For immediate use: Friday, April 24, 2009
Tutu, five others to receive honorary degrees at Carolina's May
CHAPEL HILL - A renowned anti-apartheid campaigner and Nobel Peace Prize
winner, an industrialist and philanthropist, the "poet laureate of
Southern Jews," a medical and pharmaceutical leader, a champion of
American Indian rights and self-determination, and a cultural force in
the literary life of the state, the South and the nation will receive
honorary degrees May 10 at the University of North Carolina at Chapel
Hill's spring commencement.
The recipients are:
* Desmond Mpilo Tutu, recipient of the 1984 Nobel Peace Prize for his
efforts in opposition to South African Apartheid, who will receive a
doctor of divinity degree;
* William J. "Billy"Armfield IV, a UNC alumnus and highly successful
textile executive and philanthropist, who will receive a doctor of laws
* Eli N. Evans, a writer, philanthropist and Carolina alumnus, who will
receive a doctor of laws degree;
* Charles A. Sanders, a leader in health care administration and former
member of the University's Board of Trustees, who will receive a doctor
of science degree;
* Helen M. Scheirbeck, a Lumberton native and advocate for American
Indian rights, culture and education, who will receive a doctor of laws
* Lee M. Smith, the author of more than a dozen award-winning books and
a teacher of creative writing, who will receive a doctor of letters.
Chancellor Holden Thorp will preside at the ceremony, his first as
chancellor. The ceremony will begin at 9:30 a.m. in Kenan Memorial
Stadium. Tutu will be the featured speaker.
Tutu, along with Nelson Mandela, was a central figure in the fight to
end apartheid in South Africa. A rigorous advocate of non-violence, Tutu
rose to worldwide prominence in the 1980s, leading popular protests
within South Africa while championing international efforts to pressure
the government to end its system of racial segregation.
He also served as the first black Anglican archbishop of Cape Town and
later chaired the country's Truth and Reconciliation Commission, a body
created to probe human rights violations that occurred under apartheid.
Tutu continues to work globally to advocate for democracy, freedom and
human rights, as well as campaigns to fight AIDS, poverty and racism. He
is a fellow of King's College, University of London, and chancellor of
the University of the Western Cape, South Africa.
Tutu's honors include more than 130 honorary degrees from institutions
all over the world; South Africa's Order for Meritorious Service (Gold);
the Archbishop of Canterbury's Award for Outstanding Service to the
Anglican Communion; the Onassis Foundation's Prix d'Athene; the Family
of Man Gold Medal Award; the Mexican Order of the Aztec Medal (Insignia
Grade); the Martin Luther King Jr. Non-Violent Peace Prize; the Sydney
Peace Prize; and the Ghandi Peace Prize.
An Asheboro native, Armfield earned a bachelor of science degree in
business administration from the University in 1956. After receiving a
master of business administration degree from Harvard in 1962, Armfield
began his highly successful career in the textile industry as vice
president for marketing of the Madison Throwing Company from 1963 to
With Dalton L. McMichael Sr., he co-founded Macfield Texturing Inc., a
firm that later merged with Unifi Inc., a leading processor of
multifilament polyester and nylon textured yarns. He left Unifi in 1995
to become president of Spotswood Capital LLC, a private investment firm.
Armfield served on Carolina's Board of Trustees from 1993 to 2001. He
has also served on the University's Board of Visitors, the Kenan-Flagler
Business School Board of Visitors, the Jordan Institute Community
Advisory Board and the UNC-Chapel Hill Foundation Board. He was national
co-chair of the Bicentennial Campaign for Carolina from 1990 to 1995 and
an honorary member of the Steering Committee of the Carolina First
A native of Durham, Evans graduated Phi Beta Kappa from the University
in 1958, then served in the United States Navy for two years before
entering Yale Law School. After graduating in 1963, Evans worked for two
years as a speechwriter for President Lyndon Johnson, then as staff
director of a study on the future of the states headed by Terry Sanford.
From 1967 to 1977, he traveled extensively in the South as a senior
program officer for the Carnegie Corporation.
From 1977 to 2003, Evans served as president of the Charles H. Revson
Foundation, where he oversaw significant grants to Jewish philanthropy,
urban affairs, education and biomedical research.
He is the author of several books including "The Provincials: A Personal
History of Jews in the South" and "The Lonely Days Were Sundays:
Reflections of a Jewish Southerner."
Evans has helped guide the development of Carolina's highly regarded
Jewish studies program and chairs the advisory board for the Carolina
Center for Jewish Studies.
Sanders has served the medical profession, the pharmaceutical industry,
the state of North Carolina and the University in multiple capacities.
As former CEO of the Massachusetts General Hospital, he oversaw one of
the nation's largest and most respected institutions of medical
research, teaching and tertiary care. As a senior executive at Squibb
and later as CEO of Glaxo, he led vigorous research and development
He served on the Board of Trustees from 1993 to 2001 and the Board of
Directors of the University of North Carolina Foundation from 1990 to
1994. He has served as chair of the Board of Directors of the UNC Health
Care System since 2001.
Sanders has also been a senior adviser to the United States government
on a wide range of health issues. Closer to home, he was the first chair
of the North Carolina Education Lottery Commission from 2005 to 2006 and
has served on the boards of the Commonwealth Fund, the North Carolina
Healthy Start Foundation and Project HOPE. Currently, he is a member of
Gov. Beverly Perdue's Budget Reform and Accountability Commission.
A member of the Lumbee tribe of North Carolina, Scheirbeck recently
retired as senior adviser for museum programs and scholarly research at
the Smithsonian Institution's National Museum of the American Indian.
Scheirbeck began her career as a staff member of the U.S. Senate
Subcommittee on Constitutional Rights chaired by former Senator Sam
Ervin. On her recommendation, Ervin held hearings that culminated in the
Indian Bill of Rights.
In 1968, she was named director of the Office of Indian Education in the
Department of Health, Education, and Welfare, where she led efforts to
pass the Indian Education Act of 1975. As a member of the American
Indian Policy Review Commission, she worked to craft reforms that led to
the Tribally Controlled Community College Assistance Act of 1978.
She later served as founding director of the North Carolina Indian
Cultural Center in Pembroke and directed the Indian Head Start program.
Smith writes with a keen feel for the landscapes, culture and language
of Southern Appalachia. In particular, she has given voice to the
courage, endurance and creativity of Appalachian women. She has been a
cultural force in the literary life of North Carolina, the American
South and the United States for more than three decades.
She is author of 15 award-winning novels and collections of stories,
including "Fair and Tender Ladies," "Family Linen" and "On Agate Hill."
Over the years, Smith has held faculty appointments in creative writing
at Hollins College in Roanoke, Va.; Duke and N.C. State universities;
and Carolina. With the aid of a Lila Wallace-Reader's Digest grant, she
has worked with writing students in many settings, including a
three-year period spent with the Hindman Settlement School in eastern
Kentucky, elementary school students in western North Carolina and high
school students in her hometown of Grundy, Va.
Her honors include two O. Henry Awards, the John Dos Passos Prize for
Literature, the Robert Penn Warren Fiction Prize and the North Carolina
Award for Fiction.
Commencement and Hooding Ceremony background information
The hooding ceremony for graduating doctoral students will be held May 9
at 10 a.m. at the Dean E. Smith Center. The speaker will be Adron
Harris, who earned his Ph.D. at Carolina and now holds the M. June and
J. Virgil Waggoner Chair in Molecular Biology and is director of the
Waggoner Center for Alcohol and Addiction Research at the University of
Texas in Austin.
In the event of inclement weather, the May 10 commencement ceremony will
be moved to the Smith Center. If that happens, attendance will be
limited and tickets will be required. Each graduating student must
download his or her five allotted tickets - one for the graduate and
four for his or her guests - in advance in order to gain entry to a
moved ceremony. Tickets can be downloaded from www.unc.edu/commencement
until May 8 at 5 p.m. Tickets are not needed for the hooding ceremony.
Details about parking and other information about the weekend's events
are posted on the Commencement Web site.
Commencement Web site: www.unc.edu/commencement
News release announcing Commencement speaker: