University News

Carolina employees earn prestigious Massey Awards for outstanding service

Given the exceptional year spent dealing with the global COVID-19 pandemic, the University is bestowing eight awards.

Photos of Shayna Hill, Sandra Foxx, Dr. Mario Ciocca and Sibby Anderson-Thompkins; (bottom row, left to right) Vanessa Mitchell, James Holman, Kathy James and Teresa Golson.
This year’s Massey Award recipients are: (top row, left to right) Shayna Hill, Sandra Foxx, Dr. Mario Ciocca and Sibby Anderson-Thompkins; (bottom row, left to right) Vanessa Mitchell, James Holman, Kathy James and Teresa Golson. (Jon Gardiner/UNC-Chapel Hill)

Eight Carolina employees will receive the 2021 C. Knox Massey Distinguished Service Award, one of the most prestigious distinctions for faculty and staff.

Established in 1980 by the late C. Knox Massey ’25 of Durham, the award recognizes “unusual, meritorious or superior contributions” by University employees.

Given the exceptional year spent dealing with the global COVID-19 pandemic, the University is bestowing eight awards, rather than the usual six.

“I am incredibly grateful to Carolina’s employees for their hard work, dedication and commitment to our mission of teaching, research and public service, especially during the past year with the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Chancellor Kevin M. Guskiewicz. “This year’s eight Massey Award recipients exemplify the outstanding contributions made by our colleagues during these extraordinary times. This honor is well-deserved and it is our privilege to recognize and thank these amazing employees.”

The winners, selected through a campus-wide nomination process, each receive a $10,000 stipend and an award citation.

This year’s recipients are:

Sibby Anderson-Thompkins

special adviser to the provost and chancellor for equity and inclusion, interim chief diversity officer

Anderson-Thompkins has been at Carolina for more than 20 years as a successful University administrator, leader and a diversity, equity and inclusion strategist. She serves as a co-captain of Build Our Community Together, the first strategic initiative in the University’s strategic plan, Carolina Next: Innovations for Public Good. This initiative focuses on broadening community engagement and sense of belonging while expanding opportunities and initiatives that support diverse students’ recruitment and success and the hiring and retention of diverse faculty and staff. She also established the University’s Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Council as a crucial network for implementing this initiative.

Dr. Mario Ciocca

director of sports medicine, Campus Health

Ciocca, who has been at Carolina for 22 years, serves as chief medical officer for Carolina’s 28 varsity sports teams, overseeing one of the most respected sports medicine departments in the country. During the COVID-19 pandemic, Ciocca spearheaded efforts that have allowed 800 student-athletes to stay safe and continue to compete. He provided some normalcy while modeling professionalism and care with composure, personal attention, relentless accessibility and energy. He showed incredible leadership, an enormous work ethic and consistently demonstrated a calm, composed and supportive demeanor in high-stress scenarios, while garnering a high level of trust and respect from those working with him.

Sandra Foxx

housekeeper, Facilities Services/Housekeeping, Kenan-Flagler Business School

A long-serving, dedicated member of the Kenan Center support team, Foxx has been at Carolina for 17 years and is attentive to detail. Since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, her work in providing a safe environment for essential workers is more important than ever and reassuring for her colleagues who remained onsite. She is known for always greeting people with a smile. Foxx is a true representative of the University, in her work ethic, her performance and her attitude.

Teresa Golson

housekeeper, Facilities Services/Housekeeping, North Carolina Botanical Garden

Golson, a Carolina employee for 22 years, is known for always having a smile on her face. She keeps the building spotless, is happy to fulfill any out-of-the-ordinary request and has a true interest in the work of the garden. Before coming to the Botanical Garden, she worked at a location that provides conference space for numerous meetings and other gatherings with many people in and out of the facility daily. Golson has a practical, no-nonsense point of view: She rolls up her sleeves and gets the job done.

Shayna Hill

manager, Statistics and Operations Research, College of Arts & Sciences, and chair of the Employee Forum

In addition to her work for the College of Arts & Sciences, Hill, who has been with the University for 14 years, has been a stalwart Employee Forum delegate and chair, establishing improved links with administration, faculty, staff and student leaders since assuming office in 2017. Hill led the forum — and, by extension, all staff employees — through the opening and reopening of campus during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. In response to campus need, Hill stepped forward with humility and grace to lead the Campus and Community Advisory Committee and the Staff Advisory Committee to the Chancellor.

James Holman

crew leader, Facilities Services/Housekeeping

Holman, who has been at Carolina for 15 years, has served as a supervisor for stadium housekeepers at all home football games. He has handled the management of any cleaning requests with professionalism and proficiency, which has greatly enhanced Carolina’s spectator and fan experience. An outspoken advocate for employees, he has raised important issues regarding the working climate in the housekeeping department. He is comfortable talking to people at all levels on campus — speaking up about injustice and for those whose voices are often ignored. He is instrumental in making permanent departmental changes that created a lasting impact.

Kathy James

administrative assistant supervisor, UNC School of Medicine

A 25-year employee in the UNC School of Medicine, James delivers service beyond expectations in her work to organize successful national faculty searches, including itineraries, dinners, flights and hotels, always performing these tasks with a positive attitude. She also manages a variety of other logistics for traveling faculty, visiting faculty and staff from all parts of the world. In addition to her job duties, she is an active volunteer, including serving on the Employee Forum and working with the Salvation Army in Randolph County to provide Christmas presents for more than 70 children.

Vanessa Mitchell

computer support analyst, UNC School of Social Work

Mitchell, who has worked at Carolina for 37 years, is responsible for troubleshooting and assisting with numerous technology issues to keep the School of Social Work’s Tate-Turner-Kuralt Building operating smoothly. She isn’t one to wait at her desk for problems or requests to come to her. Every day, Mitchell moves throughout the building, checking in with administrators, faculty and staff in search of any potential complications to solve. Mitchell has embodied Carolina’s commitment to public service.

About the Massey Awards

Massey joined the University after a distinguished advertising career and worked for 25 years as a special assistant to then-Chancellor Carlyle Sitterson at a salary of $1 a year. He served as a University trustee for two decades and worked without pay to promote the statewide Good Health Campaign that led to the creation of a four-year medical school and teaching hospital at Carolina.

In 1984, he joined the families of his son, Knox Massey Jr., and daughter, Kay Massey Weatherspoon, to create the Massey-Weatherspoon fund. Income from the fund supports the Massey Awards, along with the Carolina Seminars that promote interdisciplinary thought, study, discussion and intellectual interchange on a variety of topics.

Read more stories on faculty and staff at TheWell.UNC.edu