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Apr 13, 2023

2023 Kenan Institute Student Awards

The 16th annual Kenan Institute Student awards will honor outstanding students who excel in the areas of leadership, research, policy impact and service. For their achievements, students will receive:

James Johnson Policy Impact Award

Dr. James “Jim” Johnson, Jr. is the William R. Kenan, Jr. Distinguished Professor of Strategy and Entrepreneurship and director of the Urban Investment Strategies Center at the Frank Hawkins Kenan Institute of Private Enterprise. In 1992, the Kenan Institute of Private Enterprise created the Urban Investment Strategy Center for Dr. Johnson to run. In growing the center, he began working with the Durham public school system, setting up programs for teens in Durham’s distressed neighborhoods, leading midnight basketball games and shepherding students through to high school graduation and, for many, on to college. In 2009, Dr. Johnson helped launch the Global Scholars Academy, an independent school in Durham. He believes that the greatest gift we can give to the next generation is a quality education. Dr. Johnson’s vast and impressive body of research assesses demographic and economic trends in order to prescribe policy that leads to prosperity for the urban disadvantaged. His work includes examining the causes and consequences of growing inequality in American society, particularly as it affects socially and economically disadvantaged youth; entrepreneurial approaches to poverty alleviation, job creation, and community development; inter-ethnic minority conflict in advanced industrial societies; and business demography and workforce diversity issues. His current research focuses on how the world’s rapidly aging population is dramatically transforming social, economic and political institutions. Dr. Johnson regularly lends his expertise at congressional hearings and audiences at the U.S. Department of State and the National Conference of State Legislatures. In recognition of Dr. Johnson’s contribution to addressing disparities in American society, this award recognizes a Kenan Scholar whose work and commitment are poised to shape changes in policies, programs, and practices aimed at alleviating disparities and improving people’s lives.

John Kasarda Research Excellence Award

Dr. John “Jack” Kasarda is recognized as the longest-serving director of the Frank Hawkins Kenan Institute of Private Enterprise. Under his leadership, the Kenan Institute was named the world’s top air logistics educational institution by the International Air Cargo Association. Dr. Kasarda currently serves as the president and CEO of Aerotropolis Business Concepts LLC, President of the Aerotropolis Institute China, and the editor-in-chief of Logistics, an international scholarly journal. He has conducted extensive work in the field of aviation infrastructure, business competitiveness, and sociology and was awarded the title of Kenan Distinguished Professor of Strategy and Entrepreneurship. His accomplishments include being elected a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science for his research on airport-driven economic development. Because of his many accomplishments as a scholar, leading the way in cutting-edge research at the intersection of business and aviation, this award named after Dr. Kasarda celebrates a graduating Kenan Scholar who has achieved excellence in research.

Thomas A. and Yolanda Kaye Stith Leadership Award

The Thomas A. Stith III and Yolanda Kaye Stith Award for Leadership is given to an exceptional graduate student who has demonstrated outstanding scholarship and exemplary leadership. Awardees will prioritize morality, demonstrate integrity both inside and outside of the classroom, embody a tenacious and resilient spirit, and maintain a relentless pursuit of excellence. The selected student must show a clear commitment to leadership, academic achievement, entrepreneurship, community service, and passion for economic growth throughout the state of North Carolina and beyond. They should also be thoughtful, compassionate, and consistently demonstrate a willingness and desire to go above and beyond the call of duty. Named for the founder of the Kenan Institute’s award-winning, economic development center, NCGrowth, and his wife, the former Vice-Chair of the North Carolina Industrial Commission, this award commemorates The Stiths’ commitment to academia, entrepreneurship, and service. Any graduate students who have contributed significantly to the Kenan Institute or its affiliated centers are eligible to be nominated for this award. Non-UNC graduate students are also eligible for this award.

Rollie Tillman Outstanding Achievement Award

The Rollie Tillman Outstanding Achievement Award recognizes an exceptional undergraduate student who has made a significant impact on the Kenan Institute through work on projects and participation in various activities that drive the Kenan Institute’s mission and positive impact on UNC and the larger university community. The award is named in honor of the late Dr. Rollie Tillman, UNC Kenan-Flagler Professor Emeritus of Marketing and the institute’s first director. The selected individual demonstrates the Kenan Institute’s commitment to “putting knowledge to work” and exemplifies Kenan-Flagler’s core values of excellence, leadership, integrity, inclusion, community, and teamwork. The award is open to any graduating undergraduate student working at the Frank Hawkins Kenan Institute of Private Enterprise and its affiliated centers. All graduating Kenan Scholars are eligible.

The Frank Hawkins Kenan Distinguished Scholar Medal

The Kenan Family has had an enormous impact on the campus of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, the UNC system, and throughout North Carolina and beyond. Frank Hawkins Kenan made significant and lasting contributions as a businessman and public servant. His devoted wife, Mrs. Elizabeth “Betty” Price Kenan, lovingly upholds his commitment to the entrepreneurial spirit and service to the university, our state, and beyond. To honor her late husband’s legacy, vision, and commitment to the betterment of North Carolina, Mrs. Kenan has established the Frank Hawkins Kenan Distinguished Scholar Medal. The Frank Hawkins Distinguished Scholar Medal recognizes a graduating Kenan Scholar who exhibits inclusive leadership, outstanding commitment to cross-sector engagement, and excellence in research.

Our aim is to recognize students who have exhibited outstanding service and commitment by exceeding expectations during their tenure at the Kenan Institute and Kenan-Flagler Business School.

Ceremony and celebration will take place on April 13, 2023, in the Kenan Center Lounge from 4-5:30 PM. Please RSVP and find more information at go.unc.edu/KIStudentAwards


Tya SmithProgram Coordinator

4:00 PM
Kenan Center Lounge

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