Alumni Association Awards

Distinguished Alumni Award 2017 Honorees

The UNCW Alumni Association recognizes alumni and friends for their outstanding achievements and their services to the university and community. Award recipients are honored each year during Homecoming. Congratulations to the 2018 award recipients!

Distinguished Young Alumna of the Year: Rachael Beatty '13

Rachael BeattyRachael Beatty embodies the Seahawk value of service by making a difference in her community through volunteering. She is an active member in the Junior League of Wilmington, where she serves as chair of the Bargain Sale and One Day committees. The Bargain Sale raises money for charities that fit the mission of the local Junior League to empower women and enrich the local community. As the One Day chair, Rachael helps organize a local Saturday Service event each quarter including Yam Jam. Rachael is also a volunteer speaker at Noble Middle School and a former volunteer for the New Hanover Regional Medical Center Pediatric Department.  She gives back to her alma mater by serving on the UNCW Alumni Steering Committee and is an annual donor.

Rachael earned a bachelor’s degree in clinical research in 2013, which led to an internship at PPD followed by a job offer as a clinical research associate (CRA) after graduation. Rachael has served in PPD’s CRA Peer Mentor program for four years. As a mentor, she meets with new CRAs and assists with their transition into the role and PPD.

As a member of PPD’s Charitable Affairs Committee, Rachael serves as a liaison to volunteer efforts between PPD and Lower Cape Fear Hospice. Rachael is currently pursuing her M.B.A. at NC State University, where she was previously a McLauchlan Leadership Fellow and NCSU Professional MBA board president


Distinguished Alumnus of the Year: Brandon Beane '98

Brandon BeaneBrandon Beane’s drive and determination has led to a successful career in the National Football League. He spent 19 years with the Carolina Panthers, beginning as an intern in the Panther’s media relations office after graduating from UNCW.  Brandon worked his way up, landing a job as director of football operations. He also served as interim general manager.

In 2015, he was named the organization’s assistant general manager. Brandon was heavily involved in football operations, player contracts and scouting for the Panthers organization.  His vast knowledge, experience and work ethic landed him the position of general manager of the Buffalo Bills in May 2017.

Brandon’s community outreach includes volunteering as a youth basketball and football coach in Fort Mill, SC and visiting children at the Levine Children's Hospital during his tenure with the Carolina Panthers and the John R. Oishei Children’s Hospital in Buffalo. He speaks regularly to civic organizations, schools and colleges about the professional sports industry.

Brandon received a bachelor’s degree in communication studies at UNCW. He and his wife, Hayley ’98 (B.A., Spanish), have two sons.


Distinguished Citizens of the Year
: Amy and Ben Wright '98

Amy WrightAmy and Ben Wright ’98 made it their mission to create an inclusive environment where individuals with intellectual developmental disabilities are valued and accepted. They sought opportunities to provide employment for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Amy’s vision for reducing the unemployment rate for people with IDD led her to establish Bitty’s & Beau’s Coffee, named after the couple’s two youngest children, both with Down syndrome.

The coffee shop opened in January 2016 with nearly a twenty staff members. Today, it employs 40 workers. Proceeds from the coffee shop fund Amy’s nonprofit, ABLE to Work USA, dedicated to helping individuals with IDD find meaningful employment.

Ben is the owner of Dye Creek Capital, an independent investment practice. His practice employs adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities as “client hospitality associates.” Ben Wright

The Wrights’ work to change perceptions of individuals with disabilities goes beyond their businesses.  Amy has been a guest blogger for Maria Shriver's "Architects of Change,” created music videos for the Special Olympics and Best Buddies International and composed original music and lyrics for an album of children's music. Most recently, she completed a screenplay, which stars a young man with Down syndrome. 

Ben, who earned his bachelor’s degree in philosophy and religion from UNCW, has served as president of the board of Smart Start of New Hanover County and as chair of the investment committee and treasurer of the National Down Syndrome Society. In 2016, he was appointed to the board of trustees for the newly created North Carolina ABLE Program.

Bitty and Beau’s Coffee has received state and national attention, including being featured on the “Today Show,” “Rachel Ray Show,” “Good Morning America,” “Harry” and Southern Living and People magazines. The coffee shop was named the 2017 Coastal Entrepreneur of the Year, a joint program by UNCW’s Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship and the Greater Wilmington Business Journal.  Amy was selected as the 2017 CNN Hero of the Year.





Alumni Awards for Professional Schools

Cameron School of Business - Outstanding Alumni Awards

The UNCW Cameron School of Business annually presents the Alumni of the Year Awards to recognize CSB alumni who have achieved honor and distinction within either their professional or personal lives. Standards for consideration include distinctive records of achievement with recognition and reputation which extend well beyond the immediate environments in which they live and work. This record of distinctive achievement should extend over a substantial period of time to assure continuity of performance, stability and maturity. The award is presented at the CSB Outstanding Alumni event in the spring during Business Week.

School of Nursing Outstanding Alumnus Award

The UNCW School of Nursing Outstanding Alumnus of the Year Award is presented at the annual Nurses Day Banquet in May. Alumni who are chosen must have graduated in 2010 or prior and exemplify the spirit of excellence in nursing directly working with patients along with providing service to their community. Nominations are accepted from alumni, faculty, staff and community members. Nomination forms are posted in the spring.

Watson College of Education Distinguished Alumnus of the Year Award

Each year the UNCW Watson College of Education Alumni Chapter recognizes an alumnus who has made significant contributions to education and who represents the commitment to excellence typified by the Watson College of Education. Nominations are accepted from alumni, faculty, staff and community members. Nomination forms are posted in the spring and the award is presented at a WCE alumni reception.

J. Marshall Crews Distinguished Faculty Award

The J. Marshall Crews Distinguished Faculty Award honors a faculty member who exhibits the qualities of service and leadership that Dr. Crews personified throughout his life. Nominations may be submitted by any faculty/staff member, alumnus/alumna, student or community member. The recipient will be awarded a $500 stipend. Nomination forms are posted in the spring and the award is given at the fall faculty meeting in September. See a list of past recipients and other faculty award winners.

2017 J. Marshall Crews Award Winner - Dr. Tom Janicki

Dr. HarperDr. Tom Janicki, professor of information systems and operations management, is the recipient of the 2017 Alumni Association J. Marshall Crews Distinguished Faculty Award, presented to a faculty member who embodies the qualities of service, leadership and student support personified by Crews. UNCW Alumni Association board member and chair of the Alumni Association Awards & Scholarship Committee Lolita Bryant ’04, 11’M presented the award to Janicki.

Janicki, who teaches in the Cameron School of Business, coordinates the annual Wilmington Information Technology eXchange. WITX brings together local professionals, students and faculty to exchange leading IT research and applications. He is the Duke Energy-Gordon C. Hurlbert Distinguished Professor in Information Systems. Janicki was nominated by one of his former students, Parker Webb-Mitchell ’15, who credits Janicki’s recommendation as the “sole reason” he was hired at his company. “I cannot speak highly enough of him and his lasting impact on my life.”

The Alumni Association annually presents two awards to graduating seniors at the Cornerstone Award Luncheon prior to May graduation. Any UNCW student, staff, or faculty member can nominate a student for consideration. Visit the award website for more details.

William A. Bryan Senior Leader Award

This award is presented to the member of the senior class who best exemplifies the ideals of service to others, collaboration, leadership and devotion to UNCW. The graduating senior must have a cumulative GPA of 3.00 or higher, be in good standing with the university and exhibit integrity and creativity. The award winner receives an inscribed clock from the Alumni Association.

Rachel Freeman Service Leadership Award

This award is presented to the member of the senior class who best embodies the ideals of service to others, commitment to social justice and collaborative leadership. Recipient receives a cash award of $250 sponsored by the UNCW Alumni Association. The purpose of the award is to recognize the senior on campus who best exemplifies the ideals of service to others, commitment to social justice and collaborative leadership and who has demonstrated their commitment to social justice though community service and servant leadership.