University Day is an occasion to remember the University’s past and celebrate its future. The date, October 12, marks the laying of the cornerstone of Old East, the institution’s first building and the oldest state university building in the nation. The Carolina community first celebrated University Day in 1877, after Governor Zebulon B. Vance, as chair of the Board of Trustees, ordered that the day “be observed with appropriate ceremonies under the direction of the faculty.”
Subsequent celebrations have featured speeches from distinguished members of the faculty and honored visitors. President John F. Kennedy spoke in 1961, as did Bill Clinton in 1993. North Carolina governors have made University Day a traditional stop during their first term of office – including Luther Hodges, Jim Hunt, Terry Sanford, Jim Martin, Mike Easley, Bev Perdue, and Pat McCrory.
Since 1971, the faculty has presented the Distinguished Alumna and Alumnus Awards on University Day to recognize those Tar Heels who have made outstanding contributions to humanity.
Beginning in 1957 with William B. Aycock, University Day became the traditional inauguration day for new chancellors: Paul F. Sharp in 1964, J. Carlyle Sitterson in 1965, N. Ferebee Taylor in 1972, Christopher C. Fordham III in 1980, Paul Hardin in 1988, Michael Hooker in 1995, James Moeser in 2000, Holden Thorp in 2008, and Carol Folt in 2013.
Public higher education began in Chapel Hill in 1793, and for more than two hundred years Carolina has symbolized the importance of education in a democratic nation. It remains a place defined by those values, as noted by Governor Terry Sanford in 1987, of “freedom and liberty and tolerance, the search for truth, the defense of dignity, courage to arrive freely at convictions, and the personal courage to stand for those hopes and truths.”
This year for the first time, as faculty and staff process into Memorial Hall, each school will be identified with a gonfalon style banner, and faculty and staff will process together behind their respective banner. The procession will be organized by the date of the establishment of the school. Staff not associated with a particular school should process with the Administration and Staff banner. It is our goal that each banner will be proudly displayed with a prominent following. The processional line up begins at 10:30 a.m. near the Old Well. Look for your banner! In case of rain, faculty and staff should gather in Gerrard Hall.
Faculty who are participating are encouraged to wear their academic regalia, but it is not required. Faculty who would like to rent regalia for the University Day processional should contact Catherine Stotts at firstname.lastname@example.org (919-962-2427) at Student Stores by September 18th.
Distinguished Alumna/Alumnus Awards
UNC-Chapel Hill Degree: B.A. 1994
Jacqueline Charles is Caribbean correspondent and senior Haiti reporter for the Miami Herald. Charles has covered the politics, culture, and people of Haiti and other island nations for nearly 20 years. During that time, she has developed a reputation for stories that educate and inspire change. After Haiti’s devastating earthquake in January 2010, Charles was the first journalist to report on the fate of President René Préval. There were rumors that his home had been destroyed and it was not certain whether he was still alive. Through her longstanding connections in Haiti, Charles was able to reach Préval, and she told him that she was trying to fly into Haiti but could not get permission to do so. He gave it, and she broke the story that Préval had survived the natural disaster, having fled with only one white shirt that he washed every day so as to maintain the dignity of the presidential office. Charles has been named a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize and has twice been honored by the National Association of Black Journalists: in 2010 as International Reporter of the Year and in 2011 as Journalist of the Year. Charles co-produced a documentary on Haiti, Nou Bouke, which won a 2011 regional Emmy Award.
Mona Carol Frederick
UNC-Chapel Hill Degree: B.A. Educ. 1976
Mona Frederick is executive director of Vanderbilt University’s Robert Penn Warren Center for the Humanities. Over the course of her distinguished 30-year career, Frederick has emerged as a passionate and effective advocate for humanistic research and teaching, especially in the digital humanities. She oversaw the development of “Who Speaks for the Negro?”, a digital archive of materials related to the book of the same name published by Warren in 1965. The archive includes not only the recordings of Warren’s interviews with prominent Civil Rights leaders but also more than 4,000 pages of searchable transcripts and photographs. The impact of Frederick’s work has been felt internationally, as she leads the flourishing partnership between Vanderbilt and Queen’s University in Belfast, home to the Institute for Collaborative Research in the Humanities, which was based on the successful model of the Warren Center. In 2013 Frederick served as producer for Speaking for the Humanities, a documentary film created to mark the 25th anniversary of the Warren Center. The film highlights the centrality of the humanities and the role of the Warren Center in fostering humanistic inquiry and interdisciplinary scholarship. Recently Frederick helped to develop the Mellon Partners for Humanities Education initiative, which will provide specialized training for new Vanderbilt Ph.D.s to prepare them for teaching at liberal arts colleges and historically black colleges and universities.
Betty Debnam Hunt
UNC-Chapel Hill Degree: B.A. 1952
Betty Debnam Hunt, who comes from a journalism and education background, was the creator and editor of “The Mini Page” for 37 years. Hunt believed that the feature would encourage elementary students to become lifelong readers and that the content would be appealing to readers of all ages. The first “Mini Page” supplement appeared in the Raleigh News and Observer on August 27, l969. For many years, Hunt was the sole writer and illustrator, later adding a small staff. At the height of the feature’s national syndication, it was published in 500 newspapers. In 2007 Hunt sold “The Mini Page” to Universal Uclick. In 2010 she gave her entire archive and the funding necessary to scan and digitize the full collection to the Southern Historical Collection in Carolina’s Wilson Special Collections Library. Hunt has collaborated with the School of Education to fund opportunities for graduate students to develop and publish lesson plans incorporating “Mini Page” content. Hunt’s honors and awards include the North Carolina Award for Public Service (2005), induction into the North Carolina Journalism Hall of Fame (1999) and Raleigh Hall of Fame (2013), the Lifetime Achievement Award of the Newspaper Association of America (1999), and the American Chemical Society’s James T. Grady-James H. Stack Award for Interpreting Chemistry to the Public (1991).
Sarah Elizabeth Parker
UNC-Chapel Hill Degree: B.A. Educ. 1964, J.D. 1969
The Honorable Sarah Parker served as an associate justice of the Supreme Court of North Carolina for 13 years and as chief justice from 2006 until mandatory retirement in 2014. After earning her B.A. in education, Parker served in the Peace Corps in Turkey before returning to Carolina to attend law school. Upon completing her J.D. degree, she began private practice with a firm where she was the first female attorney in the firm’s 100-year history. Governor James B. Hunt Jr. appointed her to the North Carolina Court of Appeals in 1984 and she won election to the Supreme Court in 1992.
Parker’s honors and awards include the Distinguished Woman of North Carolina Award (1997); North Carolina Association of Black County Officials Humanitarian Award (2003); Distinguished Alumni Award (2003) and Lifetime Achievement Award (2015), University of North Carolina Law School; Meredith College Woman of Achievement (2015); North Carolina Chamber of Commerce Distinguished Public Service Award (2015); three honorary degrees; and Fellow, American Bar Foundation.
Edward Kidder Graham Award
Peter S. White
Professor of Biology
The Edward Kidder Graham Faculty Service Award recognizes distinguished service to the state, the nation and the University by a faculty member. This year’s recipient, Peter White, served as director of the North Carolina Botanical Garden from 1986 to 2014. During that time, he vastly increased the Botanical Garden’s size, programs, staffing, facilities and outreach. He led campaigns that raised more than $10 million toward completion of the Jim & Delight Allen Education Center, which made possible a major increase in programs and outreach. His vision and guidance resulted in appropriate acquisition of and responsibility for the Coker Arboretum, Battle Park, the UNC Herbarium, Carolina Campus Community Garden, and the Mason Farm Biological Preserve. Under White’s leadership, NCBG continued its role as one of 14 founding gardens for the Center for Plant Conservation and cofounder of the Plant Sentinel Network, which studies the influence of climate change on plants. White’s honors include the Pritzlaff Conservation Award from the Santa Barbara Botanic Garden (2015), the North Carolina Governor’s Order of the Long Leaf Pine (2014), Star Award from the Center for Plant Conservation (2014), National Garden Clubs’ Award of Excellence (2004), and Southern Living magazine’s Outstanding Southerner award (2007). The research and publications of White and his students have focused on the ecology of disturbances, patterns of biological diversity, environmental ethics, and other conservation issues. White holds degrees from Dartmouth College (Ph.D., 1976) and Bennington College (B.A., 1971).