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News Release

For immediate use

Nov. 4, 2004 -- No. 539

Friday, Phillips, Ayscue, Graham,
Higgins receive law alumni awards

CHAPEL HILL -- Five University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Law graduates received awards at the recent Law Alumni Banquet.

The School of Law honored William C. Friday, president emeritus of the UNC system, and J. Dickson Phillips Jr., former School of Law dean, with the Lifetime Achievement Award. Both live in Chapel Hill.

E. Osborne "Ozzie" Ayscue Jr. of Charlotte and William "Dub" E. Graham Jr. of Raleigh received the 2004 Distinguished Alumni Award. Sara "Sally" W. Higgins of Charlotte received the 2004 Outstanding Recent Graduate Award.

The awards are given by the Carolina Law Alumni Association.

The Lifetime Achievement Award is a rarely given honor reserved for alumni whose life works reflect the highest ideals of the legal profession. Past recipients include Kathrine R. Everett, for whom the schoolís law library is named, and former Gov. James B. Hunt.

The Distinguished Alumni Award recognizes School of Law graduates who have exemplified the best of the legal profession. The Outstanding Recent Graduate Award honors extraordinary achievement in the legal profession, society or the School of Law.

Friday received his undergraduate degree from N.C. State University in 1941, joined the U.S. Naval Reserve and served three years before returning to North Carolina to attend UNC-Chapel Hillís School of Law. Following his graduation from law school in 1948, he was assistant dean of students at the UNC-Chapel Hill and was named assistant to President Gordon Gray in 1951. He was appointed secretary of the UNC system in 1955, named acting president in 1956 and became president later in the same year. Friday served in this position for 30 years until his retirement in 1986.

His commitment to education supported the expansion of the university from three to 16 campuses, fostering the universityís reputation as one of the most respected institutions of higher education in the country.

Friday has served in leadership roles on a number of national committees, boards and commissions, among them the Association of American Universities, the Commission on White House Fellows, the Presidential Task Force on Education under two administrations and the board of governors of the Center for Creative Leadership. He has received many awards for his service, including the American Council on Educationís Distinguished Service Award for Lifetime Achievement in 1986. That year, a study by the Council of Advancement and Support of Education named him the most effective public university president in the nation.

Phillips graduated from Davidson College in 1943. He served in the U.S. Army during World War II, earning the Bronze Star for Valor, Purple Heart, Presidential Unit Citation and Invasion Arrowhead for combat in three European campaigns.

He then entered law school at UNC-Chapel Hill, where he was associate editor of the North Carolina Law Review and a member of the Order of the Coif. In 1948, when he completed his degree with honors, Phillips became assistant director of UNC-Chapel Hillís Institute of Government. The following year, he entered private practice in Fayetteville and his hometown of Laurinburg and was in practice with Terry Sanford, former governor and U.S. senator.

In 1959, Phillips was appointed a visiting professor at the School of Law and became a full-time faculty member the following year. Four years later, he succeeded Henry P. Brandis Jr. as dean and led the school for 10 years before he returned to full-time teaching. In 1978, President Jimmy Carter appointed Phillips to the Court of Appeals. By that time, he had been named Alumni distinguished professor of law and had received UNC-Chapel Hillís Thomas Jefferson Award. He served on the Court of Appeals until his retirement in 1999.

A native North Carolinian, Ayscue received his undergraduate degree from UNC-Chapel Hill in 1954. He joined the U.S. Naval Reserve following graduation and served two years before returning to UNC-Chapel Hill to attend law school. Ayscue was editor-in-chief of the North Carolina Law Review and Order of the Coif, graduating in 1960 with honors. He then joined Helms Mulliss McMillan & Johnson (now Helms Mullis & Wicker) and remains with the firm today.

Ayscue has served in leadership roles for national, state and local bar associations, including his service as president of the American College of Trial Lawyers, the N.C. Bar Association and the Mecklenburg County Bar. He served on the board of directors for the Carolina Law Alumni Association from 1992-2003 and was president from1999-2000. He has been a member of the UNC-Chapel Hill Board of Visitors and a member of the board of directors for the General Alumni Association and Friends of the Library. He was inducted into the N.C. Bar Association General Practice Hall of Fame and, in 2004, received the Mecklenburg County Professionalism Award.

After graduating from UNC-Chapel Hill in 1952, Graham served two years in the U.S. Air Force before returning to North Carolina to attend UNC-Chapel Hillís School of Law. He graduated from law school in 1956, having served as associate editor of the North Carolina Law Review and earning the Outstanding Graduate Award from Phi Delta Phi and membership in Order of the Coif. Following graduation, Graham clerked for John J. Parker of the U.S. Court of Appeals (Fourth Circuit). After his clerkship ended in 1957, Graham practiced law in Charlotte until 1969, when he joined the N.C. Court of Appeals. In 1973, he left the bench to become vice chairman and general counsel for Carolina Power & Light (now Progress Energy Carolinas), a position he held until 1994. Since 1994, he has practiced law with Hunton & Williams in Charlotte.

Graham has served in leadership positions with the American Bar Association, the N.C. State Bar, the N.C. Bar Association and the Wake County Bar Association and other organizations. He is a past president of the Carolina Law Alumni Association and served on the board from 1987-1999. He has received the Greater Raleigh Chamber of Commerce Award and the Education Partnership annual Friends of Education Award and was inducted into the Salvation Armyís William Booth Society.

After graduating from the School of Law in 1995, Higgins clerked for Sam J. Ervin III, then chief judge of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit. In 1996, she joined the Charlotte office of Kennedy Covington Lobdell & Hickman, where she is a partner in the litigation department. Listed by the Charlotte Business Journal in 2003 as one of its "40 under 40," Higgins conceived of and initiated the Mecklenburg County Bar program "Lawyers Teaching Justice."

The program brings volunteer attorneys to civics and government classes in the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools to teach students about their constitutional rights of free expression, and freedom from unreasonable search and seizure, among others. As chair of the program, Higgins led the effort to recruit about 179 lawyers, who taught more than 200 classes in 15 high schools, reaching thousands of students and their teachers. She is active in the national and local bar and was vice president of the Mecklenburg County Bar in 2003-04.

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School of Law contact: Audrey Ward at (919) 962-4125