Raymond H. Dawson has been an integral part of the University of North Carolina for nearly four decades.
For 20 of those years, Dawson served as vice president for academic affairs and senior vice president of the 16-campus system. Upon his retirement in 1992, he continued as a member of the political science faculty at the University of North Carolina at Wilmington.
A native of Arkansas, Dawson earned his bachelor’s degree at the College of the Ozarks and his master’s degree at Vanderbilt University. He completed his doctorate in political science at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and joined the faculty there in 1958. He was named dean of the university’s College of Arts and Sciences and General College in 1968.
When the state’s public universities were restructured in 1972, Dawson left the Chapel Hill campus to become the top academic officer in the General Administration of the newly formed UNC system.
The author of two books and numerous scholarly articles, Dawson earned distinction for his achievements in teaching. He received UNC-Chapel Hill’s Tanner Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching and the Danforth Foundation’s E. Harris Harbison Prize for Distinguished Teaching.
In 1987, the UNC-Chapel Hill General Alumni Association honored him with its Distinguished Service Medal.
During Dawson’s tenure with General Administration, he guided the university system’s academic programs, advised two presidents of UNC, and helped defend the UNC programs before the N.C. General Assembly. During his tenure, UNC’s enrollment rose from 88,000 to 147,000, system-wide minimum admissions requirements were adopted, and academic standards were raised on many campuses.
He also was the key negotiator in the system’s 10-year conflict over desegregation methods with the U.S. Department of Health, Education and Welfare, and was the principal architect of the 1981 consent decree that led to a resolution of the crisis.