ROCKY MOUNT, NORTH CAROLINA – North Carolina Wesleyan University will welcome award-winning author and political columnist, Rob Christensen, on Tuesday, October 5. Rob plans to share a glimpse of Eastern North Carolina with his latest history, “The Rise and Fall of the Branchhead Boys,” at the free event starting at 6:00 p.m. in Minges Auditorium at The Dunn Center. With a career spanning over 45 years as a political journalist with The News and Observer out of Raleigh, Christensen brings to life the multi-generational story of the Scott family— one of North Carolina’s most influential political families.
Released in 2019, “The Rise and Fall of the Branchhead Boys” is the recipient of the prestigious Ragan Old North State Award for Nonfiction. Through investigative journalism that weaves together interviews paired with archival research, Christensen steps back in time to offer an engaging historical account of an important turning point for North Carolina’s political scene.
“I am looking forward to speaking at NC Wesleyan because Branchhead Boys is to a large degree about Eastern North Carolina and the continuing struggles with North Carolina’s urban/rural divide. Nash County, in particular, figures heavily in my book,” commented Christensen.
Christensen shares the story of the Scott family legacy and how race and populism influenced the political landscape of the twentieth century during a period known as the era of progressive politics in North Carolina. Three generations of Scott’s held statewide office overcoming racial stereotypes. W. Kerr Scott, Robert Scott and Meg Scott Phipps were able to gain the support of rural North Carolinians who were colloquially known as the Branchhead Boys, a group of grassroots rural voters. Christensen recounts the hardships faced by the Scott’s to help develop rural North Carolina and introduce modern amenities such as having electric and telephone power lines extended and to have roads paved. Instrumental in their own downfall, Christensen concludes to what ultimately led to their demise.
Christensen retired in 2018 after a successful career in journalism. He has appeared as a political analyst on over 600 television and radio programs including the CBS Evening News, Fox News, MSNBC, CNN, ABC’s Nightline, C-Span, PBS, NPR and the BBC. He has been interviewed by Don Imus, Mitch Albom, Diane Rheems, Jeff Greenfield, Chris Matthews, Cokie Roberts, Al Franken and more. He has shared his insights and industry knowledge through hundreds of talks across the state to colleges, libraries, bookstores, civic and political clubs.
ROCKY MOUNT, NORTH CAROLINA – North Carolina Wesleyan University held its 65th annual New Student Convocation today in Minges Auditorium at The Dunn Center. President Dr. Evan D. Duff welcomed the Class of 2025, congratulating them on taking the next step in their educational journey.
“Get involved. Get connected. You never know who you may network with while you’re in college that might help you in your future. Have fun, but remember to study and stay safe— take care of each other,” stated Duff.
Keynote Speaker for the event was Etaf Rum, local businesswoman and novelist. She is the author of A Woman Is No Man, a New York Times bestseller, which hit the ninth spot on Amazon’s Bestseller List and was selected by Jenna Bush Hager as her book club’s May 2019 read. Rum is part-owner of three local businesses in Rocky Mount—Barley & Burger, a bold and refined kitchen and bar, and Tipsy Tomato, a premier Italian pizza restaurant. Her newest venture, Books and Beans, centers around two of Rum’s favorite things: writing and coffee. Outfitted with a counter and handful of tables, Books and Beans also serves breakfast, lunch and coffee from a North Carolina roaster.
While addressing the new class of Bishops, Rum shared tips to encourage discipline and goal-setting throughout their college experience. She also spoke about learning how to overcome adversity for success, transforming through suffering and developing the mindset of a winner.
“We often forget that college is a place where we learn how to learn. If there’s anything that you can take with you throughout these four years, it’s how do you develop the mindset of a winner?” stated Rum. “There are three things that I think are very important for you to foster before you leave Wesleyan…go after what you want, be disciplined and transform through suffering. It’s really important for everyone here to understand that you have the power to learn from your adversity.”
Rum grew up in a Palestinian-American household as the oldest of nine children in Brooklyn, New York. While raising her two children, she enrolled at North Carolina State University, where she earned a B.A. in English Language and Literature, a B.S. in Philosophy, and an M.A. in American and British Literature and Philosophy. In addition to speaking at North Carolina Wesleyan University’s New Student Convocation, Rum also addressed educators at Faculty Convocation on August 17.
After New Student Convocation, students exited The Dunn Center and were immediately greeted by a cheering crowd of returning students, faculty, staff and friends of the College forming a time-honored tradition— the Bishop Tunnel. As they proceeded through the tunnel to enter the annual Rock the Mount event, they were each welcomed by President Duff and his wife, Marcy. Rock the Mount is an annual tradition for NC Wesleyan to welcome new students to campus and to the community. It takes place the day before the College’s first day of classes, serving as the official kick-off event for the new academic year. Local businesses and organizations are given the opportunity to come and celebrate the start of a new school year with food, music and advertising. This year, nearly 80 community organizations lined the street in the center of campus to celebrate Wesleyan’s Class of 2025.
ROCKY MOUNT, NORTH CAROLINA – North Carolina Wesleyan University recently welcomed Rev. Edwin Ferguson as the new Chaplain. Rev. Ferguson assumes the role from former Chaplain, Dr. Barry Drum, who will transition this fall to full-time faculty after filling the role since 2003.
Originally from St. Louis, Missouri, Rev. Ferguson is currently the pastor of Invitation at A.M.E. Zion Church in Snow Hill, NC. He has also served as pastor to young adult populations as the Youth/Young Adult minister at his home church, the Washington Metropolitan A.M.E. Zion Church in St. Louis. While there, he also held the role of St. Louis District YACM (Young Adults in Christian Ministry) Director. In addition, Rev. Ferguson helped to lay the foundation for a college ministry while serving at Mt. Zion A.M.E. Zion Church in Elizabethtown, NC. He set up group chats for spiritual development for young adults while they were in college and care packages were sent to them. He was also invited to share with the Minority Male Mentoring program at Bladen Community College.
“As an institution affiliated with the United Methodist Church, we are excited to welcome to our chaplaincy someone with Rev. Ferguson’s background of service to young adults. Spiritual exploration is a key component of the college experience for most students, and spirituality is a foundational element in their holistic development,” stated Dr. Jason Modlin, Dean of Students. “As our students seek to become the person they were created to be, our campus ministries play an integral role in their search. Rev. Ferguson is an ideal fit for NC Wesleyan as he shares the College’s mission of preparing students for all aspects of life.”
Rev. Ferguson has a passion for helping young adults achieve their potential. He looks forward to strengthening existing partnerships, as well as creating new ones, between the College and local faith-based organizations for the mutual benefit of students and the community. He holds a Bachelor of Arts in History from Concordia University and a Master of Divinity from Hood Theological Seminary where he is currently pursuing his doctorate.
8th President of the College
ROCKY MOUNT, NORTH CAROLINA – North Carolina Wesleyan University will officially celebrate the appointment of Dr. Evan D. Duff as its 8th president in an inauguration ceremony Friday, September 17, 2021. The NCWC Board of Trustees named Dr. Evan D. Duff President of the College on June 10, 2020, after serving in the interim role since June 14, 2019. Due to the global pandemic, his inauguration has been delayed until now. This allows family and friends to attend, along with the campus community as they return for the fall semester.
Duff has served the College in many leadership roles since 2011 including Senior Vice President of Academic Affairs, Vice President of Adult & Professional Studies, adjunct professor and Provost. In these roles, Dr. Duff was responsible for leading the effort to approve new majors, co-writing the College’s first graduate application to the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools- Commission on Colleges (SACS-COC) and creating seven new offsite instructional locations. He was also responsible for facilitating the development of partnerships with 20 two-year and four-year colleges, which led to articulation agreements or memorandums of understanding between those colleges and NC Wesleyan. Most recently, he worked with Dr. Chaunté Garrett to develop an ROTC partnership with Rocky Mount Prep.
He earned his Bachelor’s Degree in Business Administration from Mount Olive College, holds a Master’s in Administration from Central Michigan University and a Doctorate in Organizational Leadership from Nova Southeastern University. Along with his formal education, Dr. Duff also completed certificate programs with NC State University and Cornell University.
During his career, Dr. Duff has authored or co-authored a great number of academic publications and presentations. He serves on many community boards and was awarded the volunteer of the year award with the Triangle Literacy Council in 2014. He has been honored with a variety of awards for service to the College and the community. He and his family most recently attended Hope Community Church in Cary, NC. Prior to this, Dr. Duff and his family were active members of Covenant UMC in Greenville, NC, where he served on the Pastoral Personnel Committee. Dr. Duff and his wife of 23 years, Marcy, have three sons and a daughter – Tyson, Landon, Peyton and Chloe. Their household is completed with five furry loved ones—three dogs and two cats—all of which are rescues.
The NCWC Board of Trustees cordially invites the public to Dr. Evan D. Duff’s Presidential Inauguration. The ceremony will take place at 10:00 a.m. on Friday, September 17 in Minges Auditorium at The Dunn Center.
Rock the mount is back and we’re ready to make it better than ever!
Come out and help us welcome NC Wesleyan’s Class of 2025! Surrounding area business owners, churches and other non-profit organizations are invited to come gain exposure with Wesleyan’s students and promote your organization. General Public is invited.
August 24th, 11am – 1:30 pm
Food Trucks, Music and More!
Volleyball and Soccer Showcase, 2pm -5pm
The Aftershock Party, 6:30pm
Live Concert, Carnival Rides, Free Food and More
ROCKY MOUNT, NORTH CAROLINA – North Carolina Wesleyan University (NCWC) has developed an agreement with the ActOne Group (ActOne), a global workforce solutions leader based in California with operations in North Carolina, to provide extensive career development services for current students and alumni. Janice Bryant Howroyd (Howroyd), Founder and Chief Executive Officer of the ActOne Group, is a native of Tarboro, NC and a NC Wesleyan Board Member.
At no cost to the College, ActOne’s team of professionals will work alongside NC Wesleyan’s career services department to enhance internships, career development, and job placement for Wesleyan students and graduates. The College will allocate office space to the ActOne team so they can fully connect with staff and provide students with hands-on career guidance and advice. This partnership will provide students with access to a fully-dedicated team of staffing professionals, career counselors, talent advisors and trainers on campus. In addition, ActOne will work with area organizations to meet their talent acquisition goals. Implementation of this initiative is expected by summer 2021.
“I am excited to enhance our reach with the business community, as well as students, thanks to this new partnership. I look forward to working alongside ActOne colleagues to empower students and recent graduates with becoming fully engaged in their lifelong career planning and success, stated Jessie Langley, Associate Dean of Career Development & Leadership. “With Ms. Bryant Howroyd’s successful career and life journey, I have no doubt that her organization’s team will continue her vision in a way that resonates well with our students and the greater community.”
“Service with impact is a blessing…to the giver as much as to the receiver. The executives of ActOne Group are honored to make an impact on the lives of NCWC students and the Nash/Edgecombe community. We are committed to developing talent at the student level and preparing graduating seniors for professional lives beyond learning institutions. We know that the work we do across the globe is instrumental in helping people to reach their full potential and realize their dreams. It is a privilege to be able to provide this valuable service to the students of NCWC, especially under the leadership of President Evan Duff and his team,” said Howroyd. “With NCWC being the first college campus I ever stepped foot on, which happened during my first year as a Project Upward Bound student, I am truly blessed to give back to an institution from where I received some of the first foundational tools that helped to shape the person I am today.”
To help enhance personal and professional development, ActOne will provide NC Wesleyan students with college-to-career transition classes, career preparation, career building workshops and global awareness opportunities. In addition, ActOne will provide access to an online library of training courses, skill assessments, and tutorials that will benefit all students, regardless of their career path. Students will work with the ActOne team of talent advisors and counselors to develop leadership skills and gain insight into a variety of professions. As an added benefit to NCWC students, ActOne will provide two to four internships per year, allowing students to gain experience in customer service, recruiting, front office systems and database management.
About Janice Bryant Howroyd
As a tireless advocate for education, Janice Bryant Howroyd, Founder and CEO of the ActOne Group, has dedicated her resources to funding scholarships and serving on several boards, including the Harvard Women’s Leadership Board of the Kennedy School of Government, her alma mater North Carolina A&T State University, University of Southern California, and many others. Her passion for science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) is rooted in her belief that STEM will be one of the great equalizers in 21st-century employment and has led her to work with Girls in Tech, a non-profit that works to create STEM opportunities for underserved communities. She attended NCA&T State University and holds honorary doctorates from California State University Channel Islands, NCA&T State University, and North Carolina Wesleyan University.
About ActOne Group
ActOne Group is a global enterprise that provides employment, workforce management and procurement solutions to a wide range of industries, Fortune 500 organizations, local and mid-market companies, and government agencies. Started in 1978 by Founder and CEO, Janice Bryant Howroyd (JBH). ActOne operates in 19 countries with over 17,000 clients and 2,600 employees worldwide. It is the largest privately-held, woman and minority owned workforce management company in the U.S.
ROCKY MOUNT, NORTH CAROLINA – Brandon P. Fleming will be North Carolina Wesleyan University’s Spring 2021 Commencement speaker. Fleming is the Assistant Coach of Debate at Harvard University, as well as Founder/CEO of the Harvard Diversity Project.
At the age of 26, he was recruited to join the Harvard Debate Council faculty after coaching The Ron Clark Academy middle school debate team in a high school tournament to an unprecedented, undefeated record. As one of Ron Clark’s “Master Educators,” he also trained over 30,000 educators worldwide on best practices in education.
“Mr. Fleming is the perfect example to demonstrate how hard work, determination and education can transform your life. Your current circumstances do not define your future. Our graduates, of all ages, can learn from his life experience,” stated President Dr. Evan D. Duff.
Later, Harvard approved Fleming’s proposal to establish a new department within the university system called the Harvard Diversity Project – an unparalleled pipeline program that the Harvard Debate Council adopted as its subsidiary. Today, Fleming leads an executive staff and board that’s raised a million dollars to enroll over 100 students of color into Harvard’s international summer debate residency on full scholarship. Recruiting underserved youth with no prior debate experience, Fleming then trains them to compete against hundreds of elite debaters from over 25 different countries. Since the program’s inception in 2017, every cohort trained by Fleming has won the international competition, with one group setting a record as global champions.
Fleming has received numerous awards for his work in education and social entrepreneurship. Notably making history as an elected speaker for the inaugural International Day of Education at the United Nations General Assembly. He was also named to the 2020 Forbes 30 Under 30 list and recognized by The Root Magazine as one of the top 100 influential African-Americans in the United States.
“I am thrilled to visit North Carolina Wesleyan University to share a few words of encouragement with the graduates as they launch into the world of endless possibilities,” stated Fleming.
Fleming is also the author of Miseducated: A Memoir, which is scheduled to be released in June 2021. In his book, Fleming describes his transformation from a delinquent, drug-dealing dropout to an award-winning Harvard educator through literature and debate—all by the age of twenty-seven. Through his personal narrative, readers witness Fleming’s transformation, self-education, and how he takes what he learns about words and power to help others like himself. Miseducated is an honest memoir about resilience, visibility, role models and overcoming all expectations.
The College’s Spring Commencement is planned for Saturday, May 1, 2021. Time and location of commencement will be communicated to graduates in the near future as the College explores its options based on current state and federal guidelines.
College Seeks Donors for Multi-Phased Approach
ROCKY MOUNT, NORTH CAROLINA – North Carolina Wesleyan University recently secured donor funds to kick off their Sports Stadium Campaign. These funds will go toward the development of a new turf field with lights on the south side of campus. This project is just one part of the College’s long-term vision.
The new Sports Stadium consists of a turf field, lighting, additional parking, fencing, permanent seating, scoreboards, a press box and a new fieldhouse. While the initiative will support Athletics, it will also benefit the College academically. In the past, athletes have had to miss afternoon classes to travel and practice prior to sundown. A new turf field and lighting will allow student-athletes to practice and play games later in the evenings. The new fieldhouse will contain a training room, weight room, classrooms, meeting space and offices.
“In the spring of 2020, two major donors committed almost $2,000,000 to establish a multi-phase, multi-year project that will be known as the Vernon T. Bradley, Jr. Sports Stadium. Future phases will include a field house that is yet to be named, as well as other infrastructure you would expect to find at a college stadium,” stated President Dr. Evan D. Duff. “This project will not only change the landscape of the College, but also the athletic and academic opportunities we can provide our students.”
The Sports Stadium Campaign will be completely donor-funded and consist of four project phases, as funding allows. The College is actively seeking donors in hopes of raising $700,000 to complete Phase One and to unlock an additional $850,000 pledge from Vernon T. Bradley, Jr. for Phase Two. Phase One will include the turf field, lighting and additional parking.
The College is planning future fundraising events for those who have a love for the game of football and Wesleyan. These events will be held in spring and summer of 2021 with specific dates to be announced soon based on state guidelines. These exclusive events will unfold the vision of the new sports stadium, give participants first access to the future of North Carolina Wesleyan University and invite them to be a philanthropic part of this project.
Those who are interested in supporting the Sports Stadium can contact Eddie Coats, VP of Advancement, at firstname.lastname@example.org or 252.985.5108.
ROCKY MOUNT, NORTH CAROLINA – The development and acceptance of a proposal for the Executor of the Dr. Nancy Shaw Trust has enabled North Carolina Wesleyan University to secure funds for its Pre-Veterinarian, Biomedical, Biology, Chemistry and Environmental Science majors. Dr. Shaw was a successful physician with ties to Nash County. Her trust’s primary focus was to benefit the health and care of felines, which was a passion of hers.
NC Wesleyan will be receiving $2,500,000 from the trust, which will allow the College to establish its first endowed Professorship to advise and oversee its Pre-Vet major. This professor may also develop additional coursework or concentrations in animal and cat care. The College will also be establishing a highly-selective endowed scholarship for a Pre-Vet major to pay the majority of their educational expenses at Wesleyan. Part of the funds will be placed into a restricted account to develop additional living and learning space for Wesleyan’s science majors. A portion of the money will also be used to upgrade equipment in the College’s Biology, Biomedical, Environmental Science and Chemistry programs that support Pre-Vet majors. Dr. Meir Magal, Chair of the School of Mathematics and Sciences, and several NC Wesleyan Biologists were instrumental in helping to develop the proposal for the Executor of this trust.
“This is an extremely exciting time for the Biology Department, the School [of Mathematics and Sciences] and the College. This gift will allow us to further expand our offerings on campus and provide our science majors with new and exciting experiences and opportunities,” stated Dr. Meir Magal.
Dr. Shaw attended Brown University where she graduated magna cum laude and entered Brown University Medical School graduating in 1983. She completed her Internship at Framingham Union Hospital, Framingham, Massachusetts in 1985. Her Residency in Internal Medicine was completed at the Hospital of St. Raphael, New Haven, Connecticut in 1988. She became Board Certified in Internal Medicine in 1989. Dr. Shaw resided in North Carolina from 1992 -2012. During that time, she established the Hospitalist Programs for both Cabarrus Memorial Hospital, Concord, and Boice-Willis Clinic in Rocky Mount. She and her mother resided in Rocky Mount during these years.
ROCKY MOUNT, NORTH CAROLINA – In February, North Carolina Wesleyan University announced that award-winning actress Sharon Lawrence would be their April 2020 commencement speaker. Later, due to ongoing concerns related to the COVID-19 pandemic, the College announced that the ceremony would have to take place virtually. Lawrence still took the time to send the graduates her congratulations and encouragement via video, with the hope that she would be able to address them in-person at the December ceremony. That hope is now coming to fruition with Lawrence scheduled to return in-person to address the Class of 2020 at NC Wesleyan’s Winter Commencement taking place on December 5.
Lawrence is an award-winning actress with roles on NYPD Blue, Dynasty and can most recently be seen opposite Kirsten Dunst in Showtime’s On Becoming a God in Central Florida. She currently appears on several different television series, including: Shameless, Criminal Minds, Grey’s Anatomy, the CBS comedy, “Me, Myself and I,” and the Apple + series Home Before Dark. A native of North Carolina, she was born in Charlotte and later moved to Raleigh where she graduated from Broughton High School. Lawrence attended the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, graduating in 1983 with a Bachelor of Arts in Journalism.
“Based on her ties to North Carolina and success in the entertainment industry, we are overly enthusiastic to have Sharon Lawrence speak to our graduates in December. With our Entertainment Arts major and her ability to demonstrate that anything is possible with a solid education, she was a natural fit to be our commencement speaker,” stated Dr. Evan D. Duff, President of North Carolina Wesleyan University.
While at UNC, Lawrence was very active onstage with the college’s Playmakers Repertory Company. She is a proud founding member, and prior leading actress, at the North Carolina Theatre, which is still going strong after 36 years at Raleigh’s Memorial Auditorium. She is also the daughter of Tom Lawrence, former news reporter for WRAL News in Raleigh.
Lawrence is also an accomplished Broadway stage actress and a 2012 Lunt-Fontanne Ten Chimneys Fellow, recently starring in “A Kid Like Jake” at the Pasadena Playhouse. She previously chaired the Women In Film Foundation where she incubated and managed corporate partnerships with Netflix and the Dr. Scholl Foundation. Lawrence is still active in supporting women in the industry and currently serves as a Trustee of the Screen Actors Guild Foundation.
“Celebrating the Wesleyan commencement is a meaningful opportunity for me not only as a native North Carolinian, but because my creative roots are here,” stated Lawrence. “My passion and career were nurtured by North Carolina schools and churches, by its outdoor dramas, local and professional theaters and its commitment to the performing arts. Your investment in education and the arts is an investment in your minds and hearts.”
The College’s Winter Commencement will be on the front lawn of the Braswell Administration Building Saturday, December 5, 2020. This will be a closed event, open only to graduates, faculty and the platform party. This will allow the College to ensure physical distance and the safety of those participating in commencement. The event will be live streamed and recorded so that family and friends will be able to celebrate with their students virtually.