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Joy Kasson, professor and former chair of the American studies department at UNC-Chapel Hill, is the sixth woman to receive the University’s prestigious Thomas Jefferson Award.

The annual award was created in 1961 by the Robert Earl McConnell Foundation to recognize a Carolina faculty member who, through personal influence and performance of duty in teaching, writing and scholarship, has best exemplified the ideals and objectives of Thomas Jefferson. UNC faculty members nominate candidates for the honor, which carries a cash prize. A faculty committee chooses the recipient.

Chancellor Holden Thorp presented the award to Kasson Sept. 7, 2012 at the Faculty Council meeting.

For more than four decades in American studies, Kasson has been connecting visual and performing arts to literature and history. As the first Andrew W. Mellon Distinguished Scholar at Carolina, Kasson will link performing arts to Carolina’s classrooms. Kasson will have a guiding hand in Arts@TheCore, a program to strengthen the relationship between the performing arts and academics.

Kasson is also known for her commitment to academic excellence. In her time at Carolina, Kasson has won a number of teaching awards, including the Bowman and Gordon Gray Chair for Distinguished Teaching, the Tanner Award for Distinguished Teaching, the Max Chapman Family Fellowship and the Johnston Award for Excellence in Teaching.

“Joy’s leadership of American studies has created innovative learning models such as a joint class on race relations enrolling students from UNC, Duke and NCCU and taught by Timothy Tyson,” wrote Adam Versenyi, Milly S. Barranger Distinguished Term Professor of Dramatic Art, in his nomination letter. “She helped diversify the curriculum by developing a strong program in Native American studies, and is in the process of raising the academic bar for the discipline by establishing a Ph.D. in American studies here at UNC.”

Read more about Kasson.