Monday, June 13, 2016

O. Max Gardner Award

The O. Max Gardner Award is the highest faculty honor awarded by the North Carolina Board of Governors and has been given annually since 1949. It is named after Oliver Max Gardner (1882-1947) who was the Democratic Governor of the state from 1929-1933. One of the pinnacle achievement of his tenure as governor was the consolidation of the University of North Carolina, State College, and the North Carolina College for Women in 1931. The Consolidation Act was designed to reduce the economic costs during the Great Depression and to reduce duplication of courses and programs. At the urging of Gardner, Frank Graham was appointed the President of the newly created Consolidated University System. Along with serving as a politician, Gardner was a businessman and a lawyer.

Oliver Max Gardner
Gardner continued to be a strong supporter of the University system after his death. In his will, he stipulated that that the Board of Trustees of the Consolidated University of North Carolina “shall pay annually the net income from a trust fund to that member of the faculty of the Consolidated University of North Carolina, who during the current scholastic year, has made the greatest contribution to the welfare of the human race.” Each year, one nomination is submitted by the chancellors and presidents of each of the 16 schools within the UNC system to Oliver Max Gardner Award committee. Winners of the award are announced at the April meeting of the UNC Board of Governors and receive a cash prize of $20,000.

The University of North Carolina at Greensboro (UNCG) has had several winners since the award was first given, including the first recipient Louise B. Alexander who was a professor in the Department of History and Political Science. Other notable UNCG award winners have included Mereb Mossman (1959), Randall Jarrell (1962), and Fred Chappell (1986). The Office of the Provost is responsible for managing the nomination process within the University and the selected UNCG nominee receives a $1000 award. The 2016 nominee was Dr. Deb Cassisdy who is a professor of Human Development and Family Studies. She was selected for her significant contributions to the field of early childhood education.

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