For their contributions to educational, political and civic institutions in the Charlotte community, Betty Chafin Rash and Dennis Rash are the recipients of the 2013 UNC Charlotte Distinguished Service Award. They were honored Tuesday, May 21, during a special luncheon in the Student Union.
"They are one of the most accomplished power couples in Charlotte," said Chancellor Philip L. Dubois. "Yet, clearly they are individuals who have made lasting marks in their own right."
In his remarks, Dubois described Chafin Rash as a prominent civic and political leader, crediting her as a pioneer in broadening the base of political participation in Charlotte, especially among women.
First elected in 1975, Chafin Rash served three terms on the Charlotte City Council, becoming the third woman elected to the council as well as the first woman to be elected mayor pro tem in 1977. During her six years on city council, she was immersed in leading the city as it began its ascendancy as a financial hub.
Chafin Rash co-founded the Charlotte Women’s Political Caucus, created to encourage women to run for political office. She also co-founded the 2008 Women’s Summit, an initiative held on UNC Charlotte’s campus that has become a research unit within the University designed to be a catalyst for change – improving the lives of women through research, education and civic engagement.
As associate dean of students at UNC Charlotte, Chafin Rash served alongside her future husband, Dennis Rash, who served as dean of students during the University’s formative years.
A graduate of the University of Virginia School of Law, Rash served in private law practice and was admitted to the North Carolina Bar and the Bar of the Court of Appeals for the Fourth Judicial Court, prior to his time at UNC Charlotte.
Rash left UNC Charlotte after eight years to begin what would become an illustrious 23-year career at Bank of America. During his tenure at the bank, he initiated the first community development corporation and subsequently became the first president of the bank’s community development subsidiary. Rash was influential in developing many of the bank’s mixed-use buildings.
Returning to UNC Charlotte in 2001 as executive-in-residence and visiting professor for transportation policy studies, Rash provided crucial counsel, advocacy and support for a number of important projects.
Dubois referred to him as a driving force in the development of UNC Charlotte Center City and the adjacent First Ward Park, which are among the University’s most strategic achievements during Dubois’ tenure.
The Rashes have remained steadfast in their commitment to service, dedication and passionate advocacy, demonstrating persistence, fortitude, honesty, integrity and generosity of spirit, Dubois said . Their tireless efforts have expanded educational opportunities for all the members of our community and have helped to forge a more vibrant, equitable society for all.
The Distinguished Service Award was established in 1987 by the Board of Trustees of UNC Charlotte and the Board of Directors of the University Foundation. It honors those who have provided outstanding leadership and exemplary service to the Charlotte community and to the advancement of UNC Charlotte. Each recipient of the award receives a statue of a gold miner, cast from a sculpture by Lorenzo Ghiglieri.
Photo by Wade Bruton.