The seven alumni, faculty and friends of the University who were honored at the 2019 Alumni Awards Luncheon, held at The Westin Charlotte Friday, April 5, included accomplished business leaders, public servants, community leaders, educators and philanthropists. They have been described as transformational, passionate, devoted, engaged, purpose-driven and vibrant.
Victoria Watlington ’13 was this year’s recipient of the Outstanding Young Alumna Award. Watlington, who earned her master’s degree in engineering management from UNC Charlotte, is a service manager at the Coca Cola Company, and she has spent the last 10 years helping to build up her West Charlotte neighborhood. She is a candidate for the District 3 seat on the Charlotte City Council.
Delbridge Narron received the Honorary Alumnus Award. In addition to serving as a part-time instructor in the Honors College at UNC Charlotte, Narron is senior vice president and general counsel at Springs Global U.S. Inc. He is the inaugural chair of the Honor’s College advisory board, which plays an integral role in shaping the direction and growth of the college.
Herman Thomas received the Distinguished Faculty Award. As a professor of religious studies, assistant director of the African and African American Studies program and founder of the University Transition Opportunities Program, Thomas has had an impact on the lives of hundreds of students. He is credited for creating many opportunities for minority and underrepresented students to succeed at UNC Charlotte and in their lives thereafter.
Nancy Stallings ’72, Anne Tompkins ’84 and the Honorable William “Bill” Brawley ’78 received the Distinguished Alumni Award.
Stallings is a tireless trailblazer who set about making her mark on public service after completing a bachelor’s degree in psychology. She was the first woman to serve in an executive position in North Carolina’s Department of Transportation and was the second female lobbyist in the state. Stallings has served on a variety of boards at the regional, state and national levels.
An attorney with more 20 years of experience in government and private practice, Tompkins has been advocating for clients, trying more than 30 cases to verdict. She was the United States Attorney for the Western District of North Carolina from April 2010 to March 2015, leading numerous high-profile, complex criminal and civil investigations during her tenure, including a public corruption case involving the former mayor of Charlotte and the national security case against former general and CIA Director David Petraeus. After completing a bachelor’s degree in political science, she earned a Master of Public Administration and law degree from UNC Chapel Hill.
Brawley, who completed a bachelor’s degree in accounting, was elected to the North Carolina House of Representatives in 2010. He advanced through the ranks into leadership positions and was named senior co-chairman of the powerful Finance Committee and chairman of the Transportation Committee. During his tenure, Brawley championed projects critical for continued growth for the UNC System and UNC Charlotte—most notably the $90 million science building funded through the Connect NC bond referendum, which was approved by voters in March 2016.
Robert Niblock ’84 received the Bonnie E. Cone Lifetime Achievement Award. A first-generation college student who completed a bachelor’s degree in accounting, Niblock rose through the ranks at Lowe’s Companies Inc. to become its chairman, president and CEO. He is now changing the futures of thousands of UNC Charlotte students through his commitment to professional development and business education. His generous gift established the Niblock Student Center in the Belk College of Business.
The annual UNC Charlotte Alumni Awards Luncheon recognizes alumni, faculty and friends whose careers have been distinguished by significant accomplishments and through extraordinary service to alumni, faculty, students and their own communities.
Photo, left to right, Anne Tompkins, Robert Niblock, William Brawley, Herbert Thomas, Victoria Watlington, Delbridge Narron and Nancy Stallings.