The 2014 North Carolina Awards

Check back here for information on the 2014 North Carolina Award winners and banquet. 

Established by the General Assembly in 1961, the first medals for the North Carolina Award were given in 1964. Since then, more than 250 notable men and women have been honored by the state of North Carolina. 

Past recipients include William Friday, Romare Bearden, James Taylor, Gertrude Elion, John Hope Franklin, David Brinkley, Maya Angelou, Billy Graham and Branford Marsalis.

The 2013 North Carolina Award Winners

Science:  Myron S. Cohen

The 30-year HIV/AIDS pandemic began soon after Dr. Myron Cohen joined the faculty of the School of Medicine at UNC-Chapel Hill. Since that time he has devoted much of his professional career to understanding HIV transmission and trying to prevent it. In 2011, his multinational research team demonstrated that treatment of HIV infection with antiretroviral drugs stopped HIV transmission. Science magazine heralded the study as the "breakthrough of the year." Cohen was architect and principal investigator of the groundbreaking study and HPTN 052 clinical trial which demonstrated that pretreatment prevented HIV transmission to an uninfected partner. The National Institutes of Health study involved 13 sites in nine countries and had a 96 percent success rate, causing an international sensation. His teamwork and "never give up" approach have led to hope for an AIDS-free generation.


Fine Arts:  John E. Cram

John Cram has described himself as "a kid with a big sandbox." Fortunately Asheville is where he chose to play. Since opening New Morning Gallery in 1972 with $500 and a dream, he has been a major force in shaping the city into a cultural destination. His first exhibit of a few pieces of pottery mounted on painted crates blossomed into five successful galleries and shops. He embraced the creative economy, exposed quality crafts and artworks to appreciative audiences, opened a highly respected studio, and launched the Village Art and Craft Fair. Thousands from across the country come to the fair and the shops. His interests extend to conservation, and he established a fund to benefit the Conservation Trust for North Carolina and the Southern Appalachian Highlands Conservancy. He successfully blends art, business and beauty to benefit western North Carolina.


Literature:  John M. H. Hart Jr.

John Hart, a former attorney, landed on The New York Times best-seller list with his first published effort, The King of Lies (2006). With the release of his second book, Down River (2007), and his third, The Last Child (2009), Hart continued to appear on best-seller lists and became the only author to ever win consecutive Edgar Awards from the Mystery Writers of America. Salisbury and Rowan County provided inspiration for his early books with his fourth effort, Iron House (2011), alternating between the criminal underworld of New York City and the Tar Heel State. Hart's novels can be found in 70 countries, having been translated into 30 different languages. His other honors include the Ian Fleming Steel Dagger Award, the Barry Award and the fiction prize from the Southern Independent Booksellers Alliance. Davidson College, his alma mater and where he serves on the board of visitors, presented him with a distinguished alumnus award earlier this year. The University of South Carolina recently awarded him an honorary doctorate during graduation ceremonies.


Public Service:  Phillip J. Kirk Jr.

Phil Kirk has dedicated his life to education and economic development, serving along the way as a member of the North Carolina State Senate; as chief of staff to two governors and a U.S. House member; and as the Secretary of the N. C. Department of Human Resources (now the N. C. Department of Health and Human Services) during two different administrations. He lent his time and experience to more than 30 boards and commissions during both Democratic and Republican administrations, and his influence has been felt all across the state. The sustained contributions by Kirk came with his dual appointments as director of the North Carolina Council for Business and Industry (now the North Carolina Chamber) and as chairman of the State Board of Education. The roles permitted him to pursue two objectives, ones he views as mutually dependent, advancing business and raising educational standards. Kirk's many honors include an honorary doctorate from Catawba College, the I. E. Ready Award from the community college system, the Holderness-Weaver Award for public service from UNC-Greensboro and the Boy Scouts Citizen of the Year Award. 


Public Service:  John Harding Lucas

A lifetime of embracing and overcoming challenges has won many admirers for John Harding Lucas, now 93-years-old. For more than 60 years he was an education administrator and leader. He triumphed over the knotty problem of integrating the white North Carolina Education Association and the black North Carolina Teachers Association, proposing what came to be known as the "Lucas concept." He proposed that a completely new organization be formed rather than force either group into an existing structure, and in 1970 the North Carolina Association of Educators was created. He was elected to the first school board of the newly merged school system in Durham County and has served as president of Shaw University. He is an advocate for youth, school funding and social justice. Lucas Middle School in Durham and other community institutions bear his name. He remains active in his church and serves lifelong appointments on several boards.


Public Service:  Walt Wolfram

Walt Wolfram is an internationally acclaimed linguist who has transformed the appreciation and understanding of the historical and social importance North Carolina's rich language and dialect heritage. Appointed the William C. Friday Distinguished professor at North Carolina State University in 1992, he founded the North Carolina Language and Life Project that has become a national model for sociolinguistic engagement and the dissemination of knowledge to the public. Through his work Wolfram developed the "principle of linguistic gratuity" emphasizing the importance of giving back to the communities where he collects data for his research studies. With a colleague, Wolfram developed the first statewide school curriculum in the United States on dialect and language that complements the study of state history for eighth grade students in North Carolina. He continually engages the community through his work creating museum exhibits, appearing at the N. C. State Fair, serving as consultant topopular TV shows such as Sesame Street and creating eight documentaries on the dialects and languages of North Carolina. Wolfram has been recognized for his outstanding work with many awards, including the John Tyler Caldwell Award for the Humanities, the Holladay Medal for lifetime achievement at N. C. State University and the Linguistics, Language and the Public Award from the Linguistic Society of America. In addition, he has also been recognized with the N. C. State Alumni Association Research Award, the Graduate Professor Award and the Extension and Engagement Award.

The 2013 North Carolina Awards Banquet and Ceremony was held November 21 at 7:15 p.m. in Durham. It was generously sponsored by Gold Sponsors: Bob Barker, United Guaranty, Martin Marietta, and PNC and Silver Sponsors: Blue Cross Blue Shield N.C., Mr. Tom Kenan, Skanska, MetLife, Womble Carlyle, Mr. Joseph M. Bryan, Jr., Pepsico and Scana.

N.C. Awards Sponsors


N.C. Department of Cultural Resources
109 East Jones Street MSC 4601 |  Raleigh, NC 27699-4601
Phone: (919) 807-7300  | Fax: (919) 733-1620

Click here for information on transparency in State Government