UNCP welcomes four new members to Board of Trustees

Jim Hyler

UNC Pembroke has announced the appointments of four new members of its Board of Trustees––Ron Gibson '74, Jim Hyler and Pat Willoughby '76.

Aspen Andersson, student government president, joins the board as an ex-officio member for the 2023-2024 academic year.

The new trustees were sworn in on Thursday during the board's first meeting of the 2023-2024 academic year. During the meeting, Allen Jamerson and Ed Brooks were re-elected as chair and vice chair, respectively. Mickey Gregory was elected as secretary.

Hyler, Gibson and Willoughby are highly regarded as successful leaders in the business community and each share a deep commitment to service.

Gibson is the former family business owner of Gibson Oil and Gas Company. Hyler, a retired business executive, is the former president of First Citizens Bank. Willoughby is a former owner of six McDonald's franchises. 

"We are honored to welcome these four individuals to our Board of Trustees. Their backgrounds and experiences will undoubtedly enrich our institution's leadership as we navigate the path forward for UNC Pembroke," said Chancellor Robin Gary Cummings.

"Their unique viewpoints and dedication to our university's success will be instrumental in our collective efforts to continue providing a transformative educational experience and empowering our students to achieve their full potential."

A first-generation college student, Hyler earned his degree in accounting from Virginia Tech and enjoyed a successful career in public accounting, banking and advisory work for over 50 years.

Hyler is committed to public service, particularly health care and economic development. He currently serves on the Orlando Health Board. He has previously served as a board member of Rex Healthcare, UNC Health Care System, Raleigh-Durham Airport Authority, North Carolina Rural Center, North Carolina Chamber and Duke Energy.

An avid golfer and a champion for the sport, he served on the U.S. Golf Association Executive Committee from 2004 to 2011 and was elected president in 2010. During his tenure, he orchestrated successful U.S. Opens at Pinehurst Resort, Course No. 2. He was elected to the Carolinas Golf Hall of Fame in 2019.

"I'm looking forward to working with Chancellor Cummings to bring about quality education to those at the university while continuing its mission and supporting its diverse enrollment," Hyler said. "I am strongly interested in helping young people from modest backgrounds further their education."

Willoughby, a two-time all-state selection in basketball at Littlefield High, was considered one of the most dominant players in Robeson County. After graduating from UNCP, she coached and taught high school for 10 years and was later inducted into the Robeson County Hall of Fame. In 1986, she moved to Durham with her husband, Paul, where they owned and operated PPR Foods, overseeing six McDonald's franchises.

Willoughby has been a lifelong supporter of her alma mater, serving as vice chair of the foundation board, naming the football stadium press box and softball field and establishing the Tunney Brooks Endowed Scholarship. She and her husband are also longtime Braves Club members.

"I am very humbled and honored to have been asked to serve," she said. "There is great leadership with Chancellor Cummings and the faculty and staff in place at UNCP. It is exciting to be a part of such a great team at an institution that offers our students so many opportunities for a great education."

The Willoughby family has deep connections to the university. Paul Willoughby is a UNCP graduate and former trustee, and their son, Rex, is a graduate and former standout on the golf team.

Gibson served as owner of Gibson Oil and Gas for 43 years before semi-retiring last year. He currently owns the Jersey Mike's franchises in Pembroke and Laurinburg. He has been active in his community for four decades, serving on numerous civic boards, including Scotland Memorial Foundation, Scotland County Chamber Board, First Bank, Clebe McClary Board, Laurel Hill Fire Department Board and Scotia Village Board.

Gibson, a commercial pilot, has been a volunteer Angel Flight pilot transporting patients to cancer treatments nationwide since 1993.

"It's a great honor to serve on the Board of Trustees," Gibson said. "I plan to be boots on the ground to learn more about the university and assist Dr. Cummings in any way I can. I plan to channel my work experience in this new role and now that I'm semi-retired, I have more time to invest in people, and that's what I plan to do at UNCP."

He recently served as vice chairman of the UNCP Foundation Board. His wife, Carole, who retired as head of the nursing program at Richmond Community College, taught briefly in UNCP's nursing program early in her career.

"I cannot over-emphasize how honored I am to be on this board," Gibson said. "We've got some great leaders at UNCP, and I plan to support the chancellor's mission and support our students in the best way possible."

Andersson, a senior political science major, plans to pursue a career in international diplomacy. She holds several leadership positions with SGA, Model United Nations, Lambda Sigma Honors Society and as a chancellor ambassador. This summer, she completed a four-week internship with the Legal Aid Justice Center in Charlottesville, Va., as a Roadmap Scholar with the University of Virginia Law School.