Six UNC Employees Chosen for Massey Award for Service

Six employees have been selected by Chancellor James Moeser to be honored with the 2006 C. Knox Massey Distinguished Awards, one of the most coveted distinctions given by the University to faculty and staff members. The awards will be presented at a luncheon Saturday. This year’s recipients are:

  • Fred Clark of Chapel Hill, associate dean of academic services and professor of Romance languages in the College of Arts and Sciences;
  • Ray Hackney ’72 of Chapel Hill, biological safety officer and industrial hygiene manager, department of environment, health and safety;
  • Larry Keith of Garner, assistant dean for admissions, director of special programs and associate director of the School of Medicine’s Office of Educational Development;
  • Esther Ko of Chapel Hill, housekeeper, facilities services division;
  • Don Luse of Durham, director of the Carolina Union; and
  • Lynn Williford ’78 of Chapel Hill, assistant provost for institutional research and assessment.

Moeser chose this year’s recipients based on nominations submitted by the campus community. Each honoree will receive an award citation and a $6,000 stipend. In 2004, the endowment’s growth enabled an increase in award recipients from four to six, and the monetary award also increased by $1,000.

Nominators provided the following descriptions of this year’s honorees:

Fred Clark , an expert on Brazilian theater and popular teacher of Portuguese and Brazilian literature, has been at UNC for 39 years. His efforts to encourage student success include work with the Carolina Testing and Orientation Program and directing a faculty mentoring program for students in the Carolina Covenant, an initiative to make a college education possible for low-income students.

Clark oversees an academic support program for student athletes, Learning Disabilities Services, chemistry and mathematics tutorials and the learning and writing centers. A colleague wrote: “He is passionate about his work with students of all backgrounds, and [he] especially shows . interest in first-generation college students — those from small and rural communities and low-income families.”

Ray Hackney started his 27 years at Carolina by working in the health and safety office while in graduate school. In addition to his bachelor’s degree from Carolina, he also earned his master’s and doctorate in public health from UNC, in 1976 and 1989, respectively. He job is to decode complex federal and state regulations from multiple agencies. When the Occupational Health and Safety Administration extended its rules to University labs, one colleague wrote, “He saved us all.”

Hackney’s staff evaluated dozens of suspicious letters identified on campus in 2001 during the national anthrax scare. When a contract worker had SARS in 2003, Hackney helped public health officials find two people with whom the person had been in contact. Also an adjunct faculty member in the School of Public Health’s department of environmental sciences and engineering, Hackney mentors graduate students who are interested in occupational hygiene.

Larry Keith , who holds five titles in the School of Medicine, has been with Carolina for 21 years. He directs the medical education development program, which works to prepare minority and disadvantaged students for medical and dental school. Nearly 90 percent of participating students who apply to medical school are accepted. Keith also links minority and disadvantaged high school students with faculty mentors.

Dean William L. Roper said Keith’s efforts are the reason the medical school now ranks ninth and fifth, respectively, in the graduation of African-American and Native American students.

“He created and maintains a community within the medical school that gives previously disadvantaged students an equal chance to succeed as health professionals,” Roper said. “His influence will be felt for decades.”

More than 20 students and colleagues from the Alexander Residence Hall community nominated Esther Ko , an employee for five years. They noted that she consistently goes above and beyond her job requirements: She keeps bathrooms spotless without closing them to student use; warns students of wet floors; vacuums and dusts meticulously; and sweeps rain puddles off of ledges. One student called her the embodiment of the Carolina way.

Another student wrote that Ko “completes her job with honor and dignity every day and is a proud employee of the University. She treats everyone she meets with the utmost respect and, because of that, she receives respect from everyone around her. She deserves this award for her determination, hard work and character. She is the type of woman that other women, myself included, should strive to be.”

As Carolina Union director for 14 years, Don Luce oversees facilities, student activities, staff development and budget management with the goal of bringing the University community together as a family in which members can learn, grow and develop. He revamped the former Carolina Union Performing Arts Series to draw new and nontraditional audiences and linked it to campus and community groups, including elementary school students in public housing.

During the renovation and expansion of the Frank Porter Graham Student Union, Luse researched the impact of physical environments on learning, then insisted on a “living room” atmosphere. A colleague wrote that Luce “creates an environment that fosters intellectual and aesthetic growth.”

Lynn Williford has worked at UNC for 28 years, since her graduation from Carolina. She also earned three other degrees from Carolina: a master’s in education in 1986 and a master’s degree and a doctorate, both focusing on educational philosophy, in 1991 and ’92, respectively. Williford oversees surveys, data collection and analysis and their representation in charts, graphs and tables. Her research topics have included ways to allow needy students to pursue degrees without incurring debt, leading to creation of the Carolina Covenant. A colleague wrote that Williford performs her duties with extraordinary technical expertise as well as grace.

Williford is leading UNC’s efforts to obtain reaccreditation by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools. In this role, she coordinated and edited more than 80 reports written by faculty-staff committees on topics including finance, policy and institutional effectiveness, plus Web and print versions of these reports.

The late C. Knox Massey ’25 of Durham created the Massey awards in 1980 to recognize “unusual, meritorious or superior contributions” by University employees. The award is supported by the Massey-Weatherspoon Fund, which was created by three generations of Massey and Weatherspoon families.