Dr. Janie Britt Silver, 94, of Lumberton, passed away on August 12.
Dr. Silver was the first woman to hold the rank of full professor at Pembroke State University, where she chaired the education department and led the University’s initial accreditation efforts.
After graduating from Lumberton High School, she attended Mars Hill College, The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, The University of Georgia and The University of Mississippi. In 1956, she was the first woman to receive a doctorate degree from The University of Mississippi, according to her published obituary.
Dr. Silver applied her training as a teacher in North Carolina public schools and the District of Columbia. She and her husband spent 25 years as college professors in Arizona, Tennessee, Texas and North Carolina.
Dr. Silver served on the faculty of Union University in Jackson, Tenn., Grand Canyon University in Prescott, Ariz., and Trinity University in San Antonio, Texas, before returning to Robeson County and joining UNCP’s faculty in 1960.
Former Provost and Chancellor Dr. Charles Jenkins remembered Dr. Silver.
“Dr. Silver was a well-known professor in the Education Department during the '60s and '70s, who served as a leader in competency-based teacher education and in state and national accreditation of teacher education,” Dr. Jenkins said. “On a personal note, she took great pride in her family’s name, Britt, a well-known Robeson County family whose members have made many contributions to the region.
“Her positive contributions and service to the University through the many years are appreciated by the UNCP family,” he said.
Dr. Jesse Lamm was a colleague in the Education Department.
“Dr. Silver led the initial accreditation efforts with SACS (Southern Association of Colleges and Schools) and NCATE (National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education) for our teacher education programs,” Dr. Lamm said.
“I worked with Dr. Silver on a consortium, and we were successful in getting funds for travel and workshops for teachers,” he said. “She was a great one.”
UNCP’s Board of Trustees conferred her emeritus status in 1977 following her retirement.
Never one to seek publicity, she informed UNCP’s Office of Public Information about the governor’s appointment with these carefully chosen and typed words: “As I told you, tho’ I am very proud that Pembroke is represented on this board, because our teacher education program is certainly one of the very best in the state and in the nation. Our NCATE accreditation proves that!
“I am sure that (I was) recommended to the State Board because of my work with the National Council for the Accreditation of Teacher Education. I have served on visiting teams for that organization on three separate occasions…
“I am, of course, pleased to have this opportunity to serve the profession in North Carolina, but I am more delighted that Pembroke State University has a professor on the accrediting board.”
Dr. Silver was also a groundbreaking educator. In 1975, she participated in “Project Mainstream,” on diagnosing and working with students with learning disabilities, which was a new concept at the time.
Handwritten notes of that meeting that are in the University’s files: “Teacher preparation curricula at Pembroke State University envisions the inclusion of special training for the regular classroom teachers in recognizing and diagnosing learning disabilities in the regular classroom. The faculty feels that any child who can profit from remaining in the regular classroom should remain in the mainstream of education. Regular classroom teachers, it is believed, need to develop specific skills for teaching these otherwise normal children.”
In 1983, Dr. Silver was the first woman appointed to the Robeson Community College Board of Trustees. Her service there brought her an appointment by then-Gov. Jim Hunt to serve on the N.C. Study Commission for the future of the community college. Active in the Democratic Party, she served as a member of the State Executive Committee.
Her husband, Dr. Samuel A. Silver, died in 2000. He also served UNCP’s faculty in the Business Department.
She was the daughter of the late Evander Malloy Britt and Dorothy Geneva Bowman Britt of Lumberton. Her father was the founder of the Britt & Britt law firm of Lumberton and served as its first judge of the Recorder Court in 1913.
She is survived by a sister, Evelyn Britt Ekern of Fargo, N.D.; Judge Samuel E. Britt and family of Lumberton; the family of deceased sister, Dorothy Britt Landis; and the family of deceased brother, Evander M. Britt Jr. of Lumberton.
Memorials may be made to The University of North Carolina at Pembroke, Robeson Community College, or First Baptist Church.