McMillan, Oxendine named Employees of the Year at UNCP

Dr. Jess Boersma, chief of staff, left, presents Dr. Ashley McMillan, with the 2023 Employee of the Year award. Myia Reyes, far right, is also pictured

Shortly after joining the university in 2019, Dr. Ashley McMillan began leading efforts to establish a center to support American Indian students at UNC Pembroke.

A year later––through the assistance of federal grants and private donations––the Curt and Catherine Locklear American Indian Heritage Center (AIHC) opened its doors on the second floor of historic Old Main. The center provides academic and social programming open to all faculty, staff and students interested in learning about the rich culture of Native people across the region and state. UNCP is only the second institution in the state to establish such a center.

McMillan, who serves as executive director, and Penny Oxendine––reservation manager and Student Center manager––were recently named Employees of the Year at UNCP.

“Students now have a space to study, conduct meetings and have a sense of belonging,” said Myia Reyes, AIHC assistant director. “Dr. McMillan’s passion, dedication and commitment have had a monumental impact on our campus community. Without Dr. McMillan’s guidance and leadership, the space would not be here,” Reyes said.      

McMillan, the American Indian liaison to the chancellor, was also instrumental in the university being awarded $150,000 in grants to support American Indian students pursuing business degrees.

“This is yet another example of her commitment to student success,” Reyes said.

Oxendine has worked at the university for 24 years and has played an integral role in many of the upgrades at the Chavis Center over the past three years. Projects have included a total remodel of the student center, a major renovation of the Hawks Nest, a new fireplace and several other projects, all while maintaining scheduling for the Student Center and the University Center Annex.