UNC Asheville Celebrates Alumni and Faculty Awards at Annual Homecoming Celebration

March 9, 2023

UNC Asheville presented its annual alumni and faculty awards at a special ceremony on campus on Feb. 17 as part of its annual Homecoming celebration. Interim Chancellor Kimberly van Noort; Michael McNamee, director of engagement; and Cortland Mercer and Steve Tuttle, members of the Alumni Association Board of Directors, made the presentations.

“We are blessed with the task of honoring eight incredible individuals tonight,” said McNamee as he welcomed the guests. “We have chosen these honorees because we hope their examples will inspire future generations to do great things and to always be faithful to UNC Asheville.”

Alumni awards

UNC Asheville’s highest alumni recognition, the Roy A. Taylor Distinguished Alumnus Award, was presented to Kevan Frazier, class of 1992, for his notable career at UNC Asheville, which included service as a faculty member, director of the honors program, and director of student life. He also established a number of UNC Asheville’s most beloved traditions, including the “Turning of the Maples” celebration. He currently serves as executive director of Western Carolina University programs in Asheville and is a published author, small business owner, and philanthropist.

The Order of Pisgah Award for Alumni Achievement was presented to Tarrah Callahan, class of 2004, for her career in criminal justice reform and her decade of non-profit service. Callahan is the founder and executive director of Conservatives for Criminal Justice Reform (CCJR) and co-founder of Conservatives for Criminal Justice Initiative. She serves on the Governor’s Task Force for Racial Equality in Criminal Justice, the North Carolina Commission on Race and Ethnic Disparities, and works with the SBI’s Center for the Reduction of Law Enforcement Use of Force. She has continually strived for bipartisan approaches to rethinking policy. Prior to founding CCJR, she was involved in nonprofit advocacy in North Carolina for over 10 years. Her passion was fostered at UNC Asheville as she became a strong advocate for abolishing the death penalty, and Callahan has devoted her life to trying to make this state fairer, safer, more equitable and more humane.

The Thomas D. Reynolds Alumni Award for Service to the University, named in honor of the son of the University’s founder, was presented to Greg Garrison, class of 2005. Garrison and his wife, Ashley, own the The Hop Ice Cream Parlor, and their ice cream is a staple at campus events and athletics games. Garrison has supported initiatives for alumni engagement, athletics, admissions, student life, Leadership Asheville and the Farm to Table program. The Hop creatively exhibits their UNC Asheville pride with the popular Bulldog Tracks ice cream, and they have created special flavors in conjunction with special campus events. They have also started two scholarship funds for students, one of which is partially funded based on sales of ice cream.

Professor Emeritus of History Milton Ready received the Alumni Distinguished Faculty Award. Ready served as founding director of the Center for Jewish Studies and director of the Southern Highlands Research Center, known today as Special Collections at Ramsey Library. He was a trusted advisor and mentor to hundreds of history students, and as the pre-law advisor for UNC Asheville, he saw many undergraduates through to law school. In 1985 Ready received the University’s Distinguished Teaching Award. He is also a prolific author, whose books include “The Tarheel State: A New History of North Carolina.”

Former Councilwoman and Vice Mayor Wilhelmina Bratton received the Mullen-James Award for Social Justice and Equity Impact. The award, named for Dee and Charles James, Dolly Jenkins-Mullen, and Dwight Mullen, is given to a member of the UNC Asheville community who exemplifies the commitment to social justice the four professors dedicated their careers towards. Bratton was born and raised in Asheville and was the city’s first black female city council representative and vice mayor. She successfully pushed to change the mayor’s position to being directly elected by the public after watching the former model systematically exclude black candidates. She has continued to champion Asheville and its diverse population throughout her career into her retirement.

Janet Cone, UNC Asheville’s director of athletics inducted three new members into the UNC Asheville Athletics Hall of Fame. The inductees were Betsy Blose, Kevin Mattison, class of 2016, and John Williams, class of 2011. Read the full release here: https://uncabulldogs.com/news/2023/1/5/athletics-news-uncasheville-athletics-announces-2023-hall-of-fame-class.aspx