Each academic year, The Graduate School celebrates students, faculty and staff by recognizing achievements in community service, teaching and leadership.
Student service coordinator, College of Arts & Sciences’ communication department
This year’s Excellence in Graduate Student Services Award was given to Olivia Hopkins, student service coordinator. Student service managers and coordinators work to support graduate students’ academic and professional development.
“Despite taking on additional administrative roles on top of student service manager, Olivia has still gone above and beyond to be there for students. Students recognize how responsive she is to their needs, and Olivia even makes herself available on weeknights and weekends if a situation warrants it,” the Graduate School said in a statement. “Students have commented that Olivia has helped foster a sense of community with the communication department at a time when people feel very isolated, and she makes it a point to check in with each student about their well-being. Many people within the department appreciate her warmth, adaptability and sense of humor.”
Associate professor and director of graduate studies, College of Arts & Sciences’ communication department
Michael Palm was recognized with the Faculty Award for Excellence in Graduate Student and Academic Program Support. During his time as director of graduate studies, Palm started an emergency fund to support graduate students’ needs during the COVID-19 pandemic, hosted town hall-style meetings and has supported students who are parents of young children.
“What impresses me most about Professor Palm’s work as DGS is his sincere care and attention to the graduate students,” one nominee wrote. “Professor Palm is committed to ensuring that our program is a space where all students can thrive.”
Executive vice provost; Adams Distinguished Professor, Adams School of Dentistry; professor, School of Medicine; clinical professor, Gillings School of Global Public Health
The Graduate School awarded Ronald Strauss with the Dean’s Award for Significant Contributions to Graduate Education, which recognizes an individual who has gone above and beyond what is normally required to impact graduate education.
Strauss came to the University in 1974 and rose through the ranks to become chair of the department of dental ecology in the UNC Adams School of Dentistry. He also served as chief international officer, during which he oversaw several initiatives that paved the way for professional, graduate and undergraduate students to have international experiences. From 2011 until 2022, Strauss served as executive vice provost.
“During his long, storied career at the University, Dr. Strauss has been a caring, thoughtful leader who has made a tremendous difference in the lives and careers of students and faculty alike. In his own quiet, humble way, he has worked, often behind the scenes, to ensure our graduate programs have the information and resources they need to attain and maintain excellence,” said Suzanne E. Barbour, dean of The Graduate School. “Generations of UNC-Chapel Hill graduate students have Dr. Strauss to thank for the quality of the education they received and the opportunities they were able to pursue while at the University. He epitomizes the concept of servant leadership and serves as a model for other campus leaders to follow.”