James O. Cansler retired in December 1990 after 23 years at the University. He had been associate vice chancellor for student affairs since 1977. He also served as Baptist chaplain on the UNC campus from 1954 to 1967 and acting campus Presbyterian chaplain in 1953.
Cansler’s award citation credited him with “loyalty in defending the civility of the University when the going was tough” during the Vietnam War.
He was cited for his key role in the student judicial reform movement in the late 1960s and the mid-1970s. He was a charter member of the campus student conduct committee formed in 1974. That panel’s work involved creating “The Instrument of Student Judicial Governance,” which was a significant factor in strengthening campus support for the Student Honor Code and continues to be used today.
Cansler chaired seven major University committees, including the Title IX Student Grievance Committee, and helped establish the chancellor’s student award ceremony held each spring.
The Douglassville, Georgia, native came to Chapel Hill during World War II as a student in the U.S. Navy’s V-12 Program. After Navy service, he returned to UNC in 1946 to complete a bachelor’s degree in commerce. He later earned a bachelor of divinity degree from Duke University and a master’s degree from the Yale Divinity School.