The Watauga Medal was established in 1975 by the Board of Trustees to honor people who have made significant contributions to the advancement of the university.
The name derives from the Watauga Club, a group founded in 1884 by young men under the age of 30. “Watauga” is a Native American word meaning “the land beyond.”
This progressive group promoted the educational, agricultural and industrial development of the state.
In 1885, the club encouraged the North Carolina General Assembly to establish an industrial school. Walter Hines Page recommended that agriculture be included in the school’s curriculum, thus joining the Wataugans’ efforts with the land-grant movement led by Colonel Leonidas Polk, founder and editor of the Progressive Farmer.
The resulting legislation founded the North Carolina College of Agriculture and Mechanic Arts on March 7, 1887.
The selection process is a rigorous one conducted by the Watauga Medal Selection Committee, with recommendations going to the Chancellor, who reviews them, and finally to the Board of Trustees. Since 1975, the Watauga Medal has been awarded to 120 men and women distinguished by their dedication and devotion to the advancement of North Carolina State University.