Law Professor Emerita Rhoda B. Billings (’66) receives university’s highest award
Alumni | Comments Off
Office of Communications and Public Relations
February 22, 2013
Wake Forest Law Professor Emerita Rhoda B. Billings (’66) received the university’s highest honor, the Medallion of Merit, during the Founders’ Day Convocation on Thursday, Feb. 21, 2013.
The annual event, held in Wait Chapel, celebrates the University’s founding in 1834 and the accomplishments of faculty and alumni in teaching, research and service.
The Medallion of Merit is presented to a person who has rendered outstanding service to the University. Billings received the award for her outstanding engagement in the North Carolina law community and service as a professor at Wake Forest School of Law from 1973 until 2003. First in her law school class and the only woman, she became Chief Justice of the North Carolina Supreme Court in 1985 and she served as the first female president of the North Carolina Bar Association (NCBA).
“Her knowledge and ability need no other endorsement than the influential positions she was asked to hold, the decisions that she was asked to make, and the grace and professionalism that she artfully executed throughout her career,” said Wake Forest President Nathan O. Hatch. “Her service to jurisprudence is both historic and significant.”
A native of Wilkesboro, N.C., Billings earned her undergraduate degree in 1959 from Berea College in Berea, Ky., where she majored in English. She practiced law with her husband, Don Billings, from 1966-68, and served as a U.S. Bankruptcy Chapter 13 Trustee from 1966-67.
When the District Court system was established in North Carolina in 1968, she was one of five successful candidates and the only woman elected to serve in Forsyth County.
She joined the law school faculty at Wake Forest in 1973, serving one year as an assistant professor of law and from 1974-79 as an associate professor of law. She held the rank of professor from 1980-2003. While on leave from August 1984-January 1987, Billings practiced with Billings, Burns and Wells, chaired the N.C. Parole Commission, and served on the N.C. Supreme Court from 1985-86 and as chief justice in 1986.
Billings also has served on the North Carolina Bar Association throughout her distinguished career. In 1981, she became the founding chair of the Criminal Justice Section. And from 2008-12 she served as founding chair of the Judicial Performance Evaluation Committee. Billings also served on the NCBA Board of Governors from 1982-84.