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Press Release

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                                                                                                         

CHAPEL HILL, NC – The UNC Board of Governors voted to honor two UNC System faculty members with the 2019 Governor James E. Holshouser, Jr. Award for Excellence in Public Service. The recipients are Dr. Mark I. West from the University of North Carolina at Charlotte and Dr. Martin Posey from the University of North Carolina Wilmington.

Both of these distinguished professors deserve this high honor,” said UNC Board of Governors Chair Randy Ramsey. “The Board of Governors recognizes them for transferring their academic expertise into stewardship and service. The important work that they do on a daily basis, on behalf of their communities and the state, embodies the best of the University.”

The award honors faculty who exemplify the University’s commitment to service and community engagement. Created in 2007 and renamed in 2013 to honor former governor James E. Holshouser, Jr., the award is designed to “encourage, identify, recognize and reward public service by employees of the University.”

Typically, the UNC System names just one recipient of its prestigious annual service award, but this year, for only the third time in the award’s history, the committee made an exception.

“The Holshouser award is a tangible reminder of the incredible impact members of our faculty have on the many lives that they touch, benefitting not just our students, but potentially every North Carolinian,” said UNC System Interim President Bill Roper. “Dr. West and Dr. Posey have consistently demonstrated that education involves always so much more than delivering information. It can and should be driven by a mission to make the lives of those whom they serve richer and fuller.”

Dr. Mark I. West is UNC Charlotte’s chair and professor in the Department of English. During his nearly 36-year career, he has developed a reputation as one of the pioneers in the field of children’s literature. Throughout his career, Dr. West has advocated for early childhood literacy, in his classrooms as well as in his community. He is known not only for his impactful research and expertise, but also for his excellence in teaching and his dedication to area school districts and the Charlotte community.

Headshot of Dr. Mark West

Dr. Mark I. West

Much of his community engagement work involves collaborative projects with the Charlotte Mecklenburg Public Library including the organizing of important cultural events for the public.

In 2010, he collaborated with a former librarian to produce A Tribute to Novello, a three-day grassroots literary event that celebrated the act of reading and featured well-known authors and community leaders, who donated their time for author panels, readings and book signings. Since 2015, he has served on the planning committee of the Library Foundation’s EpicFest, a free literary event for families, children, and teens.

His academic career is marked with achievement and distinction. He received the Bonnie E. Cone Professorship in Civic Engagement Award in 2019, and in 2016 earned the Anne Devereaux Jordan Award for Outstanding Achievement in Children’s Literature from the Children’s Literature Association. Dr. West has authored, co-authored or edited 16 books, and he is the author of nearly 40 articles that have appeared in refereed scholarly journals, and 20 additional articles that have appeared in popular publications. He continues to be widely quoted in newspaper articles and essays referencing children’s literature or literacy.

“Dr. Mark West is a renowned leader in his field, known not only for his provocative and impeccable research, but also for his excellence in teaching, his dedication to area school districts and his record of service to the Charlotte community,” said UNC Charlotte Chancellor Philip L. Dubois. “Mark has spent his career cultivating relationships between the University and the community, impacting thousands of children and families, and inspiring a love of learning and a desire to read among students of all ages. He is highly deserving of this award and I congratulate him for this achievement.”

Dr. Martin Posey is a full professor in UNCW’s Department of Biology and Marine Biology, having served in the department since 1989. He previously served as director of the UNCW Center for Marine Science and was associate vice chancellor and dean of undergraduate studies. Dr. Posey’s 30-plus years of service have been devoted to university outreach and service, through which he has translated his academic expertise into policy and management.

Much of his engagement work is focused on the variety of challenges facing coastal areas, including resource management and sustainability issues.

He has served on the NC Marine Fisheries Commission, the Coastal Resources Commission Scientific Panel on Coastal Hazards, and the NC Division of Marine Fisheries Crustacean Fisheries Advisory Committee, among others. He has collaborated with, or offered his expertise to, community and non-profit organizations, among them the NC Coastal Federation, the Cape Fear River Organization, and the Lower Cape Fear River Program.

Dr. Posey has been devoted to enhancing education connections between UNCW and the community, notably with K-12 schools. He has been active in Project Quest, which provides hands-on learning experiences for middle school students in underserved regions. He has also helped to organize the Planet Oceans seminar series, which brings local and national researchers together to discuss coastal issues.

At UNCW, Dr. Posey has established a long career of service to the university itself, serving on countless committees and organizations working towards the advancement of UNCW.

Headshot of Dr. Martin Posey

Dr. Martin Posey

“Dr. Posey is truly the epitome of everything academic institutions treasure in a faculty member,” said UNCW Chancellor Jose V. Sartarelli. “He’s a prolific researcher, a generous and supportive colleague to so many, and an integral part of the Wilmington community — personally and professionally. His presence on our campus has inspired students and peers for decades, and his impressive body of work has had regional, statewide, and global impact. It’s incredibly gratifying for all who admire Martin to see him recognized in this way. We are all very proud to know and work with Martin, and grateful for his boundless contributions to our university and community.”

Both recipients receive a $7,500 stipend and a bronze medallion in honor of their work.