Dr. Tom Martinek

Dr. Tom Martinek

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Although he had already made important strides researching learned helplessness and the effect of the perception of teachers on children in physical education, Dr. Tom Martinek Sr. wanted to do more.

So, he made a change.

In the early 1990s, he started seeking work that would more directly impact the children he studied. He began to transition to more hands-on research and service, directly engaging with schools and communities to use sports to aid at-risk students.

This highly impactful work is being recognized with a high honor: He is UNCG’s nominee for the O. Max Gardner Award, which each year honors one faculty member in the UNC System who “has made the greatest contribution to the welfare of the human race.”

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What is the O. Max Gardner Award?

The UNC System Seal This is the highest faculty honor awarded by the UNC Board of Governors and has been given annually since 1949. Each of the UNC universities may nominate one faculty member. The Gardner Award was established by Gardner's will to recognize faculty who have "made the greatest contributions to the welfare of the human race." Those chosen in the past have been persons who have made notable contributions of national or international scale. It is the only award for which all faculty members of the all UNC campuses are eligible.

Recipients are nominated by their chancellors and selected by the Board of Governors. The recipient is given a cash award. The nominee from each school is due to the Board of Governors Committee on the Oliver Max Gardner Award in December each year and the award is presented in April as part of the Board of Governors meeting.


Oliver Max GardnerOliver Max Gardner (22 March 1882 -- 6 February 1947) was the Democratic governor of the U.S. state of North Carolina from 1929 to 1933. Prior to becoming Governor, Gardner was elected as a state senator from Cleveland County, North Carolina and as Lieutenant Governor of North Carolina (1917-1921).

We invite you to learn more about this great man of North Carolina by exploring the Governor O. Max Gardner site.

1949 Louise B. Alexander Education, Political Science & History
1954 Franklin H. McNutt Education
1956 Mereb E. Mossman Sociology
1960 Richard N. Current History (Lincoln Scholar & author)
1962 Randall Jarrell Literature (poetry), English
1966 Lois Edinger Education
1971 Naomi G. Albanese Home Economics
1974 Mary Elizabeth Keister Early Childhood Education
1976 Eloise Rallings Lewis Nursing
1979 Richard Bardolph History
1986 Fred Chappell Literature
1996 Vira Rodgers Kivett Gerontology, Human Development & Family Studies