“The University family was strengthened by the Givens family,” said Dr. Charles R. Jenkins in a eulogy for the late UNC Pembroke Chancellor Emeritus Paul R. Givens.
A memorial service for Dr. Givens, who led UNCP (then Pembroke State University) from 1979-89, was held November 16, 2004, in the building that bears his name, the Paul R. Givens Performing Arts Center.
Dr. Jenkins, who was vice chancellor for Academic Affairs during Dr. Givens’ tenure, recalled an era of progress under the guidance of an optimist and a true believer.
“Higher education was a means to a higher standard of living and a higher quality of life for our students and the entire region,” Dr. Jenkins said. “He lived that belief.”
Under Dr. Givens’ supervision, the James B. Chavis University Center and the Adolph L.
Dial Humanities Building were built, and the Herbert G. Oxendine Science Building received a major addition. New programs flourished, including American Indian Studies, Chancellor’s Scholars and the Economic Development Office. Dr. Givens launched one of the largest fund-raising programs in University history to celebrate the University’s centennial.
Former Student Government Association President and 1984 graduate Delthina Watson recalled the day Dr. Givens touched her life.
“I was shy, quiet, and I never knew what to say,” Watson said. “One day on campus, he asked me to speak at graduation. I just beamed, and, all of a sudden, I just had all these questions to ask.”
Personal friend and former UNCP Trustee Wayne Evans recalled a 25-year friendship.
“He was such a professional and always representing the University,” Evans said. “We played more than a few rounds of golf.”
“He loved his children and especially talked about his grand-children,” Evans said. “He loved poetry, singing and a good joke.”
Dr. Gregg Givens, the oldest of Paul and Lee Givens’ children, remembered his father and good times at UNCP.
“Pembroke was a special place for my dad and our entire family,” Dr. Givens said. “Pembroke is home. Pembroke is where our family celebrated 10 Thanksgivings.”
“He recognized the remarkable talent here at the University and in the surrounding communities,” he said.
Quoting from his father’s autobiographical notes: “We felt we had accomplished some things, but it was time to move on.”
Dr. Paul R. Givens retired from UNCP to live out his remaining years in Florida. He passed away on October 24, 2004. He would have been 81 on the date of the memorial service.