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For immediate use

Nov. 14, 2001 -- No. 586

Local angles: Chapel Hill, Charlotte, Greenville, Winston-Salem, Midland, Texas

Photo note: See bottom of page to download photos of the recipients.

Trustees honor five with William R. Davie Award

UNC News Services

CHAPEL HILL -- The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Board of Trustees today (Nov. 14) will present the prestigious William Richardson Davie Awards to five longtime friends of the university.

UNC Chancellor James Moeser and the Board of Trustees will honor the following recipients at an evening dinner: Erskine Boyce Bowles of Charlotte, Edward Calvin Smith Jr. of Greenville, Nelson Ferebee Taylor of Chapel Hill, John Woodfin Burress III of Winston-Salem and Walter Royal Davis of Midland, Texas, and Chapel Hill.

The Davie Award, the highest award given by UNC’s trustees, is named for the Revolutionary War hero considered to be the father of the university. Davie was the author of the bill that established the university. Created in 1984, the annual award recognizes extraordinary service to the university or to society.

A member of Carolina’s 1967 class, Bowles has had an active career in both the public and private sectors. In 1993, he was selected by President Bill Clinton to become the head of the U.S. Small Business Administration. He became the deputy chief of staff to Clinton in 1994 and served as his chief of staff from 1996 to 1998. While chief of staff, Bowles was instrumental in improving White House operations and developing a good working relationship with Republicans in Congress.

Before then, he had opened his own investment banking firm – Bowles, Hollowell, Conner & Co. – that achieved a reputation as one of the country’s top investment banking firms specializing in middle market transactions. In early 1996, he co-founded Carousel Capital, a merchant banking firm focused on acquiring middle market companies in the southeastern United States.

Bowles will seek the Democratic nomination for the U.S. Senate next year to replace retiring U.S. Sen. Jesse Helms. His public service in North Carolina includes leadership of the North Carolina Rural Prosperity Task Force, a group that suggested ways to strengthen the ailing economy of rural North Carolina.

Smith, a 1965 Carolina graduate, has been chairman and chief executive officer of Grady-White Boats Inc. since 1968. Under the leadership of Smith, Grady-White Boats has supported organizations that are working to preserve the state’s natural coastal resources. The company was one of the first corporate givers to the North Carolina Aquarium and sponsored the shark tank at the facility in Manteo.

Ernst & Young named Smith overall Entrepreneur of the Year in the Carolinas for 1998. He received the American Sportfishing Association Lifetime Achievement Award earlier this year for outstanding long-term service to conservation and the fishing and boating industries. Also this year, he received International Game Fish Association recognition of his contributions to sportfishing conservation practices.

Smith is the former president and current member of the Educational Foundation Inc. He also is a past member of the Board of Visitors and the Chancellors’ Club. Smith’s family established the Edward C. Smith Sr. Family Carolina Scholars Awards in 1995.

Taylor, 1942 Carolina graduate, returned to his home state after 19 years practicing corporate law in New York City to become vice president for administration of the University of North Carolina (then made up of six campuses) in 1970. He became chancellor of UNC in 1972. Substantial building marked Taylor’s eight-year administration as chancellor. At his encouragement, considerable one-time resources were committed to the construction of Walter Royal Davis Library. Taylor also supported a major renovation of Wilson Library and an addition to the Health Sciences Library.

Since stepping down as chancellor, Taylor has taught corporate law in the UNC School of Law. In 1973, he received the Frederick B. McCall Award for teaching excellence. To honor Taylor, the School of Law created the Nelson Ferebee Taylor Prize for Excellence in Corporate Law, to be given annually to the graduating senior who has sustained the strongest record of achievement in the area of corporate law.

Burress, a 1958 Carolina graduate, is the president of J.W. Burress Inc., a firm headquartered in Roanoke, Va., that sells, rents and services new and used construction and industrial machinery. Burress serves on the UNC Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center Board of Advisors and the National Development Council.

He likes to honor those he admires with gifts in their names. In 2000, he surprised Trent and Anna Ragland with a gift in their name toward the renovation of the R.B. House Undergraduate Library. Burress helped create a distinguished professorship fund in Ruel W. Tyson Jr.’s name to be used to establish an endowed chair in the College of Arts and Sciences. He helped establish the Bill Guthridge Professorship in Mathematics, an endowed professorship to be used to attract or retain a distinguished teacher and scholar.  He also established the John W Burress III Faculty Fellowship and the John W. Burress Faculty Research Endowment in the Kenan-Flagler Business School. Burress has served on the Board of Directors of the Educational Foundation Inc.

Davis worked as a clerk and truck driver because he could not afford to attend college. He eventually settled in Texas, where he borrowed $1,000 to buy five trucks that could carry crude oil from wells in the Permian Basin to distant refineries. By 1968, this investment had grown into a multi-million-dollar business called the Permian Corp.

He has served as a benefactor to numerous educational institutions in North Carolina – including UNC, and every college and most of the public school systems in the Albemarle Sound area. Davis has directly helped hundreds of students with college expenses and has set up scholarship funds on several campuses.

During his years as a member of UNC’s Board of Trustees, Davis lobbied the state legislature for funds resulting from the sale of university utilities in the late 1970s. He successfully acquired $32 million that was used to pay for the construction of Walter Royal Davis Library, as well as renovations to Wilson Library and the Health Sciences Library.

Davis’ service has extended to leadership positions in North Carolina educational, health and other service institutions. He also has given generously to environmental and historic causes in the state.

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(Greer is a senior history and journalism and mass communication major from Fort Wayne, Ind.)

Note: For photos of the recipients, click on the following links:

News Services contact: Deb Saine at (919) 962-8415