|President Tom Ross to Receive Honorary Degree at UNC
May 12, 2008
Contact: Bill Giduz
Davidson College President Thomas W. Ross will deliver the Commencement Address at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro on Friday, May 16. He also will receive an honorary degree during the ceremony.
The May 16 graduation ceremonies at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro mark the final commencement of UNCG chancellor Patricia A. Sullivan, who will retire on July 31. Ceremonies begin at 10 a.m. in the Greensboro Coliseum. Additional information is available here.
Thomas W. Ross became Davidson’s 17th president on August 1, 2007, after three decades of leadership and public service in North Carolina.
Ross was born in Greensboro, where his parents, Charles B. and Mary Brownie Franklin Ross, lived with their four boys. His father worked for Burlington Industries in the hosiery division, while his mother cared for the home.
Ross graduated from Davidson in 1972. In the first decade after college, he graduated with honors from the University of North Carolina School of Law, taught at the University's School of Government, joined a Greensboro law firm, and served for one year in Washington, D.C., as chief of staff of a congressional office.
In 1984, Governor Jim Hunt appointed Tom Ross as Superior Court Judge—at the time, the youngest in the state. He held the position for 17 years.
In his work adjudicating felony cases, Ross became familiar with a state justice system that suffered shortcomings from uneven sentencing and a burgeoning prison population. In 1990, the N.C. Chief Justice appointed him to chair a new Sentencing and Policy Advisory Committee, comprising a 23-member panel of judges, lawyers, legislators, citizens, and law enforcement officers. For two years the panel worked to create a structured sentencing system that was eventually accepted by the legislature and became a model for similar programs nationwide. Over time, the system saved the state hundreds of millions of dollars by prioritizing the use of prison resources without increasing risk to public safety.
For his efforts, Ross received the William H. Rehnquist Award for Judicial Excellence from the National Center for State Courts. Chief Justice Rehnquist, now deceased, presented the award personally to Ross in the Great Hall of the Supreme Court.
In 1999, North Carolina Chief Justice Burley Mitchell appointed Ross as director of the state’s Administrative Office of the Courts. Soon after, the trustees of the Z. Smith Reynolds Foundation invited him to become its executive director. His seven years at the foundation involved him in statewide issues and politics, advocating for legislative reform and creating coalitions of non-profit agencies to increase their influence in public affairs. He was a member of the UNCG Board of Trustees from 2003 to 2007, and served two terms as chair, from 2005 to 2007.
Tom and Susan Donaldson Ross have been married since 1972 and have two children, Mary Kathryn Elkins and Thomas W. Ross, Jr., both graduates of Davidson College.
Davidson is a highly selective independent liberal arts college for 1,700 students located 20 minutes north of Charlotte in Davidson, N.C. Since its establishment in 1837 by Presbyterians, the college has graduated 23 Rhodes Scholars and is consistently regarded as one of the top liberal arts colleges in the country. Through The Davidson Trust, the college became the first liberal arts institution in the nation to replace loans with grants in all financial aid packages, giving all students the opportunity to graduate debt-free. Davidson competes in NCAA athletics at the Division I level, and a longstanding Honor Code is central to student life at the college.