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Meet the man who co-founded UNC's International Studies Center

old well unc honors four partners

The Old Well in 2018. 

On Nov. 14, Chancellor Carol Folt and the Board of Trustees honored a former UNC professor and three other University partners with the William Richardson Davie Award, the BOT's highest individual honor.

The recipients of the 2018 award are former professor James Peacock of Chapel Hill, Munroe Cobey of Chapel Hill, Kay Massey Weatherspoon of Charlotte and Leonard Wood of Atlanta. The award is given to individuals who exemplify dedication, commitment and service to the University or society, according to a University press release. 

The award is named for William Richardson Davie, a Revolutionary War figure who introduced and completed the passage of a 1789 bill in the General Assembly to charter the University of North Carolina. 

Peacock earned a bachelor’s degree in psychology from Duke University in 1959 and went on to earn a doctorate in social anthropology from Harvard University. He began his teaching career at Princeton University in 1965, where he helped create a doctoral program in anthropology. 

Peacock arrived at UNC in 1967 as a professor of anthropology, and later served as the chairperson of the Department of Anthropology, chairperson of the Faculty Council and director of the UNC Center for International Studies. He retired from his teaching role in 2015.  

Peacock said to him, the award symbolizes a history of achievement for the University.

“Think back to 1793, Old East, Old Well, and think forward to Nobel Prizes and National Championships in basketball — that’s our history,” he said. “What’s very impressive to me, and I think to everybody, is that for 200 years the state has supported the University, and at the same time the University has reached way beyond just the state.”

In his time at the University, Peacock worked to expand UNC’s global outreach programs and was a co-founder of the Center for International Studies. He also helped start World View, a UNC program that trains K-12 and community college educators to bring a global perspective into their classrooms.

The Florence and James Peacock Atrium at the Fedex Global Education Center is named in his honor. 

Despite his many awards and honors, Peacock said his greatest accomplishes at the University come from his teaching and being able to see his former students succeed in their own rite. 

“I just received an email from someone who was in my first anthropology class at Carolina in ‘67, and he is now a world-famous photographer,” he said. “I could go on and on about former students who have gone on to do wonderful things.”

Paul Leslie, interim chairperson of the Department of Anthropology, said Peacock has been an important figure in promoting the importance of global engagement for students and the University as a whole.

“He joined our faculty early in the history of the anthropology department, and over time has probably been the single most influential person in shaping the character (of) our department, fostering the integrative, collegial atmosphere along with excellence in scholarship that have long characterized this department,” Leslie said.

Previous Davie Award recipients include journalist Charles Kuralt, former football and men’s basketball announcer Woody Durham, former White House Chief of Staff Erskine Bowles and former men’s basketball coach Dean Smith. 


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