GAA Honors Three for Outstanding Service

The General Alumni Association honored three alumni on Saturday for their outstanding service to the University and to the association.

Recipients of the 2015 Distinguished Service Medals are Dr. H. Shelton “Shelley” Earp III ’70 (MD), director of UNC Cancer Care and former director of the UNC Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center; Robyn S. Hadley ’85, former GAA chair; and Thomas W. Ross Sr. ’75 (JD), UNC System president.

The medals were presented at the GAA’s Annual Alumni Luncheon during spring reunion weekend. The association has awarded the medals since 1978 to alumni and others who have provided outstanding service to the association or the University.

Earp, of Chapel Hill, also is a professor of pharmacology and medicine and Lineberger Professor of cancer research. In addition to his medical degree, Earp also received a master’s degree in biochemistry from UNC in 1972 and joined the faculty in 1977.

Earp was director of the cancer center from 1997 to 2013. As director of UNC Cancer Care, he coordinates cancer care and research across UNC’s School of Medicine, the University and the UNC Health Care System. Earp’s also has chaired search committees for a provost and medical school dean and has served on the search committee for a chancellor. He has served on the Faculty Council and the steering committee for the self-study of the University’s research mission. He has chaired the Chancellor’s Advisory Committee on Naming of Facilities.

Earp’s teaching awards included the Medical School Basic Science Teaching Award and the Kaiser-Permanente Medical School Excellence in Teaching Award. In 2008, he received the annual Thomas Jefferson Award, recognizing a UNC faculty member who, through personal influence and performance of duty in teaching, writing and scholarship, has best exemplified the ideals of Thomas Jefferson. He was the faculty representative to the GAA Board of Directors in 2001-02 and received the alumni association’s Faculty Service Award in 2010.

Hadley, of St. Louis, is a native of Graham and attended UNC as a Morehead Scholar, graduating in 1985 with a degree in public policy and analysis. She played on the women’s basketball team and was named a Rhodes Scholar.

Last year, she became associate vice chancellor and director of the John B. Ervin Scholars Program at Washington University in St. Louis, where she works with former UNC chancellor Holden Thorp ’86, who is provost there. After a career in business, Hadley was the founding executive director of the “What’s After High School?” program for the Burlington-Alamance school system and founder of the YESICAN nonprofit to help students there prepare for college. In 2012, the White House recognized Hadley as a “Champion of Change” for her work.

She has been active with the alumni association’s Black Alumni Reunion and is a recipient of its Harvey E. Beech Outstanding Alumni Award. She also is a founding member of BAR’s Light on the Hill Society, chairs the selection committee for the Light on the Hill Society Scholarship and served on the UNC Board of Visitors (1989-93). Hadley served on the alumni association board as an at-large member before assuming office as chair for 2013-14.

Ross, of Chapel Hill, has devoted nearly all of the past 40 years to public service. Immediately after law school, he taught public law and government at UNC’s Institute of Government before returning to his hometown of Greensboro to practice law. Former U.S. Rep. Robin Britt brought him to Washington, D.C., to be the congressman’s chief of staff. Then, at age 33, Ross became one of the youngest judges appointed to the N.C. Superior Court.

Ross went on to direct the state’s Administrative Office of the Courts, then served as executive director of the Z. Smith Reynolds Foundation, distributing $20 million annually to nonprofits working toward social justice, economic development and pre-college education. He accepted the presidency of Davidson College in 2007.

During his four years as president of the UNC System, he has appointed 12 of the system’s 17 chancellors, including Carolina Chancellor Carol Folt. Ross will step down from the UNC presidency at the end of this year.

List of past Distinguished Service Medal recipients.


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