Two Nobel Prize winners, a poet and a patron of the arts are among the seven people who will receive the North Carolina Award, the state’s highest civilian honor, this fall.
The award was created by the General Assembly and presented annually since 1964 to recognize significant contributions to the state and nation in the fields of fine arts, literature, public service and science. Gov. Pat McCrory will present this year’s awards at a banquet and ceremony Sept. 22 at the Raleigh Marriott City Center.
This year’s winners are:
▪ Joseph Bathanti of Vilas, a professor of creative writing at Appalachian State University who was the state poet laureate from 2012 to 2014.
▪ Linda S. Birnbaum of Chapel Hill, former director of toxicology at the Environmental Protection Agency and the first woman director of the National Institute for Environmental Health Sciences, both at Research Triangle Park.
▪ Robert J. Brown of High Point, founder of a public relations firm who worked in the Nixon administration and later founded the BookSmart Foundation, which has sent more than 5 million books to Africa.
▪ James C. Gardner of Rocky Mount, a founder of the Hardee’s restaurant chain who has played many roles in public life, including the first Republican lieutenant governor in the 20th century and serving now as chairman of the N.C. Alcoholic Beverage Control Commission.
▪ Assad Meymandi of Raleigh, a psychiatrist whose many contributions to the arts and humanities includes the 1,800-seat concert hall in Raleigh that serves as home to the N.C. Symphony and bears his mother’s name.
▪ Aziz Sancar of UNC-Chapel Hill and Paul L. Modrich of Duke University, both winners of the 2015 Nobel Prize in Chemistry for their work in discovering different ways that damaged DNA could be repaired, leading to new ways to treat cancer and other diseases.