Graduate School News

Admissions Office Manager Diane Davis Receives Robert R. Cornwell Unsung Hero Award

February 11, 2008

Diane Davis joined the university in 1978 and has spent the majority of those years in the Graduate School Admissions Office. She is now being honored for those years of excellent service with a Robert R. Cornwell Unsung Hero Award. She received the award at a reception held in the Graduate Student Center on February 12, 2008.

Jointly nominated by the dean of the Graduate School, Linda Dykstra, and the director of the Office of Admissions & Enrolled Students, Cheryl Thomas, they wrote that the nomination was “based on Diane’s quiet, self-effacing competence, her flexibility and willingness to learn and update her skills, and the combination of grace and firmness that characterizes the assistance she provides applicants on two campuses and abroad.”

The Unsung Hero award goes annually to a current, full-time, permanent faculty or staff employee who has provided significant service in support of the University over a long period of time and, generally, from a background position. Excellence in the quality of work performed is the standard used for selecting the recipient, but of equal importance is the likelihood that the employee's work has gone unnoticed by much of the University community.

The nomination statement noted, “she is the only remaining staff member with the historical experience of processing hundreds of admission applications by hand, to processing thousands electronically.” Despite the drastic changes to the admissions process that occurred over the years, “her positive and enthusiastic method of accepting new processes and delivering that information to the campus community is inspiring to all.”

In her current position as manager of the Admissions Office, Davis coordinates the efforts of a small group of individuals who process nearly 11,000 applications per year. “As the workload increases, she assists others with their applications so our process is seldom backlogged. We have never seen anyone process as much work as accurately and quickly as she does,” wrote Dykstra and Thomas. “In addition, Diane coordinates all applications for the joint academic program with NCSU as well as all International Fellowship applications. All of these are behind the scenes responsibilities invisible to staff or applicants on two campuses and abroad.”

“Although they’ve maybe never seen her face,” their nomination statement concluded, “Diane has assisted hundreds of staff across campus and notified thousands of graduate applicants of their admission status. All will tell you that she consistently practices the same respectful, supportive standard today.”

This award is sponsored by the Office of Institutional Research (OIR) in recognition of the late Robert R. Cornwell who served as the University's associate registrar and as research associate in the OIR for more than 20 years. He died in 1994 in active service of the University, and the award was established to honor him and to recognize the long-term contribution he made to Carolina.

Those interested in contributing to the Robert R. Cornwell Unsung Hero Award Fund may do so by sending checks payable to UNC-Chapel Hill to the Office of University Development, CB# 6100.