Gov. Jim Hunt, First Lady Carolyn Hunt Receive Prominent North Carolina Award for Education Advocacy Efforts

June 12, 2015

DURHAM, NC, June 12, 2015 – The Hunt Institute Chair and former North Carolina Gov. James B. Hunt, Jr. and former First Lady Carolyn Hunt received the Public School Forum of North Carolina’s 2015 Jay Robinson Education Leadership Award for their efforts and passion to achieve educational excellence for all children in North Carolina. The gala event was held on Monday, June 8, 2015 in Raleigh.


Established in 2000, the award – named in honor of the late education leader Dr. Jay Robinson, the first president of the Public School Forum – recognizes exceptional leaders who have made exemplary contributions to public education in North Carolina. During Gov. Hunt’s tenure (1977-1985; 1993-2001), North Carolina improved test scores more than any other state. His education agenda focused on the improvement of teaching quality, rigorous standards and accountability, early childhood development, and the quality of pre-K education. His Smart Start program, created in 1993 to help ensure all North Carolina children begin school healthy and ready to learn, received the prestigious Innovations in American Government Award from the Ford Foundation and the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University.

“He has achieve greatness and he is still going pretty strong. He has never stopped prodding us to achieve our own distinction as a state and a people, and he has done that by an appeal to the best within us,” said Tom Lambeth, senior fellow with the Z. Smith Reynolds Foundation, who introduced the Hunts at the gala.

Former First Lady Carolyn Hunt is a public education champion as well. A former teacher, she advocated for education and women’s rights throughout Gov. Hunt’s terms in office, focusing primarily on early childhood education issues. She was – and still is – a regular school volunteer for 35 years, where she helped teach children to read. She also served on the Wilson County School Board. Both, with a passion for learning, always made time to volunteer and read to children.

“The people do not elect a first lady, but if they did, Carolyn Hunt might well have beaten her husband’s electoral record,” remarked Lambeth. “She has won election herself and at all times she has fulfilled a commitment to serving others, especially children – intelligently, with poise and good humor.”

Recently, the Hunts were featured in a documentary, State of Mine: The Jim Hunt Story, which tells the story of the Hunts’ lives and legacy.

To see the video of The Hunts accepting their award, go here.


Media Contact:
Carolyn Jefferson-Jenkins, Ph.D.
Director of Policy, Program & Communications

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