Davie Awards honor four for extraordinary service to the University, community

The University’s Board of Trustees has honored four recipients with the William Richardson Davie Award, the board’s highest honor.

Chancellor Holden Thorp and the trustees will honor Joan Gillings, adviser and philanthropist, of Chapel Hill; Bernadette Gray-Little, chancellor of the University of Kansas, of Lawrence, Kan.; Luther Hodges Jr., president of Phoenix Associates Inc., of Chapel Hill; and Nelson Schwab III, managing director of Carousel Capital, of Charlotte, during a dinner this evening (Nov. 16) at the Carolina Inn.

Established by the Board of Trustees in 1984, the Davie Award is named for the Revolutionary War hero who is considered the father of the University. It recognizes extraordinary service to the University or society.

Joan Gillings

In 2007, Joan and Dennis Gillings made the largest single commitment from an individual in University history: $50 million to the School of Public Health, renamed the Gillings School of Global Public Health, accelerating delivery of public health solutions in North Carolina and around the world.

Joan Gillings, whose career has included working as a commercial real estate broker in Chapel Hill, has contributed greatly to leadership at Carolina. She serves on the Gillings School’s acceleration advisory committee and supports PlayMakers Repertory Company, Morehead Planetarium and Science Center, and pediatric oncology and hematology at UNC Hospitals. Among other honors, her efforts have earned her the General Alumni Association’s Distinguished Service Medal.

Gillings’ service to North Carolina extends to UNC-Wilmington, where she chairs the Board of Visitors. She also serves on the board of the North Carolina Museum of Art and the Wrightsville Beach Museum of History, and she worked to revitalize Wilmington’s Opera House Theatre Company.

Bernadette Gray-Little

From her childhood home in Washington, N.C., Gray-Little entered Marywood University in Scranton, Pa., where she earned her A.B. in psychology with high honors. Master’s and doctoral degrees from St. Louis University followed with research into the impact of society and culture on personality and psychopathology – much of the inquiry conducted in Copenhagen on a Fulbright Fellowship.

Gray-Little returned to North Carolina to join Carolina’s faculty in 1971 and advanced through the ranks from assistant professor to director of the graduate program in psychology, chair of the department, senior associate dean for undergraduate education, executive associate provost, dean of the College of Arts and Sciences and executive vice chancellor and provost.

Honors earned for her service to UNC include a Distinguished Service Medal from the General Alumni Association, awarded in 2009. That same year, she became the first female and African-American chancellor at the University of Kansas.

Luther Hodges Jr.

Hodges graduated from Carolina in 1957 with a B.A. in economics before earning his M.B.A. in economics and finance from Harvard Business School. He began a banking career with North Carolina National Bank and advanced to become chair of what is now Bank of America. During the Carter administration, he served as the first U.S. deputy secretary of the Department of Commerce.

His career since has included additional executive posts in banking and in publishing, and he has held faculty appointments at several universities. He now is president of Phoenix Associates Inc., a venture capital firm.
Hodges has supported many areas at UNC, including the Ackland Art Museum, Carolina Performing Arts, Kenan-Flagler Business School and the School of Medicine. A past member of the Board of Visitors, he has been recognized as leader of the Order of the Grail, Order of the Golden Fleece and the Order of Gimghoul. He is a former member of the UNC system’s Board of Governors.

Nelson Schwab III

Schwab received a degree in English from UNC in 1967 and then earned his M.B.A. from the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania. He began his career in real estate development and went on to form his own enterprise, Kings Entertainment Company, operating regional theme parks.

He sold the company to Paramount Communications and assumed leadership as CEO and chair of Paramount Parks. In 1996, he and fellow Carolina alumnus Erskine Bowles formed Carousel Capital, a private firm investing in Southeastern-based companies.

Schwab served eight years on the Board of Trustees, including two as chair. He also served on the Carolina First Campaign Steering Committee and was a member of the University’s Board of Visitors and Kenan-Flagler Business School Board of Visitors. He has supported the Institute for the Arts and Humanities, the Academic Success Program, the Memorial Hall Renovation and the Educational Foundation. His honors include a Distinguished Service Medal from the General Alumni Association.