in the digital humanities. She oversaw the development of “Who Speaks for the Negro?” a digital archive of materials related to the book of the same name published by Warren in 1965. Recently Frederick helped to develop the Mellon Partners for Humanities Education initiative, which will provide specialized training for new Vanderbilt PhDs to prepare them for teaching at liberal arts colleges and historically black colleges and universities.
Betty Debnam Hunt ’52, the creator and for 37 years the editor of “The Mini Page” newspaper supplement. Hunt believed that the feature would encourage elementary students to become lifelong readers and that the content would be appealing to readers of all ages. For many years, Hunt was the sole writer and illustrator, later adding a small staff. At the height of the feature’s national syndication, it was published in 500 newspapers. In 2010, she gave her entire archive and the funding necessary to scan and digitize the full collection to the Southern Historical Collection in Carolina’s Wilson Special Collections Library. Hunt’s honors and awards include the North Carolina Award for Public Service, induction into the North Carolina Journalism Hall of Fame and Raleigh Hall of Fame, the Lifetime Achievement Award of the Newspaper Association of America, and the American Chemical Society’s James T. Grady-James H. Stack Award for Interpreting Chemistry to the Public.
Sarah Elizabeth Parker ’64 (’69 JD) served as an associate justice of the N.C. Supreme Court for 13 years and as chief justice from 2006 until mandatory retirement in 2014. Parker served in the Peace Corps in Turkey before returning to Carolina to attend law school. She began private practice with a firm in which she was the first female attorney in the firm’s 100-year history. She was appointed to the N.C. Court of Appeals in 1984 and won election to the Supreme Court in 1992. Parker’s honors and awards include the Distinguished Woman of North Carolina Award, the Distinguished Alumni Award and Lifetime Achievement Award of the UNC law school, the N.C. Chamber of Commerce Distinguished Public Service Award and three honorary degrees.
Also to be presented is the Edward Kidder Graham Faculty Service Award, which recognizes distinguished service to the state, the nation and the University by a faculty member.
This year’s recipient, Peter White, served as director of the North Carolina Botanical Garden from 1986 to 2014. During that time, he vastly increased the garden’s size, programs, staffing, facilities and outreach. He led campaigns that raised more than $10 million toward completion of the Jim & Delight Allen Education Center, which made possible a major increase in programs and outreach. His vision and guidance resulted in appropriate acquisition of and responsibility for the Coker Arboretum, Battle Park, the UNC Herbarium, Carolina Campus Community Garden and the Mason Farm Biological Preserve.