Richardson honored with Thomas award

Provost Richard "Dick" Richardson was the unanimous choice for this year's Laura Thomas Access to the Journey Award.

The award honors distinguished and dedicated service that builds the community and enables others to have better access to more meaningful lives. Recipients must demonstrate, in both their personal and public life, the sustained commitment, work effort and results in building community exemplified by the late Laura Thomas, the founding director of Carolina's Department of Disabilities Services. She received a C. Knox Massey Award in 1996, the year of her death.

The only requirement for nominees is that they are current residents of North Carolina with sustained efforts in their work of at least 10 years in building communities. Work does not have to be paid work.

Nominations detailed Richardson's effort and success in making sure that the benefits of the University are available to everyone -- students, faculty, staff and the larger external community that counts on Carolina to serve the state.

One nominator wrote: "Dick gave far more than we had a right to ask."

Richardson was cited for his willingness to lead the University in difficult times, his concern for every member of the community and his efforts to ensure that everyone can contribute to and benefit from the University.

Described as a hero and friend by so many throughout the community, Richardson "brought out the best in everyone."

Richardson and Thomas share heroic qualities

At an Oct. 11 award ceremony, Richardson described Thomas as a "shadow heroine" for disabled students.

"She would stand in the shadows until one of her students needed assistance and then emerge to be sure that they received the necessary services to benefit fully from their education," he said.

"Richardson's description of Laura fits himself as well as he has never sought the limelight, but rather emerges when needed to carry forth the difficult work of the University," said Rachel Willis, associate professor of American studies and a member of the selection committee.

Emerson quote, dogwood grace citation

Richardson was awarded with an original piece by local artist Galia Goodman depicting Ralph Waldo Emerson's definition of success along with a dogwood. It reads: "To laugh often and much; To win the respect of intelligent people and the affection of children; To earn the appreciation of honest critics and endure the betrayal of false friends; To appreciate beauty, to find the best in others; To leave the world a bit better, whether by a healthy child, a garden patch, or a redeemed social condition; To know that even one life has breathed easier because you have lived. This is to have succeeded."

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