Alumni Awards

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Call for 2017 nominations

Submit a nomination here.

2016 Lifetime Achievement Award Recipient

Thomas W. Ross '75


Thomas W. Ross, president of the 17-campus University of North Carolina from January 2011 to January 2016, was born and raised in Greensboro, N.C. He earned his bachelor’s degree in political science from Davidson College before graduating with honors from the UNC-Chapel Hill School of Law.

After a short stint as an assistant professor of Public Law and Government at UNC-Chapel Hill’s School of Government, Ross joined the Greensboro law firm of Smith Patterson Follin Curtis James & Harkavy in 1976. He left the firm in 1982 to serve as chief of staff in the Washington, D.C., office of U.S. Congressman Robin Britt. The following year, Ross was appointed to fill a vacancy on the North Carolina Superior Court. He held the position for the next 17 years.

In 1999, Ross was appointed director of the state’s Administrative Office of the Courts. In 2001, he left the bench to serve as executive director of the Z. Smith Reynolds Foundation. Ross stepped down from his position at the Foundation in 2007 to return to Davidson as its president, serving in that role until he assumed leadership of UNC.

Active in civic and community activities, Ross serves or has served on numerous boards throughout his career including the Advisory Board of the Cuba Consortium in Washington, the Board of Governors of the Center for Creative Leadership, the Executive Committee of the State Higher Education Executive Officers Association, the Association of Governing Boards’ Council of Presidents and Intercollegiate Athletics Project Advisory Group, the Council on Competitiveness, advisory boards for the NC Humanities Council and the NC State University Institute for Emerging Issues, and the honorary Board of Directors of the Conservation Trust of North Carolina. He has served on the boards of the National Humanities Center, the Research Triangle Foundation, the David H. Murdock Research Institute, the NC Biotechnology Center, the UNC Health Care System and many others.

Ross has received numerous awards and accolades for his vast public service and professional achievements including the William H. Rehnquist Award for Judicial Excellence; Governing Magazine’s National Public Official of the Year Award, the Foundation for the Improvement of Justice Award, the Echo Foundation Award Against Indifference, the NC Academy of Trial Lawyers Trial Judge of the Year Award, the American Society of Criminology President’s Award for Distinguished Contributions to Justice, the N.C. Justice Center Defenders of Justice Award and the N.C. Bar Association Citizen Lawyer Award.

He has been honored with Distinguished Alumni Awards from Davidson and the UNC-Chapel Hill School of Law, the UNC-Chapel Hill Alumni Association’s Distinguished Service Award, and an honorary doctorate from UNCG. In addition, he has received the Boy Scouts of America Silver Beaver Award, the National Boy Scouts of America Distinguished Eagle Scout Award, and the Order of the Long Leaf Pine.

2016 Distinguished Alumni Award Recipients

Mary Boney Denison '81


Mary Boney Denison is the United States Commissioner for Trademarks. As Commissioner, Ms. Denison oversees all aspects of the United States Patent and Trademark Office’s (USPTO) Trademarks organization including policy, operations, and budget relating to trademark examination, registration, and maintenance. The USPTO employs more than 12,000 people throughout the country.

Denison joined the USPTO in 2011 as Deputy Commissioner for Trademark Operations where she was responsible for USPTO trademark application, legal examination, and registration processes. She has led outreach to the trademark legal community, small businesses, and applicants without legal counsel, and has been an active participant in meetings with the world’s largest trademark offices, promoting projects aimed at harmonization of trademark practices and procedures. While at the USPTO she has initiated several projects to enhance and expand internal and external communications as well as employee career development and diversity.

Before joining the USPTO, Denison practiced law in the area of trademark prosecution and litigation in New York City and Washington, D.C. She was a founding partner of Manelli Denison & Selter PLLC from 1996 to 2011, an associate then partner of Graham & James LLP, where she practiced for 10 years and an associate at Smith, Steibel, Alexander and Saskor (later merged into Holland and Knight LLP). She served as a member of the Board of Directors of the largest trademark bar association in the world, the International Trademark Association (INTA), for three years. In 2008, the Secretary of Commerce appointed her to serve a three-year term on the USPTO’s nine-person Trademark Public Advisory Committee (TPAC). Prior to joining the USPTO, she was named a Washington DC Super Lawyer. In the past, she served as Treasurer and Director of The French-American Chamber of Commerce of Washington, D.C. and as a Director of Pediatric AIDS/HIV, Inc. of Washington, D.C. She serves on the Vestry of St. David’s Episcopal Church in Washington, D.C. Ms. Denison has spoken around the world on trademark matters and has appeared on CNN and National Public Radio.

A native of North Carolina, Denison earned her undergraduate degree from Duke University, spending her junior year studying at French universities before attending UNC School of Law where she was an articles editor of the N.C. Journal of International Law and Commercial Regulation. She stays involved with Carolina Law because of her appreciation for her education. “UNC gave me the opportunity to earn a good living and to have a fascinating career, and I want to give something back,” she says. She served on the UNC School of Law Alumni Association Board of Directors from 2006 to 2011, focusing primarily on fundraising. She also co-founded the D.C. Chapter of the UNC Law Alumni Association. She supports the school financially, hosts events in D.C. for visiting alumni, professors and students, travels to Chapel Hill to speak to current students and is a dedicated champion of the school’s Intellectual Property program.

Rickye McKoy-Mitchell '84


Judge Rickye McKoy-Mitchell has served the Mecklenburg County community as a District Court Judge since 1998, where she currently presides in juvenile court hearing delinquency and foster care cases. Prior to her judicial position, she worked for the District Attorney's Office, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, the Social Security Administration, and Legal Services of Southern Piedmont.

In addition to her diligent public service as a judge, McKoy-Mitchell also serves or has served on a number of boards in the community. She served on the Mecklenburg County Bar Board of Directors, the Special Committee on Diversity and Inclusion, chaired the Bench, Bar, and Community Subcommittee and is on the faculty for the National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges providing training to judges across the country and internationally through the Institutes of Domestic Violence. She served in a leadership role for the Z. Smith Reynolds Foundation, the 26th Judicial District and Community Building Initiative Partnership Project, the Children's Law Center, the Devonshire School Lawyer Partnership, the Board of Visitors for the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and two terms on the UNC Law Alumni Association Board of Directors, just to name a few.

McKoy-Mitchell has received numerous awards and recognition for her professional and community work including but not limited to the Martin Luther King Growing the Dream ROOT Award;Legend Award from the YWCA Legends Foundation; North Carolina Bar Association's Citizens Lawyer Award; Outstanding Jurist Award presented by the John S. Leary Bar Association; Strategic Alliance Award from the National Coalition of 100 Black Women-Charlotte Queen City Metropolitan Chapter; Charlotte Community Services Association’s Community Service Award; Mecklenburg Times’ 50 Most Influential Women; Lawyers Weekly Leaders in the Law and Women of Justice Recipient for her outstanding leadership and professionalism (only recipient of all three awards consecutively); and the Julius L. Chambers Diversity Champion Award from the Mecklenburg County Bar.

McKoy-Mitchell received both her B.A. and J.D. from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.During her undergraduate tenure, she was the recipient of the Order of the Long Leaf Pine, among the most prestigious awards presented by the Governor of North Carolina to individuals who have a proven record of extraordinary service to the state.

2016 Outstanding Recent Graduate Award Recipient

Amanda S. “Mandy” Hitchcock ’07


Amanda S. “Mandy” Hitchcock graduated with highest honors from UNC School of Law and received her undergraduate degree in Afro-American studies from UNC in 1998. Prior to law school, she worked as a policy associate at the Center for Teaching Quality in Carrboro, N.C., and spent two years teaching 7th grade in Durham Public Schools.

After graduation Hitchcock practiced in Washington, D.C., both with Goodwin Procter LLP and as an assistant federal public defender. She also worked at two Washington law schools, first coordinating pro bono law services and then teaching writing as an adjunct. She joined UNC School of Law to assist in the overhaul of the Research, Reasoning, Writing, and Advocacy program and served as a Clinical Assistant Professor of Law and was an effective and much admired instructor. In December 2014 she left teaching to focus on her personal writing, including a memoir. Her essays about grief, motherhood, and cancer have been featured in The Washington Post, The Huffington Post, Brain, Child Magazine, and Good Housekeeping, among others. She also maintains a part-time solo estate planning practice.

Hitchcock and her husband Ed Chaney ’07 were married at the start of their third year in law school. In between graduating and studying for the Bar Examination, they cemented their passion for public interest and social justice by pledging $50,000 to endow a fund that will support public-interest-related activities and programming for UNC School of Law students. Hitchcock has continued her support and engagement with the law school by serving on various committees and participating as a Chancellors Scholar alumna. She is also regular volunteer with the UNC Cancer Pro Bono Project, through which law students, supervised by volunteer attorneys, provide financial and health care powers of attorney to cancer patients and their families at the North Carolina Cancer Hospital.

The Distinguished Alumni Award

The Distinguished Alumni Award is an annual award given by the Carolina Law Alumni Association to a UNC School of Law graduate whose accomplishments and contributions have enhanced the school and the profession of law at the local, state, national or international level. The recipient should demonstrate one or more of the following:

  • Excellence in the practice of law
  • Excellence in public service as members of the judiciary or other elected/appointed office
  • The high ideals of the legal profession

The Outstanding Recent Graduate Award

The UNC Law Alumni Association established the Outstanding Recent Graduate Award in 2002 to annually recognize a recent graduate for achievements that have brought credit to the school, the legal profession or society. The recipient must be a graduate of UNC School of Law within the past 10 years and must demonstrate one or more of the following:

  • Accomplishments within the legal profession
  • High level of community involvement

Previous Recipients


  • Sarah Parker '69 - Lifetime Achievement Award
  • John Charles "Jack" Boger '74 - Distinguished Alumni Award
  • Chris Brook '05 - Outstanding Recent Graduate Award


  • Irvin W. ("Hank") Hankins III '75 - Lifetime Achievement Award
  • Barbara B. (“Bonnie”) Weyher '77- Distinguished Alumni Award
  • Lindsey Roberson '07 - Outstanding Recent Graduate Award


  • James E. Delany'73 - Distinguished Alumni Award
  • DeWitt F. (Mac) McCarley '77- Distinguished Alumni Award
  • Vasiliki Alis (Celia) Pistolis '82 - Distinguished Alumni Award
  • Wilson L. White '06 - Outstanding Recent Graduate Award


  • Wade H. Hargrove, Jr '65 - Distinguished Alumni Award
  • William D. Johnson '82 - Distinguished Alumni Award
  • Ashley H. Campbell '03 - Outstanding Recent Graduate Award


  • John B. McMillan '67 - Distinguished Alumni Award
  • Ashley Osment '95 - Distinguished Alumni Award
  • Ben F. Tennille '71 - Distinguished Alumni Award
  • Edward F.Hanes, Jr '00 - Outstanding Recent Graduate Award


  • Roy A. Cooper III '82 - Distinguished Alumni Award
  • James Y. Preston '61 - Distinguished Alumni Award
  • Reginald T. Shuford '91 - Distinguished Alumni Award
  • Harriett Twiggs Smalls '99 - Outstanding Recent Graduate Award


  • Karen L. Henderson '69 - Distinguished Alumni Award
  • John P. Kennedy '50 - Distinguished Alumni Award
  • Howard E. Manning'68 - Distinguished Alumni Award
  • Kristi Kessler Walters '99 - Outstanding Recent Graduate Award


  • Marion A. Cowell, Jr '64 - Distinguished Alumni Award
  • Robert C. Soles, Jr '59 - Distinguished Alumni Award
  • R. Allen Baddour '97 - Outstanding Recent Graduate Award


  • H. Parks Helms - '61 - Distinguished Alumni Award
  • William L. Osteen, Jr '56 - Distinguished Alumni Award
  • Robert Weisberg '75 - Distinguished Alumni Award
  • Candice S. Wooten '01 - Outstanding Recent Graduate Award


  • Thomas W. Ross '75 - Distinguished Alumni Award
  • David B. Sentelle '68 - Distinguished Alumni Award
  • Christine C. Mumma '98 - Outstanding Recent Graduate Award


  • William C. Friday '48 - Lifetime Achievement Award
  • J. Dickson Phillips '48 - Lifetime Achievement Award
  • E. Osburne Ayscue '60 - Distinguished Alumni Award
  • William E. Graham '56 - Distinguished Alumni Award
  • Sara W. Higgins '95 - Outstanding Recent Graduate Award


  • Sarah E. Parker '69 - Distinguished Alumni Award
  • Francis I. Parker '49 - Distinguished Alumni Award
  • Kearns Davis '95 - Outstanding Recent Graduate Award


  • Hubert B. Humphrey, Jr '51 - Distinguished Alumni Award
  • H. Martin Lancaster '67 - Distinguished Alumni Award
  • Matthew T. Martens '96 - Outstanding Recent Graduate Award


  • Anthony E. Rand '64 - Distinguished Alumni Award
  • H. Patrick Taylor '48 -Distinguished Alumni Award


  • Walter F. Brinkley '49 - Distinguished Alumni Award
  • Wade M. Smith '63- Distinguished Alumni Award


  • James B. Hunt '64 - Lifetime Achievement Award
  • Raymond D. Witt, Jr '39 - Lifetime Achievement Award
  • Harvey Beech '52 - Distinguished Alumni Award
  • J. Kenneth Lee '52 - Distinguished Alumni Award
  • Lacy W. Thornburg '54 - Distinguished Alumni Award


  • John R. Jordon, Jr '48 - Distinguished Alumni Award
  • Charles M. Shaffer, Jr '67 - Distinguished Alumni Award


  • Doris R. Bray '66 - Distinguished Alumni Award
  • Burley B. Mitchell '69 - Distinguished Alumni Award
  • Lindsay Warren '51 - Distinguished Alumni Award


  • William M. Cochrane '41 - Distinguished Alumni Award
  • James K. Dorsett, Jr '41 - Distinguished Alumni Award
  • W. Travis Porter, III '60 - Distinguished Alumni Award
  • Sherwood H. Smith '60 - Distinguished Alumni Award


  • Henry E. Frye '59 - Distinguished Alumni Award
  • Bertha Merrill Holt '41 - Distinguished Alumni Award
  • Ralph M. Stockton, Jr '50 - Distinguished Alumni Award


  • Marion A. Cowell, Jr '64 - Alumni Leadership Award
  • Robert G. Byrd '56 - Distinguished Alumni Award
  • C. Boyden Gray '68 - Distinguished Alumni Award
  • George W. Miller, Jr '57 - Distinguished Alumni Award
  • William L. Thorp, Jr '51 - Distinguished Alumni Award
  • Willis P. Whichard '65 - Distinguished Alumni Award


  • Reef C. Ivey, II '68 - Alumni Leadership Award
  • Julius L. Chambers '62 - Distinguished Alumni Award
  • Robin L. Hinson '58 - Distinguished Alumni Award
  • Hamilton H. Hobgood '36 - Distinguished Alumni Award
  • Daniel Pollitt - Faculty Achievement Award


  • William A. Dees, Jr '48 - Distinguished Alumni Award
  • Franklin T. Dupree, Jr '36 - Distinguished Alumni Award
  • William A. Johnson '44 - Distinguished Alumni Award
  • John Sanders '54 - Distinguished Alumni Award
  • Donald Clifford - Faculty Achievement Award


  • William B. Aycock '48 - Lifetime Achievement Award
  • Kathrine B. Everett '20 - Lifetime Achievement Award


  • J. Dickson Phillips '48 - Distinguished Alumni Award


  • William B. Aycock '48 - Distinguished Alumni Award


  • Henry Brandis, Jr '30 - Distinguished Alumni Award


  • William C. Friday '48 - Distinguished Alumni Award


  • William H. Bobbitt '23 - Distinguished Alumni Award


  • James E. Holshouser '60 - Distinguished Alumni Award
  • James B. Hunt '64 - Distinguished Alumni Award
  • Dan K. Moore '29 - Distinguished Alumni Award
  • Terry Sanford '46 - Distinguished Alumni Award
UNC School of Law | Van Hecke-Wettach Hall | 160 Ridge Road, CB #3380 | Chapel Hill, NC 27599-3380 | 919.962.5106

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