The UNC Charlotte Alumni Association bestowed its 2023 Alumni Awards to six outstanding individuals for their service to the University Thursday, May 4, at the UNC Charlotte Marriott Hotel & Conference Center. The celebration was hosted by Chancellor Sharon L. Gaber and Frenchie Wilson Brown ’91, president of the Alumni Board of Directors.
“It is a privilege to recognize six alumni, faculty and friends whose careers have been distinguished by significant accomplishments and through extraordinary service to the University, their communities and beyond,” said Gaber.
“Each award honoree is a source of pride for UNC Charlotte,” said Brown ‘91. “They have given their time, talent and treasure to the University to ensure that current and future generations of Niners can successfully complete their UNC Charlotte journeys and thrive in their chosen careers.”
Distinguished Alumna Award
Kathleen Merritt ’83
Merritt serves as senior vice president for radio, journalism and CSG services at the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, where she is responsible for leading efforts to distribute more than $300 million annually in community service grants to qualified public radio and television stations and for advancing public media’s journalism efforts, locally, regionally and nationally. Merritt served on the UNC Charlotte Alumni Association Board of Directors and co-founded the Ron Wilder Memorial Bike Ride to benefit the Sidney Kimmel Cancer Center.
She earned a bachelor’s degree in English from UNC Charlotte and a graduate certificate in multimedia journalism from the University of Maryland.
Distinguished Alumnus Award
Dontá Wilson ’97
Wilson is chief retail and small business banking officer and a member of the executive leadership team for Truist Financial Corporation, where he is responsible for leading world-class, distinctive client banking experiences powered by innovative technology and personal service. Passionate about the community, he serves on the boards of several nonprofit, education and community service organizations and founded I Am My Brother’s Keeper inner city mentor program. Wilson was selected as one of Savoy’s Top Black Executives in 2022 and was chosen Digital Banker of the Year by American Banker in 2021. He was appointed to the UNC Charlotte Board of Trustees in 2021 and currently serves as secretary.
Wilson earned a bachelor’s degree in management from UNC Charlotte and an MBA from the University of Maryland.
Distinguished Alumna Award
Jane Wu ’07
Wu founded Panorama Holdings, a real estate development and investment firm in 2014. Since Panorama’s inception, she has overseen and guided $600 million in real estate transactions across multifamily, office, retail, mixed-use and hotels. Wu is a member of the UNC Charlotte Foundation Board, University City Partners and is active in economic development activities both locally and internationally.
Wu earned a bachelor’s degree in accounting from Southwest Finance and Economy University in China, a master’s degree in mathematical finance from UNC Charlotte and an executive MBA from Cheung Kong Graduate School of Business.
Outstanding Young Alumnus Award
Andrew Baker ’15
Baker is a digital marketing leader for Autobell Car Wash. In addition, he and his wife, Emily, founded Prohibition Candle Company in 2022. Baker is passionate about serving his community. He is president of the College of Liberal Arts & Sciences Alumni Council and served as president of the Young Alumni Board of Directors. Outside of the University, Baker is the game day announcer for the YMCA Miracle League program, founder of Dream to Achieve Bowling and is actively involved with the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation of Charlotte.
Baker earned a bachelor’s degree in communication studies from UNC Charlotte.
Distinguished Faculty Award
Tracy Rock ’91
Rock is a professor of reading and elementary education in the Cato College of Education. She is a faculty fellow for the Center for Teaching and Learning and supervises the college seminar teaching internship courses for doctoral students in the Curriculum and Instruction Ph.D. program. Rock is the recipient of the Teaching Fellows Teaching Excellence Award, the Bank of America Award for Teaching Excellence and the Board of Governor’s Award for Teaching Excellence.
Rock earned a bachelor’s degree in elementary education from UNC Charlotte; her master’s degree in liberal studies and doctorate in curriculum and teaching are from UNC Greensboro.
Honorary Alumnus Award
Klein is senior managing partner at Childress Klein, one of the largest full‑service commercial real estate firms in the Southeast. In addition to the UNC Charlotte Board of Trustees, he served on the UNC Charlotte Foundation Board, the Childress Klein Center for Real Estate Advisory Board and was a key advisor in bringing the UNC Charlotte Marriott Hotel & Conference Center to campus. An active member of the Charlotte community, Klein serves on the Board of Trustees for the YMCA of Greater Charlotte and was a member of the North Carolina Railroad Board of Directors. He served as a lieutenant in the U.S. Navy from 1969 to 1972.
Klein earned a bachelor’s degree in industrial engineering from Lehigh University and an MBA from the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania.