Five honored at first Belk College Alumni Awards

Thursday, October 13, 2016

As part of UNC Charlotte’s Homecoming celebrations, the Belk College of Business honored five alumni and friends for their accomplishments, service and dedication to the college today during its first Alumni Awards.

The Belk College Alumni Awards recognize alumni and advocates of the UNC Charlotte Belk College of Business who have demonstrated leadership and outstanding career achievements and enhanced the mission of the College. Sponsored by the Belk College of Business Alumni Council, the awards were bestowed to five individuals in four categories:

  • Distinguished Alumni Award: The Distinguished Alumni Award is presented to alumni for extraordinary leadership and accomplishments. It recognizes alumni who have demonstrated exceptional commitment to the university and the business community by giving generously of their time, energy and leadership. This award celebrates alumni who’ve had a transforming influence for our college and/or the community, over a lifetime. It is the highest honor the Belk College bestows.  
  • Distinguished Service Award: The Distinguished Alumni Service Award is presented to a member of the Belk College community for outstanding service to the Belk College of Business.  
  • Distinguished Young Alumni Award: The Distinguished Young Alumni Award recognizes an alumnus or alumna who is under forty years of age, has demonstrated achievement, and shows a promising future in business.
  • Honorary Alumni Award: The Honorary Alumni Award recognizes outstanding individuals who, while not graduates of the Belk College of Business, have made significant contributions to its leadership, vision and educational mission.


Robert A. Niblock '84 Accounting - Distinguished Alumni Award
Robert A. Niblock is the chairman, president, and chief executive officer of Lowe’s Companies, Inc. Niblock holds a bachelor's degree in accounting from the Belk College of Business at UNC Charlotte. Niblock has had a tremendous business impact through his leadership and generosity. He is changing the futures of thousands of UNC Charlotte business students through his commitment to professional development and business education. Niblock was a first-generation college student, the youngest of four children and the only person in his immediate family to attend college. In fall 2015, he shared his personal story with more than 600 students as the first presenter of the Belk College of Business CEO Speaker Series. After the talk, he also announced a $2.5 million gift to name and support the Robert A. Niblock Student Center for Professional Development. The support has given new opportunities to the student community, most of whom are first-generation college students themselves.

Julie Harris photo

Julie Harris '00 Finance - Distinguished Service Award
Julie Harris is Bank of America’s Enterprise Credit Data, Allowance and Reporting Risk Executive. She graduated in 2000, majoring in finance with a focus on financial analysis and accounting. She serves as Vice Chair of the Belk College of Business Board of Advisors, on the UNC Charlotte Foundation Board, and is a founding member of the Belk College Women in Business Advisory Board. Harris has been a pillar of support for Belk College initiatives including the Robert A. Niblock Student Center for Professional Development, newly formed Women in Business Initiative and international educational experiences. She also has been a strong connector of Bank of America to UNC Charlotte, helping to advocate for hiring of qualified interns and professionals. She is an ambassador for the Bank’s Applied Technology Program with UNC Charlotte.

Bryan Delaney photoBryan Delaney '03 Management Information Systems - Distinguished Young Alumni Award 
Bryan Delaney is the executive vice president of sales and co-founder of Skookum, a digital transformation company. Delaney earned a B.S.B.A. in Management Information Systems in 2003. He co-founded Skookum in 2005 with his college roommate from UNC Charlotte, James Hartsell, also receiving the Distinguished Young Alumnus Award. Delaney has been published in Forbes and Inc. magazine and is active on the board of the Entrepreneurs Organization in Charlotte, the North Tryon Master Plan steering committee, and was recently appointed to the UNC Charlotte Foundation Board. He also represented the Belk College as a panelist at the recent Charlotte Business Journal #NextGenCLT event focused on community engagement for millennials and he was recognized in 2016 by the Charlotte Business Journal 40 Under 40 awards.

James Hartsell photoJames Hartsell '02 Management Information Systems - Distinguished Young Alumni Award 
James Hartsell is Skookum’s Chief Executive Officer. He earned his B.S.B.A. in Management Information Systems in 2002. Hartsell is the quintessential entrepreneur and technology veteran. He co-founded Skookum in 2005 with Delaney and has grown the company from a small startup into a high-performing software development and digital transformation company. In 2014, Hartsell oversaw the company’s expansion as Skookum opened a second office in Denver, Colorado. In 2015, Skookum was ranked No. 1 in the small companies category for Best Places to Work by the Denver Business Journal.  

Marcia Avedon photoMarcia Avedon, Ph.D. - Honorary Alumna Award
Marcia Avedon, Ph.D., is the Senior Vice President for Human Resources, Communications and Corporate Affairs at Ingersoll Rand. Avedon served on the Belk College of Business Board of Advisors as both the Vice-Chair and Chair. She has been prominent in helping to guide and develop the college’s Executive Education Program, especially in business analytics during the timethat the University established the Data Science Initiative. As a graduate of George Washington University and UNC Wilmington, she currently serves on the Board of the Ingersoll Rand Foundation for charitable giving and she is a member of the Board of Directors for the United Way of the Carolinas. 


Dean Steven Ott said the five award winners are the embodiment of leadership and inspiration not only for the Belk College, but for the broader business community.

“The Belk College is proud to honor five superior individuals this year during UNC Charlotte Homecoming. The award winners support the Belk College as volunteers, advocates and donors, while serving as leaders in the business community. All of our awardees have achieved so much, both personally and professionally in their lives. They are recognized leaders among our strong and growing Belk College network of more than 28,000 alumni in Charlotte and throughout the world,” Ott said.

About the Belk College of Business at UNC Charlotte

Accredited by AACSB International, the Belk College of Business at UNC Charlotte offers outstanding business education programs at the undergraduate, graduate, doctoral and executive levels, including the top 20 nationally-ranked MBA and Mathematical Finance programs based at UNC Charlotte Center City. The Belk College has more than 28,000 alumni, more than 17,000 of whom live and work in the Charlotte region. The Belk College is committed to building strong partnerships in the Greater Charlotte region and beyond as a vital part of our mission as North Carolina's urban research business school. Find the Belk College of Business online at

Media contact:
Belk College of Business: Kirsten Khire, APR | 704-885-4134 |