For Immediate Release
April 17, 2006
Public Information Office
310 Owen Hall, Campus PO 1820
Asheville, NC 28804-8507
828/251-6526 - FAX: 828/251-6677
Chancellor Ponder to Deliver UNC Asheville Commencement Address;
Anne Ponder, UNC Asheville’s sixth chancellor,
will deliver the UNC Asheville commencement address on Saturday, May
13. The ceremony begins at 9 a.m. on the Ramsey Library Terrace. In
case of rain, commencement will be held at the Asheville Civic
Center. Some 580 students are candidates for bachelor’s and master
of liberal arts degrees. During the ceremony, Chancellor Ponder will
also confer honorary doctoral degrees on esteemed Southern writer
Doris Betts and prominent civil rights attorney James E. Ferguson
II. Tickets are not required.
Betts, one of the South’s most accomplished writers, has produced nine short-story collections and novels, including “Souls Raised from the Dead,” a 1994 New York Times top 20 best books selection. She has won the Sir Walter Raleigh Award the maximum three times, the Putnam Fiction Award and a Guggenheim Fellowship. In 1975 she received the North Carolina Award in Literature and in 1989 the Medal of Merit in the Short Story from the American Academy of Arts and Letters. The most widely printed of her stories, “The Ugliest Pilgrim,” was the basis for a musical that won the New York Drama Critics Circle Award and later became an Academy Award winning short film, “Violet.”
For more than 35 years, Betts taught creative
writing at UNC Chapel Hill. She held the position of Alumni
Distinguished Professor of English from 1980 to 2001, when she
retired as professor emerita. In 2004, she received the Alumni
Association Distinguished Service Medal and was inducted into the
North Carolina Literary Hall of Fame.
A Phi Beta Kappa graduate of Woman’s College of the University of North Carolina (now UNC Greensboro), Betts was elected to membership in the Fellowship of Southern Writers and has received career and lifetime achievement awards from the North Carolina Writers Association, N.C. English Teachers Association and Conference on Christianity and Literature. The annual Doris Betts Fiction Prize of the North Carolina Writers Network and the Betts Professorship in Creative Writing at UNC Chapel Hill are among her many tributes.
Ferguson, one of the country’s most prominent civil rights attorneys, is co-founder and president of the Charlotte law firm of Ferguson, Stein, Chambers, internationally renown for expert handling of cases involving civil rights, civil liberties and rights of the accused.
A native of Asheville and 1960 graduate of
Stephens-Lee High School, Ferguson was the first president of
Asheville Student Committee on Racial Equality (ASCORE), which held
peaceful demonstrations that led to the desegregation of local
establishments during 1959–65. An activist and leader at North
Carolina College at Durham (now N.C. Central University), he
graduated summa cum laude and attended Columbia University Law
School as a John Hay Whitney Fellow.
Ferguson has devoted his career to change through peaceful means. He has received numerous awards, including the National Conference of Community and Justice Humanitarian Award and the Frank Porter Graham Award of the North Carolina Civil Liberties Union. A longstanding board member of the American Civil Liberties Union, he co-founded the North Carolina Association of Black Lawyers and was past president of the North Carolina Academy of Trial Lawyers. He also is a member of the exclusive Inner Circle of Advocates and a fellow of the American College of Trial Lawyers.
Ferguson has held positions at Harvard, N.C. Central and Santa Clara law schools and is an honorary fellow of the University of Pennsylvania Law School. He coordinated South Africa’s first Trial Advocacy Program under the auspices of the Black Lawyers Association of South Africa.
For more information about commencement, call UNC Asheville’s Provost Office at 828/251-6470 or click on the commencement Web site.
Merianne Epstein, UNC Asheville Public Information Director, 828/251-6676
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