Joe Ferrell received the 2011 Faculty Service Award from the General Alumni Association last Friday night at their quarterly dinner meeting. Doug Dibbert, Executive Director of the GAA, read the citation, which seemed odd only because that is the role usually performed by Joe at official campus ceremonies. He is the first member of our faculty to receive this award, and along with H.G. Jones (former Curator of the North Carolina Collection), the only recipient who never taught an undergraduate or graduate student. Of course Joe taught many public officials who were Carolina alumni during his career at the Institute and the School.
I was especially happy to be there because I worked for Joe as a summer law clerk in 1977, though inexplicably that fact did not make it into the citation. We ended up publishing a law review article together and I learned so much from Joe that summer. His remarks on Friday night were perfect. Joe talked about the importance of our work and how it has come to be known and accepted as engaged scholarship. He was eloquent in connecting the mission of the School to the core mission of the University—all the way back to President Edward Kidder Graham’s statement about making the boundaries of the University coterminous with those of the state.
Joe has become Carolina’s institutional memory, or the “the keeper of traditions.” It is partly a function of his remarkable memory, as well as his time on campus. It is more a function of Joe’s great affection for Carolina, his work, and the importance of both in the life of the state. Congratulations to Joe on this wonderful honor.