Alumni News

UNC School of Education honors five outstanding educators

Peabody Award Citation

H. Martin Lancaster

The School of Education’s most prestigious honor, The Peabody Award, is named for George Peabody, a 19th century businessman and philanthropist who believed ardently in the value of education. At the end the Civil War, he established the Peabody Education Fund to "encourage the intellectual, moral, and industrial education of the destitute children of the Southern States."

Few people honor Peabody’s legacy as well as Martin Lancaster, a fervent supporter of teaching and learning.

Martin served the state and nation in many capacities during his lifetime. From a stint in the U.S. Navy to the North Carolina State House and the U.S. Congress, he has been a dedicated public servant. His work on behalf of the citizens of the Old North State continued when he became president of the North Carolina Community College System in 1997. Martin ran the 58-institution system, one of the largest in the country, until April 2008.

As the State's primary source of job training, literacy acquisition and adult education, the Community Colleges are critical to our state’s continued economic growth. During his tenure, state and private funding for the system increased dramatically. Paramount in that effort was his leadership of the Community Colleges’ involvement in the Higher Education Bond referendum of 2000. The bond secured $600 million for community college construction, repair and renovation. 

From this post, Martin also emphasized the importance of what he calls “home grown teachers" and the community colleges’ role in preparing them. He understands that teachers make the difference in how kids learn. He believes that investing directly in growing our state’s teaching corps and expanding its capacity is the key to educational progress for all.

He also has worked hard to expand the colleges’ focus on literacy as the foundation of success. As a result, more opportunities have been provided for North Carolina citizens to develop the literacy skills they need to be competitive in today’s demanding and ever-changing workplace.

His accomplishments have not gone unheralded. In the summer of 2003, he was elected Chair of the National Council of State Directors of Community Colleges. Two years later, the University of Ulster in Northern Ireland presented him with an honorary Doctor of the University degree in recognition of his "outstanding contribution to education in the national and international arena." These are just two of many honors Martin has received.

It is with great pleasure that we add an accolade of our own to the list. We are proud to bestow the Peabody Award to H. Martin Lancaster in recognition of his exceptional dedication to the education and development of North Carolina’s citizens.

September 27, 2008