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Spring pink flowers on a tree in front of a campus building highlight the beginning of spring.
(photo by Donn Young)

College faculty William Sturkey and Danielle Spurlock were among the recipients recognized April 12 at the 23rd annual Public Service Awards ceremony hosted by the Carolina Center for Public Service.

Overall, ten Carolina faculty, staff, students and organizations were honored for outstanding contributions to the campus and broader communities.

At the ceremony, the Carolina Center for Public Service, along with Chancellor Kevin Guskiewicz and Provost Chris Clemens, presented the following awards: Ned Brooks Award for Public Service, Office of the Provost Engaged Scholarship Awards and Robert E. Bryan Public Service Awards.

About the awards:

  • 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. Bryan awards recognize an outstanding undergraduate student, graduate student, faculty member, staff member and officially recognized student organization.
  • Office of the Provost Engaged Scholarship Awards recognize excellence in engaged teaching, engaged research and engaged partnership.
  • Ned Brooks for Public Service Awards recognize a staff or faculty member of the UNC-Chapel Hill community who has, in a collaborative and sustained manner, made a difference in the larger community throughout their career.
Danielle Spurlock speaks to a group in front of a classroom.
Danielle Spurlock (photo courtesy of Endeavors)

Spurlock, assistant professor in the department of city and regional planning received an Office of the Provost Engaged Scholarship Award. She is recognized for leading a sustained partnership between Communities in Partnership in Durham, UNC’s department of city and regional planning and Duke’s Nicholas Institute and World Food Policy Center.

Over the past six and a half years, Spurlock has provided the support the team needed to implement a community-based participatory research model designed to fully empower community partners in decision-making.

In addition to this specific partnership, nominators noted her active support of several rural and urban communities with research and community engagement on policy issues, including a food housing project in partnership with Communities in Partnership in Durham. She’s also supported the work of area Black and Indigenous farmers.

Spurlock’s research explores the relationships among land use, the environment, human behavior and structural inequality on a variety of research projects including social stratification and its impact of the siting of hazardous land uses, social vulnerability and emergency preparedness, and the impact of land use decisions on ecosystems services.

One nominator wrote, “As one of her mentees, I can say she is my model for how to implement research justice practices with community partnerships and how to justly engage students with communities in ways that don’t overburden community partners with supervision and training. I often ask myself ‘What would Danielle (Dr. Spurlock) do?’”

William Sturkey
William Sturkey

Sturkey, associate professor of history, received a Robert E. Brian Public Service Award. He is recognized for his outstanding scholarship on the history of race in the American South and his service to the state of North Carolina, where he has shared state history through public lectures, insightful interviews and writings and in the training of K-12 public school teachers.

A nominator and colleague described his scholarship as “characterized by brilliant, nuanced and powerful analysis of people whose stories have been marginalized within standard historical narratives.”

Sturkey created awareness about the life and accomplishments of the late Rev. Dr. Pauli Murray, a remarkable yet overlooked Black poet, lawyer, priest and more in the 20th century. He partnered with Carolina K-12 and the Orange County Human Rights Coalition to host a workshop for K-12 teachers on teaching the struggles and contributions of Murray. This one event, of the many he has done, served over 100 teachers from North Carolina, with several hundred accessing an on-demand module after the event. He also worked with a team to produce “On the Books,” an online digitization of North Carolina’s Jim Crow laws, that picks up Murray’s work on Jim Crow laws and extends it for today’s scholars and K-12 teachers.

One nominator referred to Sturkey as a “highly prolific and important scholar in modern U.S. and African American history.”

Learn more about all the winners.



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