"Tonight we honor an extraordinary group of women and men who are exemplars of the UNC Asheville experience—individuals, who as students, alumni, and faculty and staff, have served their communities and this university with distinction," said Chancellor Ponder, as she welcomed the more than 150 people at the event. "They have used their UNC Asheville experience, along with their many skills and talents, to help others. They embody the spirit of selfless service that has been the core of our mission since our founding."
UNC Asheville's highest alumni recognition, the Roy A. Taylor Distinguished Alumnus Award, was presented to Harriette Winner, class of 1982, for her notable career as director of volunteer services at Mission Health and her exceptional service to UNC Asheville. Winner has served on the UNC Asheville Board of Trustees, is a graduate of the Leadership Asheville program, is an associate member of the Children’s Welfare League, and is a sustaining partner of UNC Asheville’s Reuter Center and the Bulldog Athletics program.
The Francine Delany Alumni Award for Service to the Community, State or Nation was presented to Jerry VeHaun, class of 1963, and Heather Hudson, class of 1966. VeHaun currently serves as mayor of Woodfin and as the director of Buncombe County Emergency Management Services, where he oversees the county's response to both local and national disasters. He is an internationally certified emergency manager who is a member of numerous volunteer and professional organizations.
Hudson, a member of the first baccalaureate class at UNC Asheville, served on the National Alumni Council and is a tireless advocate for the university. All five of her children also graduated from UNC Asheville.
Shon Norris, class of 2000, received the Thomas D. Reynolds Alumni Award for Service to the University. A former Bulldog pitcher, Norris was recruited by the Boston Red Sox during his junior year, but continued taking classes during the off-season. Norris became a principal partner at Gould Killian CPA Group and has served on UNC Asheville’s Management and Accountancy Department’s advisory board. He continues to serve on UNC Asheville’s Foundation Board.
Faculty and Staff Awards
The Alumni Distinguished Faculty Award was given to Robert Yearout, professor of management at UNC Asheville. Yearout has earned several awards since joining the faculty in 1988, including the Governor’s Award for Excellence in Teaching, UNC Asheville's Distinguished Teaching Award, the University Distinguished Teaching Award in the Social Sciences, and the Ruth and Leon Feldman Professorship for Scholarship and Service.
The Champion for Students award was presented to Dahlia Hylton, assistant director of the Intercultural Center and Multicultural Student Programs, for her work with students through the Connections Peer Mentoring Program, social justice lunch-and-learns, the National Society for Leadership and Success, and Multicultural Student Programs.
The A.C. Reynolds Award and Thomas D. Reynolds Prize for Campus Service was presented to Carleigh Zeman. Zeman has served as a resident assistant, a Student Government Association senator and elections commissioner. She also taught herself Japanese, and traveled to Japan as part of a work exchange program.
The William and Ida Friday Award for Community Service was given to Benjamin Judge, who served as president of the Student Government Association from 2012-2013. Judge successfully raised money to initiate the Greenway Project, providing safe and sustainable transportation between the university and the Asheville community.
The Outstanding Program of the Year award was presented to Underdog Productions for the program “Laverne Cox: Ain’t I A Woman.” Underdog Productions led an organized effort to bring in Laverne Cox, a transgendered actress from the hit show Orange is the New Black, who came to campus to discuss gender during women’s history month. UNC Asheville senior Brennen Hubbard accepted the award.
Other student awards presented during the event include: Newman Civic Fellows Award to Student Body President James Whalen; Carolyn Briggs Diversity Award to Nambi Ndugga for her work as president of French Club and with the Institute for Displaced Persons; Adelaide Daniels Key Community Engaged Learning Award to Joshua Fernandez for his work on environmental and human rights issues; Innovative Program of the Year to Daniel Bradley and Richard Bilhorn for the Bulldog Bigwheel Race; Collaboration of the Year to Gabrielle Adler, Maya Newlin and Nicole Barnes for producing the university’s first Unity Ball; Student Leader of the Year award to Jordan Presnell for her initiatives in the Management and Accountancy Department and leadership in her sorority; Emerging Leader of the Year award to John Armstrong for his leadership as a resident assistant, in Alpha Sigma Phi, and in Bulldog Nation to advance support of athletics; Exemplar Fraternal Leader of the Year award to Lauren Glennon for her service in the Zeta Tau Chapter of Alpha Xi Delta; Student Employee of the Year Talene Dadian and Ashley Edwards; Student Organization President of the Year to Melissa Castillo, president of HOLA and founding member of She’s the First; and Student Organization of the Year to the Black Student Association for their coordination of numerous events and programs on campus and their community service.