Progress Energy invested in UNCP programs


UNC Pembroke celebrated the continuing support of Progress Energy on September 8.

 Progress Energy

From left: Alisia Oxendine, Dr. Martin Slann, Andy Honeycutt, Progress Community Relations Manager, Chancellor Kyle Carter, Melody Birmingham-Byrd, Progress Vice President Southern Region, Dr. Cammie Hunt Oxendine and Dr. Lee Phillips

Progress Energy supports research and enterprise at the University. Based in Raleigh, N.C., the large electric utility is also funding a new distinguished professor program that will honor three outstanding senior faculty members.

Southern Region Vice President Melody Birmingham-Byrd outlined Progress Energy’s support of its communities.

“We live in your communities, and your success is our success,” Birmingham-Byrd said. “We focus on three areas of our communities – education, environment and economic development.

“UNC Pembroke embodies all three of these goals,” she said.

Progress Energy contributed $30,000 to the University to support the Region IV Science Fair, Pembroke Undergraduate Research and Creativity Symposium (PURC), Students in Free Enterprise (SIFE) and the Pembroke Professorship.

Chancellor Kyle R. Carter thanked Progress Energy for their support.

“Progress Energy’s support is all the more important to us in the challenging economic climate that the University is facing,” Chancellor Carter said. “Support like this means a lot to our institution.

“External funding is not the only upside of your support,” he continued. “We welcome the continuing partnership between Progress Energy and the University.

“I encourage you to meet our students,” Chancellor Carter said. The Progress Energy delegation, which toured the campus, included Community Relations Manager Andy Honeycutt.

“We’re committed to the success of our communities,” Honeycutt said. “Keeping the lights on is what we do, but there is so much more.

“Working with school-aged children, recognizing outstanding teachers and giving students opportunities to do scientific research are all opportunities for us to give back,” he said. “Training future scientists is also very important to a company like ours.”

Alisia Oxendine, director of Major Gifts for the University, thanked Progress Energy for their support over the past three years for the Region IV Science Fair. 

“The Science Fair is a vital outreach effort that engages students from an eleven county service area, from grades 3-12,” Oxendine said. “These students learn at an early age the importance and value of a strong educational foundation in the sciences.

“Such initiatives encourage students to think about and explore prospective careers in the science field,” she continued. “These opportunities would not exist without donors such as Progress Energy who reinvest their resources back into the community.”

Dr. Martin Slann, dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, also thanked Progress Energy for its support. He explained the new Pembroke Professor program.

“We want to reward dedicated and long-time faculty members,” Dr. Slann said. “This fall, we will recognize three extraordinary professors.”

Dr. Cammie Hunt Oxendine, acting dean of the School of Business, explained the SIFE program. She has served as faculty advisor to the student club for all of its 11 years on campus.

“In 10 years of business plan competition, we advanced from the regional competition to the national championships eight times,” Dr. Oxendine said. “Our goal, with the help of Progress Energy, is to finish in the top eight nationally. That will put UNCP on the map in an international competition.

“Throughout the year, SIFE members reach out to public school children to explain and promote the free enterprise system,” she continued. “We also teach good financial management practices to our students on campus.”

PURC Associate Director and geology professor Dr. Lee Phillips discussed the growth of undergraduate research at UNCP.

“Years ago, research for undergraduates was the exception, but we want to make it the norm,” Dr. Phillips said. “Progress Energy supports the annual symposium where students share their research that ranges from soil science to exercise science.”

Dr. Phillips also shared information about his latest research tool, a $1.5 million microprobe. It can magnify inorganic matter 300,000 times to analyze its composition.

“We have one of only three microprobes like it, and the other two are at Yale University and with Exxon Mobile,” Dr. Phillips said. “It is an incredible tool for pure science, as well as research in forensics, pharmaceuticals, geology, astronomy and materials research.

“We are seeing students gain confidence in working with very sophisticated scientific equipment,” he said.

Chancellor Carter added that the “focus of a regional University like ours is the undergraduate experience, and the opportunity for students to work with a scientific instrument like this is very exciting.”

Progress Energy could benefit from advanced scientific analysis of materials that is critical to its power generating facilities, Birmingham-Byrd said.

“I would like to arrange a meeting with our plant manager at the Harris Nuclear Station,” she said. “You might also be interested in meeting with representatives from Boeing, who are building a manufacturing facility in Charleston, S.C.”

University and Progress Energy representatives continued their dialogue over lunch and during the campus tour.

Progress Energy is a Fortune 250 company that provides electricity to three million customers from the Carolinas to Florida.

Alisia Oxendine represented UNCP’s Office for Advancement at the meeting. To learn more about giving at UNCP, please contact the office at 910.521.6252 or email