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UNCP Mourns Loss of Former Chancellor Dr. Joseph B. Oxendine

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Chancellor Emeritus Dr. Joseph B. Oxendine
Chancellor Emeritus Dr. Joseph B. Oxendine

UNCP remembers Chancellor Emeritus Dr. Joseph B. Oxendine who passed away on Tuesday, April 14. He was 90.

Oxendine enjoyed a long, successful career in academia. He spent the majority of his professional career in Philadelphia where he served three decades as a faculty member and dean at Temple University. A native of Pembroke, he returned home to serve as the third chancellor of the university as Chancellor of Pembroke State University from 1989-1996 and of The University of North Carolina at Pembroke from 1996-1999. 

Among the many accomplishments during his tenure are the official name change of the university, the adoption of the new athletic logo and the foundation of the university's logos, still in use today, reclassification of the university to a comprehensive II institution by Carnegie Foundation, the establishment of the Regional Center, the full adoption of email and the internet in daily campus operations, the completion of Lumbee Hall, and many significant renovations to campus facilities. 

New degree programs were also added under Oxendine's leadership, including a RN-BSN nursing program, an MBA program, masters degrees in agency counseling and school counseling, and bachelors degrees in criminal justice, community health education, American studies, mass communication, and birth-kindergarten education.

“First Lady Rebecca and I, today, mourn the loss of Chancellor Emeritus Joe Oxendine. Former Chancellor Oxendine’s visionary leadership transformed UNC Pembroke in the 1990s to set the course for our success," said Chancellor Robin Gary Cummings. “He wanted UNCP to be greater and strove to have a meaningful impact on the community, and we continue to honor him by building on his legacy of service.”

Dr. Oxendine, a member of the Lumbee Tribe, was raised on his family’s farm in Pembroke. At 17, he moved to Detroit and worked in an automobile factory to save enough money to pay for college. He returned to North Carolina and attended Catawba College, where he played football, basketball and baseball. After graduation, Oxendine played with the Pittsburgh Pirates’ minor league team for three years.

While playing in the minors he earned a master’s degree from Boston University in 1953. He served the next two years in the U.S. Army in Korea and Hawaii. He later worked as a teacher and coach in Virginia, then became a teaching fellow at Boston University while earning a doctorate of education.

From 1959 to 1989, he served as dean and professor at Temple University. He was chosen to serve as the first dean of Temple’s new College of Health, Physical Education, Recreation, and Dance. Oxendine was a supporter of women’s intercollegiate sports and an advocate for the improvement of recreation facilities in the North Philadelphia community and served as president of the Indian Rights Association.

He returned to Robeson County in 1989 to lead UNCP. He is credited with establishing recognition for colleges within the university and for growing the student body. As chancellor, he fought against the use of offensive caricature-like Indian mascots.

He retired in 1999, but later went on to serve as interim president at Catawba University, where he served as a member of the Board of Trustees.

Catawba honored Oxendine several times through the years, including being awarded the prestigious Adrian Shuford Jr. Award for Distinguished Service, the Distinguished Alumnus Award and was inducted into Catawba's Sports Hall of Fame and was tapped to serve on the Board of Trustees.

Oxendine is survived by his wife of 58 years, Adrienne McNaughton Oxendine, and daughter, Jean Plaschke.