Five Carolina employees and one team have been selected as the 2023 C. Knox Massey Distinguished Service Award winners, one of the most prestigious distinctions for faculty and staff. The awards will be presented at a luncheon April 22.
Established in 1980 by the late C. Knox Massey ’25 of Durham, the award recognizes “unusual, meritorious or superior contributions” by University employees.
“Our University employees are instrumental in upholding the exceptional experience Carolina is known for,” said Chancellor Kevin M. Guskiewicz. “Their hard work, dedication and exemplary skills are worth recognizing, but what really stands out about these Massey Award winners is the impact they’ve made on those around them. I’m humbled by their work, and I’m grateful for the chance to participate in recognizing all they do for the University and the Carolina community.”
The winners, selected through a campus-wide nomination process, each receive a $10,000 stipend and an award citation.
This year’s recipients are:
Building and environmental services technician, Facilities Services
David Barnette works to keep the Dean E. Smith Center and Kenan Stadium clean, safe and sanitary for the thousands in attendance. Barnette also greets ushers, students and fans with a smile, hug or quick chat about family. But he also has a day job, or rather a night job, as he works from 11 p.m. to 7 a.m. as a housekeeper in Coker Hall. Coker Hall is a science building, which means there are classrooms, offices and labs to clean. On nights that Barnette has to “detail” a floor, he scrubs every nook and cranny and dusts every item in every room. On nondetail nights, Barnette ensures the counters and floors are spotless and washes all the windows and desktops. During the pandemic when staffing was low, Barnette continued working his shift and filling in wherever he could. According to his supervisor Joe Chetelat, who has worked with him for all six years he has been at the University, “David does an amazing job for the students and the professors all the time. His priority is the customers of his building so that when they arrive each morning the classroom spaces are clean and ready.”
Executive director, Carolina Housing
Allan Blattner has led Carolina’s nationally recognized housing program since 2015. When more than 9,000 students were displaced in March 2020 at the onset of the pandemic, reuniting students with their belongings became a logistical nightmare. But Blattner led the way through this unprecedented period of disruption. Through the pandemic, Carolina Housing continued to provide direct student support for affected students, including meal deliveries, recreation activities for quarantined students and daily well-being outreach. In spring 2022, Carolina Housing supported more than 4,200 cases of residential students placed in isolation, quarantine or both. Those staying in on-campus isolation or quarantine buildings received meals and support services that met their unique needs. Carolina Housing also consistently supported off-campus students. Blattner personally provided outreach to students and families, even going to the store himself to buy needed items that students could not get for themselves. He played a critical role during the pandemic and helped Carolina return to a thriving living and learning community.
Associate athletic director for GoHeels Productions, Athletics
If you’ve watched any Carolina sporting event in the last 15 years, then you’ve seen Ken Cleary’s work. He produces more than 300 video productions per year for Carolina’s 28 varsity sports from eight venues across campus. His department also produces pre- and post-game shows, the “Late Night” season-opening basketball event and special celebrations such as the “100 Years of Men’s Basketball.” In 2013, Cleary dreamed up “The Rammys” — an annual blue-carpet event that honors the success of Tar Heel student-athletes in and outside of competition. All of this began in 2003 when Carolina took a major step forward in broadcasting capabilities with its first video board in Kenan Stadium and put Cleary in charge, working in the basement of the old fieldhouse. Today, Cleary oversees a team of 12 full-time staff, plus dozens of students and contractors. Under his guidance, Carolina became the first NCAA university to broadcast a football game, then an NCAA championship game, from its own studios on a television network. With three ESPN and major network-capable broadcast control rooms, a modern broadcast studio and many more amenities, Cleary has come a long way from that basement. Led by Cleary, the student program in GoHeels Productions has grown to about 40 students who do everything from entry-level tasks to helping run game-day operations. Two of the most important events Cleary produces and records are the Winter and Spring Commencement ceremonies. Cleary and his staff always make sure each ceremony is flawless, and everyone in the audience has an opportunity to see their graduates.
Operations manager and special events coordinator, Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center, Office of the Director, Faculty Recruitment
Melissa Mack manages the day-to-day administrative duties of the largest center on campus, with more than 400 faculty members drawn from seven schools and the College of Arts and Sciences. She oversees the Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center’s faculty recruitment efforts and organizes every major research event, including Lineberger’s weekly seminar series, annual scientific retreats, research symposia, postdoc-faculty retreat and geriatric oncology retreat. For her efforts, Mack received praise from both Lineberger staff and faculty as well as visitors and trainees. Mack began her career at Lineberger nearly 30 years ago as the receptionist and also assisted the center’s first director. Since that time, Mack’s positive attitude, professional manner and passion for Lineberger have shone through her work. With a remarkable institutional knowledge of the inner workings of Lineberger, she serves as the go-to individual when anyone has questions. Mack is well known for her dedication not only to Lineberger’s mission but also to every person she encounters. From helping recruit new faculty members to organizing events to supervising employees, Mack is an integral part of Lineberger. She takes it upon herself to ensure anyone who interacts with Lineberger has an exceptional experience.
Housekeeper, Facilities Services
Chineka Stanley is responsible for cleaning all of Lewis Hall — which consists of three floors and two flights of stairs — and the third floor of Everett Hall. She not only keeps the place spotless, but also creates a sense of family among the residents. Before most of the residents awake, Stanley has begun her day cleaning the hall bathrooms. As the students rise, she greets each one with a smile and wishes them a good day. As she does her work, she’s mindful of the residents. She’ll open a window, so the smell of the cleaning fluids isn’t too strong. She transforms the residential spaces each day with careful attention and hard work to ensure everything is in good shape and to care for the residents. Stanley was nominated by her residents, who came together to vote for her. In addition to being a positive presence, Stanley also supports her fellow housekeepers by filling in for others when they are unable to come to work. During the pandemic, she took on extra work as other housekeepers left their jobs, and she has banded with coworkers to advocate for better wages. While Stanley provides superior housekeeping services, she also inspires a sense of community and makes her residents feel at home at Carolina.
Campus Health leadership team
Ken Pittman, executive director
Thevy Chai, medical service director and primary physician
Amy Sauls, director of pharmacy
Michelle Camarena, director of nursing and performance improvement and associate vice chancellor for student engagement
Over the past three years, the Campus Health leadership team worked tirelessly to provide the highest level of student-centered, comprehensive health care. And what a three years it has been. The team adapted during the onset of COVID-19 and the fall of 2020, when students arrived on campus only to be sent home again, and continue to thrive no matter the obstacle.
To put this team’s accomplishments into perspective, here’s a quick look at the numbers in a typical year for Campus Health: 110,000+ annual visits, 70,000+ prescriptions per year in two pharmacies and 80,000+ web and phone communications with students. Since early 2020, Campus Health, under the leadership of this team, established a COVID-19 vaccination clinic and implemented new rapid testing capabilities, completed 61,000+ COVID-19 tests, maintained and continued contact tracing for students who tested positive, administered 20,000+ vaccines, created an electronic portal for COVID-19 documentation and managed nearly 9,000 positive student COVID-19 cases. Along with Student Affairs and the Office of Finance and Operations, Campus Health also applied for and secured CARES and Higher Education Emergency Relief Funds, resulting in an overall positive margin for center operations — an accomplishment many schools were not able to achieve.
During this chaotic time, Campus Health implemented the University’s first telehealth counseling contract, allowing for 24/7 counseling services; created and began a new Campus EMS program; and developed the Campus Smiles Dental program, managing 1000+ visits within the first few months. They also completed a $1 million X-ray technology replacement project on top of a $2.1 million first-floor renovation that now houses sports medicine, specialty clinic space, same-day care and central registration. Even through the pandemic, Carolina continued to be the leader in administering flu vaccinations, winning its fifth straight National Collegiate Flu Shot Championship with 8,000+ vaccinations. Campus Health has long been fulfilling its mission of providing expert care to all Carolina students. It did not take a pandemic to see that. Together, Ken Pittman, Thevy Chai, Amy Sauls and Michelle Camarena have 74 years of University service, and it is their shared history and success over time that have allowed Carolina to continue to lead the way during an unprecedented time.