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About the award

When presented: Annually on University Day (October 12)

How many: Traditionally, a maximum of five awards was authorized by the enabling faculty legislation.

Process: Award recipients are nominated by the Honorary Degrees and Special Awards Committee, recommended by the Faculty Council and approved by the Board of Trustees.

The awards committee welcomes detailed letters of nomination highlighting a candidate’s accomplishments and requests the inclusion of a CV or similar document be included with the nomination. It is important to the committee to have a broad and diverse pool of extraordinary candidates, including individuals from underrepresented groups, from which to make its selections.

Establishing documentDistinguished Alumna/Alumnus Award Regulation. This award is also governed by the Trustees’ Regulation on Honorary Degrees.

Criteria: Nominee has made an outstanding contribution to humanity in any walk of life.

Eligibility: Nominees must be alumni of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. This is defined as including all persons who were registered for at least one full academic year as a student in residence in any college or school of the University. In general, anyone listed in the General Alumni Association’s Alumni Directory is eligible except members of the University faculty, staff and administration. They become eligible two years after separation from the University. Awards are not conferred in absentia or posthumously.

Submit a nomination

Please note that nominations remain active for three years. If you have nominated anyone within the previous two years, renomination is not required; however, additional or updated materials may be submitted.

Please visit the “Submit Nominations” page at the left for instructions on how to submit your nomination. Nominations for 2024 Distinguished Alumna and Alumnus Awards will be accepted September 12 through November 7, 2023 (extended from October 24).

Past recipients, 1971-present

2023James W. Clark., Jr. (B.A. 1965)
Thomas F. Darden (B.A. 1976, M.R.P. 1992)
Amy L. Greeson (B.S.Pharm. 1990)
Jennifer Han (B.A. 2002)
Adolph L. Reed, Jr. (B.A. 1971)
2022Nicole K. Bates (M.P.H. 2000, Dr.P.H. 2008)
Jerry Blackwell (B.A. 1984, J.D. 1987)
F. DuBois Bowman (Ph.D. 2000)
Karen L. Parker (A.B. 1965)
Charles H. Robbins (B.S. 1987)
2021Michele G. Buck (M.B.A. 1987)
Vincent L. Carter (B.A. 1999)
Estelle Louise Fletcher (B.A. 1957)
Rodney E. Hood (B.A. 1989)
Eugene Y. Lao (B.A. 1991)
Norman E. Sharpless (B.S. 1988, M.D. 1993)
John D. Swofford (B.A. 1971)
Julian D. Wiles Jr (M.F.A. 1976)
2020Anu Anand (B.A. 1995)
Francis Collins (M.D. 1977)
Mary K. Estes (Ph.D. 1972)
Daniel Patterson (M.A. 1955, Ph.D. 1959)
Joel R. "Peter" Skillern (M.C.R.P. 1991)
Marla Smith-Nilson (M.S. 1994)
2019James E. Delany (B.A. 1970, J.D. 1973)
Nikole S. Hannah-Jones (M.A. 2003)
Jill C. McCorkle (B.A. 1980)
Robert D. Newman (Ph.D. 1983)
2018Donald A. Baer (B.A. 1976)
Robert L. Bryant (Ph.D. 1979)
Vaughn D. Bryson (B.S. 1960)
Peter Blair Henry (B.A. 1991)
Tift Merritt (2000)
2017Amy Lansky (M.P.H. 1991, Ph.D. 1996)
Berrien Moore III (B.S. 1963)
Judith Phillips Stanton (Ph.D. 1978)
Richard Y. Stevens (B.A. 1970, J.D. 1974, M.P.A. 1978)
Mike Wiley (M.F.A. 2004)
2016Karen Bruton (B.A. 1971)
Florence Fearrington (B.A. 1958)
Rosalind Fuse-Hall (B.S. 1980)
Sanford "Sandy" Shugart (B.S. 1978, M.A.T. 1983, Ph.D. 1990)
Paula Brown Stafford (B.S. 1986, M.P.H. 1992)
2015Jacqueline Charles (B.A. 1994)
Mona Carol Frederick (B.A. 1976)
Betty Debnam Hunt (B.A. 1952)
Sarah Elizabeth Parker (B.A, 1964, J.D. 1969)
2014Patricia Dallas Horoho (B.S. 1982)
James B. Hunt, Jr. (J.D. 1964, LL.D. 1978)
Andrew “Sandy” McNally IV (B.A. 1963)
James R. Patton, Jr. (B.A., 1948)
Wade Marvin Smith (B.A., 1960; J.D. 1963)
2013Stuart Bondurant (B.S. 1950; M.D. 1953)
William Ewart Easterling, III (B.A. 1976; M.A. 1980; Ph.D. 1984)
Karol Virginia Mason (B.A. 1979; J.D. 1982)
Todd Lincoln Miller (B.A. 1978; M.R.P. 1980)
Gary Wilton Parr (B.S.B.A 1979)
2012Gregory Stanley Allgood (B.S. 1981; M.S.P.H. 1983)
Mary Marshall Clark (B.A. 1975)
Deborah Parham Hopson (M.S.P.H. 1979; Ph.D. 1990)
Jonathan T. Reckford (B.S. 1984)
2011Alan Bergman (B.A. 1948)
Frederick Otto Mueller (A.B. Educ., 1961; M. Educ., 1964; Ph.D., 1970)
Linda Ellen Oxendine (A.B. 1967)
Thomas Hart Sayre (A.B. 1973)
Denise Jean Jamieson (M.P.H. 1991)
2010James Larry Jameson III (B.S. 1976, M.D. 1981, Ph.D. 1981)
Harry Louis Jones Sr. (A.B. 1972, M.P.A. 1980)
Harry Corpening Martin (A.B. 1942)
Alane Salierno Mason (A.B. 1986)
Charles Milton Shaffer Jr. (A.B. 1964, J.D. 1967)
2009Janie McLawhorn Fouke (M.S. 1980, Ph.D. 1982)
Santiago Gangotena (Ph.D. 1977)
Mariel Margaret (Mia) Hamm (A.B. 1994)
Walter Edward Hussman Jr. (A.B. Jour. 1968)
William Frederick Little (M.A. 1952; Ph.D. 1954)
2008William Joseph Bynum, Jr. (A.B., 1982)
Leah McCall Devlin (B.S., 1976; D.D.S., 1979; M.P.H., 1984)
Molly Wilmer Barker (A.B., 1982; M.S.W., 1989)
Walter Lowry Caudill (B.S. Chem. 1979)
Debra Wehrle Stewart (Ph.D., 1975)
2007Clyde Ritchie Bell (A.B., 1943; M.A., 1949)
Donald Benjamin Cameron (A.B., 1975)
Alan Stewart Murray (A.B., 1977)
Anne Ponder (A.B. Educ. 1971; M.A., 1973; Ph.D., 1979)
Charles Thomas Scott (Class of 1970)
2006Valerie Alayne Batts and Angela Rebecca Bryant (joint award)
William Burwell Harrison, Jr.
Weiming Lu
Charles Barnet Nemeroff
George Edwin Stuart III
2005Ana Lucia Almeida Gazzola
Thomas Forrest Kelly
James Arthur Merchant
Roy Hampton Park, Jr.
2004Elson Sylvester Floyd
Charles Melvin Hudson, Jr.
William Carter Jenkins
John Frederick Shultz
Marilyn Frances Schau
2003Mary Sue Wilson Coleman
Katherine Ann High
Shirley Friedlander Weiss
2002Philip Leroy Clay
Benjamin Franklin Long IV
2001James Alan Duke
Hugh Leon McColl, Jr.
Anthony Eden Rand
P. Kay Wagoner
2000Russell Banks
Nancy Stookesberry Cole
Walter Estes Dellinger III
Patricia Stanford Love
Willis Padgett Whichard
1999Jerry Dean Campbell
Joel Lawrence Fleishman
Howard Nathaniel Lee
Margaret Elizabeth Senter
Edward Harris Wagner
1998George Alexander Heard
Bertha Merrill Holt
William Harris Hooks
Banks Dayton Kerr
John Lassiter Sanders
Bailey Daniel Webb
1997William Clyde Friday
Mary Elizabeth Junck
Hugh MacRae Morton
William Stevens Powell
George Cashel Stoney
1996Carol Ann Kemp Aschenbrener
Herman Blumenthal
William Alexander Darity
Lawrence Monsanto Ferlinghetti
John Paul Nickell
1995Harlan Edward Boyles
Dorothy Sattes Ridings
Roberts Edgar Timberlake
1994Ida Howell Friday
Martha Nell Hardy
Arthur Stanley Link
Mary Pope Osborne
Melvin Luther Watt
1993Mary Elizabeth Burkett
Mary Lindsay Elmendorf
William Happer
Joseph Quincy Mitchell
James Dickson Phillips Jr.
James Worrell Pruett
Terry Sanford
Louis Cornelius Stephens Jr.
1992Marie Watters Colton
James G. Exum Jr.
Frank Russell Reynolds
Eugene Leslie Roberts Jr.
Donald Keith Sultan
1991Beatrice Cummings Mayer
Gaillard Fitzsimons Ravanel II
Kenneth C. Royall Jr.
Vermont Royster
1990Stephen C. Cowper
Charles Luke Powell
Eleanor Bernert Sheldon
1989Franklin Taylor Branch
Anne Coffin Hanson
Alexander Julian II
Warren Winkelstein Jr.
Jonathan Yardley
1988Edward G. Bilpuch
Gail Godwin
Richard Knight Jr.
Thomas W. Lambeth
Roger Mudd
1987Eli N. Evans
O. B. Hardison Jr.
George M. Harper
Judith A. Hines
Roy Parker Jr.
1986Henry Ell Frye
Jeffrey Kenneth MacNelly
John A. Montgomery
Rolfe Neill
Banks C. Talley Jr.
1985Jane Triplett Carswell
Richard Hampton Jenrette
Bryce Jordan
Lindsay C. Warren Jr.
1984John Marsden Ehle Jr.
Kathrine Robinson Everett
Sarah Taylor Morrow
James Wesley Silver
1983Julius LeVonne Chambers
Herman Howe Fussler
Jane Smith Patterson
William Edgar Thornton
1982Kay Knight Clarke
George Grizzard
Mary Elizabeth Mebane
David Stick
1981Richard Adler
Charles Knox Massey
Adeline Denham McCall
Henry William Scott Jr.
Colin Stokes
1980Paul Alexander Johnson
Julia Cherry Spruill
Guy Owen
C. Vann Woodward
Edwin M. Yoder Jr
1979Victor Silas Bryant
Jacob Berke Freedland
May Belle Penn Jones
Frank Hawkins Kenan
Joseph M. (Spike) Saunders
1978William McWhorter Cochrane
Andrew Samuel (Andy) Griffith
Eugene Pleasants Odum
Howard Thomas Odum
David Coston Sabiston Jr.
1977Nathaniel Perkinson Hayes
Phillip Hettleman
Susie Marshall Sharp
William Davis Snider
Shepperd Strudwick
1976William Haywood Bobbitt
Clement Eaton
Walter Gordy
Louis Harris
Charles Raper Jonas
1975Shelby Dade Foote
Gordon Gray
Frank Borden Hanes
Guion Griffis Johnson
Guy Benton Johnson
1974Archibald Kimbrough Davis
Holt McPherson
Thomas B. Stroup
Katharine Way
Tom Wicker
1973Page Ackerman
Samuel J. Ervin, Jr.
Paul Green
James Kerne (Kay) Kyser
Hugh Thomas Swedenberg, Jr.
1972William T. Couch
Emmanuel J. Evans
Charles B. Kuralt
James C. Wallace
Capus M. Waynick
1971Luther H. Hodges
Robert Mayer Lumiansky
Grover E. Murray
Frances Grey Patton
Oliver L. Sause
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