Alumni Association Awards

The UNC Charlotte Alumni Association Awards were established in 1985 to recognize those who have made important contributions to the establishment and growth of UNC Charlotte; embody the core principles of the University; and have distinguished themselves through their outstanding service to the University, their chosen field, humanity and/or society. These awards honor alumni and friends whose careers have been distinguished by significant accomplishments or through extraordinary service to alumni, faculty, students, and communities, especially the underserved.

We encourage our alumni to nominate themselves, their fellow graduates, or remarkable Engineering professors for these honors. Current awards and descriptions are listed below. To submit a nomination for the 2024 class of awardees, complete the online application and email at least one supplemental document—such as a letter of recommendation or feature article about the nominee—to Please note, current faculty and staff of UNC Charlotte are only eligible to receive the Distinguished Faculty Award.

Photo of 2019 Alumni Association Award Recipient Victoria Watlington

The College of Engineering’s most recent Alumni Association Awards recipient is Victoria Watlington, MSEM ’13, who was selected to receive the 2019 Outstanding Young Alumni Award. Victoria is a service operations manager for The Coca-Cola Company and has been engaged in Charlotte community development through organizations including the West Boulevard Neighborhood Coalition, the city’s Civil Service Board and Business Advisory Committee, and United Way Central Carolinas. In October 2019, Victoria was elected to the Charlotte City Council (District 3).

Previous College of Engineering alumni recipients include:

Donald E. Hatley, BS ’71 (Alumni Hall of Fame Award, 1994) Manuel L. Zapata, BS ’69, MBA ’72 (Alumni Hall of Fame Award, 1998) Dhiaa M. Jamil, BS ’78 (Alumni Hall of Fame Award, 2010) William T. Crowder, Jr., BS ’75 (Alumni Hall of Fame Award, 2012) Johnny R. Graham, BS ’75, MS ’83 (Alumni Hall of Fame Award, 2015) Eric Reichard, BS ’89 (Distinguished Alumnus/na Award, 2017)

Bonnie E. Cone Lifetime Achievement Award

The Bonnie E. Cone Lifetime Achievement Award is presented on occasion to alumni for extraordinary leadership and accomplishments. It recognizes alumni who have demonstrated exceptional commitment to the university and community by giving generously of their time, energy and leadership. This award celebrates alumni whose outstanding accomplishments have brought honor and recognition to themselves and The University of North Carolina at Charlotte and is preserved for those who’ve had a transforming influence for our university and/or for their community, over a lifetime. It is the highest honor the Alumni Association bestows. To preserve the specialness of this award it is only to be given on a select and very occasional basis.

Distinguished Alumnus(na) Award

The Distinguished Alumnus(na) Award honors alumni who have made significant contributions to UNC Charlotte and its Alumni Association; dedicated service to the community, state or nation; and/or his or her career field through professional achievements. There are several criteria for selection: The extent to which the candidate embodies the values and core principals of the University, demonstrates extraordinary service to the University, their field, humanity, or society; provides community and national leadership in his/her profession, and has had a career that has garnered national and international recognition in ways that bring honor to the his or her profession and the University of North Carolina at Charlotte.

Outstanding Young Alumnus(na)

The Outstanding Young Alumnus(na) Award honors recent graduates of UNC Charlotte (within 10 years of graduation). This award recognizes young graduates for exceptional accomplishments, achievements, and service. Candidates can be recognized for one or more of the following: professional accomplishments, contributions to the academic community, volunteer service, and local, state and national contributions.

Honorary Alumnus(na) Award

The Honorary Alumnus(na) Awardrecognizes outstanding individuals who, while not graduates of UNC Charlotte, have made significant contributions to its educational mission. Honorees demonstrate support of education of all students; the desire to leave their own legacy at the university; and serve as models to alumni, students, colleagues and community members.

Distinguished Faculty Award

The Distinguished Faculty Award honors those faculty members who have brought distinction to themselves, credit to their academic college and university, and benefit to their communities through their vocation. Awards recognize excellence in teaching students and/or longstanding achievements, contributions, and leadership in research or academic programs of UNC Charlotte. These members of the university community are considered to be experts in their disciplines and have demonstrated a high level of civic involvement outside of their university job responsibilities.

Humanitarian Award

The Humanitarian Award recognizes lifelong service to society or to humankind and honors those who have provided extraordinary service to their community, demonstrating leadership through global or local service. The award honors alumni and/or faculty who have fulfilled the obligations of their education through creative citizenship and exemplary service leadership in ways that benefit society and bring credit to the institution.

If you have any questions or need additional information about the annual Alumni Awards, contact the UNC Charlotte Office of Alumni Affairs.