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Carolina’s Ralph House received the highest award for a state employee for his work with Chemists Without Borders.

Left to right: Barbara Gibson, Bob Brinson, Ralph House and Amy Locklear Hertel pose onstage, House holding his framed award.
State Human Resources Director Barbara Gibson, Employee Credit Union Foundation Chair Bob Brinson, Associate Chair for Research Ralph House, Executive Vice Provost Amy Locklear Hertel. (Katy Warner, DOT)

Ralph House, associate chair for research in the chemistry department of the College of Arts and Sciences, is Carolina’s award recipient for the 2023 Governor’s Award for Excellence.

During a ceremony on Oct. 24, 41 state employees were recognized for their outstanding work of going above their call of duty to serve the people of North Carolina and beyond. The Governor’s Award of Excellence is the absolute highest honor a state employee is eligible to receive.

“Typically, what I like to do is lower the activation barriers to achievement by identifying hurdles and doing what I can to get them out of the way. If someone is working to achieve a goal that moves the needle for themselves or the organization, and for some reason something is holding them back, I’ll do whatever I can to empower those individuals,” House said.

House received the Human Relations award for his numerous global contributions through his voluntary role as vice president for research and development at Chemists Without Borders, a public benefit, international humanitarian organization. His contributions include creating a partnership with Human Rights and Science based in Stockholm, Sweden, to develop a core laboratory at the Chinhoyi University of Technology in Zimbabwe whose closest analytical facilities were previously two hours away, hampering the students training experience.

video produced by the North Carolina Office of State Human Resources shared more about House’s work and featured kind words from his colleagues.

“In science, you kind of control most of the elements. With people, you don’t. It takes a special type of courage to want to engage in a variety of conversations, some of which are difficult to maneuver,” said Ramin Sedehi, executive vice president for Chemists Without Borders. “Ralph has been instrumental in almost every aspect of our transformation process. If it wasn’t for people like Ralph, we really wouldn’t make the significant progress that we have made in such a short time.”

House was also an integral leader in creating a greater culture of respect and equity for technical staff within departmental core laboratories.

“He loves the department, so to him it’s not a big deal. He feels like this is his family. Ralph has been making a lot of contributions to chemistry. Beyond chemistry,” said Wei You, professor and department chair of chemistry and applied sciences. “It’s my privilege to work with Ralph and in many ways, he is invaluable to chemistry, to the College, to UNC-Chapel Hill and North Carolina.”

In 2023, over 100 people were nominated, including seven Carolina employees. Learn more about the 2023 recipients of the Governor’s Awards for Excellence.

By Human Resources

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