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.”
The award, given annually since 1949, 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 Board of Governors. Past awards have carried a $20,000 cash prize. The award is presented at the April Board of Governors’ meeting.
The UNC Board of Governors’ have provided the following information about the O. Max Gardner Award:
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. Through the years the Board’s committees have been thinking 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 the 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’ committees usually look for nominees who recently made contributions or whose work and service recently culminated in a major contribution.
Institutional nominations are due to the Board of Governors in early January each year. At NC State, recommendations for NC State’s nominee for the Gardner award are made to the Chancellor by the O. Max Gardner Award Administrative Advisory Committee.