Three UNC Charlotte Staff Members Receive North Carolina’s Highest Award

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

RALEIGH  – Nov. 28, 2012 –  The Governor’s Award for Excellence is the highest honor bestowed a state employee, and having one recipient at a single state agency or university is noteworthy. Having three in the same year is virtually impossible – but it’s a reality at UNC Charlotte in 2012.

Staff members Jo Ann Fernald, Jerry Lecomte and Connie Martin were honored Tuesday, Nov. 27, during a special ceremony at the Museum of History in Raleigh for their contributions to the citizens of North Carolina.

The Governor's Awards for Excellence Program is designed to acknowledge and express appreciation for outstanding accomplishments that do not fall entirely within the scope of normal duties, but are in the nature of a major contribution reflecting credit on the person and state service.  The meritorious service or accomplishment is so singularly outstanding that special recognition is justified. The honor is presented during Excellence in State Government Week.

Fernald, director of disability services, was recognized for outstanding state government service. A UNC Charlotte alumna with undergraduate and graduate degrees in psychology, she joined the University in 2003. In the nomination packet, Fernald was cited for displaying an unselfish devotion to duty that balanced the competing demands of “providing for student’s needs for services while conserving University resources; supporting faculty expectations for academic excellence while accommodating the genuine needs of disabled but otherwise qualified students; and protecting the University against disability lawsuits while serving the other needs of the entire University community.”

Lecomte, a member of the Police and Public Safety Department, received his award in the category of public service. On the job since September 2007, Lecomte was named the community-oriented policing coordinator for the Police and Public Safety Department last year. Since undertaking this role, he revamped the department’s Community-oriented Policing (COP) Division, dramatically increasing the number of COP presentations for students, faculty and staff. To make the department more accessible to the campus community, Lecomte spends much of his time at the Student Union Information Desk to maximize contact with students.

According to the nomination, “Office Lecomte has become a well-known and recognized member of the campus community. The number of requests for safety and crime prevention presentations has increased tremendously… Student participation in department-sponsored events has also dramatically increased… He is dedicated to the field of law enforcement as well as the community that he serves. He works extremely hard in his role as community policing coordinator, often putting in extra hours that go well beyond that of a regular work day.”

Martin, executive director of extended academic programs, was honored in the category of innovation. A veteran state employee with 18 years of service, Martin undertook the challenge to develop and implement innovative, new continuing education initiatives for displaced workers in the Charlotte region impacted by the “Great Recession.” Martin, who has 32 years of professional experience in the field, reached out nationally to fellow colleagues and discovered that project training leading to a Project Management Professional certificate offered successful career options. She and her unit designed an accelerated project management certificate targeting displaced workers. By September 2009, the program was up and running.

UNC system vice president Leslie Boney, in support of Martin’s nomination, wrote “Throughout the effort, I was impressed by Connie’s can-do attitude, her ability to connect to people across the public and private sectors, and her appreciation of the importance of working quickly to design a solution for struggling professionals and ensuring quality so that their new credential provided them with real skills as they moved through their career transition.”

Photo Caption: UNC Charlotte Chancellor Philip L. Dubois poses with staff members Jo Ann Fernald, Connie Martin and Jerry Lecomte. The three were honored Tuesday, Nov. 27, during a special ceremony at the Museum of History in Raleigh for their contributions to the citizens of North Carolina.

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:  Paul Nowell, 704.687.5828,