Announcing the 2021 Belk College Alumni Award Honorees

Tuesday, October 12, 2021
Honorees will be celebrated during a virtual event on Nov. 3.

The Belk College of Business will recognize four alumni and friends for their accomplishments, service and dedication to the college during the 2021 Belk College Alumni Awards on Nov. 3. 

The seventh annual ceremony, presented by the Belk College Alumni Council, will premiere on UNC Charlotte’s live stream and the college’s social media channels starting at noon. All alumni and friends are invited to tune in to celebrate this year’s honorees. 

The awards, hosted by Belk College Dean Jennifer Troyer, are part of the University’s inaugural Niner Nation Week, which runs Oct. 31-Nov. 7.

“This year, we have another distinguished and diverse group of award recipients,” Troyer said. “We invite all alumni and friends to join us in celebrating these remarkable business leaders by tuning in to watch the virtual celebration from wherever you are.”  

Distinguished Alumni Award 

Derrick Steele ‘97, a partner in EY’s Financial Services Office, will receive the Belk College’s highest honor, the Distinguished Alumni Award.

Through hardwork and determination, Steele rose to become a partner at EY, one of the big four accounting firms. Steele, who earned a Bachelor of Science in Accounting, Steele has had a distinguished career as a business leader and executive with over 18 years of experience in providing advisory services to large financial services firms, insurance companies and asset management clients. He serves as the Americas Process & Controls Leader for EY’s Financial Services Office. Prior to joining EY in 2002, he began his career as an auditor at NationsBank.

The award celebrates alumni who have had a transforming influence on the college and the community over a lifetime.

Distinguished Alumni Service Award 

Mark Collard ‘89 will receive the Distinguished Alumni Service Award. Collard is employed by Lowe’s Companies, Inc. 

Collard, who earned a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration, served on the Belk College Alumni Council as the chair of the development committee and spearheaded alumni fundraising efforts to endow the Alumni Scholarship Fund. He has also served on the UNC Charlotte Alumni Association Board of Directors and has spent countless hours on the Charlotte 49ers football sideline and in the sports information booth as a statistician. 

Outstanding Young Alumni Award

Violeta Ramírez ‘17 is actively engaged as a human resources strategy consultant, business advisor, board member, executive talent lead, and homeschool mom for her 9- and 7-year olds.  

Ramírez runs a family-owned consulting firm and previously served as the interim chief executive officer and chief development officer for WellMedic Health Centers in Monterrey, Mexico. WellMedic, one of the most innovative medical centers in Latin America, connects doctors and patients with cutting-edge technology to create consultations anywhere in the world.

Ramírez earned a Dual Master of Business Administration (MBA) degree in Global Business Strategy from UNC Charlotte and EGADE Business School at Tecnológico de Monterrey, Mexico, one of the Belk College’s global partners.

The award recognizes an alumnus/a who is under 40, has demonstrated achievement and shows a promising future in business.

Honorary Alumni Award 

Ross Fowler, Vice President of Underwriting for Builders Mutual Insurance Company, will receive the Honorary Alumni Award. 

Fowler is a member of the Belk College Risk Management and Insurance Advisory Board and founded the annual Risk Management and Insurance Golf Tournament. The tournament, in its fourth year, has raised $195,000 to create financial support from industry partners for student scholarships.

The tournament has exceeded its fundraising goal each year, providing critically important funding to students to enable them to complete their degree or navigate unexpected emergency expenses.

The award recognizes individuals who, while not graduates of the Belk College, have made significant contributions to its leadership, vision and educational mission.

The Belk College of Business Alumni Awards is one of several programs and events offered to engage the business community and Business Niner alumni.

Green and Gold Drive Business
Established in 1970, UNC Charlotte’s Belk College of Business is one of the Carolinas’ largest business schools, with more than 5,000 students, more than 100 full-time faculty, and an alumni network of more than 34,000. Accredited by AACSB International, the college is committed to building strong partnerships in the greater Charlotte region and beyond as North Carolina's urban research business school. Learn more about how the Belk College is driving business at, and on LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.