Campus News

Davie Awards recognize extraordinary service

This year, trustees honored a university president, a pharma entrepreneur, a public policy leader and a former mayor.

Old Well in autumn.
(Photo by Johnny Andrews/UNC-Chapel Hill)

The University’s Board of Trustees presented four individuals with the William Richardson Davie Award, the Board’s highest honor that recognizes individuals who exemplify dedication, commitment and service to the University.

The four recipients of the 2022 Davie Award are Valerie Sheares Ashby of Baltimore, Maryland; W. Lowry Caudill of Durham, North Carolina; William A. Keyes IV of Washington, D.C.; and Richard A. Vinroot of Charlotte, North Carolina.

Established by the trustees in 1984, the William Richardson Davie Award was named for the Revolutionary War hero who introduced and won passage of a 1789 bill in the General Assembly to charter the University of North Carolina. Named for the man considered the father of Carolina, the William Richardson Davie Award recognizes extraordinary service to the University or society.

Valerie Sheares Ashby ’88, ’94 (Ph.D.) is an esteemed teacher, researcher and administrator. Sheares Ashby earned a bachelor’s degree and doctorate in chemistry from Carolina, she also completed postdoctoral research at Universitat Mainz in Germany as a National Science Foundation Postdoctoral Fellow and NATO Postdoctoral Fellow.

Valerie Ashby

Valerie Ashby

As a researcher, Sheares Ashby has focused on synthetic polymer chemistry, with an emphasis on designing and synthesizing materials for biomedical applications such as X-ray contrast agents and drug delivery materials. She is the recipient of a National Science Foundation Career Development Award, the DuPont Young Faculty and 3M Young Faculty Awards, as well as numerous teaching awards. She holds multiple patents and has published widely. Sheares Ashby began her career at Carolina in 2003, and in 2007 she was named the Bowman & Gordon Gray Distinguished Professor for excellence in undergraduate teaching and research. She has served on several Carolina boards and chaired the chemistry department from 2012 to 2015.

Most recently, she began a new role as president of the University of Maryland, Baltimore County. As the dean of Duke University’s Trinity College of Arts and Sciences from 2015 until her recent appointment, Sheares Ashby led a 700-person faculty spanning nearly 40 departments and programs in rethinking what it means to deliver a world-class liberal arts education while navigating a pandemic and consistently promoting diversity and inclusion as a means of achieving excellence in both teaching and research.

She also helped to lead the Duke Forward campaign, exceeding the $435 million Trinity goal by $45 million, including $200 million raised for financial aid post-campaign. In 2008, the UNC General Alumni Association’s Black Alumni Reunion honored her with the McClinton Outstanding Faculty/Staff Award, and in 2014 she received the Faculty Service Award from the association.

W. Lowry Caudill ’79 is revered in science, business and philanthropy. Caudill earned a bachelor’s degree in chemistry from Carolina and also holds a doctorate in analytical chemistry from Indiana University. Caudill spent his early career working for Glaxo Inc. In 1991, he and a partner founded Magellan Laboratories, a pharmaceutical development company.

Lowry Caudill

After selling the company in 2002, he became worldwide president of pharmaceutical development for Cardinal Health, leading more than 1,400 employees in nine sites across the United States and Europe. Caudill’s influence impacts numerous areas of Carolina. He played an integral role in creating the applied physical sciences department within the College of Arts and Sciences, which was the first new basic science department at Carolina in more than 40 years.

Caudill also serves as an adjunct faculty member of the chemistry department and taught an introduction to entrepreneurship course, as well as a scientific ventures course and the Chancellor’s Faculty Bootcamp. He has served on a number of University steering committees, task forces and advisory boards. Among them, he chaired the Chancellor’s Innovation Circle, which created the Innovate Carolina Roadmap. Caudill also served as a member of Carolina’s Board of Trustees from 2011 to 2019, during which time he led the group as its chair.

He is widely known for his work commitment to Carolina. He also served on the steering committee for the Carolina First Campaign and co-chairs the Campaign for Carolina, which has raised more than $4.25 billion since its launch in 2017. Caudill also led the searches for the current athletic director and vice chancellor for university development.

The chemistry building, Caudill Laboratories, was named for Caudill and his wife, Suzi, in 2007. They have also supported Lineberger Cancer Center and professorships and graduate fellowships in the College of Arts and Sciences. In 2008, he received Carolina’s Distinguished Alumnus Award and in 2014 he was recognized with the UNC General Alumni Association’s Distinguished Service Medal.

William “Bill” A. Keyes IV ’75, ’18 (Ph.D.) combines his passion for education and public service to inspire others. Keyes earned a bachelor’s degree in political science and doctorate in communication studies from Carolina. His successful career includes work in national politics with roles on Capitol Hill, in the White House and in public policy consulting.

William A. Keyes IV

Keyes is known for maintaining collegial and productive relationships with politicians and government officials on both sides of the aisle. In 2001, Keyes founded the Institute for Responsible Citizenship. It provides promising Black male students with support, encouragement and inspiration to succeed in college and networking opportunities for future success. Keyes has served in numerous roles at Carolina over the past four decades, most notably as a member of the Board of Trustees from 2015 to 2019.

As a trustee, Keyes advocated for strategies and initiatives that would benefit students, particularly young Black men with great potential. His other board service at Carolina includes the Board of Visitors, the Graduate Education Advancement Board and the Media and Journalism Foundation. For more than 20 years, he has served on the Board of Advisers for the Hussman School of Journalism and Media and also created an internship program in Washington, D.C., for Carolina journalism students. Keyes was named the first Local Legend by the Washington, D.C., Black Alumni Carolina Club in 2014. In 2019, he received the Harvey E. Beech Outstanding Alumni Award from the UNC General Alumni Association’s Black Alumni Reunion and was also honored with the Distinguished Service Medal from the association in 2021.

Richard A. Vinroot ’63, ’66 (LLB) is a respected attorney and politician noted for his public service. Vinroot earned a bachelor’s degree and law degree from Carolina. Upon completing his studies, he served in the U.S. Army and was awarded the Bronze Star for service in Vietnam in 1968. Following his active service, Vinroot joined the Robinson Bradshaw & Hinson law firm, where he is a senior partner and commercial litigator, specializing in the areas of land use and zoning, real estate development and construction, and employment.

Richard A. Vinroot

Richard A. Vinroot

Vinroot also served two terms as mayor of Charlotte from 1991 to 1995 after multiple years of service as a member of the city council. For the past several years, he has also litigated extensively on behalf of charter schools throughout North Carolina.

Vinroot and his wife, Judy, a 1965 Carolina graduate, have provided substantial philanthropic support for the University, including a gift to the School of Government to establish the Robert W. Bradshaw Jr. Distinguished Professorship and the Robert W. Bradshaw Jr. Public Administration Fellowship in honor of Vinroot’s longtime friend and mentor.

He has served on numerous University boards, including the Board of Visitors, School of Government Foundation Board, Board of Directors for the General Alumni Association and Morehead Alumni Carolina First Campaign Committee. Vinroot currently serves on the UNC General Alumni Association’s Tar Heel Network and on the Board of Advisers for the Nutrition Research Institute. In 1994, the association honored Vinroot with its Distinguished Service Medal.