As written by Todd Simmons


CHAPEL HILL, N.C. (Feb. 24, 2022) – The University of North Carolina Board of Governors recognized acclaimed North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University historian Arwin Smallwood, Ph.D., today with the Gov. James E. Holshouser Jr. Award for Excellence in Public Service, one of the top two annual faculty awards bestowed by the UNC System.

This marks the first time a North Carolina A&T faculty member has been chosen for the honor, which was first presented in 2014.

Dr. Arwin Smallwood

A professor of history, Smallwood also chairs the A&T Department of History and Political Science and is a Carter G. Woodson Distinguished Lecturer, so named by the Association for the Study of African American Life and History.

But it is his exhaustive service to North Carolina through the sharing of its history that made him a strong candidate for the Holshouser Award.

Even a cursory review of presentations Smallwood has made to groups big and small over the past decade reveals a scholar deeply knowledgeable in how Native American, African American and Europeans lived and interacted with each other in what we now know as North Carolina.

Whether interpreting North Carolina history through deeds for enslaved people at an academic gathering or making a presentation on the early history of Tuscarora Indians at the Conference on Iroquois Research, Smallwood digs deeply into the stories of peoples too often ignored. He ensures they are not lost to time, but incorporated into this state’s larger epic and shared with both fellow historians and ordinary North Carolinians.

Along the way, he has made singular contributions to the history of this state, as BOG Chair Randall Ramsey and member Anna Spangler Nelson made clear, calling him a transformational public servant whose work speaks to the highest aspirations of North Carolina.

“NCAT is indeed fortunate to have you as a member of its faculty,” said UNC System President Peter Hans in presenting the award. “The Board of Governors takes great pleasure in presenting you the 2021 Gov. James E. Holshouser Jr. Award for Excellence in Public Service. … We are all immensely grateful for your talent and your work in making North Carolina a better place to live and work.”

Joined by his wife, son, daughter, father-in-law and other family members, a visibly moved Smallwood accepted the honor, taking care to note he is a product of the UNC System, having earned his bachelor’s and master’s degrees (cum laude) in history from North Carolina Central University before moving on to  The Ohio State University for his doctorate.

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