Trustees Honor Seven With Davie Awards

The UNC Board of Trustees has honored seven recipients — five of them the wives of former chancellors — with the William Richardson Davie Award, the board’s highest honor.

The recipients are:

  • Barbara Byrd Fordham ’49 of Chapel Hill;
  • Barbara Russell Hardin of Chapel Hill;
  • Sara Hart McCoy of Chapel Hill;
  • Susan Dickerson Moeser of Chapel Hill (also a UNC faculty member);
  • Diane Jackson Taylor ’64 of Pittsboro;
  • Julia Sprunt Grumbles ’75, UNC’s interim vice chancellor for University advancement and a longtime supporter, of Chapel Hill; and
  • Brenda Womble Kirby, retired secretary of the University, of Chapel Hill.

Established by the trustees in 1984, the Davie Award is named for the Revolutionary War hero who is considered the father of the University. It recognizes extraordinary service to the University or society.

Fordham studied at Woman’s College (now UNC-Greensboro) and later received a sociology degree from UNC. In Greensboro, she met the late Christopher Fordham ’47, who earned a medical certificate from UNC (there was no four-year medical school at the time) and his medical degree at Harvard. His career took him to UNC’s chancellor’s post in 1980, which he held until 1988. In addition to their service to Carolina, the Fordhams established the Fordham Fund for Diversity in the Health Professions at UNC’s School of Medicine in response to their interest in fostering diversity in the ranks of health-care professionals serving North Carolinians.

Duke University alumna Hardin and her husband, Paul, met as undergraduate students. After they married, he practiced law and later began a career in higher education administration. He served as CEO and she as first lady of Wofford College, Southern Methodist University, Drew University and finally Carolina, from 1988 to 1995, a stint that included UNC’s bicentennial observance. She became involved with the Chapel Hill community, serving on the boards of Ronald McDonald House and the Orange County Women’s Center as well as on campus with the Friends of the Library, the Ackland Art Museum and the University Women’s Club, among others.

McCoy and her husband, Bill ’55, helped a grieving Carolina community heal from the untimely death of Chancellor Michael Hooker ’69 in 1999 when Bill McCoy stepped in as interim chancellor. (Carmen Hooker Odom, widow of former chancellor Hooker, received the Davie Award in 1999.) The McCoys were married after her sophomore year at Mary Washington College, and his career as a BellSouth executive took them across the Southeast. Since coming to Chapel Hill, Sara McCoy has served on the Carolina Performing Arts Society national board, the N.C. Women’s Hospital board of visitors and on the boards of Friends of PlayMakers, the Ackland Art Museum and UNC’s School of Information and Library Science. She is a longtime member of the Carolina Women’s Leadership Council. The McCoys’ support for UNC includes the James Moeser Fund for Excellence in the Arts.

Moeser earned three degrees in organ performance from the University of Kansas, where she met her husband, James, also a trained concert organist. The two married when he was appointed to a deanship at Penn State University, and she began a career in academia there. He went on to serve as Carolina’s chancellor from 2000 to 2008. At Carolina, she is University organist and instructor of organ in the music department as well as a mentor to undergraduate students. She has participated on the boards of the Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center and the Carolina Women’s Center at UNC and also has worked in the local community with the Charles House and Chapel Hill Historical Society.

Taylor is a former University staff member and widow of Carolina’s fifth chancellor, Nelson Ferebee Taylor ’42, who led the campus from 1972 to 1980. After double majoring in English and history, she clerked for three years for Raymond Mason Taylor ’55, marshal and librarian for the N.C. Supreme Court, followed by positions in the Legislature and the Department of Conservation and Development. At UNC, she served as assistant to several top administrators, including the dean of the College of Arts and Sciences. She was honored with Carolina’s C. Knox Massey Distinguished Service Award in 1994. She supports the UNC School of Law’s N. Ferebee Taylor Chancellors’ Scholars Program Fund.

Grumbles rose to the top of her profession as a corporate vice president at Turner Broadcasting in Atlanta, where she headed corporate marketing and public relations, among other areas. She and her husband, Bill, have been longtime supporters of the University. She chairs UNC’s Institute for the Arts and Humanities advisory board and is a member of the Chancellor’s Innovation Circle. She has served on the executive committee of the UNC Health Care board and the Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center board of visitors. She co-chaired UNC’s Carolina Women’s Leadership Council and now serves as interim vice chancellor for university advancement.

Kirby, born and reared in Chapel Hill, attended business school in Durham and worked nine years at the Chapel Hill Chamber of Commerce before joining the University in 1972. She started her UNC career as administrative assistant to deans Stuart Bondurant ’50 and Christopher Fordham in the School of Medicine. She went on to be assistant and secretary of the University under Fordham when he became chancellor, as well as under chancellors Hardin, Hooker, McCoy, Moeser and Holden Thorp ’86 — six of the University’s 10. Before retiring in 2012, Kirby mentored 32 student body presidents, 25 chairs of the board of trustees and organized lawmakers, business people, philanthropists and educators so that they could serve and advise Carolina.

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