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New UNCP Trustees, officers ready to advance university mission

Karen Sampson
Trustee Karen L. Sampson

Two prominent UNCP alumnae ­– Allison Harrington and Karen L. Sampson ­– have been appointed to the Board of Trustees at The University of North Carolina at Pembroke.

Harrington is owner and president of Speech Solutions, Inc. Sampson, a philanthropist and former educator, is married to Kelvin Sampson, UNCP alumnus and successful collegiate and professional basketball coach.

Harrington said she is honored to serve UNCP.

“This is an exciting time for UNCP and for this county and the region,” said the Rowland native.  “I’m excited about the growth that we will see from NC Promise and the new School of Business building.

“When I think of UNCP, I see it as a guiding light for the whole county. Dr. (Robin) Cummings’ vision for this university is truly something that everyone living in this county and surrounding counties need to hear and understand. This is just the beginning and I’m excited to be a part of it.”

Sampson said she is thrilled to help make decisions that will advance the university’s mission. 

“As a young girl, attending sporting events and witnessing milestones with the name changes, I have always been proud of this institution,” said Sampson, who was raised a block from the university. “I am proud to be a graduate.

 “I am honored to be asked and selected, and I look forward to serving my alma mater.”

Sampson, the daughter of Willie Von and Sue Lowry of Pembroke, graduated cum laude with a degree in Early Childhood Education. She taught school before moving to East Lansing, Michigan in 1979 where Kelvin was enrolled in graduate school. She has supported her husband’s 37-year coaching career from Montana Tech to his current position as head coach for the University of Houston.

Sampson has been involved with the Philanthropic Educational Organization for 25 years. She has also chaired the committee for the Washington State Games opening ceremonies. At UNCP, Kelvin, his parents and twin sister established the John W. “Ned” and Eva B. Sampson Endowed Men's Basketball Scholarship.

She and her husband live in Houston, Texas. They have two adult children, Kellen and Lauren, a daughter-in-law, Tonya, and a granddaughter, Maisy.

Trustee Allison Harrington

Harrington began a speech language pathology company in her home with six employees in 2003. Today, Speech Solutions has four locations and 72 employees. 

She presently serves as secretary on UNCP’s Alumni Association Board of Directors, a position she will resign prior to assuming her new role as Trustee. Harrington holds a master’s degree from N.C. Central University and recently served as chair of the N.C. Board of Examiners for Speech and Language Pathologists and Audiologists. She has established the Allison Harrington Endowed Scholarship at UNCP.

In 2014, Harrington received the UNCP Outstanding Alumnus Award. She is also the recipient of the 2015 Small Business Award given by the Lumberton Area Chamber of Commerce.

She has one son, Seth, a 2018 graduate of Lumberton High School.

“We are thrilled to welcome Allison and Karen as outstanding additions to the Board of Trustees,” said Chancellor Robin Gary Cummings. “While contributing unique perspectives and experiences, the two women share deep ties to our university as Robeson County natives and UNCP alumnae.

“Additionally, having taught in local public schools early in their careers, they understand the university’s important role in preparing educators for service across our region and beyond.”

At the last board meeting, Trustee Don Metzger was elected chair, replacing Dr. Jim Jones who is retiring from the board. Trustee Pat Corso was elected vice chair and Alphonzo McRae will serve as secretary. Omar Torres, student body president, will also hold a seat on the board.

“I feel very humbled to follow in the footsteps of Dr. Jones,” Metzger said. “He’s an outstanding leader and a strong advocate of this university. I look forward to the opportunity to serve as chair and, in some small way, add as much value and advance the mission of the university.

Jones, who served five years, said the board is in good hands with Metzger at the helm.

“It’s been a great, great pleasure,” Jones said. “I am thankful for the privilege to give back to those who have helped me along the way.

“The university is really in a good place. Dr. Cummings could not be a more perfect person to lead UNCP.

“I have held a lot of important positions statewide and nationally, but none has been more satisfying to me than my time on this board.”

Metzger adds, “We’ve got a full agenda coming up this new academic year in pursuing projects that will ultimately benefit the students and the whole southeastern North Carolina region. We look forward to growing our enrollment with NC Promise and developing new curriculum and career paths that will expand the reach of the university.”