|President Ross Will Be Recognized by North Carolina Justice Center at Defenders of Justice Celebration
September 25, 2008
Contact: Stacey Schmeidel
Davidson College President Tom Ross will be the special honoree at the Defenders of Justice Celebration sponsored by the North Carolina Justice Center on Thursday, Sept. 25, in Durham, NC. The awards are presented annually to those who have made significant contributions to the fight against poverty in North Carolina.
|President Tom Ross |
Ross will be recognized for "his commitment to justice and expanding opportunity in North Carolina."
Thomas W. Ross became Davidson's 17th president on August 1, 2007, after three decades of leadership and public service in North Carolina.
Born in Greensboro, 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 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, presented annually to one judge nationally. 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.
Since becoming president of Davidson College in 2007, Ross has begun an ambitious strategic assessment process, initiated campus-wide discussions of diversity and inclusivity, and strengthened and expanded The Davidson Trust, the college's historic financial aid program that replaced loans with grants in all financial aid packages.
Also being honored as Defenders of Justice at the Sept. 25 event are Juvencio Rocha Peralta, Jr., of AMEXCAN in Greenville; Greensboro's Beloved Community Center; Jane Perkins of the National Health Law Program; and several members of the Charlotte Observer staff who were involved with investigative reporting on worker injuries and the lack of state oversight at poultry plants.
Posted By: Bill Giduz