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spring 2014





Biology professor Eric Saliim connects with students through social media.




Participants were invited to speak out about their health-care concerns.

on the cover




Accelerated academic program prepares students for bigger challenges.

Chancellor Debra Saunders-White

carries the North Carolina Central University mace after her installation.

Photo by Chioke Brown





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On April 4, 2014, North Carolina Central University welcomed its 11th Chancellor.




The Veterans Law Clinic gives a boost to veterans and helps students become courtroom-ready.


Letter From the Chancellor 8 Campus News 39 Class Notes 6


40 49 52 60




The MEAC champions earned a trip to the ‘Big Dance’ in Texas.

Alumni Profile Planned Giving Sports Alumni Spotlight

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MAKE A GIFT TO NCCU TODAY! NCCU is “Calling All Eagles” We are looking for 700 new alumni donors to give in 700 hours (June 30 is the end of the fiscal year). Keep an eye on the tracker and please give a gift today! #700EaglesGive



N.C. Central Univ. @NCCU · Jun 13 Congrats @LeVelleMoton on your @TriangleBIZJrnl #40u40 Award! #EaglePride ................................................................................ Retweeted by N.C. Central Univ. G. K. Butterfield @GKButterfield · Jun 11 It was great meeting Sheldon Mba today, a @NCCU student who dropped by to chat about his rare blood disorder, PNH. ................................................................................ Retweeted by N.C. Central Univ. NCCU Football @NCCU_Football · Jun 8 Eagle fans we’re 82 days away from kickoff for #NCCUFootball vs. East Carolina.


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The Changing Face of Hunger



Taking Flight: Meet Ashley Pugh

Behind the scenes of the #700EaglesGive photo shoot



Meet more #700EaglesGive

Check out photos of the NCCU Men’s Basketball team and MEAC Champions at the Governor’s Mansion.

f r om t he

C H A N C ELL O R Dear Alumni and Friends: I have to begin by expressing my thanks to the North Carolina Central University community following the week of Installation activities that took place on our campus and in Durham from March 30-April 4! I am so very grateful to be part of this Eagle family and consider it a privilege to serve as your servantleader. It was an honor to have several former NCCU leaders participate in Installation, including Chancellor Albert Whiting, who is 97 years young.

At Installation, three exciting new initiatives were announced. Beginning in fall 2014, a new institute in the College of Arts and Sciences will focus on the music and culture of hip-hop with a course titled History of Hip-Hop. Grammy award-winning music producer and scholar Patrick Douthit, also known as 9th Wonder, will lead the class. Additionally, NCCU and Beijing Language and Culture University in Beijing, China, signed a memorandum of understanding for a Bilingual Speech Language Pathologist training program on April 29, 2014. Lastly, NCCU has partnered with Massachusetts Institute of Technology to launch a media lab on our campus. NCCU is the only HBCU in North Carolina – and the first in the nation – to collaborate with MIT Media Lab, a truly innovative interdisciplinary research hub. It has been an exciting several months at NCCU. We have celebrated numerous successes, including our institution’s history-making win of the 2014 Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference Basketball Tournament. Our amazing student-athletes and their coaches, under the leadership of LeVelle Moton, showcased their stellar skills both on and off the court as they served as some of our institution’s best brand ambassadors (See page 50). The 2013-14 graduating class was among the largest in the history of NCCU. The university awarded 682 baccalaureate degrees at the undergraduate ceremony on May 10, and 241 master’s degrees and 130 law degrees were conferred on May 9. Combined with December's 602 graduates, the total number of degrees awarded in 2013-14 was 1,671. (Graduation highlights on page 12). Despite budget reductions and loss of state appropriations over the past several years, we remain a first-choice, premier institution strategically focused on our No. 1 priority, student success. NCCU has a legacy of educating scholars, and we will continue to equip our students with valuable skills and training and provide talent to the marketplace in the Triangle region, throughout North Carolina, across the country and around the world. The support of our partners, alumni and other supporters is critical now, more than ever. Please join us as we continue to raise the profile of NCCU and make Eagle Excellence our brand standard. In Truth and Service,

Dr. Debra Saunders-White Chancellor @DSaundersWhite





PA G E 5 0



Collaborations Strengthen Academic Programs and Smooth Out Transfers for Incoming Community College Students ransferring from an in-state community college to NCCU is becoming easier thanks to a recent agreement between UNC’s Board of Governors and the N.C. Board of Community Colleges. The comprehensive articulation agreement signed Feb. 21 recognizes that rising numbers of students are transferring to UNC institutions from community college campuses. Katina Harris, a psychology major from Warrenton, N.C., transferred to NCCU after earning a two-year degree at Vance-Granville Community College. Harris called news of the agreement “absolutely wonderful.” “It clears up any gray areas regarding transfer credits and will take away the anxiety students feel when they are trying to choose the right program for what they want to do,” Harris said.


It clears up any gray areas regarding transfer credits and will take away the anxiety students feel when they are trying to choose the right program for what they want to do.” _______ K AT I NA HA R R I S _______

Another collaborative initiative strengthens ties between Central Carolina Community College and NCCU and is aimed at raising education and training levels for nurses in the work force. In October 2013, a memorandum of understanding created the RIBN

IN BRIEF program, which stands for Regionally Increasing Baccalaureate Nurses. Extensive research has shown that the level of nursing education has a measurable effect on patient outcomes, said Dr. Betty Dennis, chair of the NCCU Department of Nursing. The four-year program leading to a bachelor’s degree in nursing is set to begin in fall 2014. It will allow students to enroll simultaneously at NCCU and Central Carolina. They may take most classes at one of Central Carolina’s campuses, which are located in Lee, Harnett and Chatham counties. NCCU has additional distance learning programs established with Wake Technical Community College and Halifax Community College for programs including Criminal Justice and Nursing, and a separate articulation agreement with Durham Technical Community College. NCCU Chancellor Debra Saunders-White said these collaborations are positive steps for the university, noting that students who transfer in to NCCU often are “some of our best and brightest.”

Award to Summer Academy Will Help Students Build Business Skills A $350,000 grant from the Executive Leadership Foundation will be used to support the university’s Summer Youth Business and Entrepreneurship Academy in the School of Business. The grant, awarded in October 2013, is part of the foundation’s Community Impact Initiative, which aims to close the achievement gap for African-American middle and high school students. The academy for high school sophomores and juniors consists of a two-week business and entrepreneurship program in which students attend lectures, spend time in corporate settings, and participate in a competition to develop a business plan.

NCCU Chancellor Saunders-White accepts a gift from Executive Leadership Foundation.


he Computational Center for Fundamental and Applied Science and Education, NSF-CREST, received a $5 million grant from the National Science Foundation to continue its education and research programs. The funding follows an initial $5.7 million NSF grant in 2008 that assisted in planning and construction of the center. Ù A National Science Foundation grant is helping NCCU invest in research.

Harper Joins Panel for African-American Life and History Dr. Jim C. Harper, associate professor and chairman of the Department of History at North Carolina Central University, was elected in January to a three-year term on the executive council of the Association for the Study of African-American Life and History. Harper, a member of the NCCU faculty since 2000, said he is honored to join the ASALH’s 20-member governing board. The Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit was founded in 1915 by Carter G. Woodson to promote greater knowledge of AfricanAmerican history through education and research. In 1926, Woodson established Black History Week, which was expanded to become Black History Month in 1976. Harper earned his bachelor’s and master’s degrees from NCCU before receiving a Ph.D. from Howard University in 2004.

First District U.S. Congressman G.K. Butterfield praised the work being done through NCCU’s NSF-CREST programs; saying “never has education in science, technology, engineering and mathematics been as important as it now is in today’s competitive global economy.” The latest grant will be awarded in the amount of $1 million per year for five years to continue to develop the center. Butterfield has been a leader in support of federal funding for NSF. The 17 campuses of the University of North Carolina received more than $111 million in funding from the foundation in fiscal year 2012.



Johnson O. Akinleye Vice Chancellor for Academic Programs Dr. Johnson O. Akinleye undertakes his duties as provost and vice chancellor for Academic Affairs as one who is eager to assist NCCU in “preparing the next generation of leaders.” Before his appointment by Chancellor Debra Saunders-White on Jan. 1, 2014, Akinleye served as associate vice chancellor for Academic Programs at the University of North Carolina Wilmington leading online and distance education programs and developing a new College of Allied Health. Akinleye earned his bachelor’s degree in telecommunications and master’s degree in


media technology from Alabama Agricultural & Mechanical University. He received his Ph.D. in human communications studies from Howard University.

Previously, Akinleye served as vice president for administration and chief operating officer and interim vice president for Academic Affairs at Edward Waters College in Jacksonville, Fla., and held numerous positions, including dean, department chair and associate provost/vice president for Academic Affairs, at Bethune-Cookman University in Daytona Beach, Fla. Akinleye began his academic career at Bowie State University in Bowie, Md., serving as an assistant professor. “Dr. Akinleye has a proven track record that will be beneficial in ensuring that NCCU’s support programs are appropriately designed to attract, retain and graduate traditional, nontraditional and veteran students,” SaundersWhite said in announcing his appointment.

Dr. Akinleye has a proven track record that will be beneficial in ensuring that NCCU’s support programs are appropriately designed to attract, retain and graduate traditional, non-traditional and veteran students.” — DR. DEBRA SAUNDERS-WHITE

Harriet Frink Davis

Leah Kraus

Vice Chancellor for Institutional Advancement

Chief Information Officer

Dr. Harriet Frink Davis, NCCU’s new vice chancellor for Institutional Advancement, is well prepared to help NCCU meet its fundraising and development goals. Named to the post by Chancellor Debra Saunders-White in February 2014, she brings 25 years of experience as a higher education administrator and fundraiser. Most recently, Davis served as associate vice chancellor for development and director of the campaign at Fayetteville State University and as assistant vice president for corporate relations at Hampton University. Previously, she was a leader in the Division of Institutional Advancement and University Relations at North Carolina A&T State University, serving as director of alumni affairs, director of development, interim director of community relations and director of special events. Davis is an alumna of the Management Development Program at Harvard University and holds bachelor’s, master’s and Ph.D. degrees from North Carolina A&T State University.

Ms. Leah Kraus began her duties as NCCU’s chief information officer on Feb. 3, 2014. Kraus is responsible for coordinating technology throughout the university, including infrastructure, policy and planning aspects. Chancellor Debra Saunders-White has been outspoken in support for a campus-wide technology system that will provide optimal service for all teaching, learning, research and operations activities. Kraus has more than 20 years of experience in education and technology, serving as associate vice chancellor for services at the University of North Carolina Wilmington and as interim chief information officer there since 2011. Prior to serving at UNCW, Kraus was chief information officer and director of user services at Guilford College.




David S. Thomson Director of BRITE Dr. David. S. Thomson has been named director of the NCCU's Biomanufacturing Research Institute and Technology Enterprise (BRITE). Thomson began his duties on April 21 and brings to NCCU nearly 30 years of biomedical research experience in major pharmaceutical companies, small biotech companies and academic settings. Thomson started his career at Cytel Corporation in 1988 as a research scientist in medicinal chemistry focused on the discovery and development of carbohydrate- and glycopeptides-based therapeutics. As a medicinal chemist, he also held positions at Amgen and Greenwich Pharmaceuticals. Before coming to NCCU, Thomson served as vice president and head of research and development operations and NCE drug discovery at Shire Human Genetic Therapies in Lexington, Mass., where he built the global company’s new chemical entity drug discovery capabilities. From 2003 to 2009, Thomson was an adjunct professor of chemistry at Western Connecticut State University in Danbury, Conn. A graduate of the University of Strathclyde in the United Kingdom, he earned his doctorate in chemistry at the University of Toronto in 1986. He later served as a post-doctoral research associate at Yale University from 1986 to 1988.

Wanda Fleming Lester Interim Dean, School of Business Dr. Wanda Fleming Lester has been named interim dean of the NCCU School of Business. NCCU Provost and Vice Chancellor of Academic Affairs Johnson Akinleye announced her appointment in February. Lester has more than 15 years of experience in higher education, as well as extensive expertise as a public and private accountant. Most recently she served as vice provost for Academic Affairs and Undergraduate Programs at North Carolina A&T State University.

Monica Terrell Leach Vice Chancellor for the Division of Enrollment Management Dr. Monica Terrell Leach is breaking new ground as associate vice chancellor for the Division of Enrollment Management. Leach came to NCCU to lead the new division after it was separated in 2013 from the Division of Student Affairs. The Division of Enrollment Management is part of the Department of Academic Affairs and the Office of the Provost. Leach spent nearly two decades at North Carolina State University, serving as assistant dean for Academic Affairs and director of Enrollment Management among other positions. Leach is a 2003 graduate of the Harvard Institute Management Development Program and has completed the UNC system’s BRIDGES for Women Leadership Program. She holds a bachelor’s degree in science from Louisiana State University, as well as master’s and doctoral degrees in education from N.C. State University.

Wendell F. Phillips Chief of Staff Mr. Wendell F. Phillips was named chief of staff at NCCU in February. A graduate of Morgan State University, Phillips is charged with providing strategic leadership as a senior advisor on all operational and managerial aspects of NCCU. His administrative track record includes two years as special assistant to the chancellor and four years as director for state and community relations at N.C. A&T State University. A native of Maryland, Phillips also served from 2003 to 2009 as a member of the Maryland House of Delegates. He was named as a Toll Fellow, representing one of 40 individuals from across the country designated as up and coming young leaders based on achievement and service to state government, in 2001. Phillips holds a bachelor’s degree in political science from Morgan State University.


Eagles announce new coaching team for football program

Walter Davenport

Interim Vice Chancellor for Finance and Administration Mr. Walter Davenport, a certified public accountant with more than 40 years of experience, has been named interim vice chancellor for NCCU's Finance and Administration Division. Davenport replaces Wendell Davis, who served in the position from 2011 until early 2014, when Davis was hired as Durham County manager. Davenport has a background in providing financial services for notfor-profit agencies. He was a founding partner in Garrett and Davenport CPA in Raleigh. A search committee is underway to identify candidates for the permanent post of vice chancellor for finance and administration.

Biologist Dr. Sean Kimbro Named to American Heart Association Board

erry Mack was hired in December 2013 as head football coach for the Eagles, and quickly brought on a team of assistants to prepare for a successful 2014-15 season. Mack joined NCCU’s staff after spending two seasons as the wide-receiver coach for the University of South Alabama. Mack, 33, a native of Memphis, has worked with five NCAA Division I programs and two conference championship teams over the past decade. Mack’s other recent coaching experience includes two seasons at the University of Memphis and a year with the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff, where he improved the team’s national ranking for defense from 101 to 30 in 2010. He spent 2008-09 at the University of Central Arkansas and two seasons at Jackson State University. He got his start as a graduateassistant offensive coach at Delta State University in 2004-2005. The new head coach lettered for three years at Arkansas State (2001-03), where he earned his bachelor's degree in management informa-

tion systems in 2003. He also holds a master’s in physical education from Delta State. Mack said he will serve his first season with the Eagles as offensive coordinator, responsible for installing the offense and calling offensive plays on game day. In January, the head coach announced his lineup of assistants, with Mike Mendenhall as special teams coordinator/linebackers; Andre George as cornerback coach; and former NCCU assistant coach and defensive back Adrian Jones for the running backs. Also new to the staff are Granville Eastman as defensive coordinator/safeties; Chris Buckner as recruiting coordinator/wide receivers; T.C. Taylor as quarterback coach; Jason Onyebuagu for the offensive line; Mike McCarthy for tight ends; and Jon Bradley as the assistant defensive line coach. Jashell Mitchell also has come on board as director of football operations. NCCU football coaching staff includes Jerry Mack, Jason Onyebuagu, Chris Buckner, Adrian Jones, Mike McCarthy and T.C. Taylor.

Dr. Sean Kimbro, director of the North Carolina Central University Julius L. Chambers Biomedical/Biotechnology Research Institute (BBRI), will join the American Heart Association’s Board of Directors, Triangle and Eastern NC, for the 2014-15 year. Kimbro leads research scientists in exploration of biological and behavioral causes for cardio-metabolic disease, cancer, neurological diseases and alcohol abuse. He is also exploring the use of nutraceuticals as treatments for some of these diseases. BBRI is known for its multi-disciplinary approach to the investigation of cardio-metabolic diseases, particularly within the African-American community.



Dr. Li-An Yeh Retires from Position at BRITE


Dr. Li-An Yeh retired as founding director of the Biomanufacturing Research Institute and Technology Enterprise (BRITE) in April. The NCCU Board of Trustees honored Yeh with a resolution, expressing appreciation for her contributions to the university’s development and wishing her happiness in her retirement. During her nine-year tenure, Yeh developed curricula for the institute and established several degree programs, including a doctoral program in Integrated Biosciences. She also shepherded plans for the $20.1 million project from conception to reality and won external research funding of $2 million per year. Five patent applications were also submitted under her supervision.

JASON DORSETTE, founding director of the Centennial Scholars Program at NCCU, left Durham in January to become director of the Black Cultural Center at Oregon State University. Dorsette, a High Point native, earned his bachelor’s degree in history and a master’s in public administration at NCCU and became a member of the staff in 2007. He said he plans to work toward a doctoral degree while directing the center at OSU.

The university community was saddened by the unexpected death in December 2013 of RICHARD BANKS, director of choral activities and associate professor of music at NCCU. Students, faculty, staff, family and friends of Banks attended a celebration of life service in his honor on Jan. 18 in B.N. Duke Auditorium. Banks, 60, had served on the music faculty for more than 10 years. His wife, Deborah Banks, is a member of NCCU’s Central Receiving staff. The celebration for Banks included performances by music faculty members, the NCCU University Choir, the Vocal Jazz Ensemble and the NCCU Alumni Choir, which he founded in 2010.

send-off message for december 2013 grads:

DON’T LET FEARS BLOCK YOUR PATH HE 602 STUDENTS WHO GRADUATED ON DEC. 14, 2013, heard encouraging words from Dr. Annika Barnett, who just four years earlier was among those receiving a bachelor’s degree in McDougald-McLendon Gymnasium. In the years since, the NCCU science major has gone on to earn a degree from Harvard Medical School and join the highly competitive Johns Hopkins Hospital pediatric and anesthesiology residency program. At 26, Barnett was the university’s youngest commencement speaker and one of a handful of alumni invited to deliver the commencement address. Her advice to the December graduates: Do not relinquish your most ambitious goals. “Your desire to succeed must surpass your fear,” Barnett told graduates “If you learn to face these head on, it will lead to success that you could never imagine.”

Barnett also told the graduates to be prepared to at times feel isolated. “When you do something that no one else has done before you, it is lonely,” said Barnett. “It is uncomfortable being the different one. But you have to go out of your comfort zone to grow.” Barnett was raised in Raleigh, N.C., and received her Bachelor of Science degree in biology in 2009. She is a second generation Eagle; both of her parents are NCCU graduates.


NCCU gave Student Service Impact Awards to seven undergraduate students in recognition of their work in the community. Students receiving the award completed a minimum of 240 service hours —twice the number of service hours required for all NCCU graduating seniors — while maintaining at least a 2.5 GPA. December’s award recipients were: Norjuana Anderson, Amber Lashley, Kamisha Maxwell, Iimani McKnight, Derrell Parker, Lawrence J. Reid and Xavier Wallace-McGrew. Two graduate students, Tracy Turner, a law graduate, and Courtney Williams, a psychology major, were recognized for their work in the community. Turner served multiple communities including: Habitat of Durham, Meals on Wheels, SPCA of Wake County, Salvation Army and Citizen Schools. Williams created POISE (Providing Outreach and Inspiration through Sisterhood and Education), an outreach program designed to improve the health and wellbeing of at-risk middle school girls at Sherwood Githens Middle School. NCCU also awarded 682 baccalaureate degrees on Saturday, May 11, at O’KellyRiddick Stadium. At the ceremony for graduate and professional students the day before, 241 master's degrees and 130 law degrees were conferred. 

“It is uncomfortable being the different one. But you have to go out of your comfort zone to grow.” —————— DR. ANNIKA BARNETT

for more photos click here



Great teachers set high expectations for themselves and their students, pushing, prodding and sometimes willing their students to success. They are creative and patient magicians turning complex concepts into digestible knowledge bites. BY MYRA WOOTEN

North Carolina Central University adjunct biology professor Eric Saliim has been working his magic in the classroom for the last 14 years. Born in Richmond, Va., and raised in WinstonSalem, N.C., Saliim fell in love with science at an early age. A self-professed country boy, his real life experiences helped him make tangible the sometimes-abstract concepts of science. “Growing up in the South, I had a chance to witness science every day,” he said. “Whether it was growing crops or livestock, I witnessed the full circle of life.” Since 2000, Saliim has taught biology 1100 – general biology, a requirement for non-science majors. He is known for his nontraditional classroom methods ,including implementing both Twitter and Instagram into his classes. “The dialogue is wonderful,” said Saliim. “I don’t like to blame students all the time. I want to know what I can do to be more accessible to students. I know that they can engage. If they are going to be on social media, I want to be plugged into that.” His students call him the “social media” professor. His Twitter handle is @BIOL1100 and his profile states, “Learning is not a spectator sport. Proper Preparation Prevents Poor Performance.” In 140 characters or less, Saliim can catch and keep the attention of his students. “Have you read today?” is one his favorite tweets. The end goal, Saliim says, is to create an effective means of communicating with students. A student who is struggling in Saliim’s class can expect a tweet asking them to answer a question. Missing class but tweeting and posting pics will not go unnoticed by Saliim either, earning the student a Twitter message: “Where were you?” “Students are not responding to the traditional means of communication, but they respond to Twitter,” said Saliim. “I tweet questions, pictures for review, almost anything. It is the best dialogue I have had with students in quite a while.” A visual learner himself, Saliim says he tries to make analogies between science and everyday life. When studying the properties of life – cellular organization,

homeostasis, metabolism, growth, responsiveness, reproduction and heredity – Saliim asks his students, via Instagram, to list the properties and provide an image of each. Saliim’s solution-based approach is what led him back to NCCU. In 1999, he was working as a research technician with the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS) in Research Triangle Park when he noticed that NCCU interns were not prepared to work in a lab setting. “They were bright, but they were lacking basic skills,” Saliim said. “I was worried that NIEHS would close the door to NCCU students. I couldn’t let that happen.” A graduate of NCCU himself, Saliim contacted his mentor, Dr. Amal Abu-Shakra, NCCU professor of biology, and asked how he could help better prepare science majors for industry work.

Students are not responding to the traditional means of communication, but they respond to Twitter. I tweet questions, pictures for review, almost anything. It is the BEST DIALOGUE I have had with students in quite a while.” ________ ERIC SALIIM

His teaching methods are working. Saliim has one of the lowest DFW rates (grades of D and F and withdrawal) and is the go-to person for students who are hesitant about enrolling in a science course.

In 1994, Saliim was an undergraduate student of Abu-Shakra. Later, when he completed his master’s degree, also at NCCU, he worked in her lab studying nitrite oxide toxicity. Saliim and Abu-Shakra have been published together twice. Abu-Shakra brought Saliim in to teach a seminar during 10:40 breaks focused on the skills students needed to complete successful research internships. Saliim taught the seminar pro-bono for a full year before a full-time teaching position opened up. “I want to see in my students what I see in Eric,” said Abu-Shakra. “He takes what he does seriously, more than he takes himself seriously. Saliim respects what he does very much. He is honest and dedicated. This is important in a scientist and a teacher.” Experiments, group activities, presentations and a charismatic personality help Saliim build a rapport with his students. Each year he seeks a few science converts. At the start of the semester Saliim tells his students, “I’m going to make one of you a science major.” Last semester, two of Saliim’s students changed their major to nutrition after his lecture on carbohydrates, lipids and proteins. His teaching methods are working. Saliim has one of the lowest DFW rates (grades of D and F and withdrawal) and is the go-to person for students who are hesitant about enrolling in a science course. “My job is to be a grinding wheel. I am here to bring out what is already inside of them,” he said. Improving student success in the Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics areas has long been a goal of the university. Over the years, NCCU

has implemented several programs designed to improve student success. There were summer bridge programs for new incoming students; tutoring programs held in residence halls and on weekends; Smart Thinking, an online tutoring program that allowed students to work one-on-one at their laptops and targeted scholar programs that include mentoring. “Everything that happens in a class can be used as a teachable moment,” said Saliim, who, unlike most professors, does not ask his students to turn off their cell phones. Instead he allows the use of smart phones to search for answers to questions he may pose. “My colleagues may think I’m not teaching because we laugh and talk, but science is about inquiry. You have to educate and entertain.” Last semester, Saliim began using Top Hat in his classes. Top Hat is a web- and mobile-based classroom response system that engages students and provides professors with real-time feedback on student understanding. Through the program, Saliim can conduct polls, quizzes and interactive demonstrations in class. Students participate using any device they own, such as their smartphone, tablet or laptop. With this technology, students can also ask questions during lecture. Additionally, because answers are saved, students may monitor their own progress, study their past work and observe their grades, updated in real-time. “A good scientist is a general scientist, everybody is not a superstar,” said Abu-Shakra about Saliim. “If you want to be a star, go to Hollywood. Science is collaborative, you don’t think alone. It is a choir,” Abu-Shakra said. “You need to hear all of the voices, not a soloist. Eric knows that he is good. When you do the right thing, it shows.” When Saliim steps out of the classroom, he continues to work with students as a coach with the Durham HAWKS (Helping All Willing Kids Succeed). The Durham HAWKS is a nonprofit organization that uses sports to teach life skills to African-American boys. “We want to salvage as many young black men and women as possible; sports is the hook,” said Saliim. “It’s a bigger draw to say come play sports than to say we are having a tutoring program.” His endless passion for youth is what fuels him. “When I see young people succeeding, it replenishes me. I never give up on any student, I just try something different,” he said. For the difficult students, Saliim says his solution is not magic, but pretty simple: “I keep their number on speed dial.” 

DIABETES FAMILY PROJECT UNITES COMMUNITY FOR BETTER HEALTH ........................... BY RENEE ELDER ...........................

MORE THAN 200 NORTH CAROLINIANS gathered at Halifax Community College on a Saturday in March with one goal in mind: improving their health. They underwent the usual blood pressure tests, cholesterol checks, dental screenings and breast exams. But many also took the opportunity to join an innovative new program that could potentially save their lives and improve the health of future generations.

The Diabetes Family Project is funded with a portion of a $5.7 million grant from the National Institutes of Health awarded to the Julius L. Chambers Biomedical/Biotechnology Research Institute at NCCU to focus on specific diseases that disproportionately affect African-Americans.

NCCU Nursing students and staff begin gathering health data that will help guide decisions on treatment for diabetes and other illnesses.

B A R B A R A R A M S AY was among those who signed up for the Diabetes Family Project, a communitybased intervention and research project spearheaded by Dr. Natasha Greene Leathers, Ph.D., an assistant professor of nursing at NCCU School of Nursing and a practicing family nurse practitioner. The goal is to learn effective ways of helping AfricanAmericans manage and prevent Type 2 diabetes. “I hope it can help me limit my diet and eat healthier foods. I’m ready to get into it; I want to learn,” said Ramsey, who was diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes 15 years ago. The project is funded with a portion of a $5.7 million grant from the National Institutes of Health awarded to the Julius L. Chambers Biomedical/Biotechnology Research Institute at NCCU to focus on cardio-metabolic diseases that disproportionately affect AfricanAmericans and individuals who have limited access to health care. According to the American Diabetes Association, more than 26 million people in the U.S. have diabetes, and nine out of 10 of those have Type 2 diabetes. Unlike those with Type 1, whose bodies can’t make insulin, people with Type 2 diabetes make insulin, but it is not efficiently used by their bodies to break down blood sugar. This can potentially cause a host of problems, including damage to nerves and small blood vessels in the eyes, kidneys and heart. Why diabetes develops in some people and not others isn’t completely known. But risk factors include age – individuals 45 and older are at greatest risk – being overweight, having family members with diabetes, leading a sedentary lifestyle and having high

blood pressure, as well as being members of certain minority groups, including African-Americans. Diabetes occurs in about 12 percent of the African-American population, compared to 8 percent for the nation as a whole. In Eastern North Carolina, the rate of diabetes is even higher for African-Americans, with some estimates of more than 15 percent. Greene Leathers points to a number of things that may contribute to African-Americans’ higher incidence of diabetes, including a shortage of health professionals to provide preventative health care and the economic conditions of rural North Carolina communities. A North Carolina Justice Center report shows that while employment rose between 2009 and 2013 by 5.6 percent in metropolitan areas and 4.9 percent in small cities across the state, rural areas suffered job losses of 13.5 percent. Such economic conditions have an impact on food choices, as well as the ability to go in for regular checkups or to buy needed medications. “When we started the project, we tried to think about all the things people need in order to have access to health care,” Greene Leathers said. That’s when she and study coordinator, social clinical research assistant Pamela Douglas, got creative. They and a team from the NCCU Depart-


ment of Psychology, led by Dr. Sherry Eaton, organized focus groups of residents in the target area of Halifax County and invited them to talk about their wants, needs and preferences in regard to health education and other services. Information gleaned from the meetings gave organizers a better idea of how to set up the program so that it would have the highest chance of success. Among the suggestions they received was for classes to address certain topics that health-conscious individuals often wrestle with, such as ways to make healthful meals that taste good, how to exercise without access to a gym, and how to get their families on board with their plans to eat better and stay active. They also remarked that it was going to be tough to commit to a schedule that offered services only during the hours of 9 to 5. “Some people with jobs aren’t free during the day, so we decided to offer services in the evenings to accommodate people who work,” Greene Leathers said. And because most people “don’t live in isolation,” the Diabetes Family Project requires each of the individuals enrolled to recruit a family member to participate with them, she added. “We felt that opening the program up to their loved ones would provide the support that would help maintain healthier behavior,” Greene Leathers said. Mironica Ramsay is participating along with her mother, Barbara. “I believe this will help me learn about the disease and how to avoid it, as well as help Mama control it,” Mironica Ramsay said. “If I learn how you get it, maybe I won’t get it.” To get the word out to citizens, Greene Leathers and Douglas connected with a variety of established groups and agencies in the Hali-

fax County area. They networked with churches, health care providers, community centers, schools and just about anywhere the people they hoped to reach were likely to gather. “I first heard about it from the health fair at St. Paul’s Baptist Church,” said Laura Daniels, who signed up to participate along with her

Students Stanley Nwabinwe (below) and Renee Blazek (bottom right) take blood from participants, whose progress toward health is being monitored.

mom, Laura Bunn, who is considered pre-diabetic because of high sugar levels in her blood. “My grandmother and her older sister had it,” Laura Daniels said. “My baby brother who is 50, he’s had it. I say the more you know, the better you can treat what you have.” In order to further bring the message home, the Diabetes Family Project hired and trained a group of local residents to lead the educational sessions that will be ongoing throughout the project. The local residents know how to “speak the language” of their neighbors and are more naturally sensitive to their wants and

needs, Greene Leathers said. Robin Barnes of Scotland Neck is among those who signed up to do the training. “Diabetes is in my family too, so I’m having the opportunity to learn as much as possible and share that information with others in my community – my family and my friends,” Barnes said. “Maybe we can help the younger generation, because they will learn things we might not have known growing up.” Participants in the yearlong program attend health education classes once a week for eight weeks, on Tuesday or Thursday evenings, at a location within a dozen or so miles of their homes. They are offered incentives like pedometers, exercise equipment and cookbooks. And healthy food samples are available for tasting. Throughout the study period, participants are given blood tests every three months to see whether their blood sugar levels, cholesterol and other factors are improving. Renee Blazek was one of about 20 nursing students from NCCU who were on hand to assist at the kick-off health fair at Halifax Community College in March. “It’s hard but worth it,” she said, after spending many hours in Weldon setting up and administering the blood tests and other elements of the health fair. That sentiment was seconded by Araba Awotwi, who graduated from NCCU in May and will begin working toward her doctoral degree in nursing at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill in fall 2014. “As a nursing student I learned a lot about drawing blood and working with people in varying stages of health,” Awotwi said. “And the community was so excited that we were there for them. It was encouraging to see patients begin to understand that, while their condition is serious, education can help them have a better quality of life and a longer life span. They feel empowered. That’s what happens when you give people information.” 

Diabetes occurs in about 12 percent of the AfricanAmerican population, compared to 8 percent for the nation as a whole. In Eastern North Carolina, the rate of diabetes is even higher for African-Americans.


When we started the

project, we tried to think about all the things people need in order to have access to health care.” — Natasha Greene Leathers, Ph.D.

ƒHalifax Community College was the scene for a health fair that introduced citizens to the Family Diabetes Program, overseen by Natasha Greene Leathers (left) a faculty member in the NCCU School of Nursing.


NCCU Nursing students (first row, left to right), Allison Zeiger, Lori Coleal, Dayuana Hooker, Janaye Greene, Fatmata Koroma; (second row, left to right), Renee Blazek, Brittany Judd, Rhonda Reid, Stanley Nwabinwe; back row, Araba Awotwi.





to 84 ninth-grade students in the classroom wing of the North Carolina Central University School of Education building.

The early college quickly took the lead among high schools

in North Carolina with its innovative approach that uses a cur-

riculum rigorously aligned to allow a small group of students earn nearly two years of college credit within four years. Ten years later, the school has grown to 337 students and continues to lead the way in preparing students for college. The school targets first-generation college students, English learners – also known as English as a second language (ESL) students – and economically disadvantaged and underrepresented populations, primarily minorities and students of color. “People think that we focus on the best and brightest, and most

of these students are the best and the brightest,” said Principal Gloria J. Woods-Weeks. “But this program is a marathon. You have to be a motivated learner, because this is not the school where you coast.” Early college is an accelerated program where all of the classes are taught on the honors level and students complete high-school requirements in two years. In essence, students complete their 9th and 10th grade courses in their first year. By their sophomore year, students

Principal Gloria Woods-Weeks and student Lauren Fulmore, junior

are taking 11th and 12th grade courses. By the 11th grade, students are taking their final high-school course and at least three college courses. Woods-Weeks says students can expect to have two to three hours of homework nightly. “Students can and will meet your expectations and standards; the trick is to help them see that they can do this,” she said. A small percentage of students, over the course of the program, choose to transfer back to their base school, but those who remain graduate. Josephine Dobbs Clement High School has a 100-percent graduation rate and a college acceptance rate that is not far behind. The early college has graduated 428 students through 2013, beginning with its first class in 2008. Early-college graduates can be found at Ivy League institutions, including Harvard University, as well as here on the sloping hills and verdant green of NCCU. “It is amazing that this concept has taken off and become such a tremendous success,” said Woods-Weeks. “I’d like to believe that this is exactly what was intended 10 years ago.” EARLY-COLLEGE HISTORY The concept for the high school can be traced to 2002, when the Southeastern Consortium for Minorities in Engineering (SECME) announced a formal partnership with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. SECME, formed by engineering deans at six Southeastern universities, was committed to increasing the pool of historically underrepresented and under-served students prepared to enter and be competitive in post-secondary programs focused on science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM). Funding from the SECME and Gates Foundation partnership would be used to dramatically increase high school graduation and college attendance rates for the most disadvantaged youth by developing small schools with accelerated paths, or early college high schools.

In the state of North Carolina, NCCU was the first to establish an early college. Early-college graduates can be found at Ivy League institutions, including Harvard University, as well as here on the sloping hills and verdant green of NCCU. As a result of the partnership between SECME and the Gates Foundation, two early colleges were formed: Selma Early College High School on the campus of Wallace Community College in Selma, Ala., and the Josephine Dobbs Clement Early College on the NCCU campus. At the same time, members of NCCU’s administration were challenging themselves to think differently about education. “We were asking ourselves questions like, ‘Why do students need four years to graduate from high school?’” said Dr. Cecelia Steppe-Jones, retired dean of the NCCU School of Education. “In reality, many students by their senior year had completed their requirements and loaded their schedule with electives. We wanted a way to prevent students from wasting time and if we could build a pipeline to college, that would be a bonus.” When SECME contacted thenNCCU Chancellor James Ammons with the proposal of establishing an early college on the campus, Ammons tapped Steppe-Jones to work with Dr. Janice Davis, who was then the assistant superintendent for curriculum and instruction at Durham Public Schools. By 2004, Davis and Steppe-Jones had created a structure that included a middle-grades pipeline program known as AVID (Advancement Via Individual Determination), which targets students with average grades – B and C students – who the teachers believe should be guided toward college. Steppe-Jones and Davis also developed an accelerated curriculum and secured space in the NCCU School of Education. Teachers in the early college received special training in STEM subjects to incorporate into their classes. The school would only admit students in the ninth

grade and would remain small, with a maximum of 400 students. “It was challenging,” Steppe-Jones said. “At the time, no school in North Carolina had an early college, we were the first.” In the first year, the Gates Foundation provided $400,000 in start-up funding, and by year two, the school received support through the N.C. Learn and Earn program, as well as state funding as a recognized public school. The name of the school was a nobrainer, Steppe-Jones said. “The Gates Foundation wanted kids who didn’t see college in the realm of their lives. We thought about what person in Durham has been instrumental in that very same way. Who was a voice for children?” Josephine Dobbs Clement was the daughter of John Wesley Dobbs, a civic and political leader from Atlanta. Dobbs founded the Atlanta Civic and Political League and co-founded the Atlanta Negro Voters League, which registered more than 20,000 African-Americans to vote between 1936 and 1946 and was instrumental in the integration of the Atlanta police force in 1948. When Dobbs-Clement and her husband, William Clement, moved to Durham in the 1940s, she was active in the YWCA and the League of Women’s Voters, working to desegregate both. She later served on the Durham City-County Charter Commission, was chairwoman of Durham’s Board of Education, and later served as a Durham County Commissioner. Dobbs-Clement passed away in 1998. “I like first, I like No. 1,” said SteppeJones. “Any initiative that would make us first, I was willing to try. Looking back, I know that we have had more successes than failures.”

The early college and NCCU gave me the opportunity to do what I am doing. The stars were perfectly lined up for me. I’ve learned not to give up. When people tell me I can’t, chances are I’m going to do it. It wills me to do things.” JA E M IA P R AT T

SUCCESS STORY One shining example of success is Jaemia Pratt. In 2008, Pratt was a part of the first early-college graduating class, finishing high school with 42 college credits and a full scholarship to NCCU. Two years later she received her degree in criminal justice, earning a 3.5 GPA. In May of 2013, Pratt completed her master’s degree in criminal justice at the University of Michigan and joined Americorps’ National Civilian Community Corp. She spent nearly all of 2013 providing disaster relief in communities across the country. “I literally rebuilt people’s homes from the ground up,” said Pratt about her work after Hurricane Sandy. For seven weeks she lived behind a pew in the sanctuary

of a church, showering in an outdoor mobile shower. “You could literally talk to the person next to you. You had to get comfortable in your uncomfortable,” Pratt said. “Every Sunday, we had to get up and leave the church.” Mucking, gutting and landscaping were the assignments given to Pratt and her fellow Moose Unit Americorps members after the flooding in Colorado. Working 12-hour days, she says it was the opportunity to serve that was the greatest reward. “It is easy to help with your hands, do a job and leave, but sometimes helping with your hands is not enough,” she said. “You have to use your heart to heal, ears to listen and your knowledge to help. It is not about giving one part of me, but giving my whole self to someone.” The Durham-native said she earned just $3,000 last year, but as a self-professed

minimalist she has come to appreciate the small things in life. “The early college and NCCU gave me the opportunity to do what I am doing. The stars were perfectly lined up for me,” she said. “I’ve learned not to give up. When people tell me I can’t, chances are I’m going to do it. It wills me to do things.” Besides empowering students, the early college also provides an economic advantage to its graduates who may have difficulty paying for college. Early college graduates can finish with up to 60 college credits – a savings equivalent to $33,000 of college tuition, according to WoodsWeeks. “There is an economic advantage to the program,” she said. “We are trying to get students that much closer to a four-year degree and economics is a major barrier students face.” In addition, students who complete the early college’s accelerated program often are high academic achievers, increasing the possibility of earning a college scholarship. In short, the majority of early college graduates complete their four-year college degree completely debt-free. WEIGHING THE COSTS AND BENEFITS The benefits of the program are numerous, but there are challenges. Some parents are uncomfortable with their children attending classes with college-age students. Retaining quality teachers can be difficult because of the low wages earned by North Carolina teachers. Students lose some opportunities for extracurricular activities, because early college has few student clubs or organizations and no sports programs. Addressing the concerns of parents is usually managed by informing them of the gradual transition process the school employs, Woods-Weeks says. Early-college students spend their first two years within the Robinson Science Building, which houses the school. The first college course that students take, “Dimensions of Learning,” is taught at the high school by NCCU professors. In fact, even when students move onto the campus to begin

In reality, many students by their senior year had completed their requirements and loaded their schedule with electives. We wanted a way to prevent students from wasting time and if we could build a pipeline to college, that would be a bonus.”

C E C E L IA S T E P P E - J O N E S

classes, they remain with their cohort, taking courses together in the Miller–Morgan Building. It is not until their senior year that students take classes independent of the early college and their classmates. A former assistant principal at East Chapel Hill High School and director of the Holten Career and Resource Center in Durham, Woods-Weeks says she is comfortable being the head cheerleader for her staff of 19. Woods-Weeks also works each weekend – along with many of the faculty. “Our staff is small and the extra work and pressure can impact morale,” she said. “Many of our teachers have part-time jobs just to be able to take care of their families. When you have the opportunity to teach and impact young people it gives you ener-

gy to stay the course and keep going. That motivates me, and that motivates my staff.” But for the students, there has to be life outside of the classroom. “Students give up a lot when they come here, when you look at what goes on in a traditional high school,” Woods-Weeks said. “I would like to see our partnership advance to the point that NCCU can help meet some of the social needs of our students.” Under current policies, early-college students must travel back to their base school to participate in extra-curricular activities such as band or athletics, an arrangement that to many seems less than ideal. Recently, the early college was named a magnet or specialty school, and the process for admission changed. Luck of the draw now determines which students are admitted to the early college. Each year, more than 400 applicants enter a lottery for the 95 available slots. THE F UTURE OF THE EARLY COLLEGE Woods-Weeks is optimistic about the future of the early college. Of the nearly 400 early college high schools in the country, North Carolina is home to 127. “We will continue to build on the momentum the last 10 years have given us,” she said. “I’d like to see our involvement in STEM come back.” When the school was established, students were given the opportunity to participate in research at the Julius L. Chambers Biomedical/Biotechnical Research Institute. Over time, students were moved out of the campus labs, instead focusing on STEM subjects primarily in their classrooms. Woods-Weeks would also like to expand the school’s mentoring model by pairing all of the early college students with an NCCU student to help them navigate the college campus and experience. “As an NCCU alumna, I know the benefit this university provides to high school students,” she said. “There is no other university that can support our students the way my alma mater supports us.” 



as North Carolina Central University’s 11th chancellor on April 4, 2014, marked a moment in history. Saunders-White, who was appointed by the University of North Carolina Board of Governors

on February 8, 2013, and began her work at NCCU on June 1, 2013, is the first permanent female chief executive officer selected to lead the university. A former appointee of President Barak Obama to the U.S. Department of Education, she came to the university with a wealth of expertise in higher

education. Nearly nine months after she arrived and established a platform of Eagle Excellence, or

E-squared, a weeklong series of events took place that culminated with the Installation ceremony, showcased the university’s signature programs, and highlighted the university’s students, faculty and staff.


The week kicked off on March 29 with the Chancellor’s Walk for Health Equity, where NCCU students, faculty and staff joined members of the local community for a morning of activities that promoted health and well-being. Saunders-White led a three-mile walk around the perimeter of the campus. The same day, the College of Behavioral and Social Sciences sponsored “The Great Debate” where

students debated the topic, “HBCUs: Can They Survive?” An Interfaith Service on March 30 drew more than 500 people and featured Penny Brown Reynolds, a former prosecutor and assistant attorney general in Georgia, as well as gospel music legend Pastor Shirley Caesar. Leaders from the Christian, Muslim, Jewish and Bah’ai faiths provided sacred readings, and members of several

faith communities participated in a celebration of prayers that included courage, vision, strength, wisdom and unity on behalf of Saunders-White and NCCU. Also during the week, the Office of Community Engagement partnered with several academic units and student organizations to sponsor the opening of NCCU’s Campus Food Pantry and rededication of the university’s community garden. Located in the Dent Building, the Food Pantry was established to provide needed and supplemental food resources for NCCU students in an effort to address issues of food insecurity or deficiencies. In partnership with the Division of Student Affairs, rose bushes and vegetable seeds were planted in the community garden, located between the Mary Townes Science Complex and BRITE buildings. The occasion included a tribute to the alumni of Hillside High School, as the garden sits on the former site of the school. Students displayed their talents at a performance of the opera “Carmen” and a talent showcase featuring musicians, singers and spoken-word artists. The College of Arts and Science and Arts and Humanities Program hosted Judith Jamison, artistic director emerita of the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater.




Saunders-White's formal Installation ceremony was attended by chancellors, presidents and delegates from colleges and universities across the country, including Dillard Universitys’ President Dr. Walter Kimbrough and University of California at Monterey Bay President Eduardo M. Ochoa. `“I see NCCU as the gateway to opportunity, a place where our students can catch hold of a vision and live the life of their dreams,” the chancellor said in her inaugural speech. “Times of change and challenge often spawn unimaginable creativity and innovation. We have to stay relevant, foster new relationships and offer more opportunities that allow our students and the university community to be leaders in the academy and the evolving global marketplace.” Presiding over the ceremonies was Thomas W. Ross, president of the University of North Carolina system, which includes NCCU and 16 other campuses. “NCCU has enormous potential under Dr. Saunders-White,” Ross said. “There is no doubt in my mind that she is the right person to lead North Carolina Central University today and in the years ahead.” Dr. Johnson O. Akinleye, provost and vice chancellor for academic affairs, was a colleague of Saunders-White at UNC Wilmington before coming to NCCU earlier this year. “She is scholarly, yet innovative. Respectful of history, while also keeping her eyes on the horizon,” Akinleye said in his tribute to the new chancellor. “While we know the bar set by Chancellor Saunders-White for academic excellence is high, she is someone who will work hard right alongside us to ensure that

Click here to view a recap of the Chancellor's installation

“While we know the bar set by Chancellor Saunders-White for academic excellence is high, she is someone who will work hard right alongside us to ensure that the path to achieving our goals is as smooth as possible.” __________ DR. JOHNSON O. AKINLEYE

the path to achieving our goals is as smooth as possible.” Hampton University President Dr. William R. Harvey praised Saunders-White for displaying “determination, focus, vision, intellect and untiring energy” when she served as director of vice president for technology and in other posts on the Virginia campus. “Her aptitude for high-level contribution and future success were readily apparent,” Harvey said. Other speakers included Durham Mayor William B. “Bill” Bell, Durham County Commission Chairman Dr. Michael Page, UNC Board of Governor’s Chairman Peter D. Hans, Dr. Dwight P. Perry, chairman of NCCU’s Board of Trustees, and the Rev. Raymond J. Donaldson, pastor of Holy Cross Catholic Church in Durham. Saunders-White grew up in Hampton, Va., and is a first-generation college graduate. Her mother, Irene Saunders, three brothers, and her two children, Elizabeth Paige White and Cecil White III, were on hand for the celebration, as well as several aunts and uncles from as far away as Iowa. Ralph Saunders, a high school principal in Hampton, said his sister brought home the best report cards in the family and demonstrated what their parents taught: “That we could be and do anything. We are extremely proud of you,” Saunders added.

In her speech, Saunders-White acknowledged some of the challenges facing higher education, such as funding for new programs and the need to raise student retention and graduation rates. She also pointed out that NCCU is well-positioned to improve the economic outlook for students who have traditionally had fewer opportunities and access to higher education. “Because of the support of the state, our alumni and friends, NCCU is one of the most affordable and accessible institutions for low income families in the University of North Carolina system, and it is one of the most affordable institutions in its peer group in the United States,” she added. At the ceremony, SaundersWhite announced three new initiatives: the establishment of a Hip-Hop Institute in the College of Arts and Sciences and a history course taught by Grammy Award-winning producer Patrick Douthit, also known as 9th Wonder; a partnership with Beijing Language and Culture University for a Bilingual Speech Language Pathologist training program with the School of Education; and a collaboration with Massachusetts Institute of Technology to create a new Media Lab on the campus of NCCU. 


a look back in history


the installation of

dr. samuel p. massie september 1, 1963 Installation day in 1963 displayed much of the regalia and celebratory air of a presentday university event. When Dr. Samuel P. Massie was installed as the third president of what was then North Carolina College, an estimated 2,500 people attended the event. With the original James E. Shepard Memorial Library entrance in the background, the installation had as one of its highlights an academic procession by some 325 representatives of colleges, universities and learned societies, as well as national, state and local dignitaries, who were then followed by members of the college’s faculty. Among those leading the procession were Durham Mayor R. Wensell Grabarek, Governor Terry Sanford, and Caulbert a Jones, NCC professor of history, who was chief marshal for the occasion. Massie, a former National Science Foundation director and head of the pharmaceutical chemistry department at Harvard University, capped the processional by walking alone to the platform. President-emeritus Dr. Alfonso Elder also was on hand to formally present the new chancellor to Dr. Bascom Baynes, chairman of the college’s Board of Trustees. Massie, then age 44, was elected to his post on Sept. 1, 1963, succeeding Elder, who served as president of the college for 15 years.






A series of special campus activities took place to celebrate

Inauguration Week, beginning with a three-mile Walk for Health Equity (A), led by the chancellor, as part of a new healthy-living initiative on campus. (B) An interfaith service held in the chancellor’s honor included gospel artist Shirley Ceasar and Judge Penny Brown Reynolds. (C) Also during the week, a community garden broke ground, (D) NCCU jazz musicians performed on the lawn of the American Tobacco Campus, and doors opened on a new campus food pantry (E). Famed dancer and choreographer Judith Jamison (F) made an appearance, as did journalist TourÊ, (G) who was guest speaker during the Honors Convocation.









After a color guard presented the flags of North Carolina

and the United States, a series of performances by NCCU student groups and soloists entertained the large crowd, including members of James E. Shepard's extended family (A). Students from W.G. Pearson Elementary School (B) performed a lively rendition of the popular song “Happy,”spurring the crowd – and the chancellor – to clap along. Former NCCU Chancellor Albert N. Whiting (C) and former Interim Chancellors Charles L. Becton (D) and Donna J. Benson were in attendance (E).




for more photos click here


“Times of change and challenge often spawn unimaginable creativity and innovation. We have to stay relevant, foster new relationships and offer more opportunities that allow our students and the university community to be leaders in the academy and the evolving global marketplace.” __________ CHANCELLOR DEBRA SAUNDERS-WHITE

Serving Those Who Serve

ALLANNA CARTER, a second-year student at NCCU’s School of Law, helps resolve legal conflicts between clients and the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs as part of the university’s Veteran’s Law Clinic.

It’s a personal mission for Carter, who was once in need of such help herself. Her husband, an


active duty Army soldier, was killed in 1995, leaving her to raise their young daughter on her own after the VA denied Carter’s request for survivor’s benefits. • “At the time, I didn’t know how to overcome that,” she says. “If I’d had more knowledge about the law and the rights of veterans, I’d have been in a better position to help myself.” • Now, as a participant in the Veterans Law Clinic, she is helping other veterans and their spouses get the benefits they deserve.

NCCU School of Law operates specialty clinics in 11 areas: veterans law, civil litigation, criminal defense, domestic violence, juvenile law, family law, intellectual property, tax law, small business development, and consumer issues. The Veterans Law Clinic opened in January 2007 and handles benefit claims in various stages of appeals. As part of the training, law students provide hands-on assistance to veterans and their families under the supervision of the law school’s professional staff, including clinic director Craig Kabatchnick, who teaches and oversees students working in the clinic. Cases may revolve around disability claims, survivors’ benefits, pension and other issues. A recent session of the Veterans Law Clinic found Carter, along with other students and professors, discussing the case of Seneca Fisher, a former motor transport operator who spent 14 years in the Army.

Students Allanna Carter and Joshua Palmer

During his time in Iraq, Fisher was struck by improvised explosive devices, suffered a brain injury, incurred back injuries and developed post-traumatic stress disorder. Fisher left the Army in 2011. “I have tried to hold a job, but have been unsuccessful,” Fisher said. “I’ve lost my home. I’ve lost most everything I own.” Fisher was awarded payments based on a 40-percent disability level, although members of the Veterans Legal Clinic team that reviewed his medical records believe that figure is too low, based on his numerous health issues. “Often times, with veteran cases, the true dispute is over how much compensation is truly owed,” said Jonathan Kelly, attorney and an adjunct professor in the School of Law who specializes in veterans’ issues and has been working on Fisher’s case. “The VA is willing to pay some of the money owed, but it takes a real committed effort to get the entire amount owed.” Fisher first met with Kelly in the fall 2013, frustrated by the level of assistance he was receiving through Veterans Affairs and concerned about side effects from medical treatment received at a VA hospital. “There are very few attorneys out there willing to take on the VA,” Fisher said. “There’s a lot of red tape to cut through. And it takes someone with the skills to navigate the bureaucracy and get something done. But I have more than enough confidence in what they are doing.” Kabatchnick became interested in the plight of veterans after spending several years as an attorney in the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs in Washington. He handled more than 300 cases for the VA before leaving the agency. After moving to North Carolina, joined in a private practice with

attorney Robinson Everett working on behalf of plaintiffs, then joined the faculty at NCCU. Kabatchnick believes that the VA should and could be more responsive to the claims of veterans, whose numbers have grown markedly as men and women return from Iraq and Afghanistan with multiple disabilities. He said there are as many as a million claims currently pending nationwide. To learn the specifics of veteran’s law, students at NCCU’s School of Law may take two separate three credit-hour courses. The first course focuses on the claims adjudication process, from the local level to United States Court of Veterans Claims. Students in Veterans Law II spend 20 hours in the classroom and 100 hours working on actual cases. Joshua Palmer is a second-year law student who joined the Veterans Law Clinic last year. “We’re learning about the laws affecting veterans, how to file claims, and the complications that arise when veterans are denied benefits,” Palmer said. Palmer is also working to help individual clients like Fisher, who bring their claims before the Board of Veterans’ Appeals. It’s a type of hands-on learning that has established NCCU’s Law School as one of the top five schools in the nation for offering clinical opportunities to students. Pamela Glean, assistant dean for Clinical and Professional Skills at NCCU School of Law, said clinical work is a long tradition for the school, which historically has seen many of its graduates strike out on their own rather than join an established law firm. “Because there was discrimination in law firms, much our program was designed for solo practitioners,” Glean said. “We saw a need to produce the practice-ready lawyer. In

Law clinic team members (left to right) Allanna Carter, Joshua Palmer, Craig Kabatchnick, Aaron Fennell and Jonathan Kelly discuss a veteran's case.

that respect, we were way ahead of our time.” At least six hours of practical skills work is now required of law schools for accreditation by the American Bar Association. A proposal to increase that to 15 hours is under consideration. The Veterans Clinic, like the other 10 clinics operated by the law school, serve members of the public who might otherwise not be able to afford proper representation and all services are free. “There’s an overload of cases for public defenders and legal aid,” Glean said. “The community needs and wants us to be here.” The VA considers any claim pending for more than 125 days as a backlog and has been working to reduce the number of pending claims. A report from the Department of Veterans Affairs issued in March 2014 reported 344,000 backlogged cases across the U.S. The right to hire an attorney to pursue claims was limited by federal law until the 1980s, when certain appeals cases could qualify for legal assistance. Today, anyone who has a disagreement with the VA’s initial ruling in a case is eligible to obtain legal counsel. Yet, few veterans have legal representation when filing claims or appeals, Kabatchnick said. That’s something that the Veterans Law Clinic is trying to address by training more attorneys to take on veterans’ cases. “Veterans benefits are a constitutionally protected property right,” he emphasized. “It’s important that veterans know they can get a fair day in court.” 





Dear Alumni and Friends: You know that education is the key to our future well-being. Rekindle your passion for life’s promise on the campus of NCCU! There is so much more to college than what goes on in the classroom, and this is where you can be of service to the next generation of Eagles. There are opportunities to volunteer and engage with our students at every stage of their NCCU experience, from recruitment to career. When our Admissions staff travels to your area, we need you to help us convince parents and students of the merits of an NCCU education. When we offer Open House on our campus, help us welcome our prospective students and reassure their families that they are making the right choice. And when our nervous freshmen gather to receive their Eagle pins, let them know they have joined a family that will offer them a lifetime of connection and support. As seniors’ time on campus draws to a close, volunteer for the Motivational Task Force to advise our students on the soft skills and inside tips they will need to succeed. How many times have you wondered to yourself, “If I only knew then what I know now? How valuable might those insights be to young people who are just starting their careers?” If you live far from campus, there is still so much you can do for NCCU. Wear your Eagle pin with pride. Host game viewing parties to gather with fellow Eagles and help introduce new fans to our university, or wear your NCCU paraphernalia when you travel. You may pass 1,000 people with one trip through the airport. Purchase an NCCU vanity license plate. People will know you support NCCU when you ride with pride. It would be our privilege and pleasure to help you find a new source of joy and purpose through service to your NCCU community. Do not hesitate to call Alumni Relations at 919-530-6363 or email us at Thank you for all that you do for NCCU. Sincerely,

Anita B. Walton Director, Alumni Relations



__ ’42 JOHNNIE JACQUELINE YOUNG MIMS SANDER (B.A.) of Henderson was recognized by the Vance County Board of Education in honor of her 100th birthday, Oct. 31, 2013. __ ’67 DR. JANET SIMS WOODS (B.A.) of Temple Hills, Md., was honored by the College of Information Studies at the University of Maryland and Citizens for Maryland Libraries with the 2014 James Partridge Outstanding African-American Information Professional Award. __ ’70 DOUG WILKERSON (B.S.) of Rancho Santa Fe, Cal., was inducted into the Black College Football Hall of Fame during the Fifth Annual Enshrinement Ceremony in March 2014. Wilkerson’s NCCU jersey, No. 63, was retired in 1970. He was inducted into the NCCU Hall of Fame in 1984. __ ’71 ANDRE LEON TALLEY (B.A.) of New York appeared in a television interview with Oprah Winfrey on the OWN network. Talley shared reflections on his career in the fashion industry and his decision to leave Vogue magazine after 30 years. __ ’72 RON HUNTER (B.A.) of Durham retired from the Radisson Governor’s Inn after more than 40 years of service when the historic Durham hotel closed its doors on Nov. 17, 2013. Hunter joined the Radisson staff in 1972 and became the general manager in 1995. Hunter hosted thousands of events for NCCU alumni, faculty, staff, students and the community during his tenure at the hotel. __ ’74 JANICE MACK GUESS of Durham authored “Little Colored Girls Want to Wear Pearls Too!” about school integration.

classnotes __ ’75 ELMIRA MANGUM (B.S.) of Tallahassee, was named 11th President of Florida A&M University. Mangum will be the first woman to hold the post in the 126-year history of the institution. __ ’75 DR. FREDDIE L. PARKER (B.A.) of Durham received the 2013 Christopher Crittenden Award from the N.C. Literary and Historical Association for his long-term contributions to the preservation of North Carolina history. __ ’78 MARVIN PITTMAN of Raleigh was named secretary of the North Carolina Wesleyan College Board of Trustees. __ ‘80 ANTHONY B. BONAPART (B.A.) of Raleigh authored “Love of God and His Teaching: A Study of What Leads Children to Become Adults Who Love God and Follow His Teachings.” __ ’80 JAMES HOLLAND (M.B.A.) of Richmond, Va., was elected chairman of the Board of Supervisors for Chesterfield County. __ ’85 THE HONORABLE ARENDA WRIGHT ALLEN (J.D.) of Virginia serves as a United States federal judge who rendered unconstitutional the Feb. 13, 2014, opinion overturning Virginia’s statutory same-sex marriage ban. In 2011, she became the first African- American woman appointed as a federal District Court judge in the state of Virginia. __ ’90 DR. VICKIE SUGGS (B.A.) of Chapel Hill edited the book “Historically Black College Leadership & Social Transformation: How Past Practices Inform the Present and Future.” ________________________ class notes continues on page 42








His prayers help lawmakers see the beyond the politics ome of the country’s most powerful politicians take advice from U.S. Senate Chaplain Barry C. Black. And those nuggets of wisdom are drawn, at least in part, from lessons learned at North Carolina Central University. “I remember my learning experience at NCCU – it was like an epiphany,” said Black, who earned a master’s degree in counseling in 1979. “I became exposed to various theories of personality and strategies of therapeutic intervention that I used not only to help people in my churches but that enabled me to lead a more purposeful life.” Black was named as the 62nd chaplain of the Senate in 2003. He’s the first African-American and the first Seventh Day Adventist to hold the position. The 65-year-old chaplain gained admirers from coast to coast when national media picked up on the no-nonsense prayers he delivered each morning during the federal budget crisis and 16-day government shut down of October 2013. In those prayers, he asked God to “deliver us from the hypocrisy” and to forgive “selfishness and our pride.” According to Black, it is his duty to bring issues of concern into focus for the Senate’s members and staff. “One of my main responsibilities is to open each session with a prayer; it’s the way that the Senate convenes,” Black said. “I think those prayers ought to be relevant.

If you have 300,000 federal workers furloughed and not getting paid, to get up and say the ‘Our Father’ prayer is irrelevant. “I brought into the intercession the things that we were facing. It was a serious situation. We were over a fiscal cliff. Obviously, that had to be part of the petitions that were made during prayer.” Black, a native of Baltimore, honed his chaplaincy skills in the Navy, where he served for 27 years and retired with the rank of rear admiral. In the early 1970s, Black earned undergraduate and master’s degrees in divinity at the Seventh Day Adventist-sponsored Oakwood College in Hutsville, Ala. He signed up for additional coursework at NCCU after being assigned to oversee congregations in Durham, Raleigh and Rocky Mount.

“I had three churches, and I quickly became aware I needed to be stronger in the counseling area,” Black recalled. “NCCU had a program that was a very, very big help.” He said learning about reality therapy and cognitive behavior therapy led him to pivotal realizations regarding human behavior – and his own ambitions. “The cognitive approach showed me that how you think determines how you feel,” he said. “Being well versed in scripture, I made the connection with Roman’s 12:2: ‘Be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind.’ “I decided that thoughts are a powerful way of determining legitimate ambition and where I wanted to go in life. It was probably that experience that motivated me to go into uncharted career waters and become a Navy chaplain, even though my mentors told me it was a mistake. In many ways, N.C. Central provided me with the knowledge of how to live productively and became my launching pad.” After joining the Navy, Black continued his education, eventually earning doctoral degrees in ministry and psychology. Black said he returns regularly to North Carolina to visit friends in Raleigh and Durham, where he formerly served as pastor of Immanuel Temple near NCCU. He said he still considers himself a pastor and his flock the “7,000 people who make up the Senate side of Capitol Hill.” His regular duties include leading four Bible study sessions each week, spiritual mentoring, counseling and hospital visitation. He also officiates at weddings, memorial services and funerals.

Chaplain Barry Black ’79

My belief is that our steps are ordered by God, if we are people of faith. I believe it was a plan that took me from the ‘hood to the Hill.” _______


Black is married to the former Brenda Pearsall and the couple has three sons, Barry II, Brendan and Bradford. The Senate chaplain got to know President Barack Obama while Obama was a senator, and the two remain close friends, as evidenced by the embrace given Black by the President following the 2014 State of the Union speech. Black, who grew up as one of eight children in a single-parent family, views his rise to the Senate post as “almost like a fairy tale.” He tells that inspiring story in his autobiography, “From the Hood to the Hill,” published in 2006. “My belief is that our steps are ordered by God, if we are people of faith,” he said. “I believe it was a plan that took me from the ‘hood to the Hill.’” 

classnotes __ ’92 TOMMY McNEILL (BBA) of Durham, has provided support to the Carolina Chapter (HOCC) of Tuskegee Airmen for its Youth Academy, formed in collaboration with the Sanderford Road Community Center program to introduce children to aviation. __ ’93 ANDRÉ D. VANN (B.A. & M.A.) of Durham was inducted into the Historical Society of North Carolina. Participation is by invitation only and limited to no more than 100 members. __ ’96 LEVELLE MOTON (B.S. & M.Ed.) of Durham was named in the 2014 Class of the Triangle Business Journal’s “40 Under 40 Leadership Awards.” __ ’96 CHARLCIE PETTWAY VANN (M.L.S.) of Jacksonville, Al., contributed to two library-science books. Vann authored a chapter titled U.S. Outreach in the book “Academic Libraries in the U.S. and China: Comparative Studies of Instruction, Government Documents, and Outreach.” He also contributed to “Job Stress and the Librarian: Coping Strategies from the Professionals.” __ ’99 DERRICK D. JORDAN (B.A.) of Durham was sworn in as superintendent of the Chatham County School system. __ ’04 DEL TRAVAR (B.S.) of Richmond, Va., performed at the 2013 National Christmas Tree Lighting for President Obama, First Lady and Family in President’s Park


along with Mariah Carey, Aretha Franklin and Janelle Monae. __ ’09 ESHE COLLINS (J.D) of Atlanta was elected to the Atlanta Board of Education, District 6. __ ’10 HOUTAN KARGAR (J.D.) of Durham and Dr. Javard Kargar, professors of management at the NCCU School of Business, were accepted by Allied Academics Inc. for co-publication in the International Academy for CASE Studies (IACS) March 2014 Conference proceedings in Nashville, Tenn. “Was Cooper Tire Ripe for Sale?” can be found online in its IACS March 2014 Edition (Vol.21). The case, entitled “Cooper Tire in 2014,” has been accepted for early 2015 publication in the textbook “Crafting & Executing Strategy,” 20th Edition, by Arthur Thompson, to be published in early 2015 by McGraw-Hill/Irwin. __ ’11 DEWARREN K. LANGLEY (J.D.) of Durham was elected chairman of the Civilian Police Review Board of the City of Durham. Langley was also elected vice chairman of the Durham County Juvenile Crime Prevention Council (JCPC) in May of 2013. __ ’11 AMANDA WILLIAMSON (B.S.) of Lithonia, Ga., had her clothing designs featured in two shows during New York’s Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week 2013. Williamson was also featured in the July 2013 issue of British Vogue.

u Chancellor Debra Saunders-White speaks about ROSE BUTLER BROWNE, former NCCU School of Education faculty member and civil rights activist who was honored with a North Carolina Highway Historical Marker in Durham. Browne died in 1986.






THE HONORABLE JAMES H. FAISON III, ’84 and ’87, (B.A. & J.D.) of Castle Hayne was appointed chairman of the North Carolina Statewide Impaired Driving Task Force. Faison is a district court judge for the 5th Judicial District and has been a drug treatment court judge since 2002 and DWI treatment court judge since 2010. The 24-member task force is charged with developing “a comprehensive strategy for preventing and reducing impaired driving behavior.” According to Faison, the National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration has given North Carolina a challenge to reduce the number of impaired driving fatalities, which now stands at 3 per 100 million miles of vehicular travel. “Our goal is to reduce that number as low as we can get it,” he said. The task force will be considering potential new laws, policies and programs to address the concern. __

EDMUND P. LEWIS, ’08, (B.S.) of Detroit was named by the Skillman Foundation as one of “25 Black Men Making Detroit Stronger” through their efforts to improve outcomes for boys of color. The list singles out African-American males who are innovators, dreamers and change-makers. Lewis was featured in Metromode, a weekly e-magazine published by Detroit-based Issue Media Group. The article recognized his ability to combine the work of his mentorship non-profit, public speaking and fashion consulting business to increase the success of African-American males in college. Lewis was also featured in Business as part of its “The Honor Code” series about modern men embracing success, honor, and brotherhood. The article recognized his work as founder of the Detroit-based non-profit Minority Males for Higher Education and the importance of mentoring.

alumni of note HARMONY CROSS, ’13 Harmony Cross came to North Carolina seeking a true “Southern experience.” She says she found that at NCCU, plus much more. Cross, a Syracuse, NY, native, graduated from NCCU with a bachelor’s degree in public administration. She is set to earn her master’s degree at Temple University in Philadelphia in July 2014. “Going down South to college got me to slow down, in a good way, and to enjoy life and live in the moment,” Cross said. She says she came away from NCCU with a solid education, plus the self-confidence and personal insight she needed to move forward in pursuit of her goals without always knowing exactly where the path will lead. She said her experiences as a resident assistant during her sophomore and junior years at NCCU helped her decide to pursue a career in higher education.

four who soar

“I would like to see an integration of the traditional classwork and more practical experiences,” she said. “We learn so much more when we are doing things with our hands – getting outside of the classroom.” “I would highly recommend that everybody stay on campus,” Cross said of her four years living and working in residence halls. “I realized the positive impact of living amongst your peers.” Serving as Miss NCCU in her senior year inspired her to become a role model and inspirational speaker for minority students, she added. “I want to inspire more young urban students to set the bar high and go for it,” Cross said. Her ultimate goal is to combine her love of higher education and her motivational approach to student development by establishing a college in urban Syracuse. “I would like to see an integration of the traditional classwork and more practical

experiences,” she said. “We learn so much more when we are doing things with our hands – getting outside of the classroom. For the immediate future, Cross is planning a work-study trip to Jamaica this summer, where she will also work with teen-age girls in an after-school setting. Then it will be back to Philadelphia for a single remaining class before she receives her master’s degree. Then she is willing to wait and see where life takes her. “I may take a year off from school, get a job in higher education, and develop my portfolio as a motivational speaker,” she says. Whatever she does next, it is bound to be exceptional. “I don’t believe in settling for mediocre behavior – if you set your mind to something you can do it,” she said.  Photo courtesy of Vernon H. Samuel

CHRISTOPHER LOPEZ, ’13 Christopher Lopez graduated from NCCU with a degree in business administration and a one-way ticket to California, where he intended to pursue a career in the entertainment industry. But first, he had to fulfill a promise to meet with Johnny C. Taylor Jr., president and CEO of the Thurgood Marshall College Fund (TMCF) in Washington D.C., where Lopez had attended a summer leadership program two years previously. “He told me, ‘I know you want to pursue entertainment, but before you do that, let me bring you to D.C.,‘” Lopez recalled. A few days later, the new graduate made the drive with his parents from Jacksonville, N.C., to Washington D.C., and was hired on the spot as Taylor’s executive assistant and education policy specialist for TMCF, a national organization representing students attending the 47 public historically black colleges and universities in the United States including NCCU. “Instead of tunnel-visioning along my path, Johnny said he would take me the long way around,” Lopez said.

While most of his work is directed at advancing the fund’s mission of improving graduation rates and extending employment opportunities for HBCU students and alumni, Lopez has also had a chance to explore his own interests. It turned out that Taylor, who worked as an attorney in the entertainment industry before joining the TMCF, still has a host of connections in Hollywood. “The biggest thing I’ve done so far was getting to co-host an awards program with Bill Cosby. And he and I have stayed in touch. So I feel I’m pointed in the right direction.” Lopez described himself as an underperforming student in high school who had a turning point in the fall of his freshman year at NCCU. Actor, author and Harvard University graduate Hill Harper, who works with youth through his Manifest Your Destiny Foundation, came to campus as a Lyceum speaker in 2009, Lopez recalled. “When Hill Harper spoke about having a blueprint for college and the meaning of education, it kind of changed my whole direction,” he said. “I have utmost pride and support for NCCU.” 

“The biggest thing I’ve done so far was getting to co-host an awards program with Bill Cosby. And he and I have stayed in touch.”

alumni of note four who soar

REGGIE McCRIMMON ’13 Reggie McCrimmon joined the staff of U.S. Congressman G.K. Butterfield just 10 days after graduation, but it was a job he had been preparing for since freshman year. McCrimmon entered NCCU as a computer science major from Fayetteville, but quickly switched to political science after a daylong shadowing assignment at an IT company threw cold water on his plans. “It helped me realize that I really needed to interact with people, not sit in a dark room programming computers,” he said. McCrimmon followed up that experience with a series of internships more to his liking. That included working in the offices of U.S. Congresswoman Kay Hagan and former Governor Beverly Perdue and spending a summer in NCCU’s Law School as part of the American Bar Associations CLEO (Council on Legal Education Opportunity) program. McCrimmon grew fascinated with politics and was eventually elected twice to serve as president of NCCU’s Student Government Association.

CARMELO MONTALVO ’13 Carmelo Montalvo went back to high school after graduation – this time as a teacher at the Southern School of Energy and Sustainability in Durham. After receiving his bachelor’s degree in biology, he was accepted into graduate school at the prestigious Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh. However, Montalvo chose to defer that path to participate in Teach for America, a federal program that puts young college graduates to work in public school classrooms. “I wanted to see whether my ability to move people existed in the real world, not just in college,” Montalvo said of his decision. Born in Brooklyn and raised in Queens, N.Y., Montalvo moved with his family to New Bern, N.C., as a teen. A talented high school football player but an admittedly lackadaisical scholar, Montalvo had few college options after a sports injury put him on the sidelines.

“My time on campus, all the activities and involvement, prepared me a lot,” he said. “When as a student body president you have the chance to sit on the Board of Trustees, interacting with men and women at the top of their fields, it tends to mature you.” In February 2014, McCrimmon was promoted to the post of special assistant to Congressman Butterfield, a move that broadened his array of responsibilities in Washington and requires frequent meetings with constituents in North Carolina’s District 1, which includes portions of Durham.

“I do a little of everything – communication, administration, just being available whenever I’m needed,” McCrimmon said of his new job. “One of my duties is to manage the internship program, which is a priority for our office.” For the time being, he is happy living in Washington, not far from his childhood home of Upper Marlboro, Md., where his family lived before moving to Fayetteville in 2001. McCrimmon said he hopes to learn as much as he can about national politics during his time in Washington, but eventually will return to North Carolina and work in some capacity to “move the state forward.” That could mean running for office or perhaps working for another candidate who shares his passion for the state. “North Carolina is an interesting landscape right now,” he added. “I want to be wherever I am needed and where I can be resourceful.” 

“My time on campus, all the activities and involvement, prepared me a lot. When as a student body president you have the chance to sit on the Board of Trustees, interacting with men and women at the top of their fields, it tends to mature you.” “NCCU was the only school to accept me with the grades I had at the point,” he recalled. Montalvo started his freshman year as part of the inaugural class of NCCU’s Centennial Scholars Program, which provides minority male students with support in academics, work experience and social opportunities to help them develop academic and leadership potential. “It helped me put things in my life in a positive light, rather than negative,” he said. “I found out that a lot of it was a lack of confidence. I didn’t feel as smart as other kids and that had to work twice as hard. But over time I started to believe that I belonged there.” At NCCU, he quickly he began to soar, earning high grades, completing several science internships, and serving as vice president of the student body and president of the Student Senate.

During his senior year, Montalvo applied and was accepted into several graduate programs, choosing Carnegie Mellon because it offered a public policy concentration. When he enrolls there in fall 2015, he plans to study health care and education policy, while earning a master’s degree in business administration. Meanwhile, he said he is learning a lot from teaching high school students in Durham Public Schools. “It’s giving me a lot of insight into the way the world works and how policy affects people,” Montalvo said. Because some of the school’s students come from underprivileged backgrounds, he tries to share with them the inspiration to achieve that he received at NCCU. “I am letting them know that there is a world outside they will have access to, if they are willing to do the work,” Montalvo said. 

After receiving his bachelor’s degree in biology, Montalvo was accepted into graduate school at the prestigious Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh. However, Montalvo chose to defer that path to participate in Teach for America.

in memoriam __ RAYMOND MARCEL ROBINSON Jr. (B.S.) of

Concord, Feb. 1, 2014. __


of Charlotte, Sept. 27, 2013. __ ’40 PAULINE ELIZABETH CORE GOODSON (B.A.) of Wilmington, Jan. 9, 2014. She was 102 years old at the time of death. __ ’41 DR. SAMUEL DOUGLAS BRYAN (B.S.) of New Bern, Feb. 13, 2014. __ ’43 VIVIAN SPENCE HUNTER (B.S.) of Elizabeth City, April 24, 2014. __ ’44 MARIE LANCASTERJONES (B.S.) of New Bern, Nov. 1, 2013. __ ’46 CLIFTON J. STREET (B.A.) of Durham, April 24, 2014 __ ’48 WILLIAM H. MANSON, JR. (B.S.) of Williamston, Feb. 27, 2014. __ ’51 LILLIE J. SOLOMON of Enfield, April 14, 2014. __ ’52 WILLIAM T. CRAWLEY (B.S.) of Louisburg, formerly of Montclair, N.J., Oct. 22, 2013. __ ’53 MOSES C. BURT JR. (B.A.) of Fredericksburg, Va., Aug. 25, 2013. __ ’53 DR. ELMER J. CUMMINGS (B.S.) of Wilson, Oct. 28, 2013. __ ’54 EMMALENE READE (B.S.) of Durham, April 16, 2013. __ ’55 BENJAMIN RUDY DUDLEY (B.S) of Raleigh, April 4, 2014.

__ ’60 NATHANIEL “NAT” JONES (B.A.) of Kinston, Jan. 24, 2014. __ ’61 LINDA ROBERSON GRIMES (B.A.) of Elizabeth City, Nov. 13, 2013. __ ’62 CARY A. BOOKER (B.S.) of Las Vegas, Oct. 10, 2013. __ ’62 ROBERT LAWSON (B.A and M.B.A.) of Durham, May 11, 2014. __ ’62 JAMES T. WILKERSON (B.S.) of Oxford, Feb. 14, 2014. __ ’64 DR. JAMES H. WILLIAMS of Washington, D.C., April 29, 2014. __ ’65 DIANE RIGGS WILSON (B.S.) of Pensauken, N.J., Sept. 13, 2013. __ ’65 CAROLYN LAW WYCHEJAMES (B.S) of Lanham, Md., March 3, 2014. __ ’67 THELMA J. MILLER (B.A.) of Colerain, Sept. 4, 2013. __ ’69 C. RUDOLPH KNIGHT (B.S.) of Tarboro, Nov. 29, 2013. __ ’70 NURI MUHAMMAD (aka Robert Sutton) of Charlotte, Sept. 1, 2013. __ ’70 HARRY D. WASHINGTON, JR. (B.A) of Newark, Del., Feb. 27, 2014 __ ’71 THE HONORABLE ROLAND HAYES (J.D.) of Winston Salem, Feb. 6, 2013. __ ’73 ERIC STEWART of Durham, Nov. 2013.


of Durham, Oct. 11, 2013. __ ’78 ROSE M. BEAMON (B.A.) of Durham, Sept. 5, 2013. __ ’78 LEON “DOC” HENDERSON (M. Ed.) of Durham, Sept. 5, 2013. __ ’79 DAVID LEE GILL, SR. (B.A.) of Wake Forest, April 3, 2014. __ ’96 MALIKA Z. HUSBANDS (B.A.) of Somerset, N.J., Aug. 25, 2013. __ ’04 MICHAEL E. BUTTS, JR. (B.A) of Durham, April 16, 2014.



driver for the division of Student Affairs, March 8, 2014. __ AKIL NADIR, former student, of Washington, D.C., April 12, 2014.

__ ELAINE REID, administrative support associate, NCCU School of Education, March 9, 2014. __ ANDREW SNIPES, head cashier at the NCCU Bursar’s Office, Oct. 6, 2013. __ DEVONTÉ SQUIRE, sophomore theater major from Weldon, N.C., Feb. 10, 2014.

__ ’83 MICHAEL ARNOLD, (B.A.) of Florida, February 4, 2014. __ DR. FRANKLIN McCAIN of Greensboro, Jan. 9, 2014. He was a member of the Board of Trustees from 1993-2000 and one of the Greensboro Four, a group of young men who helped usher in a series of civil rights protests across the South in 1960.

HARRY EDWARD GROVES, Former School of Law Dean, August 24, 2013. Groves served as the dean of the School of Law from 1976 to 1981. He oversaw the move to the Turner Building, named after the school’s first African-American dean, who served for 23 years. Under his tenure, the evening program was created to expand the school’s definition of opportunity to include those who could not attend a full-time program of study.

HOMECOMING – NCCU M O R GA N S TAT E – OCT. 13-20, 2013 vs

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Dr. Tiffany Ricks Blakeney Finds Peace of Mind in Giving Back BY CYNTHIA FOBERT

Dr. Tiffany Ricks Blakeney ’91 has always given to the university, but she was looking for a way to maximize her legacy. She found the means to that end with the establishment of an insurance policy naming NCCU as a 50 percent beneficiary. the remote chance that something should happen to this 40-something alumna, NCCU would stand to receive a significant gift of $500,000. For Blakeney, there is a sense of satisfaction in knowing that the lives of numerous NCCU students would be forever changed for the better because of her. As an attorney, Blakeney works daily to ensure that new drugs or devices fully comply with the rigorous standards and test protocols of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration before they ever reach the public. She helps prepare informed consent documents and determine the

requirements for test site activation, data collection and monitoring, closeout reviews and assessments of compliance with FDA requirements. “This is my part in saving humanity by promoting what is safe and effective,” said Blakeney. “It’s my way of giving back and protecting people.” Blakeney graduated from NCCU in 1991 with a B.A. in political science. She next attended UNC – Chapel Hill where she entered a combined program that included a Juris Doctorate and a Doctorate of Medical Humanities, which she earned in 1994 and 1996, respectively. Innovative at the time, UNC’s Doctorate of Medical Humanities provided Blakeney with a strong foundation in medical ethics that positions her on the side of the patient and the public good in the evaluation of new medical treatments. Currently, she works in a private pharmaceutical law firm in which she manages five other attorneys. When it comes to choosing clients, Blakeney is highly selective. “I look for safety in their clinical trials before I take them on,” she said. Blakeney attributes her success to NCCU, her faith, friends and family. She describes her parents as “loving me unconditionally and sacrificing to give me everything I ever needed.” Asked why she felt compelled to include NCCU in her policy, Blakeney said, “NCCU taught me to be fearless, to work with others from different backgrounds and to utilize my gifts. NCCU has just been so central to my career, I just had to give back.” 

Blakeney attributes her success to NCCU, her faith, friends and family. She describes her parents as “loving me unconditionally and sacrificing to give me everything I ever needed.”

Meet Our Planned Gift Donors:

Mary Ray and Otis Thompson— A Legacyof Lives Well Lived

Mary Ray Thompson ’49 chose to honor the love of her life, Otis William Thompson Sr. ’49, one year after his passing in 1988 with the establishment of a scholarship in his name at NCCU. Almost 20 years later, she would forever link her name with his when she endowed the scholarship with a donation of $25,000 and named it the Otis William Thompson Sr. and Mary Ray Thompson Endowed Scholarship. With Mary’s bequest of $50,000 in 2011, the endowment is now valued at more


than $90,000. The annual earned interest is awarded to the sophomore biology major with the highest GPA. The Thompsons’ two surviving children, Otis Jr. and Brenda Thompson-Elzey, hold indelible memories of the couple Brenda describes as “the best parents in the world.” Despite long suffering from rheumatoid arthritis, the children would arrive home to hear their mother singing while she cooked. Mary beautifully decorated their home, entertained often and loved to play

bridge. Otis Sr. was an avid vegetable gardener and handyman who could build anything. Both were devoted to their Greek organizations. Mary was a charter member and executive of her chapter of the Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, while Otis was active in the Omega Psi Phi Fraternity. The Thompsons did not demand that their three children, including Brian who died in 2008, follow their paths and pursue careers in education. “My father was a principal and my mother was a teacher but they never imposed on us what we should be,” said Otis Jr. “They gave us the freedom to be what we wanted to be.” Otis Jr. recalls that wherever they went, “even at the World’s Fair in New York or on vacation, anywhere, someone would recognize my Dad and thank him for helping them or for being a good principal.” Brenda remembers her parents’ elegance and their obvious affection for one another. “They were the last Romeo and Juliet — walking in the garden holding hands, cuddling on the sofa,” said Brenda. “They were so much in love.”

Washington, D.C., based BLACK WOMEN IN SISTERHOOD FOR ACTION Inc. (BISA), a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, has provided scholarship assistance to African-American women who demonstrated financial need for 30 of its 33 years of existence, dissolved in December 2013. BISA donated its remaining funds, after expenses, to four HBCUs.

The BISA Scholarship Fund will provide scholarships for college-bound students who demonstrate financial need. The four universities were selected because BISA scholars graduated from these universities, and the remaining BISA members (all volunteers for 30-plus years) also either attended or graduated from the HBCUs. According to National President Dr. Verna S. Cook, it was clear that BISA wanted to continue its mission of providing scholarship support to college-bound students who demonstrate financial need at HBCUs. BISA Vice President Valeria Haskins Wilson is a graduate of NCCU, thus making the university one of the four recipients of $186,414 for scholarships. BISA established a $50,000 endowment and made the balance of $136,414 available for scholarships beginning in the fall of 2014.

GOOD TIMES, GOOD WORKS NCCU alumnae know how to throw a party! But one special group called the Circle of Friends knows how to throw a party that is also a highly successful annual fundraiser for student scholarships at NCCU and other HBCUs. The Circle is a group of about 30 women friends of whom more than half are graduates of NCCU. Each year, they organize and host a party on the final Saturday of the Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association (CIAA) basketball tournament. As a result, in 2013 the Circle contributed nearly $50,000 to support the newly created Eagle Excellence Fund and also the organization’s own endowed scholarship fund for NCCU, now valued at $122,500 A founding member of the MidEastern Athletic Conference (MEAC), NCCU withdrew from the conference when it was reclassified as Division I in 1979. Instead, NCCU played in the Division II CIAA until 2007 when Chancellor James Ammons decided it was time to begin to move to Division I and return to MEAC. It was during those CIAA years that the Circle began to host the party. “It was in 1993, in Richmond Virginia, and it snowed,” said Chris Boozer ’78, one of the group’s founding members. “We decided to have a party in the hotel room with a boom box and an open bar.” Another founding member, Denice Johnson ’77, said that when the CIAA tournament moved to the Triangle and later Winston-Salem, the party outgrew the hotel room and even a penthouse suite.

“We initially charged $5 admission and put our boyfriends and husbands to work as security,” Johnson said. On almost an annual basis, they found themselves relocating to larger venues to accommodate the increasing number of guests, until a few years ago when they settled at Coyote Joe’s in Charlotte. Now the Circle of Friends party takes place at a venue that can accommodate 3,000 guests. The $30 tickets are presold and typically sell out. “We have to turn people away every year,” Johnson said. Boozer defended the group’s decision not to move to the MEAC tournament when NCCU returned to that league in 2010. “We have a following at the CIAA,” she said. “It’s a lot bigger and more famous than the MEAC.” The women of the Circle of Friends have organized committees to address

Circle of Friends' members Chris Boozer '78 (top left) and Denice Johnson '77

various event logistics, finances and philanthropy. They typically begin planning the party six months in advance. The majority of the profit is directed toward NCCU student scholarships, but because many among the Circle of Friends are graduates of other HBCUs, another portion of the proceeds is allocated to one of those institutions, as determined by the luck of a draw. The 21st Circle of Friends party, held Saturday, March 1, 2014, in the TimeWarner Cable Arena in Charlotte, N.C., was again filled to capacity. As some people left, others were waiting to get in. “For me, organizing this party is just my way of showing my love for NCCU,” Boozer said. Certainly, NCCU students will benefit long after the party is over. 





Photos by Chioke Brown unless otherwise indicated


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Photo by Dyann Busse


Photo by Dyann Busse


Yes. Historic. That’s how many fans describe the North Carolina Central University men’s basketball team’s 2013-14 performance. The Eagles won the program’s first conference tournament championship in 64 years and made their debut appearance in the NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball Tournament over the course of the Lou S. Barnes '39, celebrates with Eddie Eagle record-breaking season. Yes, NCCU went to the “Big Dance” and was overcome by “March Madness.” Many basketball fans around the world who had no previous knowledge of NCCU are now well aware of the talented NCCU Eagles. More than 9.2 million viewers watched the nationally televised broadcasts of opening week games in the NCAA Tournament, when the Eagles faced Iowa State in San Antonio, Texas. Visits to the university website skyrocketed, mentions of NCCU on social media erupted, and Eagle Pride soared.

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Photo by Dyann Busse

Photo by Dyann Busse

Photo by Dyann Busse

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Defeat of an Atlantic Coast Conference team for the first time in program history when NCCU outplayed N.C. State 82-72 on Nov. 20, 2013. A 15-1 conference record and the university’s first Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference (MEAC) regular-season championship on the Division I level. A 20-game winning streak that stretched from Jan. 13 to March 15, the second-longest continuous winning games performance in the university’s basketball history. An unblemished 14-0 record at McDougald-McLendon Gymnasium, compiling a record of 23 consecutive at-home wins. A total of 28 wins over the course of the season, tying the university’s record for the number of victories in a single season. The basketball program’s first conference tournament title since 1950. The best seed of any MEAC team in the history of the NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball Tournament, coming at number 14.

Photo by Dyann Busse

Photo by Dyann Busse



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Photo by Dyann Busse

Photo by Dyann Busse


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2014 BASKETBALL CHAMPIONS conference and tournament




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CIRCA 1910


Renowned educator Booker T. Washington (1) and his entourage visited the National Religious Training School on Nov. 1, 1910, just four months after it opened. Included in the photograph, which was taken on the steps of S.P. Avery Auditorium, are founder James E. Shepard (2) and other local leaders who were among the school's incorporators. Photo courtesy of the North Carolina Mutual Collection, held by NCCU and Duke University.








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NCCU Now - Spring 2014 with Digital Extras  
NCCU Now - Spring 2014 with Digital Extras