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'These are extraordinary times': UNC honors Chancellor's Awards virtually

Kendall Williams
Kendall Williams, a political science and American studies major, won the Peter C. Baxter Memorial Prize in American Studies. The Chancellor's Award Ceremony did not happen as scheduled due to COVID-19. Photo courtesy of Beth Morris.

The University announced the recipients of the 2020 Chancellor's Awards on Wednesday, recognizing students, faculty and staff who have demonstrated leadership and academic achievement during their time at UNC.

“These are extraordinary times, and they call for extraordinary people to rise to the occasion,” Chancellor Kevin Guskiewicz said in his video address to the recipients of the awards on Wednesday.

The Chancellor’s Award Ceremony was originally planned for April 15, but canceled due to COVID-19. The Chancellor’s Awards committee is exploring options to provide public recognition according to its website.

To highlight the recipients, the committee reached out to them for photos of themselves and statements about who influenced and inspired them at UNC. These were posted on the Chancellor’s Awards website and the Carolina Union Instagram, said Beth Morris, a committee member and associate director of the Communications and Creative Services Department housed in the Carolina Union.

Spencer Barnes, an associate professor in the Hussman School of Journalism and Media, is a recipient of the Student Undergraduate Teaching Award. He said receiving the award was a great honor and he appreciates the students who nominated him.

“It speaks to the type of experience I’ve attempted to give my students throughout the years I’ve been at Carolina,” he said. “I try to challenge them and give them the best instructional experience possible.”

Music major Hayes Dunlevy received the Earl Slocum Band Award, given to a senior who has demonstrated musicianship, leadership and excellence in University bands. He said receiving this award was a big deal because his high school band director, who he looks up to, received the award in 2000.

“There are also a number of the winners over the past four years who I looked up to as an underclassman looking up to the upperclassmen,” he said. “It means a lot to me.”

Ezra Wright, a senior women’s and gender studies and Hispanic literature and culture major, received the Sterling A. Stoudemire Award for Excellence in Spanish and the Mary Turner Lane Award in Women’s and Gender Studies.

Wright said they were honored their work was being recognized, but think the monetary prize for these awards could be better spent.

“I’ve had a tremendous amount of privilege in my academic process,” they said. “I have a ton of support and I don’t see why I should get a huge amount of money as a result when there are people who are not able to succeed academically because of their financial situation.”

Senior Kendall Williams is a political science and American studies major who received the Peter C. Baxter Memorial Prize in American Studies.

She said the award is recognition for all the support she has gotten over the past four years, and that it’s sad the ceremony was postponed.

“I was looking forward to it, but at the same time I think the University is doing all that they can, given the situation, so I do appreciate that,” she said.

Barnes said the postponement of the ceremony hasn’t changed the excitement of receiving this award.

“It really hasn’t affected the feeling I’ve had about receiving it or what it says about the body of work I’ve been able to produce as an instructor being at the University for nine years,” he said.

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