Eleven Alumni Honored for Service, Achievements

Saturday, November 3, 2012

CHARLOTTE, N.C. - Nov. 3, 2012 - In what has become a tradition, the UNC Charlotte Alumni Association presents awards to recognize alumni who embody the core principles of the University and have distinguished themselves through their outstanding service to the University, their chosen field and humanity.

The 2012 awards were presented Saturday evening, Nov. 3, at the Alumni Awards Banquet.

“Our University has so many talented graduates who have excelled in their profession and in the community while simultaneously being supportive and connected to their alma mater,” said Niles Sorensen, vice chancellor for University Advancement. "These 11 outstanding alumni have been instrumental in propelling UNC Charlotte to become the powerhouse that it is today.”

The honorees are recognized within five different distinctions:

Distinguished Alumni Award – The highest honor bestowed by the Alumni Association, this prestigious award recognizes an individual chosen from the previous inductees selected to the Hall of Fame based on the nominee’s career accomplishments and/or service to his or her community, state, nation, or to UNC Charlotte and its Alumni Association.

Greg Davis ’76 - He was a 21-year-old high school freshman who had been labeled mentally retarded when he dropped out of school in 1972. He got his GED from Central Piedmont Community College. Four years later, he became one of the first African Americans to graduate from UNC Charlotte’s Religious Studies program.

Davis went on to earn a master of divinity degree from Duke and a Ph.D. in American religious history from the Union Institute. “I was always taught that education was the best way out,” Davis says. “I’m just blessed.”

Davis went on to oversee minority retention programs at the University with a focus on mentoring first-generation college students. “When I was first there, there were only about 100 minority students,” he recalls. “Now they represent 20-25 percent of the student population.

His decades-long commitment to the University was rewarded with a need-based scholarship established in his honor. Four years post-retirement, Davis pastors the 180-member Bellafonte Presbyterian Church in Harrisburg, N.C.

Misty Hathcock ’85 ’91 ’92 ’96 ’04 - With five degrees from UNC Charlotte, Hathcock is not only a super alumna, she is a valued faculty member. She has served as director of the North Carolina Teaching Fellows Program in the College of Education since 1998. She is also a clinical assistant professor, University supervisor, Kappa Delta Pi chapter counselor and First 3 Beginning Teacher Support Program coordinator.

The sixth generation educator who has earned five degrees from UNC Charlotte is also president of the school’s Alumni Association. She was responsible for securing the site for the Harris Alumni Center and beginning the design work on the building and it earned her the 2012 Distinguished Alumna Award.

Hathcock was inducted into the Alumni Hall of Fame in 2003. Since then she has achieved a great many accomplishments, including earning her doctorate in Education from UNC Charlotte; developing the Teaching Fellows Program into a model for the State of North Carolina and revived the Teacher Cadet College Partnership. She has supported the Alumni Association through participation on the Board of Governors, Past Presidents Council and Teaching Fellows Alumni Chapter.

“Having served on the selection committee for numerous years, I am honored to be among them,” says Hathcock. “Blending my work with being an active alumnus enhances what I do professionally and personally. My blood runs green and I am a 49er for life!”

Alumnus by Choice – Honoring a non-graduate of UNC Charlotte who has gone out of his or her way to support the University and the Alumni Association Board of Directors, general nominations are not solicited for this award; rather the Executive Committee of the Alumni Association can make recommendations for this award on an as needed basis.

UNC Charlotte Chancellor Emeritus James Woodward - Woodward has had no problem filling up his days since his retirement. Still very active in the community and state, Woodward serves on several non-profit boards.

In addition, he served on such groups as the UNC Tomorrow Commission, the North Carolina Education Lottery and the Judicial Nomination Commission. He also served as interim chancellor at NC State University in 2009-2010.

All these things have not stopped him from enjoying his “leisure” time. He travels extensively with his wife, Martha, their children, and now their grandchildren. He enjoys traveling to Europe and is an avid hiker. “Now it’s more like long walks rather than hikes,” he quipped. “I decided several years ago I wasn’t going to camp anymore, so now we stay in hotels or bed-and-breakfasts.”

 “The best thing about retirement is that you have time to plan these excursions,” he said. “You can’t take the kind of time it requires to do these things when you are working full-time running a major University.”

Alumni Hall of Fame – A highly-selective award, only 75 of the nearly 100,000 alumni have been named to this prestigious honor. The award is based on the nominee’s career accomplishments and/or service to his or her community, state, nation, or to UNC Charlotte and its Alumni.

Dennis N. Bunker III ’81- Bunker  is passionate about UNC Charlotte and he has served as a past president of the UNC Charlotte Alumni Association. A fixture at many athletic and community events on campus, Bunker has devoted a lot of his time to the university along with making significant financial contributions.

“I enjoy all the sporting events, but at the end of the day what my wife Kathy and I really focus on is the educational curriculum,” he said. “We are so proud to see how UNC Charlotte has grown and we are happy to allocate what resources we can to support it.”

A native of a Salisbury, N.C., Bunker began his real estate career in 1981 after he graduated from UNC Charlotte with a degree in economics. He established Bunker Land Group, LLC in 1994.  His educational background also includes a M.S. in Real Estate Development from Columbia University in New York in 1990.  Bunker has attained the prestigious Certified Commercial Investment Member (CCIM) and Member Appraisal Institute (MAI) designations.

“When I was attending UNC Charlotte, it had only been a part of the UNC System for a few years,” he said. “Everything about the school was new and emerging. So it could not be like some other institutions that are hundreds of years old. I feel I picked up some vital skills at UNC Charlotte that remain relevant today in my life. I had the opportunity to learn some leadership skills in my involvement with my fraternity and student government. You just don’t always get that opportunity.”

John P. Derham Cato ’73 –Cato understands that great things often spring from modest beginnings. His company’s business success bears that out, and his philanthropic endeavors help provide the impetus for students to achieve great things as teachers.

Cato graduated in 1973 from UNC Charlotte with a degree in accounting.  Soon after graduation, John went to work for his family business, The Cato Corporation, a family business since its beginnings in the early 1900s.  His grandfather and its founder, Wayland Henry Cato, made his start in retail in 1916 and eventually opened his own chain of stores throughout South Carolina. Today, The Cato Corporation has approximately 1,300 specialty apparel retail stores in 31 states.

In his position, Cato has been instrumental in the chain’s profitability, growth and development over the last 15 years.  Now the CEO, he served as vice chairman of the board and chief operating officer of The Cato Corporation since 1996 and as president since 1997. 

As an alumnus of UNC Charlotte, Cato serves on the Business Advisory Council for the Belk College of Business Administration.  Previously, Cato served on the Finance Committee of the Board of Directors of the Foundation of UNC Charlotte.

Bill Crowder ’75 - As a civil engineering student at UNC Charlotte in the early 1970s, Crowder shared common bonds with his fellow students and his professors. Many of the students, including Bill, had just returned from Vietnam. They were going back to school, were married and some had children. Most of the professors were the same age as Bill and his classmates. Together they learned civil engineering and how to teach civil engineering. In the process, they formed bonds that exist to this day.

When he graduated in 1975, Bill went to work for the family business, Crowder Construction. Now, almost 40 years later, he is chief operating officer and executive vice president of the company, which has grown from a small, local entity to a major regional corporation recognized for its quality and quantity of work.

He serves on advisory boards for civil engineering, and over the years has generously donated materials, labor and time in support of student projects and faculty research. He and his wife Pamela have given more than $100,000 to establish scholarships for civil engineering students.

The late Esther Rose Erwin ’61, ’68, ’72, ‘83 - After Erwin earned her associate’s degree in history from Charlotte College in 1961, she went on to obtain three additional degrees from UNC Charlotte.

“She was part of the University and a beacon for UNC Charlotte from the day they rang the bell,” says her friend Martha Price.

Erwin’s association with UNC Charlotte dates to the 1950s, when the University was known as Charlotte College. Erwin completed many of her classes at night, while working fulltime. Later she left the business world to commit her career to teaching. She was one of the students chosen to ring the “Old Bell” when the University became part of the UNC system.

Erwin taught at Matthews Elementary School for 25 years. During that time, she brought many of her students to the University for activities and programs, encouraging them to continue their education.

An avid supporter of the school’s athletic program, Erwin established the Heritage Endowed Scholarship and created a student athletic scholarship.

Erwin passed away on September 3, 2011 at the age of 84 but remained a devoted 49er until the end. “She went to that last basketball game in that wheelchair and sat with her thumbs up,” recalls Price. “It was her life.”

Ann Mabe Newman ’78 - Service to her profession, the community and her alma mater epitomizes Newman.

A registered nurse, Newman received her diploma in nursing from the University of Virginia before completing a Bachelor of Science in Nursing from UNC Charlotte in 1978. She went on to obtain a master’s in nursing from UNC-Chapel Hill and a doctorate in nursing from the University of Alabama at Birmingham.

A board certified specialist in psychiatric nursing, Newman has served as a practicing therapist in the community for more than 40 years. On July 1, 2012, she retired from UNC Charlotte after 30 years of teaching. Throughout her distinguished teaching career, Newman received numerous honors, including the prestigious Bank of America Award for Teaching Excellence, the University’s top teaching award. In 2010, she was named one of the “50 Most Influential Women in Charlotte.”

As a researcher, Newman has published more than 30 journal articles, and she has received grant funding from the National Institutes of Health.

Through her devotion to teaching and service to UNC Charlotte and the greater community, Ann Mabe Newman has displayed the pioneering spirit of what it means to be a 49er.

Curt Walton   - Serving as Charlotte's 14th city manager, Walton is responsible for administering the policy and decisions made by the City Council and overseeing the day-to-day operations of city government.

Charlotte is one of the largest cities with a council-manager form of government dating back to 1929, where the manager reports to the city council and the council votes on the manager's recommendations. The city manager ensures that all city services are delivered in an efficient and cost-effective manner.

Walton earned his M.P.A. at UNC Charlotte and several of his staffers have gone back to the university to earn their advanced degrees. “Right now I have three employees on my staff who attended UNC Charlotte to get their M.P.A., and they emerged as exceptional employees who are well-trained, articulate and very valuable employees,” he said.

“While it’s been a long time since I’ve been in class, I think what helped me the most is that my education served as a launching pad, and I grew from there,” he said. “It helped me connect with the right people in this community.”

Faculty Service Award – This award recognizes a current UNC Charlotte faculty member for distinguished service to the community while bringing recognition to the University.  Consideration for the award is based on the amount of time and effort spent enhancing the University, level of civic involvement above-and-beyond the faculty member’s university responsibility and evidence that the nominee is considered an “expert” by the community in his or her discipline.

Mary Lynne Calhoun - For more than three decades, Dean Mary Lynne Calhoun has been a member of the UNC Charlotte faculty and a leader in the College of Education. In 1982 she was appointed assistant director of special education; she has since risen through the faculty ranks to become the College’s chief administrator.

Under Calhoun’s visionary leadership, the College of Education has grown not only in number of faculty and students, but it has also refined its mission and created programs to better meet the needs of Charlotte and the State of North Carolina.

Among many achievements during her tenure, Calhoun has enhanced global awareness among faculty and students through the creation of a College Committee on Internationalization. The committee addresses curriculum, faculty development, and student development with a focus on international opportunities. She established financial support for international travel grants for faculty, and support for elementary education students to study abroad in Ludwigsburg, Germany.  She also has strengthened the long-term partnership between UNC Charlotte and German sister-institution Padagogische Hochschule Ludwigsburg.

Calhoun has engaged the campus and alumni in the College’s 40th anniversary through the creation and launch of the “Looking Forward” campaign.  The campaign initiative honors and celebrates the accomplishments of the College, with the goal of growing the College’s resources in North Carolina and beyond.

A visible and responsive leader and member of the Charlotte community, Calhoun serves on the boards of directors for organizations including United Way of Central Carolinas and Arts Teach, and is a member and chairperson of the board of directors for Lifespan Inc.

Outstanding Young Alumnus Award – Given to alumni who have graduated within the last 10 years, this award honors those who have shown exceptional service to the UNC Charlotte community and the Alumni Association; career accomplishments as well as community and state involvement are considered.

Ashley Clark ’05, ‘06 - Growing up in chilly Watkins Glen, New York, decided in high school to head south for college. Within a week of her arrival at UNC Charlotte, she got a part-time job at the Charlotte Country Club and plunged into the demanding architecture program. Two years later, she was president of the American Institute of Architects Student (AIAS) Chapter, demonstrating a commitment to service that still distinguishes her career.

“Early on, I found AIAS as an outlet for me to meet people, look at my education from a much broader perspective, and take action on issues that were not being addressed, but desperately needed to be in our changing profession,” she says.

Since graduating, Clark has served on AIA boards at the state, regional, and national levels and will serve on the AIA Executive Committee in 2013 before receiving her Upjohn Medal for service to the National Board.

“My current role is about representing the next generation of architectural professionals to the national board, and to provide perspective on how change and policy we create today will impact our practice tomorrow.”

Clark earned a Bachelor of Art in Architecture in 2005 and a Bachelor of Architecture in 2006.  Upon graduation she received both the 2006 Alpha Rho Chi Medal and the Book Award for Representation in Architecture. She was the recipient of UNC Charlotte’s Unsung Hero Award in 2004.

Currently, Clark is the Marketing Manager for The FWA Group Architects in Charlotte and foresees a long commitment to her adopted hometown, “a city I want to remain in so that I contribute to its future.”

About UNC Charlotte

UNC Charlotte is North Carolina’s urban research university. It is the fourth largest campus among the 17 institutions of The University of North Carolina system and the largest institution of higher education in the Charlotte region. Fall 2012 enrollment exceeds 26,100 students, including 5,000 graduate students. Find UNC Charlotte on the Web, Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and follow the UNC CLT_News blog


Public Relations media contact:  Buffie Stephens, 704-687-5830, BuffieStephens@uncc.edu

Photos available on request.