"We honored some really great friends of the University who served us well," said Tim Burnett, chairman of the BOT.
UNC alumni Erskine Bowles, John Burress, Edward Smith and Nelson Taylor received the award as well as Walter Davis, who acquired $32 million that was used to pay for the construction of Walter Royal Davis Library.
"I feel quite honored to have received this award," said Taylor, who was chancellor of the University from 1972-1980 and is a retired UNC Law School professor. Taylor also supported the renovation of Wilson Library and the construction of the Health Sciences Library.
Bowles, who is seeking the Democratic nomination for the U.S. Senate next year, could not be reached for comment Thursday.
Burress, another award winner, received the award after endowing several scholarships and professorships.
"John Burress' service as a donor for the University spreads across the whole school, and not only is he a model citizen at Carolina, he's a model citizen in his hometown of Winston-Salem," said Ruel Tyson, director of the Institute of Arts and Humanities.
Burress also is a former president of the Educational Foundation, and is now serving on the Advisory Board of the Institute of Arts and Humanities.
Davis, the only recipient who is not a UNC alumnus, could not afford to attend college. Instead, he started a trucking business and donated money to UNC to provide need-based scholarships for students. "The William Davie award is an attempt to recognize people for years of hard work at the University," Davis said. "Even though I never went to college, I did what I could do to help the University."
Smith, the former president of the Educational Foundation, also gave money to fund scholarships at UNC. His family established the Carolina Scholars Award, a $5,000 renewable scholarship created to attract academically strong students to UNC.