UNCG Campus Weekly

Campus Weekly is published each Wednesday when classes are in session. In the summer, it is published biweekly.

2017 honorary degrees to Dr. Mansukh C. Wani and Bill Mangum

UNCG conferred honorary degrees to Dr. Mansukh C. Wani and William (Bill) Mangum, Jr.

Presented during the spring commencement ceremony to the university’s 2017 graduating class on Friday, May 12, the awards recognize pioneers in their respective fields of study and represent the breadth of scholarship at UNCG – from breakthrough scientific research to innovation and entrepreneurship through the visual arts.

Recognized internationally for his groundbreaking work in both synthetic and natural products chemistries, Wani is perhaps best known as a pioneer in the field of cancer research. Among his seminal contributions to the field, he is most recognized for the co-discovery of taxol and camptothecin, compounds that inhibit cancer cell growth via novel mechanisms of action. Prior to their discovery, neither were known to be effective ways to circumvent the uncontrolled growth of cancer cells. Today, at least one-third of the global market of anti-cancer agents could be ascribed to the discoveries of taxol and camptothecin. His work has saved millions of lives.

According to UNCG Chemistry Professor Nicholas H. Oberlies, Ph.D., who nominated Wani for the honorary degree, Wani “is nothing short of a hero.” Oberlies has worked with Wani since 1998, and describes him as a spectacular scientist and consummate gentleman.

“He is a mentor to me and a role model for the next generation of scientists – discovering not one, but two, life-saving pharmaceuticals. A truly historic achievement. Perhaps just as important, he is a shining example of how hard work and passion always pay off.”

Mangum is an artist, entrepreneur, author, a philanthropist and two-time UNCG graduate. He earned his bachelor of fine arts in art education and master of fine arts in studio arts from UNCG. A North Carolina native, over 50,000 of Mangum’s works have been purchased for private and corporate collections. In 2005, Mangum was selected as the official artist for the U.S. Open Golf Tournament. As a philanthropist, Mangum has raised millions of dollars for non-profit agencies throughout the United States. One hundred percent of the proceeds from his annual holiday honor card – $4.5 million to date – go directly to help people across North Carolina who are experiencing homelessness.

“We are proud to have Bill as an alumnus, as a dedicated supporter of UNCG and as a friend,” said Vice Chancellor for University Advancement Jan Zink, who nominated Mangum for the honorary degree. “Bill has chosen to use his profession as a gateway to affecting positive change in the community; and his philanthropic efforts have directly aided countless social causes throughout the Triad and the state of North Carolina. Service is a cornerstone of UNCG’s mission. We could not be more thrilled to honor him for all he has accomplished.”

By Eden Bloss
Visual: l-r, Bill Mangum, Chancellor Gilliam, Dr. Mansukh C. Wani