Six earn prestigious Massey Awards for outstanding service at UNC-Chapel Hill

Increase font size
Decrease font size

For immediate use


Six earn prestigious Massey Awards for outstanding service at UNC-Chapel Hill


(Chapel Hill, N.C. – April 6, 2016) – Six employees at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill have been selected by Chancellor Carol L. Folt to receive the 2016 C. Knox Massey Distinguished Service Award, one of the most coveted distinctions earned by faculty and staff.


“The Massey Award is one of the most heartfelt recognitions we have,” said Chancellor Carol L. Folt. “It honors our very best, the people whose hard work, care for others and dedication sets the standard of excellence that we think of when we think of Carolina. We thank them for their incredible contributions.”


The late C. Knox Massey of Durham created the awards in 1980 to recognize “unusual, meritorious or superior contributions” by University employees. In 1984, he joined the families of his son, Knox Massey Jr., and daughter, Kay Massey Weatherspoon, to create the Massey-Weatherspoon fund. Income from the fund supports the Massey Awards and Carolina Seminars.


Chosen from campus-wide nominations, the Massey Award recipients will be honored at a luncheon hosted by Chancellor Folt on April 16. Each will receive a $7,500 stipend and an award citation. This year’s recipients are:


  • Randi R. Byrd, Community Engagement Coordinator, American Indian Center
  • Angelette Cheek, Housekeeping Day Porter, Kenan Center
  • Renita Corbett, Housekeeper, School of Dentistry
  • Andy Johns, Senior Associate Vice Chancellor for Research, Office of the Vice Chancellor for Research
  • Michael McFarland, Director of University Relations, Office of Communications and Public Affairs
  • Joy J. Renner, Associate Professor and Director for Radiologic Science, Allied Health Sciences, School of Medicine


Randi R. Byrd

With 10 years of service to Carolina’s American Indian Center (AIC), Randi Byrd embodies its goals: to enable Carolina, as the University of the people, to truly serve the First People of North Carolina as well as the First People of the south and east. As the center’s Community Engagement Coordinator and a descendant of the Eastern Band of the Cherokee Indians, she is praised for a work ethic that goes “above and beyond” to support students’ professional and personal development after hours, during lunch or on the weekends. She serves as vice deputy chief of the American Indian Faculty and Staff Caucus to mentor future AIC leadership. She extends the University’s outreach as an advocate and liaison to eight tribal nations and four urban Indian organizations in North Carolina and supports the Healthy Native North Carolinians Network to promote active living and healthy eating.


Angelette Cheek

Inspired by her 24 years of outstanding job performance and extraordinary warmth and friendliness, nominators from Angelette Cheek’s job as housekeeping day porter in the Kenan Center joined previous colleagues in New West and New East, Battle and Davie Halls, the Smith Building, Ackland Art Museum and the Hanes Art Center to praise her professionalism. Willing to lend a hand, fill in or do a favor at a moment’s notice, Cheek cultivates happiness in the workplace and works diligently to improve the quality of life for those around her. Nominators described her as “courteous,” with “a can-do attitude”… and a “star-heel.”


Renita Corbett

More than 200 nominations endorsed housekeeper Renita Corbett by praising her hard work, faithful service and wonderful attitude. Corbett has nine years of service as a housekeeper, most recently in the School of Dentistry. Colleagues commended her diligence with routine housekeeping duties and her responsiveness to unexpected mishaps. Corbett’s determination to keep the school clean reflects pride in—and ownership of—her workplace. She promotes a sense of community within the school. “Every interaction leaves a person grateful for knowing her, even if only for a moment in time,” a nominator wrote.


Andy Johns

As Associate Vice Chancellor for Research, Andy Johns leads Carolina in its mission to become the preeminent public research university in the nation, and he is the heart behind the technology making it happen. Johns joined Carolina 16 years ago as an SPA computer consultant and is now responsible for strategic planning, research policy, infrastructure and regulatory compliance. Praised for University-wide collaboration, he is roundly credited with developing systems that change the way Carolina functions as a research-intensive university. “UNC ranks seventh in the country for NIH funding, much of it due to Andy’s incredible work,” wrote a nominator.


Michael McFarland

For more than 30 years, Director of University Relations Mike McFarland has used his skill as a master communicator to influence and uphold Carolina’s reputation in the public domain. He is a double graduate of the University with bachelor’s and master’s degrees in journalism and has contributed his expertise to every level of University leadership: three decades of trustees, five chancellors, countless vice chancellors and legions of faculty and staff. Through the written and spoken word, he gives voice to Carolina in times of calm and crisis. Endorsements praised his “professional integrity in presenting the University’s story in a way that is always accurate, informative, balanced and fair.”


Joy J. Renner

Already a distinguished faculty member, student advisor and division administrator, Joy Renner advanced her service to the University as a leading voice on the Faculty Athletics Committee. A member of the committee since 2009 and chair since 2012, she spearheaded freedom of expression and open inquiry during unprecedented challenges to academics in 2010. Renner earned her bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Carolina and joined the University 30 years ago. A clinical associate professor and director for Radiologic Science, she is an award-winning academic advisor and earned the Edward Kidder Graham Outstanding Professor Award in recognition of her significant impact on undergraduate studies. She also serves on the Chancellor’s Advisory Committee and the Ethics and Integrity Working Group.




Photo Links:













About the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, the nation’s first public university, is a global higher education leader known for innovative teaching, research and public service. A member of the prestigious Association of American Universities, Carolina regularly ranks as the best value for academic quality in U.S. public higher education. Now in its third century, the University offers 77 bachelor’s, 113 master’s, 68 doctorate and seven professional degree programs through 14 schools and the College of Arts and Sciences. Every day, faculty – including two Nobel laureates – staff and students shape their teaching, research and public service to meet North Carolina’s most pressing needs in every region and all 100 counties. Carolina’s more than 308,000 alumni live in all 50 states and 150 countries. More than 167,000 live in North Carolina.


Development Communications contact: Scott Ragland, 919-962-0027,

Communications and Public Affairs contact: MC VanGraafeiland, (919) 962-7090,