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The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill community will celebrate Carolina’s history as the nation’s first public university on University Day, Oct. 12, Carolina’s 221st birthday.

North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory will give the keynote speech for the convocation, which begins at 2 p.m. in Memorial Auditorium. Chancellor Carol L. Folt will preside.

University Day marks the laying of the cornerstone of Old East, the nation’s first state university building, in 1793 and the beginning of public higher education in the United States. The campus first celebrated University Day in 1877.

McCrory is one of many North Carolina governors who have been a part of University Day tradition. The 74th governor of North Carolina, McCrory took office in January 2013, the first mayor of Charlotte to win the governorship. He served a record 14 years as the 53rd mayor of Charlotte. While McCrory was mayor, President George W. Bush appointed him to the U.S. Homeland Security Advisory Council, where he served from 2002 to 2006.

McCrory received degrees in political science and education, as well as an honorary doctorate of legal letters, from Catawba College in Salisbury, and he worked for Duke Energy before entering public office in Charlotte.

Other University Day convocation highlights will include the presentation of Distinguished Alumna and Alumnus Awards, a practice begun by the faculty in 1971 to recognize Tar Heels who have made outstanding contributions to humanity.

This year’s recipients are Army Surgeon General Patricia Dallas Horoho, former N.C. Gov. James B. Hunt Jr., national geographer Andrew “Sandy” McNally IV, public policy lawyer James R. Patton Jr. and trial lawyer Wade M. Smith.

Likewise, the Edward Kidder Graham Faculty Service Award, established by the Faculty Council in 2011 to recognize outstanding service by a faculty member, will be presented to Krista Perreira, professor of public policy and associate dean for undergraduate research in the College of Arts and Sciences.

Perreira is a health economist who studies disparities in health, education and economic well-being and interrelationships among family, health and social policy, especially as they affect Hispanic/Latino families and their children. Her current research projects include the Hispanic Community Health Study/Study of Latinos and Implementing Health Care Reform in North Carolina.

The award was named in memory of Edward Kidder Graham, University president from 1914 to 1918, who committed the University to public service by vowing to “make the campus co-extensive with the boundaries of the State.”

For more information about University Day, refer to To read more about the honorees, see

By Susan Hudson, Communications and Public Affairs

Published October 9, 2014