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The award is given each year to the individual who has played a major role in supporting the college and its programs through their time, talent and resources. It was established in 1983 in honor of trustee emeritus Adrian L. Shuford, Jr. of Conover, who died in 2000.
Catawba College President Dr. Robert Knott presented the awards to the two in front of an audience of approximately 300 individuals. He cited Fowler and Michael as "role models to be emulated." He said each had "demonstrated foresight, strength of character and courage in his support of and loyalty to Catawba College."
Fowler, a native of Mt. Airy, is a graduate of the University of Richmond where he played football while earning his bachelor's degree and later his mater's degree. He enjoyed a long and productive 38-year career with Philip Morris before retiring in 1993 as the founding general manager of that company's Concord manufacturing center. Fowler helped start and grow that facility to employ 2,000 people.
He has served on numerous boards, including the N.C. Board of Science and Mathematics, the UNC-Charlotte Board of Visitors, and the Foundation for Good Business, all of which he has chaired. In 1995, Catawba awarded him an honorary doctorate of humanitarian service degree and then tapped him for service on its Board of Trustees in 1996.
For five years, from 1997 through 2002, Fowler chaired the Campaign for Catawba which raised $59.6 million, the largest campaign in the College's history. That campaign exceeded its set goal of $56.5 million and raised the bar for other institutions of comparable size in North Carolina. Additionally, Fowler has long been a supporter of the Catawba Chiefs Club and last year, he and his wife established an Endowed Scholarship at the institution.
Fowler is married to the former Nancy Fling. They are parents of a 1985 Catawba College alumnus, Dr. W. Edward Fowler of Greenwood, S.C., and daughter Margaret Fowler Porter of Concord, who is employed as a teacher at Mt. Pleasant High School.
Knott lauded Fowler for "his courage to step up when it would have been easier to stand down" and noted that his service to the institution has made it "better and stronger."
Michael, who grew up in Lexington, majored in business while a student at Catawba and during the summers of his college years, he worked at a car dealership in Winston-Salem. Two year after his Catawba graduation, he was promoted to sales manager of that Winston-Salem dealership. Today, he owns a dealership, Parkway Ford in Winston-Salem, and is principal partner in 32 other dealerships. Michael is married to wife Teresa and they are parents of an adult daughter, Joy.
He is a former board member of the Ford Dealer Advertising Association, the Better Business Bureau for North Carolina, the United Way of Forsyth County, the Advisory Council of Wake Forest University's School of Business and Accountancy, and Wachovia Bank of N.C. In 1996, he was tapped for service on Catawba's Board of Visitors, but only served one year before he moved to the College Board of Trustees. In 2000, he received Catawba's Distinguished Alumnus Award.
A regular contributor to Catawba's annual fund, Michael made a significant contribution to the Campaign for Catawba and last year established an endowed scholarship in honor of his mother and in memory of his father. In 2004, when Catawba launched its $35 million endowment campaign, this honoree stepped up as its chairman. Knott said Michael "was undeterred by the fact that not many schools the size of Catawba had ever attempted such a five-year endowment effort." A scant two years later, that endowment effort successfully reached and exceeded its goal thanks in part to Michael's personal contribution to the effort.
"He has repeatedly stepped forward to help Catawba College meet its various challenges, always with a willing and generous spirit," Knott said of Michael. "It is with appreciation for his loyalty, support and service that we honor him today."
Fowler and Michael are respectively the twenty-fifth and twenty-sixth recipients of the Shuford Award. Other recipients and the year in which they received the award include Dr. Theodore P. Leonard, 1983; Enoch A. Goodman, 1984; Clifford A. Peeler, 1985; James F. Hurley, 1986; Ralph W. Ketner, 1987; Elizabeth C. Stanback, 1988; Roy E. Leinbach, Jr., 1989; Frances H. Johnson, 1990; Patricia P. Rendleman, 1991; Mariam Cannon Hayes, 1992; Tom E. Smith, 1993; Claude S. Abernethy, Jr., 1994; Millard F. Wilson, 1995; Fred J. Stanback, Jr., 1996; Paul E. Fisher, 1997; Daniel E. Kirk, 1998; Mary O. Dearborn, 1999; Wilson L. Smith, 2000; Marion M. Richard, 2001; J. Fred and Bonnie Corriher, 2002; William C. Stanback, 2003; Jacqueline C. Leonard, 2004; and Charles Taylor, Jr., 2005