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Headshot of Melissa Mack
Melissa Mack, 2023 Massey Awards (Photo by Jen Hughey/UNC-Chapel Hill).

With her unwavering positivity, infectious smile, and ability to get the seemingly impossible done, Melissa Mack might be one of the most well-known staff members at the UNC Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center. Now, all of Carolina has learned about what makes her a wonderful colleague.

Mack, operations manager and special events coordinator at UNC Lineberger, is one of five UNC employees and one team to receive the 2023 C. Knox Massey Distinguished Service Award, which was established by the late C. Knox Massey ’25 of Durham, in 1980 to recognize “unusual, meritorious or superior contributions” by university employees. It is one of the most prestigious distinctions for UNC-Chapel Hill faculty and staff.

Mack and her fellow award winners were selected through a campus-wide nomination process. Each received a $10,000 stipend and citation and were honored the other week at a luncheon hosted by Chancellor Kevin M. Guskiewicz.

“Our university employees are critical in upholding the incredible excellence Carolina is known for,” said Guskiewicz. “Their hard work, dedication and exemplary skills are worth recognizing, but what really stands out about these Massey Award winners is the impact they’ve made on those around them. I’m humbled by their work, and I’m grateful for the chance to participate in honoring all they do for the university and the Carolina community.”

For Mack, who has worked at the cancer center for 30 years, her work is motivated by doing what she loves: helping people do a good service.

“Winning the Massey Award means hard work and dedication will pay off,” Mack said. “I am motivated by love, and it shows here at the cancer center. Recruiting the best faculty for cancer research and treatment is my passion and I will continue my service in fulfilling the center’s mission.”

In her role as operations manager, Mack helps oversee the day-to-day administrative duties of the largest research center at Carolina. This includes coordinating faculty recruitment efforts and organizing research events, from the weekly seminar series to the postdoc-faculty research day to the cancer center’s annual scientific retreat and scientific symposium – all of which became more challenging to organize with the onset of the COVID pandemic.

“Melissa Mack has been a mainstay of UNC Lineberger’s growth for decades. In addition to her attention to detail during our formative years, she has been the ‘face’ of the cancer center for recruitment, symposia, retreats and all visitors,” said UNC Lineberger Director Shelley Earp, MD.  “Her beautiful smile and outgoing personality always make UNC and Lineberger a welcoming place. Joe Pagano, Ned Sharpless and I have gotten countless compliments over the years on Lineberger’s hospitality. Melissa Mack makes all of us “look good.’”

Wendy Sarratt, DrPH, UNC Lineberger associate director, HR and Employee Relations, said Mack is a “guiding light” who has been instrumental to the cancer center’s growth.

“Melissa is the foundation of the center. She has overseen the recruitment of our faculty for many years and has helped create an environment where they can thrive,” Sarratt said. “She has been with us every step of the way and helped us adapt to changes, big and small. The cancer center would not be what it is today without Melissa.”