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Judge Robert Rader Named 2020 Distinguished Alumnus

headshot of Robert Rader

The verdict is in: Judge Robert Rader is the College of Humanities and Social Sciences’ 2020 Distinguished Alumnus.

Rader recently retired as Chief District Court judge after 26 years on the bench — making him the longest serving District Court judge in Wake County history. He was honored at the NC State Alumni Association’s Evening of Stars Gala on Nov. 12. The annual event was held virtually due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Rader graduated from NC State with a bachelor’s degree in political science in 1978. He went on to earn his juris doctorate from Campbell University before being appointed to the courts by former Gov. Jim Hunt in 1994.

“NC State gave me an invaluable foundation in life and in my career,” Rader says. “I love the phrase ‘Think and Do the Extraordinary.’ I think that is so reflective of our university.”

NC State gave me an invaluable foundation in life and in my career.

Rader became chief District Court judge of the 10th Judicial District in 2007 and played a key role in designing the Wake County Justice Center that opened in 2013. However, he’s most proud of his work in recovery court for drug offenders; in juvenile court for his work with at risk youth; and in family court, helping people get the support they need during critical times.

“The thing that probably gives me the most satisfaction as a judge at a trial court level is when you have one of those moments you realize you really made a difference in somebody’s life,” he said in a recent interview with WRAL news. “To have a grown man stand in a courtroom at a recovery court graduation and cry and tell you he might not be here if it wasn’t for the things the recovery court team did for him or to have a spouse or child stand up and say, ‘Thank you for giving my father back to us,’ those kind of moments are hard to surpass.”

“Judge Rader has made an impact on the public safety and welfare of all members of our community,” says Jeff Braden, dean of the College of Humanities and Social Sciences.

Judge Rader sits in court
Judge Robert Rader

Outside of the courthouse, Rader remains committed to historic preservation. In addition to serving as chair of the Raleigh Historic Districts Commission and Raleigh Historic Properties Commission, he’s a founding member of Yates Mill Associates Inc. The nonprofit organization preserved Wake County’s last surviving grist mill and established Historic Yates Mill County Park.

He’s also committed to his beloved Wolfpack.

“It gives me a sense of satisfaction to know that I’m supporting the extraordinary things that are happening on campus,” Rader says.

Rader has served on the Dean’s Board since 2014. He’s a member of the Chancellor’s Circle and has supported the CHASS Dean’s Fund Endowment, which provides unrestricted support for the college’s priorities. He hopes other alumni will find ways to support the university, long after graduation.

“Every member of the Pack needs to do our part.”