In a surprise ceremony before the 2017 Park Lecture on Thursday, April 6, Chancellor Carol Folt presented Roy H. Park Jr. with the Order of the Long Leaf Pine — among the most prestigious awards conferred by the governor of North Carolina.
The award ceremony began with Folt and Susan King, dean of the UNC School of Media and Journalism, reading the Order of the Long Leaf Pine's certificate and reciting the official North Carolina state toast, with some in the audience reciting along.
The Order of the Long Leaf Pine is presented to individuals who have a record of exemplary service to their communities and to the state. The Order has been presented to numerous outstanding people over the years, including fellow UNC alumnus Michael Jordan, Coretta Scott King, Maya Angelou and Oprah Winfrey.
Of receiving the distinguished award, Park said in a letter to Gov. Roy Cooper, "What a great honor you have bestowed on me in The Order of the Long Leaf Pine. It was a total surprise to me, but one to treasure for years to come. Being born in North Carolina and having graduated from the University, I am proud of everything our 'down home' Old North State represents!"
After receiving his bachelor's degree from the MJ-school in 1961, Park Jr. received his MBA at the Johnson Graduate School of Management at Cornell University. He now serves as a member of the board of advisers for the MJ-school and as a trustee emeritus and Presidential Councillor of Cornell University. In 2007, he published his book "Sons in the Shadow: Surviving the Family Business as a Son of a Boss," which examines father-son relationships and what it is like to be the son of a self-made entrepreneur working in a family business enterprise. His father, Roy H. Park Sr., founded Park Communications, with the acquisition of WNCT-TV in Greenville, North Carolina, in 1962, and grew it into a multimedia empire.
Through his family's charitable foundation, Park Jr. made a $5.3 million gift to the MJ-school in 1997 to launch the Roy. H. Park Fellowship in honor of his father. The Parks have continued to support the fellowships, funding master's and doctoral students in the school, for 20 years. Park fellows now work at industry giants such as Google, MSNBC, CNN, the World Bank, The New York Times, the Boston Globe and the Guardian-US.
Park is president and chairman of Park Outdoor Advertising, and president of the Triad Foundation. He was awarded the UNC Distinguished Alumnus Award in 2005; was inducted into the N.C. Advertising Hall of Fame in 2011; and received the William Richardson Davie Award from the Board of Trustees recognizing extraordinary service to the University and society in 2015; and in 2017 was inducted in the N.C. Media and Journalism Hall of Fame.
“More than 450 outstanding students have been awarded Park Fellowships since the family began supporting graduate education at our school,” said King. “The family’s commitment to graduate education elevated the school to the top ranks of our field’s graduate programs and the family’s support has kept our students and our school prestigious players in modern communications. We are proud to call Roy Park our friend and benefactor.”