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UNC Lineberger’s Adrienne Cox, PhD.

The University Committee on Teaching Awards has selected Adrienne Cox, PhD, professor in the UNC School of Medicine’s Department of Radiation Oncology and Pharmacology and UNC Lineberger member, as this year’s recipient of the Mentor Award for Lifetime Achievement.

The award, which was first presented in 1997 to UNC men’s basketball coach Dean Smith, acknowledges a lifetime of contributions to a broad range of teaching, learning and mentoring and includes a $5,000 stipend.

Cox and the 24 faculty members and teaching assistants who received University Teaching Awards were recognized during halftime of the men’s basketball game against Wake Forest University on March 3, and they will be formally honored at a luncheon in April.

Cox said the desire to pay it forward motivates her to be a mentor.

“Mentoring comes with both responsibilities and rewards,” said Cox. “I take the responsibilities very seriously, and take great joy in the rewards. We are responsible for both challenging and supporting our mentees. Being able to help someone reach higher or achieve more, or smoothing someone’s way, or just helping someone to live a little better, is a fantastic feeling. And, of course, there are many different ways to mentor. The “aha” moment that we teachers live for can happen in or out of class. Mentoring increases the chances that I can encourage those moments.”

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Cox honored on the jumbotron at the March 3, 2020, UNC men’s basketball game.

While in her role as a mentor she is focused on sharing  her experience and knowledge, she appreciates she learns from those she has mentored. One of the meaningful insights she has gained is that even seemingly small gestures can change someone’s life for the better.

“I want my efforts, whether large or small, to result in changes for the better, so caring and paying attention are both crucial.”

Cox said it was a touching surprise to learn she had won the award, and she is grateful that many of her former trainees took the time and effort to advocate passionately on her behalf.

“I am incredibly honored to be the only one selected for this award when there are so many outstanding mentors across the entire university,” she said. “Further, this honor is important evidence that UNC does value non-quantifiable contributions to our educational and research enterprises. And finally, to be in the company of the original winner, Dean Smith, and of so many distinguished colleagues since that time, is just amazing!”