ROCKY MOUNT, NORTH CAROLINA – Two recent graduates of North Carolina Wesleyan University’s Teacher Education Program have earned First-Year Teacher of the Year awards from Nash County Public Schools. Zack Foster, a spring 2021 graduate, teaches English at Southern Nash High School and Jackie Webb, a fall 2021 graduate, is a Mathematics teacher at Northern Nash High School.
“These students are representative of the quality instruction one receives in Teacher Education at North Carolina Wesleyan University. While we are excited about their individual successes as practitioners, we were not surprised that they had achieved the distinction of First-Year Teacher of the Year at their respective schools,” stated Dr. Kelvin Spragley, NC Wesleyan’s Director of Teacher Education.
In addition to these awards, the College has also seen great achievement within its award-winning Students Helping Students Afterschool Program. Led by Dr. Patricia Brewer, NCWC Professor and Coordinator of Special Education, Students Helping Students is a service learning project within the College’s Teacher Education Program. The initiative provides afterschool resources to K-12 children with learning differences in Nash County Public Schools. Since its inception in 2015, the program has received statewide recognition. The program was designed for NCWC education students to provide individualized instruction in math and reading once a week. Additionally, the program provides parent advocacy training. Dr. Brewer conducts weekly sessions for parents of participating K-12 children on how to navigate and advocate services for their children.
Each year, the North Carolina Council for Exceptional Children (NC CEC) celebrates and recognizes youth with disabilities who demonstrate progress and achievements in nine categories: academics, arts, athletics, community service, employment, extracurricular activities, independent living skills, self-advocacy and technology. On February 26, 2022 at the upcoming 35th NC CEC Annual Conference, two students mentored by the Students Helping Students program will receive the statewide Yes I Can! Award. Bryson Worsley, a seventh grader at W.A. Pattillo Middle School, will be receiving the Yes I Can! Award for academics. Jordan Contreras, a seventh grader at Nash Everywhere Digital Academy (NEDA), will be receiving the Yes I Can! Award for technology. To date, a total of four recipients from the afterschool program have received the distinguished Yes I Can! Award.
“Much gratitude extends to NCWC’s Teacher Education students and the parents for their tireless efforts to embrace learning differences, explore instructional research-based strategies and advocate for services in the schools. It’s a humbling experience to monitor the growth and development of our pre-service education students,” stated Dr. Brewer.
The Yes I Can! International Awards Program was established in 1981 to celebrate the achievements of children and youth with disabilities; to encourage children and youth with disabilities to seek their highest potential; and to increase public awareness of the abilities, aspirations, and personal qualities of people with disabilities.
ROCKY MOUNT, NORTH CAROLINA – Daniel Erwin “Dan” Jansen is set to address the newest class of North Carolina Wesleyan alumni at the College’s upcoming Spring 2022 Commencement. He is a retired American speed skater and Olympic gold medalist. A multiple world champion in sprint, Jansen won a gold medal in his final race (1,000 meters) in the 1994 Winter Olympics in Lillehammer, Norway.
Jansen became the World Sprint Champion in 1988 and then competed at the 1988 Winter Olympics in the 500- and 1,000-meter races. In the early hours of February 14, the day of the 500-meter event, Jansen was informed that his 27-year-old sister, Mrs. Jane Marie Beres, was dying of leukemia. Hours later, Jansen was notified his sister had passed. He went on to compete in the 500-meter race that afternoon, but fell in the first turn. Four days later in the 1,000-meter event, he began with record-breaking speed but fell again, just past the 800-meter mark. He left the 1988 Olympics with no medals, but became the recipient of the U.S. Olympic Spirit Award for his valiant efforts.
In 1993, Jansen set a world record in the 500-meter event and was cast as a favorite to win gold at the 1994 Winter Olympics. Between the 1992 and 1994 Olympics, Jansen was the only skater to break 36 seconds in the 500 meters, doing so four times. In 1994, Jansen won his second World Sprint Championship title.
At the 1994 Winter Olympics he finished eighth in the 500-meter event. In preparation for the 1,000-meter event, he was coached by Peter Mueller, who won the same event in the 1976 Winter Olympics. Jansen defied expectations, finishing first to win the only Olympic medal of his career, setting a new world record in the process. He received the 1994 James E. Sullivan Award and was chosen by his fellow Olympians to bear the U.S. flag at the closing ceremony of the 1994 Winter Olympics. He was elected to the Wisconsin Athletic Hall of Fame in 1995.
“As a longtime North Carolina resident, it is an honor to join the North Carolina Wesleyan University Class of 2022 as they mark this special occasion and embark on the next chapter of their lives. I look forward to sharing my story with them and reinforcing the ideals of perseverance and determination, while equipping them with the tools to overcome any challenges thrown their way,” stated Jansen. “My journey of sacrifice is an excellent illustration of never giving up on your dreams; a vital lesson to today’s young aspiring professionals.”
In memory of his sister, Jane, The Dan Jansen Foundation was established in 1995 to help individuals and families affected by leukemia and related cancers, support youth sports programs and assist high school seniors in the pursuit of higher education. Since its inception, the Foundation has contributed more than $900,000 to charitable causes.
“Dan Jansen’s journey demonstrates tenacity, unwavering dedication, a superior work ethic, discipline and a solid understanding that success comes from sacrifice,” stated NCWC President, Dr. Evan D. Duff. “I look forward to Dan’s message to our graduates who are at different points in their life. Many of them will be looking to attain their first job, while others are seasoned practitioners in their career. What they all have in common is that they will inevitably face that “next challenge” in life. I anticipate that Dan will share his wisdom on overcoming any challenge in life.”
The College’s Spring Commencement is planned for Saturday, May 7, 2022 from 10:00 a.m. until noon at the Rocky Mount Event Center. The time and location are subject to change based on current state and federal guidelines.
ROCKY MOUNT, NORTH CAROLINA – North Carolina Wesleyan University’s Board of Trustees has approved five new board members to join the Wesleyan family: Lisa S. Barnes, Vernon T. Bradley, Jr., Brigadier General Arnold Gordon-Bray, USA (Ret.), Harry Bynum and Beth B. Covolo. They come from a variety of backgrounds and industries and join 21 others that serve on the North Carolina Wesleyan University Board of Trustees, chaired by Dr. Dan Crocker.
“I commend the current members of the Board of Trustees in identifying and adding these exceptional individuals. Each of them will add greatly to the strength of the Board and they will contribute tremendously to the continued progress of the school,” stated Dr. Crocker.
Lisa S. Barnes, a Nash County native, is currently serving District 11 in the North Carolina Senate representing Nash and Johnston counties. She is a member of the Education, Healthcare and Agriculture Energy, and the Environment Committees. A graduate of Peace College and North Carolina State University, she began her career as a real estate paralegal. Today, she works alongside her husband, Johnny, in agribusiness. Lisa has also served in the NC House of Representatives and on the Nash County Board of Commissioners. Lisa and Johnny have three adult children—Bethany, Joshua and Jacy—and are members of Ridgecrest Worship Center. In her spare time, she enjoys traveling, cooking and paddle boarding.
Vernon T. Bradley, Jr. is a 1980 graduate of NC Wesleyan and a 2007 NCWC Athletics Hall of Fame inductee. As a Battling Bishops tennis player, he enjoyed a solid four-year career that saw him become one of the most decorated athletes in the program’s history. A three-time Most Valuable Player from 1978 to 1980, Vernon was the first tennis player to receive MVP accolades on three occasions. He also claimed another Bishop milestone in 1978 as the first NC Wesleyan player to earn Dixie All-Conference honors at #1 singles. After his time on the court at NC Wesleyan, he played professional tennis for three years. The Halifax, NC native has since enjoyed a successful career in real estate and frequently returns to campus to support and encourage current student-athletes. Vernon T. Bradley, Jr. is the namesake of several campus landmarks, including the sports complex, residence hall and lobby, among others. His commitment and dedication to North Carolina Wesleyan University is evident throughout campus. He is the highest individual donor in NC Wesleyan’s history.
Brigadier General Arnold Gordon-Bray completed over three decades of service in the United States Army, demonstrating professional leadership skills in strategic communications, combat operations, foreign affairs and effective modernization in support of the Department of Defense and National Interests. He is now an independent consultant and owner of ANGB Consulting, LLC. He holds a Master of Arts in National Security & Strategic Studies from the U.S. Naval War College, a Master of Science in International Strategic Studies from the Air War College and a Bachelor of Science in Art from the University of Central Missouri. Additionally, he holds an Honorary Doctorate of Humanities from North Carolina Wesleyan University. A lifelong learner, he has executive training from UNC Kenan–Flagler Business School and Administrative Management from Central Michigan University.
Harry Bynum is the President of SE&M Constructors, a full-service electrical and mechanical contractor based in Elm City, NC. He is a licensed electrical, mechanical and general contractor in North Carolina and received a Business Administration degree from Wake Forest University in 1976. He has served on the boards of United Way, Boys & Girls Clubs of The Tar River Region, The Salvation Army, Rocky Mount Industrial Organization, Citizens Savings Bank, UNC Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center and the Wake Forest University Alumni Association. Harry has three sons — Zack, Alex and Charlie— along with two step children, Jimmy Keel and Margie Gately. He and his wife, Melissa, also have six grandchildren.
Beth B. Covolo is the Head of School at Rocky Mount Academy (RMA). She was also the Director of Development and Head of Lower School at RMA from 2005-2011. Prior to her time at RMA, Beth served in Nash County Public Schools for fifteen years. She is currently a trustee for the North Carolina Association of Independent Schools and the North Carolina Independent Schools Athletic Association, as well as President of the Carolina Independent Conference. Beth holds a Master of School Administration from East Carolina University and is the mother of three children.
“I am excited to welcome this talented group of professionals to the Board of Trustees. Their diverse backgrounds and work experiences will add value to help us achieve the mission of the College,” stated NCWC President, Dr. Evan. D. Duff. The wide range of skills and expertise that these individuals hold will serve as a valuable asset to the current Board of Trustees. They will serve on the Board until May 31, 2025.
Due to expected inclement weather, this event will be held virtually. To view, CLICK HERE.
ROCKY MOUNT, NORTH CAROLINA –The Dunn Center will host Reverend Leonard Fairley, Resident Bishop of the North Carolina Conference of the United Methodist Church (NCCUMC) on Sunday, January 23, 2022 at 3:00 p.m. Bishop Fairley will be the guest preacher for an area wide worship service, a joint celebration held by North Carolina Wesleyan University and the United Methodist churches in and around Rocky Mount.
He became Resident Bishop of NCCUMC in September 2021, after serving the North Carolina Conference since 1984. Prior to becoming Resident Bishop, his last appointment in North Carolina was for the Capital District, NCCUMC’s largest district, as the District Superintendent. He was then elected by the delegates of the Southeastern Jurisdiction of The United Methodist Church and appointed as Bishop of the Kentucky Conference in 2016.
“The Wesleyan community is honored to host Bishop Fairley and our area UMC pastors for this special service on our campus. We exist today because of our founders and the NC Methodist Conference. I could not be more excited to have this event in The Dunn Center,” stated NC Wesleyan President, Dr. Evan D. Duff.
Bishop Fairley graduated from Pfeiffer College and Duke University’s School of Divinity. He served at St. Peters in Hamlet and Soapstone in Raleigh before becoming the Rockingham District Superintendent. After serving as a District Superintendent for seven years, he returned to the local church in 2012 as Lead Pastor at Saint Francis in Cary, NC.
During the service, Bishop Fairley will welcome Dr. Jung Choi, Senior Director of Wesleyan Formation Initiatives at Duke Divinity School, and acknowledge the partnership that NC Wesleyan has with the school. NC Wesleyan announced in late 2021 that they had signed an agreement with Duke Divinity School to offer NCWC students an accelerated pathway to pastoral leadership. This agreement allows NC Wesleyan students to dual enroll at both institutions during their junior and senior years and work toward the completion of requirements for a Hybrid Master of Divinity (MDiv-H) or Master of Arts in Christian Practice (MACP) degree.
Bishop Fairley, a pastor, poet and man of deep, quiet faith, often shares his story of being born into poverty and from “the wrong side of town.” “There were times when I didn’t have food,” he remembers. “There were tables that I knew I was not invited to. But there was always room at God’s table… I always knew that at this table there was always enough, that I was always welcome.”
He and his wife, Dawn, currently split their time between Kentucky and North Carolina.
The service is open to the public and everyone is invited to attend. Immediately following the service, there will be a time of fellowship and light refreshments.
To view the virtual event, CLICK HERE.
ROCKY MOUNT, NORTH CAROLINA – Monday, October 25 concluded The Wesleyan Promise Campaign, North Carolina Wesleyan University’s annual fall fundraiser. The College set a goal of $280,000. Due to the generous support from donors, NCWC surpassed this by over $100,000.
“We received gifts both big and small. Each gift, no matter the size, positively impacts our students to help them reach their potential and meet personal, career and life goals,” stated Mark Hinson, Director of Annual Giving. “Donor funding assists NC Wesleyan to excel in its mission. We are grateful for all of the support and encouragement.”
The campaign raised monies for various purposes including student scholarships, the latest in cutting-edge technology, lab enhancements, recruitment of students and faculty, additional library resources and more. Donors consisted of faculty, staff, alumni, the College’s Board of Trustees, local organizations and community members. The campaign kicked off strong with check presentations from First Carolina Bank and NC Wesleyan alumna, Jane Gravely. To support the new Sports Stadium Project, First Carolina Bank presented the College with $25,000. The College also received $24,000 donated by Jane Gravely ’74 to establish the Gravely Arts Gallery in The Dunn Center and start an endowment supporting the visual arts programs at NC Wesleyan. To learn more about The Wesleyan Promise Campaign and ways you can support NC Wesleyan University, visit ncwc.edu/give.
ROCKY MOUNT, NORTH CAROLINA – Will Plyler ’21, a graduate of NC Wesleyan University’s Entertainment Arts Music Production program, will soon release his first Christmas album. The new album, Once Upon a Silent Night, will be available on all streaming platforms beginning November 19, 2021.
The album will contain original Christmas songs and new arrangements of classic carols, including “Joy to the World,” “Angels We Have Heard on High,” “Go Tell It on the Mountain” and more. Those interested in purchasing the CD can do so by sending an email directly to firstname.lastname@example.org.
“I am very excited to be releasing my first Christmas album this November! I recorded and produced this entire project from my home studio in Goldsboro, North Carolina,” expressed Plyler. “I owe the ability to make my own music and the knowledge I gained pursuing my bachelor’s degree in Music Production to NC Wesleyan University. My education truly prepared me to pursue my life dream of making music.”
An avid instrumentalist, Plyler played all the instruments on his album except for drums, which were played by his brother, Bentley. Plyler’s wife, Kaitlyn, also a Wesleyan alum, sang vocals on the album along with Abby Patterson.
“Will is one of our dynamic recent graduates in music production and is doing great things in his community and in the world of music. We are all proud of what Will has accomplished, both during his time here at Wesleyan and in his professional career, and are looking forward to his newest release, Once Upon A Silent Night,” noted Tony Sawyer, Assistant Professor of Music Production at NC Wesleyan University.
Since graduating from NC Wesleyan University, Plyler has served as Creative Arts Pastor at The Bridge in Mount Olive, North Carolina. He also produces and teaches music at Triple-Knot Studios. To listen to more from Will Plyler, follow him on Facebook and Instagram at @wpmusicofficial.
ROCKY MOUNT, NORTH CAROLINA – North Carolina Wesleyan University will kick off its Homecoming week festivities on Monday, October 4 leading up to the Bishops’ football game against Greensboro College on Saturday, October 9. For the second time, the Battling Bishops will play their Homecoming game on-campus at the Vernon T. Bradley, Jr. Football Field, after first doing so in 2019.
Throughout the week, many activities will take place both on-campus and throughout the community for students, alumni, faculty, staff and the public. There will also be opportunities to cheer on men’s and women’s soccer, as well as baseball. An alumni football game is scheduled for Friday, October 8 at 8:00 p.m. on the field adjacent to the Gateway Technology Center (GTC), located at the front of campus.
Saturday, tailgating will begin at 9:00 a.m. At 10:00 a.m., the College will be dedicating a plaque recognizing and honoring alumni who served in harm’s way during the Vietnam War. This will be an addition to the existing Vietnam Memorial Courts at the Slick Family Foundation Tennis Center. Also at 10:00 a.m., the Alumni & Kid Zone opens at the football field or catch the alumni softball game at Edge Field. A chili cook-off will be held at 11:00 a.m., followed by the Homecoming golf cart parade starting at 11:30 a.m. Kickoff against Greensboro College is at noon and alumni plan to round out the day at The Rocky Mount Mills from 6:00 p.m. until 10:00 p.m.
For a full list of activities, times and locations, visit ncwc.edu/homecoming or the NCWC Homecoming 2021 event on Facebook. Individual tickets can be purchased at the gate. Tickets are $5 for adults (18+), $3 for ages 12-18 and FREE for all under age 12. Alumni Homecoming Packets can be purchased online for $35 and include a game ticket, t-shirt, parking pass, bookstore discount and a list of Community Partner discounts.
ROCKY MOUNT, NORTH CAROLINA – North Carolina Wesleyan University launched their annual fall fundraiser, The Wesleyan Promise Campaign, on Monday, September 27 at a kickoff breakfast in The Dunn Center. This campaign seeks vitally important support for various purposes including student scholarships, the latest in cutting-edge technology, lab enhancements, recruitment of students and faculty, additional library resources and more.
To help usher in the campaign, two highlights of the event included check presentations by First Carolina Bank and NC Wesleyan alumna, Jane Gravely. Lank Dunton, First Carolina Bank’s Market Executive for the Rocky Mount Area, presented the College with $25,000 to support the Sports Stadium Project. First Carolina Bank has been a banking partner with NC Wesleyan and is a strong supporter of the Sports Stadium Project and other ongoing efforts at the College. Jane Gravely ’74 donated $24,000 to establish the Gravely Arts Gallery in The Dunn Center and start an endowment supporting the visual arts programs at NC Wesleyan. She is a current NC Wesleyan Board of Visitors member and fan of the arts.
“We are so grateful for the support this community shows the College. For 65 years we’ve been serving not only our students, but the community as well. That partnership, from its beginning to today, has been mutually beneficial,” stated Eddie Coats, Vice President of Advancement. “As NC Wesleyan continues to grow and thrive, so will the opportunities we offer back to the area through the arts, academic excellence, quality athletics, entertainment and volunteer support. Regardless of the size, we are grateful for all gifts of support during this campaign.”
The College has set a goal of raising $280,000 by October 25. Those who are interested in supporting this campaign can give securely online at ncwc.edu/donate or by calling 252.985.5581.
ROCKY MOUNT, NORTH CAROLINA – North Carolina Wesleyan University officially installed Dr. Evan D. Duff as its 8th president on Friday, September 17, 2021. An inauguration ceremony was held in Minges Auditorium at The Dunn Center on the College’s campus.
Opening remarks were given by Rebecca Mitchell, NC Wesleyan senior, double majoring in Psychology and Biology and intern in the President’s Office. “From the beginning, Dr. Duff has demonstrated his passion for helping students, offering them a voice and a place to call home,” stated Mitchell. She continued, “Dr. Duff truly cares about his students and their overall well-being.”
Greetings to Dr. Duff were given by students, faculty, staff, board members and friends. Some unable to attend sent personal greetings via video. Constance Williams, NCWC Board Member and human resource professional, offered her congratulations, stating “President Duff is by far one of the most visionary, humble and forward-thinking executives I have ever had the privilege to know. He prioritizes and operates from a position of fairness, excellence, inclusion and kindness.”
Janice Bryant Howroyd, Founder/Chief Executive Officer of the ActOne Group and NCWC Board Member, also sent her well-wishes, noting “Dr. Duff’s vision for the school is only exceeded by his strong competency and his vision for what life can be like for all of us.”
Award-winning actress, Sharon Lawrence, delivered her virtual greeting saying “I know that under Dr. Duff’s successful leadership, this institution has thrived in very challenging circumstances. I also recognize that today’s installation honors the tradition of Wesleyan excellence and investment in education for our region.”
A surprise, handwritten letter from Governor Roy Cooper was presented to Dr. Duff on his accomplishments. It read, “Rocky Mount is proud to be home to North Carolina Wesleyan University and the outstanding programs and experiences it offers to its students. I know under your leadership, it will continue to grow and be an important North Carolina institution of higher learning. On a personal note: thanks Dr. Duff— this is my home area and I know how important this great College is.”
Dr. Dan Crocker, Chairman of NC Wesleyan’s Board of Trustees, conducted the Investiture of the President. Afterwards, Paul Bauer, Vice-chairman of the Board of Trustees, presented Dr. Duff with a Presidential Medallion, a symbol of authority and a token of esteem and confidence. One side displays the President’s name and date of Inauguration, the other the College seal. The Seal includes five symbols – an owl is shown for wisdom, a lion for courage, a triangle for the Trinity, a budded cross for Christianity and a lamp for learning.
Dr. Duff was then joined on stage by his wife of 23 years, Marcy, and their four children – Tyson, Landon, Peyton and Chloe – as Rev. Laura Wittman gave a blessing of the presidential family.
Immediately following the Inauguration, a luncheon honoring Dr. Duff was held at the Rocky Mount Event Center for family and close friends.
ROCKY MOUNT, NORTH CAROLINA – North Carolina Wesleyan University alumna, Caroline Little ’07, has joined the College as Alumni Relations Coordinator. As an ambassador for the College, she will collaborate with colleagues to create and maintain pathways for alumni participation in order to advance the mission and vision of NC Wesleyan.
Little graduated from NC Wesleyan in 2007 with a degree in Psychology, earning President’s List and National Dean’s List honors. During her time as a student, she was a resident advisor, writing lab tutor, orientation leader and admissions/financial aid ambassador. Little was involved with student activities, President of Alpha Sigma Tau sorority, Treasurer for the Greek Council, a member of the Wesleyan Singers and participated in the music club. In 2004, Little received the James R. Hailey Leadership and Service award.
Most recently, Little was Executive Director of Teal Toes (TT), an organization dedicated to creating ovarian cancer awareness. This cause is especially important to Little, as she is an ovarian cancer survivor.
“Caroline’s love for Wesleyan and the experience she gained while working in the nonprofit world will benefit her greatly in this role. It is with great pleasure to have someone with Caroline’s experience and passion join our team,” stated Eddie Coats, Vice President of Advancement.
In her new role as Alumni Relations Coordinator, Little will be responsible for the planning and implementation of programs and events that strategically engage alumni with the College while providing tangible benefits to alumni and current students. She will work with colleagues to identify, cultivate, solicit and steward alumni giving, while also serving as a liaison between the Alumni Association Board and NCWC’s Advancement team. In addition, she will educate graduating students about alumni benefits and help increase engagement in programs.
“I’m excited to be working with the Office of Advancement to create, support and cultivate programs for all members of the Wesleyan alumni community,” stated Little.
Little has also been involved with NC Wesleyan’s Alumni Association Board since December 2018. She was most recently elected Vice President of the board and has been acting President since May 2021.