Betty Ray McCain Honored with John T. Caldwell Award on October 5 in Wilson

Betty Ray McCain Holds Medal at Barton College (Image by J. Keith Tew Photography)

The trustees of the North Carolina Humanities Council honored North Carolinian Betty Ray McCain as the recipient of the 2012 John Tyler Caldwell Award for the Humanities, October 5, 2012, at the Lauren Kennedy and Alan Campbell Theatre at Barton College in Wilson, NC.

In addition, Governor James B. Hunt, Jr., delivered the annual Caldwell Lecture in the Humanities, an impassioned plea for North Carolinians to advocate for the humanities and to continue to celebrate and honor education.

In February 2012, Governor Jim Hunt told The Wilson Times, “the basis of Betty Ray McCain is her deep caring about people and working to help them be successful and all that they want to be….She’s willing to work her head off to help people.” This statement echoed an earlier description by H. G. Jones who referred to McCain as a “North Carolinian who loves her state and its people and who has dedicated a distinguished career to their interests.”

With intelligence, wit, grace, and good humor, McCain tirelessly celebrates North Carolina’s cultural heritage in its many forms. Perhaps best known as the Secretary of Cultural Resources, she was appointed to this position in 1993 by Governor Jim Hunt and served in this capacity until 2001. During her tenure as Secretary, McCain was instrumental in the building of the current North Carolina Museum of History; in securing additional land for the North Carolina Art Museum; in securing major funding for the building of Meymandi Concert Hall, home of the North Carolina Symphony; and in securing major funding for the excavation of the Queen Anne’s Revenge. In addition, she helped to create and coordinate the cultural component of the Israel/North Carolina Exchange, the most comprehensive exploration at that time of Israeli culture outside of Israel.

McCain has served North Carolina in many roles, including as a four-term member of the UNC Board of Governors and as an advocate for numerous cultural groups such as the North Carolina Symphony and the North Carolina Museum of Art. She has chaired of the Board of Trustees of UNC-TV and the Board of Visitors of the UNC Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center and is a member of the board of WilMed Hospital Foundation. Currently she sits on the Board of Directors of the First Colony Foundation, most recently celebrated for its work with the British Museum in uncovering a map of the possible destination of North Carolina’s famed Lost Colony.

McCain is the recipient of numerous awards and honors, among them the UNC General Alumni Association Distinguished Service Medal, the Design Guild Award from the NCSU College of Design, and the Distinguished Citizen of the Year Award from the Wilson Chamber of Commerce. In 2006, McCain was awarded the North Caroliniana Award from the North Caroliniana Society and is the 2009 recipient of the North Carolina Award, the highest civilian award bestowed by the state for public service. In addition, she is a 2010 inductee into the North Carolina Women’s Hall of Fame. McCain is also a member of the Faison and the Duplin County Halls of Fame. She holds honorary degrees from UNC Wilmington, UNC-Chapel Hill, UNC Greensboro, Wake Forest University, and Barton College.

Past Caldwell Laureates include William C. Friday, Anne Firor Scott, Benjamin Eagles Fountain, Jr., Emily Herring Wilson, Walt Wolfram, Marsha White Warren, and Fred Chappell.

In addition the council awarded the Harlan Joel Gradin Award for Excellence in the Public Humanities to the Core Sound Waterfowl Museum & Heritage Center for public programs “Workboats of Core Sound” and “Raising the Story of Menhaden Fishing.” Angela Kelly of Spartanburg, SC was awarded the 2012 Linda Flowers Literary Award.

Check out photos from the event below:

Governor Jim Hunt and Betty Ray McCain at 2012 Caldwell Award Ceremony

2012 Caldwell Laureate Betty Ray McCain with Governor Jim Hunt (Image by J. Keith Tew Photography)

Marsha White Warren, Betty Ray McCain, Emily Herring Wilson, Dorothy Spruill Redford and David PriceCaldwell Laureates Marsha White Warren, 2009; Betty Ray McCain, 2012; Emily Herring Wilson, 2007; Dorothy Spruill Redford,1998; and David Price, 2001 (Image by J. Keith Tew Photography)

Harlan Joel Gradin Award for Excellence in the Public Humanitites winners Lawrence Earley and Karen Willis Amspacher (Image by J. Keith Tew Photography)

Governor Jim Hunt and Council Trustee and Executive Director, NC Commission of Indian Affairs, Greg Richardson (Image by J. Keith Tew Photography)


Council Trustee and North Carolina Poet Laureate Joseph Bathanti and Governor Jim Hunt (Image by J. Keith Tew Photography)

Humanities Council Scholar Emeritus Harlan Joel Gradin, Humanities Council Alumna Betsy Buford, and poet and UNC-Chapel Hill Kenan Distinguished Professor of English and Creative Writing Bland Simpson (Image by J. Keith Tew Photography)