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O. Max Gardner Award

Nomination Submission Deadline: To Be Determined


The O. Max Gardner Award, named in honor of the former governor of North Carolina is given annually to a member or members of the faculties of the University of North Carolina system.

Governor Oliver Max Gardner’s will provides that the “Board of Trustees of the Consolidated University of North Carolina” (now the UNC Board of Governors) shall pay annually the net income from a trust fund to “that member of the faculty of … The University of North Carolina, who, during the current scholastic year, has made the greatest contribution to the welfare of the human race.”

Established in 1949,  the O. Max Gardner Award is the only award for which all faculty members of the 17 UNC campuses are eligible. Recipients are nominated by their chancellors and selected by the UNC Board of Governors. Since 1951, 31 NC State outstanding faculty members have been honored with this award.  Dr. Ruben Carbonell, Frank Hawkins Kenan Distinguished Professor of Chemical Engineering in the College of Engineering and Director of the William R. Kenan, Jr. Institute for Engineering, Technology and Science is the 2018 recipient of this award.

Criteria and Eligibility

The UNC Board of Governors has provided the following information and guidance about the O. Max Gardner Award:

  • Nominees are full-time members of the NC State faculty
  • Because the will provides that the award shall go to the faculty member  “… who … has made the greatest contribution to the welfare of the human race,” the award should not be viewed solely as one for community service nor for excellence in teaching.
  • The Board’s committees have considered nominations in broad terms of service to the human race; any nominee, no matter how remarkable or unselfish his or her contributions may have been, is at a disadvantage if the service is limited to a particular community. The majority of those chosen in the past have been persons who made notable contributions of national or international scale or persons whose contributions, although local, served as models nationally or internationally. (Most of the campuses already have their own awards for recognition of excellence in teaching, and many campuses have awards that specifically recognize community service.)
  • The nominee’s contributions to the welfare of the human race, however technical the field, should be described in terms a layman can understand.
  • The selection procedure, which must begin in the fall, makes it difficult to adhere strictly to that provision of the will, which states that the award shall recognize a contribution made “during the current scholastic year.” In order to give as much weight to this clause as is feasible, the Board of Governors committee usually looks for nominees who recently made contributions or whose work and service recently culminated in a major contribution.

In January 1973, the Attorney General of North Carolina rendered an opinion that the “coverage of the Gardner Award may be extended to include faculty members at any one of the *sixteen campuses which now constitute The University of North Carolina.” (*now 17 campuses.)

The O. Max Gardner Award recipient will be selected by a committee of the UNC Board of Governors which will invite all the institutions to submit nominations and will prescribe procedures to be followed. The award is presented at the May Board of Governors meeting.

Recommendations for NC State’s nominee for this award are made to the Chancellor by the O. Max Gardner Award Administrative Advisory Committee.

The deadline for institutional nominations to the UNC Board of Governors is TBD and is based on information to be received from the UNC Board of Governors.

Recognition and Award

The award will be presented at a spring UNC Board of Governors meeting and carries with it a $20,000 prize. If NC State’s nominee receives the award, that person will also be honored at NC State’s Celebration of Faculty Excellence, followed that evening by the lighting red of the NC State Memorial Bell Tower. The recipient will also be recognized at spring Commencement and publicized in NC State media and UNC-BOG media.


A nomination may be resubmitted for the next award cycle if the nominee has not been selected as a recipient of this award. Renominations are not automatic. They must be resubmitted with updates that reflect the current year of nomination, confirmation of continued support from the writers of support letters, and any information regarding awards, accolades, projects, publications, or other activities completed after the submission of last year’s nominations.

Nomination and Submission Guidelines

Nomination Submission Deadline
To Be Determined

Nomination Package Required Contents

  1. Nomination Form including Dean and Department Head signatures.
  2. A nomination letter including a summary of the nominee’s achievements and how he or she contributed to the welfare of the human race. Limit 3 pages
  3. A statement of the highlights of the nominee’s recent accomplishments related to the criteria for the award. Limit 4 pages
  4. Current curriculum vitae. Limit 25 pages
  5. **NEW FOR 2023-24
    A maximum of FOUR reference letters in support of the nomination; most should come from persons outside N.C. State University. It is recommended that the letters be obtained from persons in highly prominent positions. Include a brief bio (maximum 150 words) of each letter writer. Limit 2 pages per letter including letter writer bio
  6.  A 500-word executive summary describing the nominee’s achievements that contribute to the “welfare of the human race.” This summary will be submitted to the UNC Board of Governors and should be written in concise, clear language. 

Nomination Package Submission Process

  • Submit separate PDF files for the nomination components listed above.
  • Please submit all PDF files comprising each submission package at the same time.
  • Submit nominations by email attachment or upload to Google Drive to Internal Faculty Awards Coordinator, Sherry Bailey, at by due date.

Suggestion regarding nomination materials from the O. Max Gardner Administrative Advisory Committee:
Each document in a nomination package should be written in language that can be understood by faculty and student reviewers outside of the nominee’s field of study and by Board of Governors reviewers from non-academic fields.

Review and confirmation of nominations at the college level
Each college determines its own process for review and confirmation of a nomination. Each college-level review committee must allow time for review and submission to the university awards coordinator.  Contact your college’s Associate Dean for Academic Affairs for specific directives regarding nominations.

Administrative Advisory Committee

  • One faculty member from each college appointed upon the recommendation of the dean
  • Senior Vice Provost for Faculty and Academic Affairs
  • Student Body President or designee
  • Staff Senate Chair or designee
  • Chair of the Faculty or Faculty Senate designee
  • Graduate Student Association President or designee

Administrative Advisory Committee Charge

  • Recommend to the Chancellor from one to three faculty members as nominees for the O. Max Gardner Award. In accordance with the O. Max Gardner will, it is understood that the award will be made to that member of the faculties of the University of North Carolina (including all 17 institutions) who in the opinion of the Board of Governors’ Committee, “…has made the greatest contribution to the welfare of the human race.”  Also, it is understood that “…the term faculty shall embrace all persons, including instructors, engaged in teaching in any unit, institution, or branch of service of the consolidated University of North Carolina.”

Meeting and Documents Records
All balloting will be archived
All minutes of the meeting will be archived
Material from the Chancellor’s Office and the UNC System Office will be archived.

The O. Max Gardner Administrative Advisory Committee meeting is TBD