Graduate School News

Graduate School Celebrates First 15 Years of Royster Society of Fellows

November 15, 2011

More than 400 University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill students have pursued their graduate studies as Royster Society Fellows, and The Graduate School officially recognized the Society's 15th anniversary with a special program in mid-November.

The Royster Society of Fellows, The Graduate School's most selective fellowship program, was founded in 1996. Fellows receive five years of generous financial support, including stipend, tuition, fees, health insurance and funds for professional travel. They also participate in events and projects that help them develop valuable professional skills and learn from students in other disciplines.

Pictured, left to right, are Chancellor Emeritus James Moeser, Chancellor Holden Thorp, Graduate School Dean Steve Matson, Chancellor Emeritus Paul Hardin and Executive Vice Provost and Chief International Officer Ronald Strauss.

The Society is named in honor of Dr. Thomas S. and Mrs. Caroline H. Royster. Dr. Royster, who received his bachelor's degree in chemistry from Carolina, had asked then-Chancellor Paul Hardin about significant challenges facing the University. The chancellor said one challenge was how to successfully compete for the most promising graduate students. Soon afterward, Dr. and Mrs. Royster provided the extraordinary support to create a program that would attract exceptionally talented students from across the nation and the world.

In 2009, the University established the Caroline H. and Thomas S. Royster Distinguished Professorship for Graduate Education to honor Dr. and Mrs. Royster's commitment to graduate education. The professorship was made possible by a lead gift from Dr. and Mrs. Royster, along with matching funds from the state's faculty endowment trust. Professor Julia Wood was selected as the first recipient of the Royster distinguished professorship and continues to serve in this role.

In addition to five-year fellows, the Royster Society also includes dissertation fellowships, funded by many generous supporters of graduate education. These fellowships give graduate students an unparalleled opportunity of time and funding so they can concentrate full-time on completing their dissertation research.

“The Royster Society of Fellows has given hundreds of Carolina graduate students a remarkable opportunity, and we owe Dr. and Mrs. Royster our deepest gratitude,” said Steven W. Matson, dean of The Graduate School. “These students have shown their appreciation by distinguishing themselves in research, teaching and community outreach — at Carolina and within their careers.”

Chancellor Holden Thorp (left) with Royster Society of Fellows Distinguished Alumnus Awardees Timothy Crowder (center) and Tori Hoehler (right).

At the Royster Society Celebration of Excellence, two doctoral alumni received the Royster Society of Fellows Distinguished Alumnus Award. Timothy Crowder, who received his Ph.D. in biomedical engineering from Carolina in 2000, is currently the director of the GlaxoSmithKline Manufacturing Innovation Center of Excellence. Tori Hoehler, who received his Ph.D. in marine sciences from Carolina in 1998, is a senior research scientist with the NASA Ames Research Center's Space Science and Astrobiology Division.

Other presented awards were:

Dr. Royster, who passed away in 2008, is dearly missed though Mrs. Royster remains a committed benefactor to the Society they made possible.

“Through the commitment of Dr. and Mrs. Royster, the commitment of every chancellor since the inception of this fellowship program and the guidance of many faculty members, the Royster Society of Fellows has enjoyed a truly remarkable first 15 years,” said Dean Matson. “This program has enabled UNC-Chapel Hill to recruit some of the best graduate students in the world and support them in achieving their highest success in graduate studies and impact in the world.”

See photos from the Royster Society Celebration of Excellence