Morehead-Cain Executive Director Charles E. Lovelace, Jr. ’77 receives Order of the Long Leaf Pine award, the highest honor bestowed by governor of North Carolina

Nov 20, 2020

Morehead-Cain Executive Director Charles E. Lovelace, Jr. ’77 has received the Order of the Long Leaf Pine award granted by the North Carolina Office of the Governor. The award is the highest honor for state service conferred by the governor.

Governor Roy Cooper ’79 presented the award to Lovelace on Friday, November 20, during an online event dedicated to celebrating Morehead-Cain’s 75th anniversary and fifth annual Day of Giving

The Order of the Long Leaf Pine award, established in 1963, recognizes “persons who have made significant contributions to the state and their communities through their exemplary service and exceptional accomplishments,” according to the award program’s website. 

Cooper said he was honored to acknowledge Lovelace’s career-long service to the state in enhancing the prestige of North Carolina’s flagship public university.

“Chuck’s vision and stewardship of the Morehead-Cain Program has helped many students grow into leaders and live impactful and purposeful lives,” said Cooper, who graduated from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill as a Morehead-Cain Scholar, followed by a J.D. degree from the University’s School of Law in 1982. He was elected for a second term as governor in the general election on November 3. 

“I’m proud to induct Chuck into our state's highest honorary society, the Order of the Long Leaf Pine, in recognition of his commitment to the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and to the state of North Carolina."

Other awards granted by the governor include: The Old North State, the Certificate of Appreciation, the Laurel Wreath Award, the Student Excellence Award, and the Community Hero Award. 

Leading 36 classes of Morehead-Cain Scholars 

Since joining the Foundation in 1984, Lovelace has mentored more than 2,000 scholars and supported hundreds of alumni (there are more than 3,200 living Morehead-Cain Alumni to-date), according to Morehead-Cain Associate Director and Director of Alumni Engagement Megan Mazzocchi. Lovelace first served as treasurer of the Morehead-Cain Program, the first merit scholarship program in the country, for three years before assuming the position of executive director in 1987.

“Chuck has always pursued our founder John Motley Morehead’s goals to enable youth of character in becoming the next generation of leaders,” Mazzocchi said. The associate director has led alongside Lovelace for more than three-and-a-half decades. “Ever the innovator, Chuck has continually examined every aspect of the Program—from its selection process through the scholar experience to the life of the Morehead-Cain Alumni—and has made improvements too numerous to count.” 

During Lovelace’s 33-year tenure as executive director, the Program has produced 21 of UNC-Chapel Hill’s 23 Rhodes Scholarship recipients, 15 of its student body presidents, and 15 of its Honor Court chairs. Lovelace was also responsible for cultivating and securing a $100 million gift from the Gordon and Mary Cain Foundation in 2007, a grant that nearly doubled the Program’s endowment, and for supporting the creation of the Morehead-Cain Scholarship Fund (MCSF) board, an alumni-led initiative that has raised more than $75 million since its founding in 2004.  

Patrick Bradey ’21, president of The University of North Carolina Institute of Politics, said Lovelace’s life and career are the “truest examples of dedication to North Carolina and the creation of a better community for its residents.” The senior said the executive director was instrumental in ensuring a successful launch of the institute in 2017 and has supported his ambitions for a career in public service through every step of his undergraduate experience. 

“Every Morehead-Cain Scholar, past or present, has a story about the lengths to which Chuck has gone to make sure a personal or academic pursuit could be fully realized during their time at Carolina,” said Patrick, a double major in political science and Hispanic linguistics with a minor in urban studies and planning. “He’s never failed to make time for scholars seeking guidance, advice, help, an introduction, or just an ear to listen."

Sherwood Smith ’60, a 2012 Order of the Long Leaf Pine recipient, said Lovelace first stood out as a leader during his interview process for the Morehead-Cain Scholarship in 1973 as a high school senior. Smith then served on the selection committee for Morehead-Cain. 

“Later as executive director, while expanding the size and scope of the Program, Chuck has kept each individual in sight as a student pursuing his or her own educational goals, recognizing that future valuable contributions in our world may come in many different forms,” the alumnus said. “Chuck’s leadership ensures that Morehead-Cain Scholars have been fully educated to step into diverse leadership and contributory roles.” 

Lovelace to depart from the Foundation in 2021

Lovelace plans to retire from the Foundation next summer. His successor will be announced to the public on January 12, 2021. Mazzocchi said Lovelace will be departing with the Foundation “positioned well for a bright future.” 

“The Morehead-Cain Foundation has never been stronger or more successful than it is now,” said Mazzocchi, who joined the Foundation staff in 1985, a year after Lovelace. “Much of that success can be attributed to the incredible commitment of time, energy, wisdom, and hard work of Charles E. Lovelace, Jr.”  

The Order of the Long Leaf Pine Society was founded and directed by Phillip T. Fisher, a former state government executive who co-created the first North Carolina Motion Picture Database. Nominations are permitted for North Carolinians who have contributed 30 years or more of service to the state.

The award program is a non-membership, non-government organization administered for charitable and educational purposes only. View list of past recipients named to The Order.


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