O. Max Gardner Award

Nomination Submission Deadline: Tuesday, September 15, 2020


Criteria and Eligibility

Recognition and Award


Nomination and Submission Guidelines

Nomination Form

Administrative Advisory Committee

Previous Recipients


The O. Max Gardner Award, named in honor of the former governor, is given annually to a member of the faculties of the University of North Carolina system who, in the opinion of the Board of Governors Committee on the O. Max Gardner Award, “during the current scholastic year, has made the greatest contribution to the welfare of the human race.”

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 UNC Board of Governors. NC State has a rich tradition of recipients with 30 honorees since 1951.  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 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 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 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 the Gardner 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 the May UNC Board of Governors meeting and carries with it a $20,000 cash prize. If NC State’s nominee receives the award, he/she will also be honored at NC State’s Celebration of Faculty Excellence in the Spring, followed that evening by the lighting red of the NC State Memorial Bell Tower. The recipient will be publicized in UNC BOG media, NC State media, and in the NC State Spring Commencement program.

NC State Campus Nomination Submission Deadline: Tuesday, September 15, 2020

In late-October or early November, the O. Max Gardner Award Administrative Advisory Committee will submit its recommendation(s) for NC State’s nominee to the Chancellor.

Nomination and Submission Guidelines
Nomination Deadline: Tuesday, September 15, 2020

Nomination Package Required Contents

  1. Nomination Form including Dean and Department Head signatures.
  2. Nominating letter including a summary of the nominee’s achievements and how he or she contributed to the welfare of the human race.
  3. A statement of the highlights of the nominee’s recent accomplishments related to the criteria for the award.
  4. Current curriculum vitae. Limit 25 pages
  5. A minimum of three 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 short description of the background of each person who submits a letter
  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.  

Submission Process

Convert all nomination documents to PDF.
Submit pdf files for each *nominee to the university awards coordinator, Judy Austin at jcaustin@ncsu.edu via email or upload to Google Drive.  Deadline: Tuesday, September 15, 2020.

*Please submit all pdf files for each nomination package at the same time. 

Administrative Advisory Committee Composition

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

Administrative Advisory Committee will meet: TBD