Each year the University of North Carolina at Asheville recognizes alumni who have made outstanding contributions to the University, their communities, or fields of endeavor. Because of the exemplary nature of their achievements, recipients represent the very best the UNC Asheville experience and in many ways serve as role models for the entire University community. The awards are presented annually.
Complete our nomination form to submit an alumnus for a national alumni award.
Roy A. Taylor Distinguished Alumnus or Alumna of the Year Award
Named in honor of the University’s first valedictorian, founder of its first Alumni Association, and distinguished member of the United States Congress, the Roy A. Taylor Distinguished Alumnus or Alumna Award is the highest award given to an alumnus/a and recognizes those graduates of UNC Asheville and its predecessor colleges for extraordinary achievement.
Donna Glick (Class of 1975)
Donna Glick '75 served as the Director of Huntington Theatre Company’s Department of Education and Community Programs for 22 years. Her work exemplifies the spirit of a UNC Asheville liberal arts education by examining the role and influence of the arts in the way that individuals participate in society. For more information about Donna Glick and her accomplishments, please view https://wpgiving.unca.edu/2020-national-alumni-award-recipients/.
David Ramseur (Class of 1976)
Political science graduate and student activist David Ramseur has had a noted career as a political aid, serving as press secretary and chief of staff to two Alaska governors, then as chief of staff to Anchorage’s mayor and to the state’s first Democratic US Senator in nearly 40 years.
Steve Woody (Class of 1989)
Steve Woody is the founder and CEO of Avadim Technologies in Asheville and is named the Roy A. Taylor Distinguished Alumnus of the Year – the highest honor given to an alumnus of UNC Asheville. Woody is an innovator and entrepreneur who created the product line Theraworx, a patented product that’s clinically proven to help control hospital-acquired infections by restoring the skin's natural defense properties. At UNC Asheville, the math major was a standout men's soccer player. He has served on the UNC Asheville Foundation Board and also serves on the A-TEAM, the advisory team of former student-athletes.
Jennifer Forsyth (Class of 1990)
UNC Asheville's highest alumni recognition, the Roy A. Taylor Distinguished Alumnus Award, was presented to Jennifer Forsyth, class of 1990, for her notable career at The Wall Street Journal where she served as U.S. editor for three years prior to being promoted to her current position as Deputy Editor, Investigations in 2014.
Ed Sheary (Class of 1975)
UNC Asheville's highest alumni recognition, the Roy A. Taylor Distinguished Alumnus Award, was presented to Ed Sheary, class of 1975, to honor his distinguished 24-year tenure as Buncombe County’s director of libraries. As part of many state committees, Sheary helped improve library services across North Carolina and in 2011 was named the state’s Library Director of the Year.
Harriette Winner (Class of 1982)
UNC Asheville's highest alumni recognition, the Roy A. Taylor Distinguished Alumnus Award, was presented to Harriette Winner (Class of 1982), for her notable career as director of volunteer services at Mission Health and her exceptional service to UNC Asheville. Winner has served on the UNC Asheville Board of Trustees, is a graduate of the Leadership Asheville program, is an associate member of the Children’s Welfare League, and is a sustaining partner of UNC Asheville’s Reuter Center and the Bulldog Athletics program.
Tom Steele (Class of 1984)
The Roy A. Taylor Distinguished Alumnus Award, was presented to Tom Steele (Class of 1984). He practices law in multiple areas, and has been a leader in the community serving on numerous boards and committees including the Burlington Parks and Recreation Commission and the Board of Habitat for Humanity. Professionally, he has served as Secretary of the Alamance County Bar Association and as a member of the North Carolina Bar Association's Large Law Firm Committee. He is presently a member of the Council of the Real Property Section of the North Carolina Bar Association and is Chairman of the Section's Ethics Committee.
Dr. James R. Buckner (Class of 1971)
UNC Asheville's highest alumni recognition, the Roy A. Taylor Distinguished Alumnus Award, was presented to Dr. James R. Buckner (Class of 1971) for his extraordinary career in education. He has been a teacher, a principal, a superintendent, and an executive in a career that has spanned higher education, government service, and private industry. Jim has been a national leader in teacher training and retention. Additionally, his service to the university has been extensive as the founding chair of the National Alumni Council, service as director of the UNC Asheville Foundation Board, and the first alumnus chair of the UNC Asheville Board of Trustees. Both he and his wife, Mary Elizabeth '68, have generously contributed their resources to the university with the establishment of an endowed scholarship in memory of Mary's parents, Bill and Elizabeth Belz.
Pete McDaniel (Class of 1974)
UNC Asheville's highest alumni recognition, the Roy A. Taylor Distinguished Alumnus Award, was presented to Pete McDaniel (Class of 1974) for his notable career as a sports writer. For more than 13 years McDaniel served as sport editor for the Hendersonville Times-News, and for the past two decades has served as a senior writer for Golf Digest and Gold World magazines. McDaniel and Earl Woods, father of Tiger Woods, co-authored the best-selling book, “Training a Tiger.” McDaniel also co-authored Tiger Woods’ all-time best-selling golf instruction book, “How I Play Golf.” McDaniel wrote the critically acclaimed “Uneven Lies: The Heroic Story of African Americans in Golf,” which resulted in the Golf Channel documentary, “Uneven Fairways,” which McDaniel co-wrote and co-produced.
Ann B. Ross (Class of 1984)
The Roy A. Taylor Distinguished Alumna Award, was presented to Ann B. Ross (Class of 1984) for her notable career as a novelist. The Hendersonville native recently released the 11th installment in the popular “Miss Julia” series. Books in the series have appeared many times on the New York Times Best Seller list.
Jim Daniels (Class of 1960)
The Roy A. Taylor Distinguished Alumnus Award was presented to James W. Daniels (Class of 1960) for his notable career in communications. Daniels is chairman and chief executive officer of Daniels Business Services Inc., a family-owned Asheville business engaging in printing, mailing and call center operations. With two operating divisions, Daniels Graphics and Daniels Communications, the business services a wide variety of customers from industrial corporations to educational institutions. A former UNC Asheville Foundation Board member, Daniels has also been active on a host of local charitable and civic boards.
Mike Grace (Class of 1974)
The Roy A. Taylor Distinguished Alumnus Award was presented to Mike Grace (Class of 1974) for his notable career as an attorney in Winston-Salem. Grace launched Grace, Holton, Tisdale & Clifton in 1981 and has earned a statewide reputation as a top litigator. Prior to opening his own practice, Grace worked as a staff attorney for Congressman Lamar Gudger and as a special assistant to the Assistant Attorney General in the U.S. Department of Justice by appointment of President Jimmy Carter.
Ray West (Class of 1972)
The Roy A. Taylor Distinguished Alumnus Award was presented to Ray F. West (Class of 1972) for his significant humanitarian work in the struggling Republic of Moldova. In 1997, Captain West’s Naval Reserve unit was charged with large-scale humanitarian work in Moldova. When he returned to North Carolina, West was inspired to continue the rebuilding efforts. He founded the Moldova World Children’s Fund in Hendersonville, which has been a driving force in constructing orphanages, renovating schools and providing scholarships.
Audrey Byrd Mosley (Class of 1974)
The 2004 Distinguished Alumna Award was presented to Audrey Byrd Mosley, Class of 1974. Audrey Byrd Mosley entered UNC Asheville in 1970, graduating in 1974 with majors in political science and classics. The University provided fine background for her to enter Harvard Law, where she received her J.D. in 1977.
Following law school, Audrey moved to Washington where she began her legal career as an attorney with the United States Department of Army Materiel and Readiness Command and since 1980. She has worked in the office of the general counsel of the National Academy of Sciences as Deputy General Counsel, and since 2011 has served as the General Counsel.
James Anderson Shields (Class of 1975)
The 2004 Distinguished Alumnus Award was presented to James Anderson Shields, Class of 1975.
Throughout a very successful business career, his love of learning and the life of the mind have been among Jim's most passionate interests. And his Alma Mater has never been far from his heart.
Jim is head of Anderson Hamilton, Inc., a Winston-Salem investment firm. He has generously used his talents and his resources over the years so that the university is better for each succeeding generation of students who wish to study here.
As a trustee of UNC Asheville, Jim works in the background and without requirement of attention to ensure the progress of the University in meeting its mission.
As a life-long learner and a true model of Chaucer's student, Jim is an external graduate student in philosophy at the University of Wales, Lampeter, currently analyzing the philosophical papers of Gilbert Ryle.
Richard B. Wynne (Class of 1950)
The 2003 Distinguished Alumnus Award was presented to Richard B. Wynne at the Founders Weekend 2003 Dinner of Distinction on Friday, Sept. 19, 2003. The dinner was held at The Reuter Center on the campus of UNC Asheville. Mr. Wynne is the former publisher of the
Asheville Citizen -Times and vice president of its then parent company Multimedia Inc..
Richard B. Wynne began his career as a copy boy and reporter before joining the U. S. Air Force. After his military service, Mr. Wynne, a member of the class of 1950, attended Asheville-Biltmore College during the day while working as a reporter at night. He was named managing editor at 28, then assistant to the publisher, and president and publisher of the Asheville Citizen-Times before retiring in 1987.
He was a member of the Asheville-Biltmore College Board of Trustees in the 1960's when it was seeking university status, and was active in community affairs, working to establish the WNC Farmers Market, N.C. Arboretum, Community Foundation of Western North Carolina and Better Business Bureau. He was a member of numerous civic boards as well, including the Chamber of Commerce, Red Cross and United Way. He currently serves on the Janirve Foundation Board.
Eugene L. Presley (Classes of 1981 & 1996)
The 2002 Distinguished Alumnus Award was presented to Eugene L. Presley. Presley is the president of Hayes & Lunsford Co. He earned two degrees from UNC Asheville, a bachelors degree in management in 1981 and a Master of Liberal Arts in 1996.
Presley has served UNC Asheville in many capacities. A former member of the UNCA Board of Trustees and the UNCA Foundation Board of Directors, he also served on the 1999 Chancellor's Search Committee, which selected Dr. James H. Mullen Jr. He is a strong supporter of the university, specifically the Undergraduate Research Fellows scholarship program. He is a member of the UNC Asheville Alumni Advisory Council.
He and his wife, JoJo, are the parents of two grown children, Lynn and Michael.
Zollie Stevenson Jr. (Class of 1975)
The 2001 Distinguished Alumnus Award was presented to Dr. Zollie Stevenson, Jr. Stevenson is the group leader for Standards, Assessment and Accountability in the Office of Elementary and Secondary Education at the U.S. Department of Education in Washington, DC. He demonstrates a strong commitment to education and community service. He is the National Chairman of Programs and Special Projects for Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc., the first Greek letter organization for college educated Black men established in 1906 at Cornell University. He also serves as the Board Chairman for the National Capital Area Chapter of the March of Dimes Birth Defects Foundation, Inc. which serves Washington, DC and the Northern Virginia counties of Arlington, Fairfax, Loudon and Prince William and the City of Alexandria. Dr. Stevenson's work includes serving as a national faculty member for the March of Dimes/Alpha Phi Alpha pregnancy prevention initiative which focuses on the male role and responsibility in prevention called Project Alpha.
In 2003, Zollie was presented the Alumni Achievement Award by the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Education. A 1975 graduate of UNC Asheville, Stevenson holds a M.S. degree from North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University in Greensboro, and a Ph.D. from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. While at UNCA he was Student Government Association President in 1974-75. He is a member of the UNC Asheville National Alumni Advisory Council.
Wilma Dykeman (Class of 1938)
The 2000 UNCA Distinguished Alumna Award was presented to noted author, historian, lecturer and social activist Wilma Dykeman at the annual Founders Day dinner Oct. 6.
A native of Asheville and a descendant of some of the earliest European inhabitants of the region, Dykeman is a 1938 graduate of Asheville-Biltmore College and a Phi Beta Kappa graduate of Northwestern University.
She is best known for her numerous literary contributions that eloquently explore her love for the Southern Appalachian Mountains and people. She has published 18 books, several in collaboration with her late husband James Stokely. She is the author of numerous volumes related to Tennessee history, including Tennessee: A Bicentennial History (1975), and she serves as the Tennessee State Historian.
Wilma passed away in December 2006.
Robert B. Peterson (Class of 1957)
The 1999 Distinguished Alumnus Award was presented to Robert B. Peterson for his extraordinary service to the University of North Carolina at Asheville. Peterson has been a member of the UNCA Alumni Association Board of Directors and chairman of the UNCA Foundation Board, and is currently co-chair of UNCA's capital campaign. He is a 1957 graduate of Asheville-Biltmore College, and later he received a bachelor of science degree from the University of Tennessee. A native of Asheville, Peterson retired as chief executive officer of Sky City Stores, a family-owned business. He is an ardent supporter of the university and his community, having served on many civic boards including the Arts Alliance, Optimist Club, Asheville-Buncombe Community Christian Ministry, Meals on Wheels and the Asheville Merchants Association. Peterson is a member of Emmanuel Lutheran Church and the High Street Banking Company board of directors. He is a past board member of the Country Club of Asheville and NationsBank. He and his wife, Barbara, have two adult children, Buzz and Cindy, and several grandchildren.
Wayne McDevitt (Class of 1975)
A native of Madison County, Wayne McDevitt was Chief of Staff to North Carolina's Governor Hunt. Prior to that he was the Secretary of the North Carolina Department of Environment and Natural Resources. A senior advisor to Gov. Jim Hunt since 1993, McDevitt previously was general manager and associate director of the North Carolina Arboretum. During Hunt's first administration, he was regional manager of the N.C. Department of Natural Resources and Community Development, and later he held a key position with the Western Office of the Governor.
Chairman and chief executive officer of the North Carolina Democratic party in 1995-96, McDevitt has been active in government and politics since his college days at UNC Asheville. A 1975 graduate with a bachelor's degree in political science, McDevitt has been a longtime proponent of higher education, championing many causes to benefit Western North Carolina and UNCA. Specifically, he has served on the UNCA Board of Trustees, UNCA Alumni Association Board of Directors, and as a special assistant to Chancellor David G. Brown during 1984-85. His many civic and governmental activities include work for Pack Place Education, Arts and Science Advisory Council, Appalachian Regional Commission, Economic Development Association of Western North Carolina, Asheville Revitalization Commission, Bele Chere Committee, United Way of Asheville and Buncombe County and Rural Economic Development Center and the UNC Asheville National Alumni Advisory Council Board of Directors. He and his wife Walda, have two children.
Michael Cogdill (Class of 1984)
Michael Cogdill, award-winning reporter for WYFF-TV in Greenville, South Carolina, was honored as UNCA's 1997 Distinguished Alumnus during Founders Day celebrations on campus on October 5, 1997.
A cum laude member of the class of 1984, Cogdill worked as a reporter and anchor for WECT-TV in Wilmington, NC and WRDW-TV in Augusta, GA before coming to Greenville eight years ago. He is currently anchor of WYFF-TV's 5:00 pm news and a general assignment reporter with a special emphasis on religious news.
During his career as a broadcaster, Cogdill has received more than twenty awards from the Radio and Television News Directors of the Carolinas and the Associated Press. He has also received eleven Emmy Awards--one in 1994 for his feature "Man of the Mountain" and two additional awards for his 1995 coverage of the Susan Smith murder case in Union, SC.
Thomas D. Reynolds (Class of 1937)
Dr. Thomas D. Reynolds, retired professor of mathematics at Duke University, was presented the Distinguished Alumni Award at the annual Leadership and Academic Awards Banquet, held at the Grove Park Inn in Asheville May 2, 1996.
Reynolds was a 1937 graduate of Biltmore College, a forerunner of UNCA. He earned his Ph.D. in mathematics from Duke University. Dr. Reynolds served as an associate professor of mathematics at Duke from 1953 until 1971, also serving on the North Carolina State Advisory Council on Teacher Education and Professional Standards, and serving as chair of the Mathematics Committee on Guidelines and Standards for Programs in Teacher Education. In 1972, Dr. Reynolds began a career as a land surveyor, becoming owner of the Black Mountain, NC-based Reynolds Co. in 1983.
Through his active involvement with the Alumni Association, Dr. Reynolds perpetuated his family's close relationship with UNCA until his passing in 1997. His wife, Lillian Osbourne Reynolds, also graduated from Biltmore College in 1937. His father, A.C. Reynolds, helped found Buncombe County Junior College, which grew to become UNCA. The Reynolds Award, presented annually to the UNCA senior who is most outstanding in citizenship, was founded by Mary and Martin Nesbitt.
Roy A. Taylor (Class of 1929) - posthumously
The late Roy A. Taylor, former U.S. representative and first President of UNCA's Alumni Association, was honored posthumously with the first Distinguished Alumni Award at the Annual Leadership and Academic Awards Banquet, held at the Grove Park Inn in Asheville May 4, 1995.
Taylor graduated from Buncombe County Junior College (one of UNCA's predecessors) as valedictorian of the Class of 1929. He served for 30 years as an official at local, state, and federal levels, introducing legislation that led to state funding of junior colleges. His work was instrumental in UNCA's evolution into a four-year educational institution.
Taylor served as a member of the university's Board of Trustees and established the Roy A. Taylor Public Speaking Scholarship Prize, awarded to a UNCA student each spring. In 1986, he was awarded UNCA's first honorary Doctor of Law degree. He was presented the UNCA Chancellor's Medallion--the university's highest award for volunteer service--in 1991.
Thomas D. Reynolds Alumni Award for Service to the University
Son of the University’s founder and graduate of the Class of 1937, Thomas D. Reynolds spent sixty years as one of the University’s strongest promoters and most active volunteers. This award recognizes one alumnus/a (degreed or non-degreed) each year for exemplary service to the University of North Carolina at Asheville.
Tate Lyda (Class of 1991)
Tate Lyda '91 is the Owner and President of Alliance Driveway Solutions, Inc. Under Tate’s leadership, Alliance Driveaway Solutions has become a recognized and proven leader in the vehicle driveaway services and logistics industry. As an alumnus, Tate has been instrumental in raising funds for the Joe Frick Memorial Endowed Scholarship, which honors our 1993 UNC Asheville alumnus Joe Frick who passed away in 2010. Tate has also dedicated much of his time and energy to create, promote, and organize the annual Joe Frick Memorial Golf Tournament to benefit the scholarship and the university. For more information about Tate Lyda and his accomplishments, please view https://wpgiving.unca.edu/2020-national-alumni-award-recipients/.
Karen K. Brown '81 has been a professional artist for over 30 years, and her artwork is displayed in numerous galleries, private and corporate collections nationwide. Karen has a studio/gallery in the Rivers Arts District. She is very active in the university community, first with the UNC Asheville Alumni Association and then on the UNC Asheville Board of Trustees.
Molly deMattos '02 is co-owner of the Matt and Molly Team of Keller Williams Realty, which has been voted No. 1 five years in a row in Best of WNC for the Real Estate Agent category. Her team supports UNC Asheville Athletics by sponsoring the hospitality events at basketball games, and she serves on the A-TEAM, the advisory team of former student-athletes. At UNC Asheville she competed on the track and field team for four years while pursuing a B.A. in literature and creative writing. She also serves the greater Asheville community, volunteering as a youth adviser at Grace Covenant Presbyterian Church and serving on the board of Asheville Youth Mission. De Mattos is the recipient of the 2017 Thomas D. Reynolds Award for Service to the University.
John Noor '07 receives the Thomas D. Reynolds Alumni Award for Service to the University, named for the son of the university’s founder, a graduate of the class of 1937, and one of the university’s most active volunteers and supporters over sixty years. Noor, a litigation attorney focusing on environmental law, complex business litigation, governmental affairs, and public policy, serves on UNC Asheville’s National Alumni council and serves students as an adjunct instructor, teaching a course in environmental law.
The Thomas D. Reynolds Alumni Award for Service to the University was given to Andrea Jackson '92. Jackson, a staunch supporter and contributor to UNC Asheville, has been active coordinating on-campus alumni participation in the Homecoming parade. Together with her husband Jimmy, she provides the music at Bulldog basketball games at Kimmel Arena.
Shon Norris '00 received the Thomas D. Reynolds Alumni Award for Service to the University. A former Bulldog pitcher, Norris was recruited by the Boston Red Sox during his junior year, but continued taking classes during the off-season. Norris became a principal partner at Gould Killian CPA Group and has served on UNC Asheville’s Management and Accountancy Department’s advisory board. He continues to serve on UNC Asheville’s Foundation Board.
Barbara Baker '71 received the Thomas D. Reynolds Alumni Award for her exemplary service to UNC Asheville. A gifted leader, Barbara served on the UNC Asheville National Alumni Council for six years, and served as chair from 2010 until 2012. At home, she has been an active alumna through serving as a volunteer student recruiter, hosting new student send-offs, and serving as a regional contact and coordinator for numerous alumni events in the Triangle area. She currently serves as Board Chair for the American Red Cross, Central North Carolina Chapter and is a sustaining member of the Junior League of Durham and Orange Counties.
Jasmin Gentling '99, graduate of the University's Masters of the Liberal Arts program, received the Thomas D. Reynolds Award for Service to the University. Jasmin has been a vocal advocate of UNC Asheville while giving the gifts of her time, money, and support. She and her husband, Peter, have supported student scholarships and have hosted students, student organizations, alumni, and the National Alumni Council numerous times at their home. She has served on both the UNC Asheville Foundation Board and National Alumni Council.
Alexis '97 and Ed Johnson '96 received the Thomas D. Reynolds Award for Service to the University. They were honored for their generous and unique contribution to UNC Asheville as the keepers of the university’s mascot, Rocky I. Since Rocky was introduced to Bulldog fans during Homecoming 2009, Alexis and Ed have contributed thousands of hours to the university as "parents" of the mascot, making Rocky a beloved icon of UNC Asheville. Ed is a mathematics lecturer at UNC Asheville.
Steve Zeis received the Thomas D. Reynolds Award for Service to the University. A native of Istanbul of Greek heritage, Zeis studied at UNC Asheville’s predecessor institution, Asheville-Biltmore College. He went on to a successful international career representing European textile and plastics machinery manufacturers. In 2005, Zeis and his wife, Frosene, donated $3 million to UNC Asheville, the largest private gift in the university’s history.
Rickie B. Lowe '82 received the Thomas D. Reynolds Award for Service to the University. Lowe is an extremely active UNC Asheville volunteer. From cooking dinner for phone-a-thon callers 20 years ago to coordinating the Athletics Auction last fall, Rickie donates countless hours to her alma mater. An addition, she currently serves on the board of the Bulldog Club and was a board member of the former Alumni Association Board of Directors.
Jim Buckner '71 received the Thomas D. Reynolds Award for Service to the University. Buckner has served on the University's Board of Trustees, Foundation Board and National Alumni Council, which he help found. Truly passionate about their alma mater, Buckner and his wife Mary (Class of 1968), have been generous supporters of the University through their gifts and time. The couple established an endowed scholarship and regularly host alumni gatherings near their home in Atlanta.
Dr. M. David Cogburn '77 was presented the Thomas D. Reynolds Award for Service to the University. A 1977 graduate with distinction in biology, Dr. Cogburn founded Carolina Mountain Dermatology in south Asheville. A longtime University supporter, Dr. Cogburn has served as director, associate chair and currently as chair of the UNC Asheville Foundation Inc. He was instrumental in establishing the S. Dexter Squibb Lectureship in Chemistry and, along with his wife, as the Gay and David Cogburn Scholarship in the Art Department.
Steve Honeycutt '85 received the Thomas D. Reynolds Alumni Award for Service to the University. Honeycutt, UNC Asheville’s budget officer, is a longtime alumni volunteer. For 13 years, Honeycutt has organized the annual Student Move-In, coordinating some 100 UNC Asheville faculty and staff volunteers who assist students and their parents with the move into residence halls.
Francine M. Delany Alumni Award for Service to the Community
A member of the class of 1966, the University’s first baccalaureate class, and the University’s first African-American graduate, Francine contributed a lifetime of service to Asheville and the surrounding community in support of childhood education. This award recognizes one alumnus/a (degreed or non-degreed) for exemplary service to their community, state, or nation.
Sergio Mariaca (Class of 1997)
Sergio Mariaca '97 is an accredited investment fiduciary analyst and the president of Mariaca Wealth Management LLC, a Florida-based registered investment advisory firm that serves the financial and wealth management needs of people and businesses. Throughout his career, Mariaca has shown true commitment to community service and is a strong advocate for children, education, and people living with special needs. His commitment to volunteerism is consistently displayed through his extensive board experience serving nonprofit organizations such as the Economic Council of Palm Beach County, the Autism Society of America (2010-2016), the United Way of Palm Beach County, the Education Foundation of Palm Beach County (2002-2008), SunFest, Girl Scouts of America, the Area Agency on Aging of the Palm Beaches and Treasure Coast, and, most recently, Nonprofits First in Palm Beach County. For more information about Sergio Mariaca and his accomplishments, please view https://wpgiving.unca.edu/2020-national-alumni-award-recipients/.
Sabine Moses '12, a WNC native, is a North Carolina Teaching Fellow and one of three women math teachers at Erwin High School. Since starting her career as a teacher, she has been voted Teacher of the Month multiple times and has been nominated for Teacher of the Year.
Bill Gettys '74 has a long and storied career in the IT field, having worked for Oracle for many years. The Asheville native is currently employed by Electronic Office. He is a member and treasurer of Grace Covenant Presbyterian Church and well known for his work in the community garden there, inspired from his trip to Haiti to work in a medical laboratory. He is a board member and past president of the Asheville Symphony Orchestra, an enthusiastic supporter of bringing the Music Works! Program to the Asheville City Schools, and a volunteer with the Veterans Restoration Quarters. Gettys, a physics major, is the 2017 recipient of the Francine M. Delany Award for Service to the Community.
Jacquelyn Hallum received the Francine Delany Alumni Award for Service to the Community. Hallum, a former chair of the Asheville City Schools Board of Education and current director of health careers and diversity education at Mountain Area Health Education Center (MAHEC), is a leader in the effort to support workforce diversity in health care and educate area youth about health care careers. After studying at UNC Asheville for some of her undergraduate years, she earned a Bachelor of Science degree from North Carolina A&T State University, and earned a dual master's degree at Pfeiffer University.
The Francine M. Delany Alumni Award for Service to the Community, State or Nation was presented to Etta Mae Whitner Patterson, who bravely broke the color barrier and became UNC Asheville’s first African-American student. She was chosen in 1961 to test segregation policies by leaders in Asheville’s African-American community because of her outstanding academic record at Stephens-Lee High School and her role in the Asheville Student Committee on Racial Equality, which led the effort to desegregate many Asheville stores and businesses. Patterson enjoyed a friendship with the late Francine Delany for whom the award is named. Delany, UNC Asheville’s first African-American graduate, joined the student body a semester after Patterson.
The Francine Delany Alumni Award for Service to the Community, State or Nation was presented to Jerry VeHaun '63, and Heather Hudson '66. VeHaun currently serves as mayor of Woodfin and as the director of Buncombe County Emergency Management Services, where he oversees the county's response to both local and national disasters. He is an internationally certified emergency manager who is a member of numerous volunteer and professional organizations.
Hudson '66, a member of the first baccalaureate class at UNC Asheville, served on the National Alumni Council and is a tireless advocate for the university. All five of her children also graduated from UNC Asheville.
The Francine M. Delany Alumni Award for Service to the Community was received by Wes Morrison '97, a Lieutenant Colonel who currently serves both as the Battalion Commander of the 1st Battalion, 120th Infantry, and Deputy J5 for the State of Partnership Programs and Engagements, of the North Carolina National Guard. Wes also oversees the national State Partnership Program of the NC Guard with the countries of Moldova and Botswana. During his National Guard career, he has commanded an Infantry Company in Iraq in 2004, served as the Executive Officer for the North Carolina Army National Guard Recruiting Battalion and as the Human Resources Officer for a 4,000 soldier brigade combat team. Wes is also on the Executive Council for the North Carolina National Guard Association, a group which represents over 15,000 active and retired National Guardsmen to local and nationally elected officials on issues important to NC National Guardsmen and their families.
The Francine M. Delany Award for Service to the Community was presented to Allison Jordan '97. As the Executive Director of Children First/Communities in Schools of Buncombe County, Allison has been committed to improving the lives of children and their families both through advocacy and direct services. She has also served on the Board of the United Way, Buncombe County Smart Start, the Juvenile Crime Prevention Council, and the Gang Violence Prevention Project. She volunteers with the Red Cross, the Mediation Center, the Junior League, and Bele Chere.
The Francine M. Delany Award for Service to the Community was given to Carol King '89 and Amanda Edwards '99. In addition to building one of Asheville's most respected accounting firms, Carol L. King and Associates, King '89 was an instrumental leader in the redevelopment of Pack Square in downtown Asheville. As the founding chair of the Pack Square Conservancy, King brought together a diverse and often discordant group of stakeholders to transform Asheville’s historic city center into a park and community gathering space for the 21st century.
Edwards '99, an advocate for literacy, served as executive director of the Friends of Literacy in Knoxville, Tenn. and is now executive director of the Literacy Council of Buncombe County. As a result of Edwards' leadership over the past seven years, the Literacy Council has increased its fundraising by over 60 percent and has significantly expanded its outreach, especially in the Hispanic, Ukrainian and Russian immigrant communities.
The Francine M. Delany Award for Service to the Community was presented to Michael F. Ochsenreiter '80 for his dedicated civilian career to the U.S. Air Force. Ochsenreiter worked on the F-15 Program and the top-secret SR-71 "Black Bird" Program and served as deputy director of the Air Force Services Agency. When he wrapped up his career with the Air Force, Ochsenreiter was honored by the governors of Texas and North Carolina for his dedicated service.
The Francine M. Delany Award for Service to the Community was presented to Joye Haynes-Ganger '89. A 1989 management graduate of UNC Asheville, Joye Hanes-Granger has not only built a thriving health care business in Henderson County (Whitley Home Medical) but has used her expertise in the Health Care Equipment industry to serve her community. After the passing of a loved one, many families find themselves with a tremendous amount of unneeded medical equipment. Joye accepts the equipment, repairs it (if needed) and donates it on behalf of the person who passed away to others in need of the equipment. She also donates equipment and her time to Four seasons Hospice to help families in need throughout Henderson County. An active Rotarian, Joye also gives generously to water projects in Ecuador, and to academic scholarship projects in Hendersonville. Joye is committed to improving her community and credits her UNC Asheville education for giving her the tools to serve.
The Francine M. Delany Award for Service to the Community was presented to Esteve Coll-Larrosa '00 for dedication to educating and supporting the Spanish-speaking communities of Buncombe, Henderson, Jackson and Macon counties. An employee of United Services Credit Union, Coll-Larrosa volunteers to teach Latino residents about their financial rights. He travels widely across Western North Carolina, providing free financial instructional program on topics ranging from the importance of opening a bank account to building a good credit report.
The Francine M. Delany Alumni Award for Service to the Community was presented to James Stickney '78. A native of Asheville, Stickney serves as the chair of the Board of Directors of the United Way of Asheville and Buncombe County Inc. and is the past chair for the YMCA Capital Campaign. He has served on the boards of the American Red Cross, Family Services Center, and The Better Business Bureau of WNC. A past-president of the UNC Asheville Alumni Association, he has also served as a member of the UNC Asheville Foundation Board and The Bulldog Club.
The Order of Pisgah Award for Alumni Achievement
Named in homage to Mount Pisgah, one of the area’s tallest peaks and the campus’ visual center, the Order of Pisgah recognizes one or two alumni (degreed or non-degreed) for outstanding achievement in their fields of endeavor.
Dr. Cerise Glenn-Manigault (Class of 1999)
Dr. Cerise Glenn-Manigault '99 directs the African American and African Diaspora studies program at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. She is an Associate Professor in the department of Communication Studies. She has dedicated her career to mentoring diverse groups in higher education, which includes directing the University Faculty Mentoring program for tenure-track faculty. She also worked with the Rites of Passage program, which conducted monthly workshops for Black male undergraduates in their first two years of college. For more information about Dr. Cerise Glenn-Manigault and her accomplishments, please view https://wpgiving.unca.edu/2020-national-alumni-award-recipients/.
Ms. Fatima Johnson (Class of 1998)
Fatima Johnson '98 has dedicated her career to government service at the national level. She has been employed at NASA for 13 years and currently serves as the Executive Officer for the Agency Chief Information Office. Fatima oversees office operations, which includes a staff of sixty-seven civil servants. She leads and manages all interactions and responses to the Government Accountability Office (GAO), the Office of the Inspector General (OIG) and the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) and other audit organizations on all matters related to information and technology, and she also ensure the continuity of operations for NASA IT systems and applications owned by the office in the event of nationwide emergencies and/or disasters. For more information about Fatima Johnson and her accomplishments, please view https://wpgiving.unca.edu/2020-national-alumni-award-recipients/.
Marquis McGee '99 currently serves as associate director of first-year programs at James Madison University. He has spent nearly 20 years providing academic and social support for students in K-12 and Higher education as a counselor, advisor, instructor, and university administrator. As a first-generation college graduate, he is very passionate about helping first-generation and marginalized students gain access to and successfully navigate college’s hidden curriculum.
Peter Haschke '07 is a leader in the political science profession. He has worked as an expert consultant on human rights violations and civil conflict for a joint United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and World Bank study on development and conflict prevention and resolution. Upon his return to UNC Asheville as a faculty member in 2013, he joined the human rights measurement project, the Political Terror Scale (PTS) as a principal investigator and has published several papers.
Dave de Haan '97, a psychologist by degree and profession, has made significant contributions in his field of Performance Enhancement Psychology in the United States and Europe. He conducts elite coaching clinics, publishes books and articles and serves as a performance enhancement consultant to top tennis professionals. He also was a professional basketball player, playing power forward internationally after graduating from UNC Asheville, where he was a center for the Bulldogs. In addition, de Haan has authored educational resources, books on mental training in tennis, and a children’s book on life skills and learning math, which has been translated into several languages. He is a 2017 recipient of the Order of Pisgah Award for Alumni Achievement.
Patrick Conant '11
Patrick Conant has used his computer science degree from UNC Asheville to co-captain Code for Asheville and found PRC Applications, a local company that dedicates at least 20 percent of its time to community projects.
His dedication to open source software, government transparency and “open data” initiatives led to contributions to several Asheville projects, including Sunshine Request, AVL Park, and Asheville Music Guide. In response to a need identified by the N.C. Association of Teacher Assistants, he created NC Megaphone, a tool that helps citizens contact their state legislators. He has worked with BeLoved Asheville to create a community computer lab for the homeless and others in need and assisted the Asheville Buncombe NAACP with their efforts to analyze racial disparities in traffic stop outcomes.
He brings a socially conscious, data-driven perspective to each project. Conant is a 2017 recipient of the Order of Pisgah Award for Alumni Achievement.
Cristina Alonso '97 was named one of two winners of the 2016 Order of Pisgah Award for Alumni Achievement. Alonso, experienced in appellate litigation in state and federal courts, is former president of Florida Legal Services, Inc., a non-profit providing legal assistance to those unable to afford representation. She was counsel of record on an amicus brief filed by the Campaign for Southern Equality and the Equality Federation that called upon the U.S. Supreme Court to act quickly to ensure the freedom to marry for LGBT people across the nation.
LaKesha McDay '09 was named one of two winners of the 2016 Order of Pisgah Award for Alumni Achievement. McDay has held a variety of positions at Mission Health over two decades. She also serves as a consultant for Mission’s Center for Leadership and Professional Development, and has served the community as a loaned executive for the United Way of Asheville and Buncombe County.
Three distinguished alumni – Joan Elliott of the class of 1976 and Greg and Ashley Garrison of the class of 2005 – were given the Order of Pisgah Award for Alumni Achievement. A Fulbright Scholar who did research on education in Korea and the Soviet Union, Elliott went on to be Buncombe County Teacher of the Year and serve on the faculty at three different universities including UNC Asheville. Greg and Ashley Garrison, biology and math majors respectively, are the creative, savvy and community-minded owners of The Hop Ice Cream Café. In 2014, The Hop won the Mountain Xpress awards for Best Ice Cream, Best Place for Birthday Parties, and Best Business that Gives Back to the Community. Greg, a former Bulldog soccer player and coach, volunteers on campus as a math tutor and can be found at many campus events scooping The Hop’s “Bulldog Tracks” flavor ice cream. The Garrisons also generously fund The Hop Scholarship at UNC Asheville.
The Order of Pisgah Award has been presented to Justin Belleme '05 and Leslie Klein Newman '07. Justin Belleme has become one of the most successful entrepreneurs in Asheville. Justin has had a significant role in shaping the city’s global web and social media presence. His success has led him to found JB Media Group in 2011, a boutique internet marketing agency. JB Media Group has supported a wide range of local organizations and non-profits. Leslie Klein Newman founded the only volunteer-based Multiple Sclerosis Chapter in North Carolina in 2010. She has organized several events, a number of symposiums, and educational presentations. She has also worked in close collaboration with a number of UNC Asheville organizations.
Sarah Nuñez '04 was inducted into the Order of Pisgah for outstanding achievement in her professional field. Sarah has been an active advocate for the Hispanic community in Western North Carolina. She has served as the Chair of the Board of the Latino Advocacy Coalition and as a consultant for the UNC Asheville Center for Diversity Education and the Buncombe County Health Department, as well as a leader in the annual Fiesta Latina. Recently, she was named to serve as Executive Director of the Asheville Buncombe Community Relations Council, which works to mitigate discriminatory practices, provides a forum for community dialogue, and works to enhance the mutual respect of diverse groups in the community.
Kinneil Coltman ’00 was inducted into the Order of Pisgah for outstanding achievement in her professional field. Coltman serves as the Director of Diversity and Language Services for the Greenville Hospital System University Medical Center. Through Coltman's leadership, the hospital system has significantly expanded its outreach and ability to serve a broad array of diverse patients. Coltman is also chair of the Board for the International Center of the Upstate, and is active with the YWCA of Greenville and the South Carolina Hospital Association Diversity Council.
Tarik Glenn ’06 was inducted into the Order of Pisgah for outstanding achievement in his professional field. Glenn is a workforce development specialist at Mission Health System in Asheville. He has been an integral part of the success of Mission Possible, an innovative program that provides healthcare internships and career development to local high school students.
Holly Spencer Bunting '00 was inducted into the Order of Pisgah for outstanding achievement in her professional field. A summa cum laude graduate of UNC Asheville, Bunting earned a law degree at American University. Today she works for K&L Gates in Washington, D.C. and practices in the areas of mortgage banking and consumer finance, with a concentration on federal and state regulatory enforcement. A consummate advocate for her alma mater, Bunting has a lent a hand with UNC Asheville's popular World of Work Program and helped wrap up donations for the Class of 2000 gift to the University.
Brian Winslett '03 founded and now serves as CEO of the Asheville company "Blue Ridge Biofuels." This firm is the only local distributor of biodiesel fuel. Brian devotes himself to the cause of educating the public about the environmental benefits of switching to plant-based fuel sources. In the four short years since he graduated, Brian has literally transformed his community. He is a model environmental citizen of who the University can be very proud.
Michael Taylor '97 was awarded the Order of Pisgah for outstanding achievement in his professional field. Taylor was the co-creator of the critically acclaimed MTV sock-puppet program, “The Sifl and Olly Show.” He has also worked as a producer/director for CMT and as a writer on several short films. Recently, Taylor launched a new career in architecture with Delta Design and Development in Nashville, Tenn.
A doctoral candidate in parasitology and vector-borne infectious diseases at Tulane University, Brian Byrd '00 began his research career as an Undergraduate Research Scholar at UNC Asheville. He received the Faust Outstanding Graduate Student Award at graduation from Tulane’s Master of Public Health degree program in 2002. Byrd is currently working with both the West Nile virus and the Lacrosse virus, the leading cause of pediatric encephalitis in the United States.
The Alumni Distinguished Faculty Award
This award is presented annually to one faculty member (active or retired) who has gone above and beyond the call of duty. It recognizes those faculty whose service to students goes beyond the classroom and who have distinguished themselves as extraordinary mentors and advisors.
Keith Bramlett is the retired Sara & Joseph Breman Professor of Social Relations at UNC Asheville. He taught courses including Sociology of Law, Service Learning in Restorative Justice, Difference and Inequality and The Changing Role of Women in the Criminal Justice System. Dr. Bramlett received a number of awards during his tenure including the Distinguished Teacher of the Year Award in 1990, the Student Affairs Faculty Appreciation Award in 1990, the Excellence in Teaching in the Social Sciences Award in 1996, and the Distinguished Service Award in 2005. He was made a Fellow of the Key Center for Community Engaged Learning in 2010. On campus, Dr. Bramlett was involved with the LGBTQ campus organization, Alliance and the Diversity Action Council as well as with various non-profit organizations in the Asheville-Buncombe community such as Youth Outright, WNC Inc.
Ann Dunn '93 is a faculty member, a mentor, a dancer, and a leader in the arts community. As a faculty member of UNC Asheville since 1996, Ann teaches an average of 200 students per year, and is known as an extraordinary mentor and advisor to students and alumni.
Dwight Mullen, professor of political science and 33-year veteran of UNC Asheville’s faculty, is the 2017 recipient of the Alumni Distinguished Faculty Award. A gifted teacher, active scholar and engaged community leader, Mullen has taught courses that have consistently challenged and inspired his students. For a decade, Mullen has led his students in a research project on The State of Black Asheville, collecting and presenting an array of data on health, housing, income, education, employment, and incarceration rates, and cataloging the severe racial disparities in Asheville. His work has been recognized by Buncombe County Commissioners in 2017 and by the UNC System Board of Governors in 2014.
Professor of English and director of the First-Year Writing Program
The Alumni Distinguished Faculty Award, presented to a faculty member who has gone above and beyond the call of duty in advising and mentorship, was given to Dee James, professor of English and director of the First-Year Writing Program at UNC Asheville. James, a graduate of UNC Asheville and member of the faculty since 1987, has co-led international travel experiences to Ghana, taught in the Africana Studies, Arts and Ideas, and Humanities programs, and played an essential role in helping students master effective and expressive writing.
John Eric Gant
Assistant Professor of Foreign Languages
The Alumni Distinguished Faculty Award, presented to a faculty member who has gone above and beyond the call of duty in advising and mentorship, was given to John Eric Gant, assistant professor of foreign languages at UNC Asheville. Gant, who has been on the faculty for 15 years, has taught 24 different courses in foreign languages, Africana studies, arts and ideas, and humanities. He has led students on trips abroad to Ecuador, Honduras, Ghana, Mexico and Nigeria.
Professor of Management
The Alumni Distinguished Faculty Award was given to Robert Yearout, professor of Management. Yearout has earned several awards since joining the faculty in 1988, including the Governor’s Award for Excellence in Teaching, UNC Asheville's Distinguished Teaching Award, the University Distinguished Teaching Award in the Social Sciences, and the Ruth and Leon Feldman Professorship for Scholarship and Service.
Mary Lynn Manns
Professor of Management
The Alumni Distinguished Faculty Award was given to Mary Lynn Manns, professor of Management. Dr. Manns is an inspiring teacher who has generously given her time to help students with undergraduate research projects as well as helping alumni build their networks. She has made the UNC Asheville experience truly extraordinary for many so students by being tireless in her support.
Associate Professor of Biology
The Alumni Distinguished Faculty Award was given to Ted Meigs, UNC Asheville GlaxoSmithKline Professor of Molecular and Chemical Biology. Dr. Meigs addresses the broad question of how cells in the human body communicate with each other, and more specifically how these communication pathways are disrupted during cancer progression. Every aspect of his research involves his students. With his undergraduate research students he is developing new initiatives in molecular and chemical biology, fostering new opportunities for cross-discipline collaboration and community involvement.
Teaching Fellows Program Director
The Alumni Distinguished Faculty Award was given to Brenda Hopper, director of the UNC Asheville Teaching Fellows program. Hopper was recognized for her genuine care and concern for her students’ professional and personal wellbeing, and for her exemplary service as a mentor and advisor.
Associate Professor of History
The Alumni Distinguished Faculty Award was given to Dan Pierce, associate professor of History. Pierce is a noted national expert on the history of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park and NASCAR. The Asheville native is the author of the popular books "The Great Smokies: From Natural Habitat to National Park" and "Real NASCAR: White Lightning, Red Clay and Big Bill France."
Dolly Jenkins Mullen
Associate Professor of Political Science
Dolly Jenkins Mullen, who joined the faculty in 1984, has established an outstanding reputation as a professor who cares deeply about her students. She spends many hours outside the classroom meeting with students to guide their coursework, as well as lending an ear to those struggling with personal problems.
Professor of History
Sarah Judson joined the History faculty in the Fall of 1997. In the decade that has followed, she has established an outstanding reputation as a faculty member who cares deeply for her students. A great teacher, she also gives generously of her time out of class and is especially known for her kindness in helping students with their senior thesis. Many graduates credit their career path to Sarah's mentorship.
Professor of Environmental Science
The University presented the Distinguished Faculty Award posthumously to Environmental Studies Professor Richard P. Maas. He died last December, following a brief illness. Maas, who joined the faculty in 1987, was a visionary scientist, inspirational teacher and one of the country’s leading water quality researchers. Maas was a founder and co-director of UNC Asheville’s Environmental Quality Institute, which serves as a national center for environmental research. Maas was also active in the community. He helped found the Volunteer Water Information Network and the Clean Air Community Trust, and served on numerous local boards.
Professor of Literature
The Distinguished Faculty Award was presented to Merritt Moseley. Moseley, who joined the UNC Asheville faculty in 1978, is professor of literature and language. He has published books on David Lodge, Kingsley Amis and Julian Barnes and serves as the editor of the “Dictionary of Literary Biography” volumes on British novelists since 1960. Moseley holds a doctorate from UNC Chapel Hill.
Athletics Hall of Fame (Department of Athletics)