Robert E. Bryan Public Service Award

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The Robert E. Bryan Public Service Award honors the memory and accomplishments of alumnus Robert E. Bryan ’26 of Newton Grove, N.C., who worked his way through the University to become a successful businessman, entrepreneur and public servant.

Five Bryan Awards will be given for a specific effort (rather than an overall record) exemplifying outstanding engagement and service to the state of North Carolina that is characterized by:

  • working in partnership with community members,
  • inspiring and involving others, and/or helping others to serve,
  • responding to a practical problem, issue or concern of the state, and
  • working to assure the impact in the community is lasting.

Bryan awards will be given to each of the following to recognize an outstanding

  • undergraduate student,
  • graduate student,
  • faculty member,
  • staff member, and
  • officially recognized student organization.

Nominations for the Robert E. Bryan Public Service Award are open and will be accepted at the Carolina Center for Public Service Application and Nomination Portal. Nomination deadline is 11:59 p.m. Feb. 3, 2016. For questions, email or call 919-843-7568.

2015 Award Recipients

Hana Haidar, a senior English and sociology double major from Chapel Hill, North Carolina, received the Robert E. Bryan undergraduate student award for her work with the UNC chapter of Habitat for Humanity, a national organization that provides decent and affordable housing for low-income families. For two years, Haidar served as chair of the community outreach committee, developing relationships between UNC student volunteers and the families of Chapel Hill’s Phoenix Place, where Habitat has built homes in recent years. Haidar hosted several community initiatives to promote financial literacy, healthy eating habits, physical activity and art education. 

Kristin Black, a maternal and child health doctoral student from Sacramento, California, received the Robert E. Bryan graduate student award for her work with Accountability for Cancer Care through Undoing Racism and Equity. This study is a systems-change intervention that optimizes transparency and accountability to achieve racial equity in the completion of cancer treatment among patients with early-stage breast and lung cancer. Black monitored the logistical components of the study and trained others in the Undoing Racism approach that ensures a common language for examining racial disparities in the healthcare system.

Mathilde Verdier, program coordinator at UNC’s Social Innovation Initiative, received the Robert E. Bryan staff award for her work with CUBE, the university’s on-campus social innovation incubator. CUBE helps its participants build critical knowledge through mentorship, expert feedback sessions and skills-building workshops that deliver critical information to early-stage social ventures. At CUBE, Verdier built strategic partnerships to support students, faculty and staff with ideas surrounding some of society’s most pressing issues. Verdier’s work with CUBE allowed several community organizations, including Seal the Seasons, Musical Empowerment and Aquagenx, to make important steps in improving communities.

Bebe Smith, clinical assistant professor in the School of Social Work, received the Robert E. Bryan faculty award for her work as project director of Critical Time Intervention, a collaborative effort between the UNC School of Social Work and the UNC Center for Excellence in Community Mental Health. The project helps those with mental illness who are experiencing a critical transition – from homelessness to being housed, from hospital or prison to community, or to foster engagement in mental health treatment after emergence of severe mental illness. The program meets basic needs, aids in recovery and connects participants with appropriate treatment and resources. Smith also engages with state policy makers to expand the program to fill gaps in North Carolina’s mental health and homelessness service systems.  

Domestic Violence Advocacy Project Organization received the Robert E. Bryan campus organization award for its work providing free legal services to survivors of domestic violence who seek protection orders. The Domestic Violence Action Project works closely with the Orange County Sheriff’s Office and the Durham Crisis Response Center to foster a line of communication between law enforcement, nonprofit organizations, and University students and professors. The organization is a student-run program at the UNC School of Law in which participating students assist in filing motions for protection orders, accompanying clients to court and educating clients about court proceedings.