Two UNC faculty will receive the highest civilian honor in North Carolina for their significant contributions to the state.
Michael McFee and William Roper are recipients of the North Carolina Award in literature and public service, respectively. They are two of only six people who are recognized each year and will join a distinguished group of winners. Past recipients include Maya Angelou, Billy Graham, Loretta Lynch and James Taylor.
“It is an honor to pay tribute to these outstanding individuals who have made North Carolina better by their extraordinary involvement in this state,” said Susi H. Hamilton, secretary of the N.C. Department of Natural and Cultural Resources. “Each of them has enriched the lives of North Carolinians through their lasting achievements in the arts and public service.”
McFee, a writer and poet from Asheville, has published 11 volumes of poetry and two essay collections and edited several anthologies of North Carolina literature. Among his many honors are the James M. Johnston Award for Excellence in Teaching and the Thomas Wolfe Memorial Literary Award. He has taught in the UNC creative writing program since 1990 and currently teaches poetry writing classes.
“Writers and especially poets like myself, we spend so much time alone, working on our own writing, working on our words and poetry,” McFee said. “You’re intensely concentrating on each word and each sound, and you want to get the music and the rhythm exactly right, and to go from that privacy to this public notice – it’s a little peculiar, and it’s also great.”