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UNC-Chapel Hill trustees honor four with prestigious Davie Awards

Award recognizes "dedication, commitment, loyalty and service."

The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Board of Trustees presented its highest honor, the William Richardson Davie Award, to four alumni in recognition of their “dedication, commitment, loyalty and service.”

During a dinner on Nov. 14, at the Carolina Inn, Chancellor Carol L. Folt and the trustees honored Alston Gardner of Chapel Hill, Sheldon Peck of Boston, Massachusetts, Sallie Shuping-Russell of Chapel Hill and John Townsend of Greenwich, Connecticut.

Established by the trustees in 1984, the Davie Award is named for the Revolutionary War hero who is considered the father of UNC-Chapel Hill. It recognizes extraordinary service to the University or society.

Alston Gardner is a North Carolina native who has made his career in the tech business industry. He founded OnTarget, Inc., a consulting and training firm focused on the information technology industry. Under his leadership, OnTarget grew from a start-up to the industry leader in sales force development. He earned his bachelor’s degree in history from Carolina and completed a post-baccalaureate certificate in psychology at Columbia University. His involvement at Caroina has included the Chancellor’s Innovation Circle, Kenan-Flagler Business School Board of Visitors and the Kenan-Flagler Foundation Board. He served on the Steering Committee for the Carolina First Campaign, chaired the University’s Global Advisory Board and helped lead the effort to build the FedEx Global Education Center. He served on the UNC Board of Trustees and was vice chairman 2013 to 2015.

Sheldon Peck was born in Durham, North Carolina, and received both his bachelor’s degree in dentistry and his D.D.S. from Carolina. He then went on to have an extremely successful orthodontics career in Boston, Massachusetts, and became a professor of developmental biology at Harvard University’s School of Dental Medicine. His passion for art led him to be a collector of rare drawings. In January of 2017, Peck and his wife, Leena, donated 134 of these drawings, which included seven Rembrandts, to the Ackland Art Museum. Sheldon Peck has served on the National Advisory Board of the Ackland Art Museum, the Collections Committee of the Harvard University Art Museums, and the visiting committees at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, and the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City. He is currently an adjunct professor of orthodontics at UNC-Chapel Hill.

Sallie Shuping-Russell is a well-renowned leader in investment and financial management. She has helped found numerous companies and is currently serving as a senior advisor with BlackRock’s Private Equity Partners group. She was born in Greensboro, North Carolina, and graduated from Carolina with a degree in English and political science. She then earned an M.B.A. from Columbia University. She has continued to devote her time to her alma mater throughout her adult life. She has served on the UNC Health Care System Board, the UNC Board of Trustees and is currently vice chairman of the UNC Investment Fund. She also chairs the newly established Carolina Research Ventures Board, which invests in companies formed from technologies developed at UNC-Chapel Hill. In 2011, she received the Distinguished Alumni Award from the UNC General Alumni Association.

John Townsend graduated from Carolina with an undergraduate degree in English and history and also earned an M.B.A. He then went on to become a proficient investment banker, working at firms such as Goldman Sachs & Co., where he was a general partner and managing director. He continued his business career after retiring from Goldman Sachs in 2002, serving in a leadership position for numerous companies, including Tiger Management, LLC. At Carolina, he has served on the executive committee of the UNC Investment Fund, UNC Kenan-Flagler Business School’s Board of Visitors and Ackland Art Museum’s National Advisory Board. A former member of the UNC Board of Trustees, Townsend co-chairs the Campaign for Carolina, the University’s current $4.25 billion fundraising drive. He and his wife, Maree, recently made a $50 million gift that will benefit areas and programs across campus, including the Institute for the Arts and Humanities and the Ackland Art Museum.