Chancellor’s Medallion adds luster, history to installation

Carolina Chancellor Carol Folt will leave Saturday’s installation ceremony wearing plenty of history – and a bit more shine.

The Chancellor’s Medallion, which will be placed around her neck during the University Day Ceremony on Saturday (Oct. 12), has been updated with a silver chain of office that includes thin rectangles engraved with the names and dates of service of the 10 previous UNC chancellors. It also features links made in the shape of the Old Well and the Davie Poplar leaves, both icons of the Carolina campus.

The chain can be lengthened and shortened depending on the chancellor who wears it, and contains blank plates for the names of future chancellors.

“It’s really a blending of the old and the new,’’ says Jane Smith, UNC’s associate director of university events who helped develop the concept and design.

The Chancellor’s Medallion was donated to the University during the 1993 Bicentennial Observance by John Sanders, professor emeritus and a former director of the Institute of Government (now the School of Government). It was originally suspended by a hand-woven white ribbon, but after 20 years and five chancellors, it needed replacing, Smith says.

She began researching other universities’ chains of office, which are common, and took her ideas to Wentworth and Sloan Jewelers in Chapel Hill. There, she collaborated with silversmith Betsy Pugh and owner Ken Jackson, who has a long history of selling Carolina jewelry and gifts. The result, after several sketches: A piece that adds even more luster to an already-memorable day – and, fittingly, is the addition that Sanders always wanted.

He and then-Chancellor Paul Hardin exchanged letters about the topic 20 years ago.

“John described the medallion, and he wrote that he hoped it would be followed up with a chain of office, which he thought should include plates with the names of the former chancellors on it, and their dates of service,’’ Smith says.

“It was very special for me to be able to complete that project.”

And help add a new piece of Carolina history that should shine for years to come.

By Robbi Pickeral, UNC-Chapel Hill University Relations.

Published October 8, 2013.