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Tom Ross Receives Parker Award

Tom Ross Receives Parker Award

Tom Ross accepts award from Catharine Arrowood, right, and President Shelby Benton.

Thomas W. Ross became the 38th recipient of the Judge John J. Parker Award, considered the North Carolina Bar Association’s highest award, during the 2016 NCBA Annual Meeting in Charlotte.

The award was presented by Catharine Arrowood, immediate past president and chair of the Presidents’ Council, which selected Ross to receive the award.

Ross is a former president of Davidson College and the 17-campus University of North Carolina system. He noted the timely connection to Davidson in his acceptance remarks, which came shortly after Caryn Coppedge McNeill was elected to succeed fellow Davidson alum Kearns Davis as president of the NCBA next year.

A native of Greensboro, Ross is a 1972 graduate of Davidson and a 1975 graduate of the UNC School of Law.

Prior to his appointment at Davidson, Ross served as executive director of the Z. Smith Reynolds Foundation. He also spent 17 years as a Superior Court judge and directed the state’s Administrative Office of the Courts.

Effective Feb. 1, Ross became the first Terry Sanford Distinguished Fellow at Duke University’s Sanford School of Public Policy. He will continue in that role when he takes on a new assignment beginning July 1 as president of the Volcker Alliance, a nonpartisan organization formed by former Federal Reserve Board Chairman Paul A. Volcker "to address the challenge of effective execution of public policies and to help rebuild public trust in government."

Ross is on a one-year sabbatical from UNC-Chapel Hill and its School of Government, where he is a tenured faculty member. He served as a vice president on the NCBA Board of Governors in 1998-99, and is a 2010 recipient of the NCBA’s Citizen Lawyer Award.

Additional honors bestowed upon Ross include the Boy Scouts of America Distinguished Eagle Scout Award, presented to Eagle Scouts who have received extraordinary national-level recognition, fame or eminence within their field and have a strong record of voluntary service to their community; Governing Magazine's National Public Official of the Year award, presented to individual state and local government officials for outstanding accomplishment; and the Order of the Long Leaf Pine, presented by the Governor of North Carolina to individuals who have a proven record of extraordinary service to the state.

In 2000 Ross received the William Rehnquist Award for Judicial Excellence, presented annually by the National Center for State Courts to a state court judge who demonstrates the outstanding qualities of judicial excellence. Ross earned this recognition in part for his leadership of the N.C. Sentencing and Policy Advisory Commission, which he chaired for nine years. 

The Judge John J. Parker Memorial Award was established in 1959 by the NCBA Board of Governors to honor the memory and accomplishments of Judge Parker and to encourage the emulation of his deep devotion and enduring contribution to the law and to the administration of justice by recognizing conspicuous service by members of the bar of this state to the cause of jurisprudence in North Carolina.

This award is not given every year. All nominations will be referred to the Past Presidents' Council as the selection committee, and their selection is subject to Board of Governors approval. The recognition is made at the NCBA Annual Meeting.

Judge John Johnston Parker (1885-1958) was for 50 years a member of the bar in this state, for 44 years a member of this association, for 32 years a judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit, for 27 years chief judge of that court, and in these and many other capacities rendered distinguished service to this profession, his state and his nation.

Throughout his career as lawyer and jurist, he was a profound and eloquent advocate of the improvement of the law, the administration of justice, and the legal profession in North Carolina and the United States.