University Award for Excellence in Public Service

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University Award for Excellence in Public Service

2008 Winner: Dr. Lessie Bass, Director, Lucille Gorham Intergenerational Center at East Carolina University

Lessie L. BassLessie L. Bass, associate professor of social work and director of the Lucille Gorham Intergenerational Center at East Carolina University, received the Award for Excellence in Public Service today from the Board of Governors of the multi-campus University of North Carolina. The award, announced during the Board’s regular October meeting—held on the campus of Western Carolina University in Cullowhee—was established in 2007 to encourage, identify, recognize, and reward distinguished public service and outreach by faculty across the University. The 2008 award carries a $7,500 cash prize and was presented by UNC President Erskine Bowles and Public Service Award Committee member Phil Dixon of Greenville.

A member of the ECU faculty since 1993, Bass was honored for her painstaking efforts to improve the quality of life for residents of West Greenville, an economically deprived area of Pitt County that had been worn down by high crime rates, gang violence, drugs, and blighted housing. Drawing on her training and expertise in social work and her own personal values, Bass helped forge a coalition of West Greenville residents, city and county officials, and ECU and Pitt Community College faculty and administrators to plan and secure resources for a community center that could foster and help sustain neighborhood revitalization. Today the Lucille Gorham Intergenerational Center in West Greenville provides critical educational and outreach services that include after-school programs and summer camps, academic tutoring, GED and college-level classes, parenting programs, youth apprenticeship programs, small business workshops, and substance abuse counseling. Her work is recognized as a national model for community organization and urban planning.

Through her teaching, community outreach, and service on numerous committees and workgroups, Bass also has been a willing mentor and role model—one her ECU students describe as “social work in action.” In addition to her ongoing efforts in West Greenville, she has served on the Pitt County Planning Board, a Blue Ribbon Committee Established to Abolish Homelessness and a Domestic Violence Committee for the state of North Carolina. She has also served as an advisor, consultant, or trainer for multiple organizations, including Lenoir County Hospital, the Pitt County Mental Health Department, and the Halifax County Department of Social Services. She also has served on the Alliance Committee of Wayne County, the Henrietta H. Williams Foundation Board, and the Mt. Olive Downtown Revitalization Committee.

2007 Winner: George P. Wilson Sr., Professor of Criminal Justice and Chair of the Faculty Senate at North Carolina Central University

George P. Wilson, Sr., Professor of Criminal Justice and Chair of the Faculty Senate at North Carolina Central University, received the inaugural Award for Excellence in Public Service today from the Board of Governors of the multi-campus University of North Carolina.  This new annual award was created to encourage, identify, recognize, and reward distinguished public service and outreach by faculty across the University.  The 2007 award carries a $7,500 cash prize and was presented by UNC President Erskine Bowles and Public Service Award Committee Chair Gladys Ashe Robinson of Greensboro.

A member of the NCCU faculty since 1984, Wilson served as the first chairman of the university’s Criminal Justice Department, helped build its master’s degree program in the field, and established the NCCU Juvenile Justice Institute.  Drawing on his professional expertise and personal values, he also has been a willing mentor, mediator, and role model for young at-risk African American males in the community.

Through his teaching and through service on numerous boards and commissions, Wilson has also been a leader in shaping better public policy at the local, state, and national levels.  A co-founder of the Research Triangle chapter of the National Association of Blacks in Criminal Justice, he served for 12 years on the NC Sentencing and Policy Advisory Commission, advocating for equitable conviction and sentencing laws in the state.  Currently, he chairs the boards of the Criminal Justice Policy Center, a non-profit organization that opposes the death penalty and helps parolees re-adjust to life outside prison, and Troy Halfway House, a federal halfway home for men.  In addition, he has served as vice chair of the Community-Based Alternatives board and chair of the Durham Community Penalties Program.

Previously, Wilson has been honored with the NCCU Outstanding Service Award, the Mary Church Terrell Award for leadership and service from the National Association of Blacks in Criminal Justice, the Educator of the Year Award from the NC Criminal Justice Educators Association, and the UNC Board of Governors Award for Excellence in Teaching.  He is also a recipient of the Order of the Long Leaf Pine, the highest civilian honor granted by the governor of North Carolina.