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University Honors Program  

The Phyllis G. Betts Award for Academic Excellence

This award is named in honor of Phyllis G. Betts, who in 1985 founded the UNC Asheville Honors Program and served as its director for 5 years. Betts is a prominent sociologist specializing in issues related to women and poverty. She is currently a full professor and the Director of the Center for Research on Women at the University of Memphis in Tennessee. We are grateful for the award named in her honor, an award which allows us to recognize the achievements of our most talented Honors students.

Charlotte Pate, 2012-13 Awardee

2013 Phyllis G. Betts Awardee Charlotte Pate

The recipient of this year’s Betts Award, Charlotte Pate, has earned this distinction not only through her outstanding performance in the classroom but furthermore through engaged scholarship characterized by intelligence and heart and soul. Charlotte is not content to sit on the academic sidelines.

One of Charlotte's professors speaks glowingly: “She is a superb student, writing beautiful essays and participating in class brilliantly….she wrote an outstanding ethnography [as a] senior thesis….[and] also presented a paper at the Southern Anthropological Society’s meeting in Johnson City.”

One faculty member who worked closely with Charlotte outside of the classroom notes that “her recognition of a need and her willingness to work with the stakeholders to help address that need exemplifies the best characteristics of a liberal arts education.” She took the service learning she’d been asked to perform for her HON 479 course above and beyond. “When the class took on an additional project to help address the needs of the I Have a Dream Foundation [IHAD], she was one of the students that stepped up to help organize that effort. She offered to contact her a cappellaensemble to see if they would allow a donation for entry into their Acapalooza event to be donated to IHAD. That netted well over $150 to purchase much needed books for the Dreamers. In the spring of 2013 she decided to take on a Community Engaged Scholar Project and returned to IHAD.  Here she addressed another concern—the need to identify the reading level of the books in the IHAD collection to help Dreamers identify more appropriate books to read.  She set up a system of cataloging the books, identified a Dreamer to serve as the collection librarian, and created a database for identifying the Lexile reading levels of the books.”

In writing a recommendation letter for Charlotte, another professor writes “in evaluating her academic potential for graduate work, her preparation has been exemplary. Her written journal entries, construction of appropriate discussion questions, and ability to articulate ideas demonstrate a maturity of expression I rarely see in an undergraduate student.” This professor goes on: “I have always been impressed by her respectful listening and her fearless, yet sensitive asking of questions that would promote helpful inquiry and problem solving as a team player. She has an innate capacity to develop original, creative, and well-executed research….I have no doubt that she will be a leader in her chosen discipline and career vocation who will garner the respect of her colleagues….Without question, she is one of the top students I have worked with academically, and may be the most exemplary student for combining real heart and mind in her interactions with others.”

The accolades don’t end. Yet another professor tells a story about Charlotte's daring research methods: “She was working on an ethnography of a women’s rugby team. Most students would have been content to sit on the sidelines, watch a few games, interview the players, pick things up that way. Given anthropology’s practice of participant observation I’d expect that joining the team for a practice here and there would have crossed the mind of a good fieldworker. But, while athletic, she does not have the ‘rugby build.’ Soccer maybe. She doesn’t seem heavy enough to move other bodies down the field. That didn’t stop her. She joined the team, worked out with them, played in games. She experienced exhausting workouts, crushing blows on the field, the way team members managed the ball. Just think of it: the importance of knowing what a rugby ball feels like in your hands, its weight and texture. This is the sort of thing Charlotte does. She jumps into scholarship – and my guess life itself – with both feet. And somehow she manages, even when she is showing the rest of the class her bruises, to smile. That’s ethnographic spirit.”

In her outstanding work in and outside of the classroom, on and off campus, and in every community she comes into contact with, Charlotte Pate has earned demonstrated academic excellence meriting her receipt of the 2013 Phyllis G. Betts Award.

Past Awardees

  • 2012-13: Charlotte Pate, Anthropology
  • 2011-12: Kristina Bender, Literature & Language and Mathematics

Last edited by on June 19, 2013

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