Her commitment to making Carolina a better and fairer place has defined Judith W. Wegner’s more than 25 years of service to the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
For her work as a faculty leader and former dean of the School of Law – where she heightened the school’s engagement with public service – Burton Craige Professor of Law Judith Wegner was recently honored Friday with the General Alumni Association’s Faculty Service Award.
The award, established in 1990, honors faculty members who have performed outstanding service to the University or the association.
Wegner was dean of the law school from 1989 to 1999, after she worked as a teacher, legal scholar and associate dean of the school. She was the first former dean in more than 40 years to be elected faculty chair, holding the post from 2003 to 2006.
Wegner has taught and written about land use, property law, state and local government law and the rights of disabled persons. At UNC, she has worked on myriad committees. She received her law degree from the University of California at Los Angeles and came to Carolina in 1981. She said she was lured by former Chancellor William Aycock’s commitment to fine teaching and the University’s public dimension.
“He was so committed and so beloved as a teacher,” she said. “I had a sense of possibilities here, and fair-minded people.”
Wegner helped create the University’s Public Service Roundtable, a volunteer group of faculty, staff and students that worked to establish the UNC Center for Public Service. She chaired the Committee on the Status of Women – putting women’s issues on the map at UNC – and co-chaired then-Chancellor Paul Hardin’s Committee on Community and Diversity.
As law school dean, Wegner diversified the school’s faculty and student body. As faculty chair, she addressed faculty retention and graduate student issues and ensured that logo licensing revenues would support merit-based academic scholarships.
“She believes deeply in the public mission of the University,” said Anne Whisnant, director of research, communications and programs for the Office of Faculty Governance. “She has a strong sense of justice and a sense that things can be better than they are. She’s an incredible dynamo about almost anything she takes on.”
Wegner extended her dedication to public service to the surrounding community. She is a former Carrboro alderman and was president of the Association of American Law Schools. Now a member of the Orange County Planning Board, Wegner is a delegate to the faculty assembly of the 16-campus University of North Carolina. She also helped start the African Law Initiative, an exchange program for students in 16 American law schools and eight law schools in Africa.
Wegner’s previous UNC honors include the Mary Turner Lane Award and the Cornelia Phillips Spencer Bell Award, which recognize contributions to women on campus, and induction into the Order of the Golden Fleece, UNC’s highest honorary society. She also received the Order of the Long Leaf Pine, the highest honor the governor can bestow on a North Carolina citizen.
Other recent recipients of the association’s faculty service award include English professor George Lensing, business professor and executive director of Carolina North Jack Evans, education professor emerita Mary Turner Lane, geography professor emeritus Doug Eyre and political science professor emeritus Thad Beyle. All award winners are listed at https://alumni.unc.edu/awards/.
-January 23, 2008