Eight Individuals Honored for Service, Achievements

Monday, November 4, 2013


CHARLOTTE, N.C. – Nov. 4, 2013 – The UNC Charlotte Alumni Association is honoring eight individuals for embodying the core principles of the University and distinguishing themselves through their outstanding service to the University, their chosen field and humanity.

The 2013 awards were presented at the Alumni Awards Banquet on Saturday, Nov. 2.

“These awards have become a part of our academic fabric here at the University,” said Niles Sorensen, vice chancellor for the Division for University Advancement. “We have so many talented graduates who have excelled in their profession and in the community while simultaneously being supportive and connected to their alma mater.  These eight outstanding individuals have been instrumental in making UNC Charlotte a great institution.”

The honorees are recognized within six different distinctions:

Distinguished Faculty Award

Albert A. Maisto, Ph.D. – Maisto’s work with honors students, which spans more than two decades, is legendary at the University.  As the first interim director for the Levine Scholars Program, Maisto played a key role in designing the scholarship program.  Maisto is a longtime professor of psychology and previously the associate dean of the Honors College and director of the University Honors Program.

Maisto, the Carnegie Foundation’s U.S. Professor of the Year for 1997-98, also has served as an assistant to the chancellor for academic affairs, as faculty president and as coordinator of the undergraduate psychology program. He also was named a Bonnie E. Cone Distinguished Professor for Teaching.

In 2012, Maisto helped design the UNC Charlotte Faculty Council’s voluntary faculty scholarship fund.  The Faculty Legacy Scholarship is aimed at meeting all UNC Charlotte students’ financial needs. Starting with small donations from faculty that accumulate over time, the fund will eventually help defray tuition and fee costs for UNC Charlotte students.

Maisto is co-author of one of the largest selling general psychology textbooks, published in five languages and used at over 650 universities worldwide.

"I came to UNC Charlotte in 1977 when it was a small, principally undergraduate college dedicated to serving the greater Charlotte community,” Maisto said. “Over the past three and a half decades, I have enjoyed being part of its transformation into a fully developed research university, with a national reputation, yet still retaining its focus on high quality undergraduate education."

Outstanding Young Alumni Award –

Adrienne D. Barnette, ’04, ’07

Barnette was a member of the Charlotte 49ers track and field team from 2000-05. A high jumper, she still holds the school’s outdoor and indoor track and field record.  As a student, she graduated with degrees in organizational communications and psychology, often earning a spot on the athletic director’s academic honor roll. She returned to UNC Charlotte in 2005 to work on her master’s in school counseling, which she earned in 2007.  Barnette is currently a licensed professional counselor.

Barnette’s biggest adventure to date was when she embarked on a motorcycle trip called “Route 1961” during spring break in 2011. She recreated the 1961 journey by the Freedom Riders, from Washington, D.C., to New Orleans to protest segregation, in order to teach her K-12 students with severe emotional disabilities a tale of positive character education. Her latest counseling endeavor is called “Pedal for Peace,” a character education expedition in which she retraced 800 miles of the Underground Railroad on a bicycle to Canada.

From January 2008 to January 2013, she worked as a counselor, department chair and academic facilitator with Charlotte Mecklenburg Schools.

“When I chose to attend UNC Charlotte, I was not sure what a 49er was,” Barnette said. “However, while attending UNC Charlotte, I soon began to understand that within Charlotte exists a gold mine, a place of opportunity, a network of support which encouraged me to reach my goals and echoed to me the importance of cooperation and collaboration in assisting others at reaching their aspirations.

“Since I graduated from UNC Charlotte, my alumni mission has been to introduce students within Charlotte to the opportunity and support that I found at UNC Charlotte.  I can confidently say, that choosing to attend UNC Charlotte was the best decision I could have made for my career and professional aspiration of assisting others.” 

Humanitarian Award –

Robin Hill Emmons

After dropping out of high school, Robin Hill Emmons obtained her general education diploma, moved from Boston and enrolled at UNC Charlotte, working toward a bachelor’s degree at the age of 26.

Her first job out of college was with the Metrolina AIDS Project. From there, she entered the corporate world, first with Goodrich and then with Bank of America. The money was good, but all the while Emmons was suppressing her desire to work on issues of social justice. Overwhelmed by that desire, she walked into her office in March 2008 and quit.

Meanwhile, her older brother was struggling.  Eventually he made his way to Charlotte and started living on the streets. He was arrested and later diagnosed as paranoid schizophrenic. His arrest coincided with Emmons’ decision to leave her job, freeing her to become his advocate and guardian. He was placed in a supportive housing program.

Emmons, who had been a gardener for most of her adult life, noted that the 30 residents of the group home were not eating enough fresh fruits and vegetables.  She began planting extra rows of vegetables in her 6-by-10-foot garden, bringing the harvest to the program staff for the residents. After doing that for a time, she began sharing the bounty with others in need.

Soon after, she founded Sow Much Good. She built up a team of 120 volunteer gardeners and farmers who worked two parcels of land, while Emmons also continued to raise produce in her garden.

By now, the nonprofit has distributed eight tons of organic fruits and vegetables to food assistance programs and low income neighborhoods where produce is sold at rock-bottom prices at neighborhood market stands.

Currently, Emmons is launching a new program called Community Roots. It will employ people in the community to grow food that they will then sell at farm stands in food desert areas.

Emmons recently completed the McColl Center’s Innovation Institute and was named a 2013 CNN Hero and one of 20 William C. Friday Fellows for Human Relations. The two-year fellowship is for emerging leaders in the public, private and nonprofit sectors who are able to directly affect issues facing communities, through the Wildacres Leadership Initiative. 

Honorary Alumna Award –

Elinor Caddell –

In1965, UNC Charlotte founder Bonnie Cone asked Elinor Caddell to join the faculty at Charlotte College to develop a nursing program. This set in motion Caddell’s involvement with UNC Charlotte for the next several decades.

Caddell’s devotion, enthusiasm and involvement grew to match the continued growth of UNC Charlotte. Though her outreach in the community, she became aware of the need for RNs to complete their MSN degree. Her name has become synonymous with the Pathway Program Completion at UNC Charlotte, which has produced thousands of UNC Charlotte alumni.

Caddell led her colleagues in obtaining a grant to develop the Master of Science in Nursing outreach program with Chapel Hill. For six years, she took students to Chapel Hill by some very unusual transportation methods, including a twin-engine plane.

She also wrote the curriculum for the MSN program in the College of Nursing. In 1970, Caddell became the first member of the nursing faculty to receive the Bank of America Award for Teaching Excellence.

After her retirement, she established a Faculty Scholar Award for Nursing to serve as seed money for research to improve patient care.

At 90, Caddell is very active, using her nursing skills as a volunteer at Plantation Estates, where she resides in an apartment.  She continues to recruit for UNC Charlotte.

“The College of Nursing had as its goal to foster students’ desires and ambitions to better people’s lives through care, compassion and action,” Caddell said. “The University and the College of Nursing opened the world of learning to students eager to bring health services to people of all walks of life. There were courses to select from many other disciplines to broaden one’s life. This naturally leads to learning and intellectual growth—be it a professional career or other opportunities.”

Alumni Hall of Fame Award – Three Recipients

Ed Davis, Ed.D. ‘02

Ed Davis earned his Ed.D. in Educational Leadership at UNC Charlotte in 2002. Since that time, he has brought great honor to UNC Charlotte while serving in the Union County Public School district for 35 years (1977-2012) as a teacher, assistant principal, elementary and high school principal, assistant superintendent, and superintendent until his retirement in 2012.

Davis strongly encouraged high school, master’s-level and doctoral students from his county to enroll at UNC Charlotte. As a result, many of the students from Union County who are enrolled in UNC Charlotte’s teacher education programs indicate that Davis influenced their decision to pursue their degrees at UNC Charlotte.

In addition, Davis often recommended his district’s best teachers for admission into UNC Charlotte’s Master of School Administration (MSA) program. As a result, many of the principals currently serving in Union County Public Schools are graduates of UNC Charlotte’s MSA program.

Davis also supported UNC Charlotte through his service on various committees and advisory groups. For example, when UNC Charlotte was revising its Master of School Administration program in order to align the program with the Standards for School Executives established by the North Carolina State Board of Education, Davis attended multiple meetings on campus to help us identify ways in which the standards could be implemented in the public schools.

Davis was named the Union County Educational Office Professionals Administrator of the Year in 1995 and 2009, the Union County Principal of the Year in 1996 and the North Carolina Southwest Regional Superintendent of the Year for 2009-10. He was a recipient of the North Carolina Principals’ Executive Program Jack McCall Award in 1997 and was honored as a North Carolina Principals’ Executive Program Fellow in 2001. In 2010, he won the Union County Rotary Club’s “Service Above Self” Award. In 2011, he was selected as Outstanding Superintendent of the Year by the North Carolina Alliance for Athletics, Health, Physical Education, Recreation, and Dance.

"UNC Charlotte is an outstanding institution of higher learning that is positively impacting public education in our state and region,” Davis said. “Its programs equip teachers and school leaders with the competencies and skills to provide a quality 21st century education to K-12 students. I am proud to be a UNC Charlotte graduate."

Harry S. Kirk, ‘51

While attending Charlotte College, Kirk had a special friendship with Bonnie Cone and Herbert Hechenbleikner. Both were dedicated to the development of a higher education opportunity for the Charlotte area. The University Foundation made this happen by purchasing land for the UNC Charlotte campus.

As work began, Hechenbleikner came over to Kirk’s dairy farm, which adjoined the north edge of the campus.  The first two academic buildings were completed, but there was no money for landscaping.

At Hechenbleikner’s request, Kirk came over the next morning and he and his family tilled the soil, picked up truckloads of rocks, hand raked the area and sowed fescue seed. He then tackled a second project by mowing the University’s athletic fields.

When land was needed to access the north side of the campus, the Kirk family donated land.

In addition to being the rural mailman for the Newell area for almost 40 years, Kirk was a member of the Newell Volunteer Fire Department for more than 20 years, and he also was on the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Planning Commission. In this capacity, Kirk was instrumental in establishing the area plan for the UNC Charlotte area.

Kirk epitomizes the supporters who make up the backbone of the University.  He has unselfishly given countless hours of quietly mowing the University’s activity fields and landscaping the early buildings that were erected on the campus, all without any request for publicity or compensation.

Michael L. Wilson, ‘93

Charlotte attorney Michael Wilson always makes the time to provide leadership and support to UNC Charlotte.  A true believer in the value of higher education, Wilson speaks from the heart as the first generation in his family to attend college and as someone for whom a college degree would not have happened without a scholarship.

Wilson, elected by the UNC Board of Governors to serve a four-year term on the UNC Charlotte Board of Trustees beginning on July 1, 2013, is a partner at the Charlotte law firm of Johnston, Allison and Hord PA.  He joins Board Chair Karen Popp as the second former UNC Charlotte student body president to sit on the board.

After graduation from UNC Charlotte, Wilson attended law school at UNC-Chapel Hill, where he served as attorney general of the honor court, chief justice of the moot court and graduated with the Order of the Barristers distinction.  At the firm, he is the litigation practice group leader and his area of expertise includes litigating complex business and commercial construction disputes.  In 2009, his peers named him as the top construction lawyer in North Carolina and as one of the top attorneys under 40 in Business North Carolina magazine.  In the 2012 and 2013 editions of Law and Politics magazine, he was placed among the top 100 attorneys in the North Carolina across all practice areas.

Wilson was born in Richmond, Va., and he was raised in North Carolina’s Burke County.  While at UNC Charlotte, he held the William H. Barnhardt Business Scholarship and the Alumni Merit Scholarship.  He also served as an Alumni Ambassador and as student body president during his junior year.  Wilson was one of two graduating students presented with the Bill Mitchell Award (now known as the Bonnie Cone Leadership Award) for academic excellence and service to the University.

“It was important for me to have a scholarship in place to attend college and UNC Charlotte helped make that happen,” he said.  “Like a lot of my classmates, I worked while I was in school, but the scholarship was a tremendous help.  I owe so much to our University for the numerous opportunities that were afforded to me and the great education that I received.”

“Now I have the privilege of serving on our University's Board of Trustees,” Wilson said.  “We spend a considerable amount of time with the chancellor and his leadership team reviewing and planning for both the current and future needs of our University, region and state.  I believe that the next 10 years are critical for UNC Charlotte and higher education.  While nationally there are many institutions contracting or trying to reinvent themselves, we are in a unique position to continue to grow and meet the demand for an affordable, but high quality education in a rebounding and changing economy.”

Distinguished Alumnae Award  --

Shelia B. Dillon, ‘75

Shelia Dillon graduated from UNC Charlotte in 1975 with a degree in accounting.  Since that day, she has dedicated much of her life to supporting the University’s athletic program as a donor, fan and former employee.

Dillon worked as a senior vice president for First Union Corp., where she was in charge of corporate security and regulatory compliance.  During her banking career, she maintained her connection to UNC Charlotte.  She is a former member of the Alumni Board of Governors and the Alumni Leadership Council.

In 1993, Dillon was elected to the Alumni Hall of Fame. She also served on the Athletic Foundation Board and the Department of Accounting Advisory Board.

Upon retiring from her first career, she began her second career working for her alma mater. As executive director of the Athletic Foundation, Dillon increased the number of supporters and donors. She retired from the University to care for her elderly parents but continues to serve in volunteer roles.

“Shelia is one of the most loyal people I have ever met.  Her community service exemplifies her desire to help and give.  Her commitment to UNC Charlotte is well documented in the areas of fundraising, sports and alumni affairs”, said Hulene D. Hill, Alumni Association past president.

To this day, Dillon continues to provide financial support to the Athletic Foundation. She serves on the annual Let Me Play Steering Committee, which is dedicated to raising money for women's athletic scholarships. She also served on a football planning committee during the early stages of the football initiative and attends the annual Great Gold Rush Auction to support the athletic program.



Media relations contact:  Paul Nowell, 704-687-5830, pmnowell@uncc.edu