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Individuals and Organizations Recognized for outstanding contributions to the campus and broader communities

Chapel Hill, N.C.– Intergenerational discussions about ethics, prevention of human trafficking and UNC Campus EMS services were just some of the efforts recognized at UNC-Chapel Hill’s 24th annual University Public Service Awards on April 11, 2023. Nine Carolina faculty, staff, students and organizations were recognized for outstanding contributions to the campus and broader communities.

Hosted by the Carolina Center for Public Service, the event was held at the Carolina Club and included Chancellor Kevin Guskiewicz and Provost Chris Clemens presenting the Ned Brooks Award for Public Service, the Office of the Provost Engaged Scholarship Awards and the Robert E. Bryan Public Service Awards. The event was also live-streamed and will be made available here.


Honoring a distinguished and sustained record of service to Carolina and the larger community

The Ned Brooks for Public Service Award recognizes a staff or faculty member of the UNC-Chapel Hill community who has, in a collaborative and sustained record of service to Carolina, made a difference in the larger community throughout their career.

This year’s Ned Brooks award went to Giselle Corbie, Kenan Distinguished Professor of Social Medicine; Director, Center for Health Equity Research; Vice Provost for Faculty Affairs. Corbie was recognized for her distinguished and sustained record of service to Carolina and the larger community. Corbie is noted for her dedication and commitment to fostering healthier, stronger and more equitable communities across the state and mentoring others in addressing health inequities in underserved populations through authentic partnerships and community-engaged research.

Among many notable accolades, Corbie was recognized for founding the UNC Center for Health Equity Research (CHER), which brings teams of scholars, community members, medical professionals and other stakeholders together to advance health equity and improve health outcomes in underserved communities by fostering innovation and translational research. Under Corbie’s leadership, CHER has grown to become a key convener and clearinghouse for equity-based education and capacity building across the state. As the Associate Provost for Rural Initiatives, Corbie founded UNC Rural, a campus-wide entity dedicated to creating campus-rural partnerships to strengthen rural communities and to further advance equity across North Carolina.

According to nominator Patricia Harris, “Those commitments to fostering healthier, stronger and more equitable communities across the state are abundantly apparent in Corbie’s work with our faculty and University communities,” says Harris. She adds, “She has a particular passion for supporting faculty development, a passion that is evident in her efforts as a co-investigator in the Clinical Scholars Program of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.”

In early 2023, Provost Chris Clemens appointed Corbie to a newly created position, Vice Provost for Faculty Affairs and stated, “We are proud to have a leader with Giselle’s depth of experience and commitment join us in serving the University community. And we are delighted to work with a scholar and person who so fully evidences a commitment to excellence, equity, and ultimately to making the world a more just, more humane, and better place.”


Honoring individuals and campus units for public service through engaged teaching, research and partnership


Michael Vazquez, Teaching Assistant Professor, Department of Philosophy in the College of Arts and Sciences; and Director of Outreach, Parr Center for Ethics, was recognized for engaged teaching and his commitment to forging lasting, democratic and collaborative partnerships between the academy and the community through his teaching and for cultivating the philosophical voices of people of all ages.

In his class Philosophy Across the Lifespan, students are prompted to immerse in foundational works of historical and contemporary philosophy, learn how to communicate complex ideas to a non-specialist audience, develop resources on philosophy for community partners, and participate in regular discussions with older adults in the community. With the support of the Orange County Department on Aging, they convened intergenerational discussions at the Seymour Center, resulting in powerful unsolicited testimony from both students and older adult participants about the transformative nature of the intergenerational experience. Vasquez also trains students to coach and advise community teams for Parr Center’s National High School Ethics Bowl using well-researched interactive activities.

Nominator Sarah Stroud had this to say, “These events give coaches and high school students across the country an interactive, workshop-style learning and practice environment for various skills and methods central to Ethics Bowl competitions.” She adds that Vazquez brilliantly integrates his community partnerships and connections into his courses with outstanding effect.


Margaret Henderson, Teaching Associate Professor in the School of Government, was recognized for the engaged research award for devoting her career to leveraging her scholarship to support prevention efforts to reduce harms related to sexual assault, domestic violence and elder abuse. With her prolific scholarship about human trafficking prevention, she provides guidance to state and local governments and nonprofits to strengthening the state’s capacity to stem trafficking, including fact sheets about sex and labor trafficking along with blog posts.

As Director of the Public Intersection Project, Henderson leads cross-sector partnerships to facilitate a unified interdisciplinary strategy to combat trafficking. She has lent her expertise to countless organizations with likeminded pursuits, such as the North Carolina Human Trafficking Commission, N.C. Stop Human Trafficking and the University’s project No Rest, furthering the efforts to combat trafficking in the state.

“Henderson provides foundational resources to anti-human trafficking actors, including sheets with basic facts about sex and labor trafficking, blog posts about how public officials can help identify human trafficking sites and discussion guides for local governments around human trafficking prevention strategies,” said nominator Makayla Hipke. “These materials create critical access to information for audiences unfamiliar with the complexities of trafficking.”


The North Carolina Digital Heritage Center (NCDHC), housed in the North Carolina Collection at Wilson Library, was recognized for their outstanding engaged partnership with the State Library of North Carolina. For 14 years they have worked to offer free digitization services for the state’s libraries, archives, historical centers and cultural organizations. The mission of NCDHC is to support community engagement and lifelong learning by promoting and increasing open access to North Carolina’s cultural heritage, and community members select the items of greatest interest and importance for their communities.

With strategic themes including 1) a collaborative work ethic, 2) inclusive and diverse collections, 3) accessible and engaging content, and 4) expanded newspaper content, NCDHC has digitized 637,277 items from 320 partners. In 2022, nearly 500,000 online visitors viewed close to six million pages, with 1.2 million additional views on the Internet Archive.

Nominator Judy Panitch lauded the ethos of generosity, openness and inclusion that animates the work of the Center and the people who make it run. “No partner is too small; no document too minor; no user unimportant. NCDHC’s values include the belief that ‘community history and culture have the power to enrich the lives of all North Carolinians.’”


Recognizing students, staff and faculty for exemplary public service efforts

The Robert E. Bryan Public Service Awards celebrate a specific effort (rather than an overall record) exemplifying outstanding engagement and service to the state of North Carolina. The five Bryan awards recognize an outstanding undergraduate student, graduate student, faculty member, staff member and officially recognized student organization.


Junior Jayla Cobbs, Public Policy and Political Science Dual Major, College of Arts and Sciences, was recognized with the undergraduate Bryan Award for her outstanding work and leadership in the Community Outreach Committee of UNC Campus EMS. Cobbs came to Carolina as a transfer student, and in only two years, she has distinguished herself with Campus EMS and leads the Community Outreach Committee. In that role, she has led efforts to promote community education of CPR and Naloxone awareness on campus; piloting the first CPR, first aid and Naloxone training courses for UNC SafeWalk; supervising 30+ EMTs and training 400 UNC students, faculty and staff in CPE, AED use and first aid. She re-designed the entire CPR education course and led efforts to increase accessibility to CPR training for students, faculty and staff.

Her supervisor and nominator Sarah Torzone wrote, “Ms. Cobbs re-designed the entire CPR education course and spearheaded efforts to make CPR training accessible for students, staff and faculty. This involved reaching out to countless student organizations and academic departments to gain their involvement in the free CPR courses UNC EMS teaches on campus.”


Ricky Pimentel, Doctoral Candidate in the Joint Department of Biomedical Engineering at UNC-Chapel Hill and NC State University, was recognized with the graduate student Bryan Award for outstanding community engagement and contributions through his work at the ReCyclery, and his leadership in cofounding Latinx in Biomechanix.

ReCyclery aims to increase the use of bicycles for transportation and recreation. Pimentel instructs community members, especially those with limited budgets, on the repair and refurbishment of bicycles, and he has raised more than $20,000 since the height of the pandemic for ReCyclery to continue its mission.

Latinx in Biomechanix (LiB) increases the representation of Latinx individuals in the collective fields of biomechanics and movement science. Pimentel has organized numerous virtual and in-person social and networking events with international reach, written a successful grant to build capacity for LiB, organized a leadership retreat and established federal non-profit status for the organization.

Jason Franzs, associate professor for the joint school of Biomedical Engineering, said in his nomination, “Through both of these activities, Ricky has successfully established strong partnerships with community members, inspired others in their mission to serve, responded to urgent and significant needs and worked to ensure the sustainability of his significant service activities to our local, regional, and global communities.”


Aaron Bachenheimer, Executive Director of Off-Campus Student Life and Community Partnerships, received the staff Bryan Award in recognition of his years of dedicated service and collaboration in building town and gown relationships with a wide array of organizations, including the Campus & Community Coalition, Marion Cheek Jackson Center, Chapel Hill Downtown Partnership, the Good Neighbor Initiative, the Town of Chapel Hill and other community partners to ensure the University is an authentic partner with the community.

Bachenheimer is a primary coordinating partner with the Good Neighbor Initiative, which brings community partners together to reduce the likelihood of problems between neighbors and reduce visits from the police, problems that have been exacerbated by a recent sharp increase in investor-owned property in the local area over the past decade. In recognition of his work, he was named a Hometown Hero by WCHL in October 2022.

Nominator Elinor Landess said, “Facilitating weekly meetings about COVID concerns with off-campus students, liaising with partners in the Town of Chapel Hill and making personal visits to students in violation of the COVID executive orders, Aaron has worked tirelessly to ensure the University is showing up with integrity in the community.”


Molly Berkoff, Professor of Pediatrics, Division of General Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine and Medical Director, Child Medical Evaluation Program, School of Medicine, was recognized with the faculty Bryan Award for significant contributions to creating high-quality services for North Carolina children who have experienced abuse and neglect. Berkoff established a statewide network of child abuse consultants and regionally based teams of child welfare social workers who assess and support children experiencing abuse and neglect. Through the Child Medical Evaluation Program, Berkoff works closely with community and statewide partners to set policy for child abuse assessments.  Her additional work with community-based partners across the state includes serving as the Medical Director for the Children’s Health and Development Program in Wake County, where she supports the care of foster children. She also works with the Southern Regional Area Health Education Center to provide child abuse evaluations in Fayetteville.

In her nomination, Kori Flower wrote, “Dr. Berkoff’s work in partnership with the North Carolina Division of Social Services has had an enormous impact on the health and well-being of children throughout the state over the past two decades.”


The Carolina Indian Circle was recognized with the student organization Bryan Award for uplifting Indigenous voices on and off campus through outreach and community engagement efforts, such as the Carolina Indian Circle Pow Wow and Indian 101 in schools. Carolina students formed the Carolina Indian Circle in 1974 to build a support network for Native American students and to share their culture with the rest of the campus. Today, their mission includes not only assisting Native American Indian students academically and socially by providing a positive atmosphere and a sense of community, but also educating the university community and the general public by ensuring that Native American cultural heritage is recognized and respected at UNC-Chapel Hill through appropriate curriculum, research, administrative support, cultural events and increased American Indian representation on the faculty and staff.

In nominating the organization, the staff of the American Indian Center had this to say: “The CIC has a long history of advocacy and presence on Carolina’s campus. The current students continue that work by uplifting Indigenous voices and ensuring that the greater Carolina community understands the historical and contemporary presence Indigenous peoples have in the state.”

CCPS is a pan-University unit that engages and supports the faculty, students and staff of UNC-Chapel Hill in meeting the needs of North Carolina and beyond. For the past 21 years, the Center has strengthened the University’s public service commitment by promoting scholarship and service that are responsive to the concerns of the state and contribute to the common good.

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