Dr. Johnny Graham, a former student and professor in The William Stats Lee College of Engineer, was inducted into the UNC Charlotte Alumni Hall of Fame on March 17, 2015.
Since its inception in 1985, the Alumni Hall of Fame has honored only 69 of UNC Charlotte’s more than 100,000 graduates. Recipients are those who have demonstrated excellence locally, regionally and nationally, and in doing so have increased awareness of the high potential of UNC Charlotte alumni.
Dr. Graham’s induction was based on his service to his country as an infantry soldier in the First Air Cavalry Division in Vietnam, and on his service to students and profession as a professor of civil engineering in the Lee College of Engineering.
“Johnny is one of those people who has contributed to the college as a student, as a distinguished alumnus, and as a terrific faculty member,” said Dr. Bob Johnson, dean of the Lee College of Engineering. “I couldn’t be more pleased in our 50th anniversary year to see Johnny Graham recognized in this way.”
In Vietnam, Dr. Graham was awarded two Purple Heart Medals for wounds received during combat operations and a Bronze Star Medal for meritorious service during combat. When he returned to the U.S., he began undergraduate studies with a number other Vietnam veterans at UNC Charlotte. He completed his bachelor’s degree in Civil Engineering, then earned the first ever master’s of Civil Engineering degree from UNC Charlotte and from there went on to be the first person to graduate with a Ph.D. from an interinstitutional Civil Engineering program between UNC Charlotte and NC State. Dr. Graham was the first Ph.D. recipient to walk at a UNC Charlotte commencement.
During his 28-year tenure as a professor of civil engineering, Dr. Graham excelled in the classroom and in his research. Teaching the practical application of engineering through projects and teams, he taught students the importance of leadership and responsibility, as well as the fundamentals of engineering.
“Dr. Graham has enhanced the reputation of our university through his tireless efforts in curriculum development, organizational culture and research contributions,” said Dr. John Daniels, chair of Civil and Environmental Engineering at UNC Charlotte. “Drawing upon his years of professional experience as a practicing engineer, he ensured that all students had thorough exposure to the engineering design process, as well as the business and ethics of the profession. His ability to blend theory and practice served as a model that was replicated nationwide.”
Dr. Graham’s research was in the field of transportation studies. He was an active member of the Transportation Research Board, serving on numerous committees in Washington D.C. He was a member and also led student chapters of the Institute of Transportation Engineers and the American Society of Civil Engineers.
“I have friends who say I have impacted a lot of lives,” Dr. Graham said. “If I’ve done that, I’ve done what I set out to do.”