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NEWS


For immediate use
April 20, 1998 -- No. 358

Dean Smith recognized for lifetime achievement in and outside classroom

By ANDREA BELOFF
UNC-CH News Services

CHAPEL HILL -- Dean Smith. Enough said.

During his 36 years with the men's basketball program at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Smith became a household name throughout the state. His contributions as the winningest college basketball coach were widely publicized and proudly promoted as Smith led his teams to 17 regular ACC season championships, 13 ACC tournament championships, 27 trips to the NCAA tournament and two NCAA championship titles -- to reiterate just a few.

But the players and colleagues who have worked with Dean Smith both on and off the basketball court throughout the years say his contributions extend far beyond trophies and tournament titles.

"Coach Smith taught us to become leaders, to be gentlemen and to work hard at whatever we try to do," said Ademola Okulaja, a junior from Germany and a member of the UNC-CH 1998 ACC championship team. "We learned things that helped us achieve success on the court, but it is his personal touch off the court that helps us in other areas, socially and academically."

Faculty members at UNC-CH honored Smith with the first Mentor Award for Lifetime Achievement Feb. 14 during halftime of the basketball game against Maryland. He and other teaching award recipients will be recognized by Chancellor Michael Hooker at a banquet April 23.

The award, which includes a plaque and a $1,000 prize, is given for a broader range of "teaching beyond the classroom." The University Teaching Awards Committee, made up of faculty and students, selects the winner from nominations submitted by UNC-CH faculty and alumni.

"By all the standard criteria by which teaching is evaluated, he is a master," said one faculty nominator, citing Smith's 97-percent graduation rate and the success of his players after graduation.

As a teacher, Smith acts as a model of ethics and integrity. He vocally supported civil rights issues, protested the Vietnam War and denounced advertising of alcoholic beverages at sporting events where minors could be watching.

"Dean Smith exemplified the pursuit of excellence and high standards of integrity over a sustained period of time," said Dr. Edward Kaiser, chair of the award committee.

"I admire Dean as a mentor, and I agree with the committee's selection," said Dr. Lawrence Gilbert, the associate provost who appointed the committee. "He advised Michael Jordan and James Worthy to go pro during their junior years, when he knew that they could be so valuable to him and the team the next year. He looked out for the interests of those student athletes consistently, year after year."

Smith is the first person to receive the Mentor Award. It will be given each year to a person who serves as a teacher but who has a different type of student, like those who teach in clinical settings, advise student groups or work in the library.

"This award honors those people who put in time and effort to do something really well over a long period of time," said Gilbert. "Dean Smith. Enough Said."

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(Beloff is a junior journalism and political science major from Norfolk, Mass.)

Contact: Dr. Edward Kaiser, (919) 962-4781

News Services Contact: Karen Stinneford, (919) 962-8415