GAA Honors Four for Outstanding Service

2009 Distinguished Service Medal winners.

Left to right: Fred Eshelman ’72, Bernadette Gray-Little, Dwight M. Davidson ’77, James Winston ’55. (Photo by Gordon Palmer ’82)

Carolina’s executive vice chancellor and provost and three leading alumni were recognized Saturday by the General Alumni Association for their service and commitment to the University and the alumni association.

Randy K. Jones ’79, the GAA’s out-going chairman, and GAA President Douglas Dibbert ’70 presented the association’s 2009 Distinguished Service Medals at the Annual Alumni Luncheon during the spring reunion weekend.

This year’s recipients are Bernadette Gray-Little, executive vice chancellor and provost; Dwight M. “Davy” Davidson ’77, past chair of the GAA Board of Directors; Fred N. Eshelman ’72, a major supporter of the pharmacy school; and James H. “Jim” Winston ’55, who helped establish the College of Arts and Sciences’ first overseas facility.

Gray-Little, a native of Washington, N.C., has served as executive vice chancellor and provost since 2006. Also a professor of psychology, she previously served as dean of the College of Arts and Sciences; executive associate, senior associate dean for undergraduate education for the College of Arts; and chair of the psychology department.

Davidson, of Greensboro and president of Engineered Plastics, has served on the University’s Board of Visitors and advised the UNC Foundation Investment Fund. He was on the Chancellor Search Committee that recommended Holden Thorp ’86 as the University’s 10th chancellor. Davidson has served on the GAA board in several roles, including assistant treasurer and most recently as board chair in 2007-08.

Eshelman, of Wilmington and a native of High Point, is chief executive officer of PPD Inc., a contract research organization. In 2008, the UNC Eshelman School of Pharmacy was named in his honor, recognizing his substantial support. He has been a member of the school’s board of visitors for more than a decade and has lectured at the school as an adjunct faculty member. In 2003, he pledged $20 million to the school, at the time the third-largest single commitment in the University’s history and the largest ever made to a pharmacy school in the U.S. He committed another $10 million to the school in 2007 to close out the University’s Carolina First Campaign. Eshelman’s contributions to the school, which total about $33 million, have supported cancer research, educational initiatives and research facilities, as well as fellowships, professorships, doctor of pharmacy scholarships and unrestricted funds for new initiatives.

Winston, of Jacksonville, Fla., is chair of real estate investment firm LPMC Inc., among other business interests, and is a native of Raleigh. Six generations of his family have attended the University, beginning with Patrick Henry Winston in 1844. Winston and his late wife, Mary, provided the $1 million leadership gift for the $5 million European Study Center in London, purchased in 2005 and named Winston House. The College of Arts and Sciences’ facility hosts alumni for enrichment activities and meetings. Faculty and graduate students hold academic conferences there with European colleagues; state-of-the-art instructional technology links classes in Chapel Hill, London and other locations across Europe. Winston also has served on the UNC Board of Visitors, the Arts and Sciences Foundation board and the GAA board. In 2008, he received the Board of Trustees’ William Richardson Davie Award, recognizing extraordinary service to the University or society.

The GAA has awarded the medals since 1978 to UNC alumni and others who have provided outstanding service to the association or the University. A list of previous award recipients is available online.