The big news stories at The University of North Carolina at Pembroke in 2006 came from all corners of the campus and spoke to the mission and history of a growing institution. In no particular order, here are 10 of the top stories of the year that just ended:
1. The University Honors College was re-named for the late Esther Graham Maynor, who bequeathed to the university its largest gift ever. The gift, totaling $1.25 million, speaks to many missions of an institution founded in 1887.
Maynor was a Pembroke native and graduate who married Therod Maynor at the close of the last World War. He would become part owner of a large electrical contracting company in Mt. Airy, N.C.
The gift pushed University giving to its highest level ever in 2005-06, totaling $4.3 million. The endowment will provide scholarships and study abroad opportunities to the Honors College and is a lasting legacy from an alumnus and Pembroke native.
2. A groundbreaking for the Oscar R. Sampson Academic Building took place last spring. Named for one of UNCP’s founders, the building will be ready for fall 2007. It is a symbol of the University’s burgeoning enrollment growth and construction activity.
More than $100 million was spent on building in the new millennium. Underway are a new bookstore (already completed), an annex to the James B. Chavis University Center, a residence hall and an athletic field house.
3. Distance education has taken off at UNCP. Defined as enrollment in online courses and at satellite campuses, UNCP recently ranked third in the 16-member UNC system.
The popularity of online courses demonstrates the changing profile of students and professors, teaching and learning. Enrollment at satellite campuses in Rockingham, Southern Pines, and Ft. Bragg, N.C., demonstrated the University’s evolving role as a robust and successful regional institution.
4. Faculty excellence was on display in 2006. Books by historian Dr. Charles Beem, criminologist Dr. Fran Fuller, sociologist Dr. Michael Spivey, geographer Dr. Tom Ross and Spanish professor Dr. Lilliana Wendoff were published.
Campus publications thrived, including the literary journal Pembroke Magazine, edited by Dr. Shelby Stephenson and Dr. Jesse Peters; the student literary journal Aurocks, edited by Dr. Karen Helgeson; ReVisions, a collection of best student essays, edited by Dr. Susan Cannata; and Professional Profiles, edited by Dr. Judy Curtis.
Faculty grant activity for student research and scholarship and public school teacher recruitment and training fared well in 2006. Dr. Len Holmes was responsible for nearly $3 million in grant projects.
Dr. Holmes and long-time professors Dr. Tom Ross and Dr. Jose D’Arruda launched endowed scholarships in 2006.
5. The Campaign for Football and Athletic Excellence is UNCP’s ongoing major fundraising campaign in support of athletic programs. The community and alumni have stepped up to the tune of nearly $2 million so far.
Alumni Sammy Cox ‘76, Mac Campbell ‘68, Abdul ’90 and Bobbie ’93 Ghaffar, Paul ’73 and Pam ‘76 Willoughby and Nathan Powell ’88 all contributed as did Lumbee Guaranty Bank, First Bank, Lumberton Radiological Associates, McDonald’s of Pembroke and Shaw Office Supply of Lumberton.
6. Student athletes swept honors for both male and female Peach Belt Student-Athletes of the Year. Golfer Lee Nejberger, a business major from Lawndale, N.C., and soccer player Katie Stokes, a psychology major from Charles Town, West Va., demonstrated that UNCP athletes shine on the playing fields and in the classroom.
7. Retirement claimed some veteran and outstanding members of the UNCP community in 2006. Controller Ila Killian, who established a statewide reputation for spotless audits, worked nearly 32 years at UNCP beginning as an accounting technician.
P.J. Smith was head coach of the wrestling team for 25 years and won numerous state and national awards for his contributions to the sport. Smith coached 33 all-Americans and his teams had two top-10 finishes.
8. The town and University continued to grow in 2006. A new and expanded Pembroke Hardware was finished before Christmas. An Andy’s restaurant and several shops were completed at a new shopping center at Wal-Mart. Two new apartment projects, a new State Employee’s Credit Union and several other businesses are in various stages of completion at this writing.
9. Tragedy was also part of 2006. 1st Lt. Josh Deese ’03 was killed in Iraq on October 15. The Rowland, N.C., native was remembered as a quiet young man who “led his troops from the front.”
Thirty-year veteran professor Dr. John Reissner died on April 15. A gregarious teacher, Dr. Reissner “made chemistry fun,” one of his students said in a memorial service. A computer lab in the Oxendine Science Building was named in his honor.
Prof. Travis Stockley, who helped establish the musical theatre program, died on August 24 in an auto accident. The popular and energetic professor was eulogized in an on stage tribute by the Music Department.
10. Enrollment set records for the 6th consecutive year during the fall semester 2006. Chancellor Allen C. Meadors said enrollment might be even higher next year when new student housing opportunities become available.
Enrollment was 5,832 last fall, almost double what it was when Chancellor Meadors arrived in 1999.