Perspectives Online

Two College alumni are among 2009 Watauga Medalists

A former trustee, a professor emeritus and a longtime state official have been honored with the prestigious Watauga Medal, the highest nonacademic honor bestowed by N.C. State University, for their distinguished service to the university. College of Agriculture and Life Sciences alumni Dr. J. Lawrence Apple and E. Norris Tolson, along with C. Richard Vaughn, received the awards at the university's Founders' Day Dinner March 9 from Chancellor James Oblinger.

Dr. J. Lawrence Apple of Burlington, professor emeritus of plant pathology, earned three degrees at N.C. State, including a Ph.D. in plant pathology and genetics in 1955. He served on the faculty from 1955 to 1991 and is widely known for his work in international agricultural development. He was assistant director of research and academic affairs in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, director of the Institute of Biological Sciences and director of international programs at the university.

Apple is known for his tireless advocacy for the NCSU Libraries. He helped to raise funds for the libraries in his roles as president of the Association of Retired Faculty (1994-1997), president of the Friends of the Library (2000-2002) and currently as a member of the Forever Club's executive committee. In 1994 Apple and his wife Ella established the J. Lawrence and Ella H. Apple Library Endowment. They have also been generous supporters of the Plant Pathology Department and the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, and are members of the W.C. Riddick Lifetime Giving Society.

E. Norris Tolson of Pinetops, president and CEO of the North Carolina Biotechnology Center in Research Triangle Park, has served the citizens of North Carolina as a business and policy leader for more than four decades. Tolson graduated from N.C. State with a bachelor's degree in crop science and agribusiness in 1962. After serving in the U.S. Army Counter Intelligence Corps from 1963 to 1965, he joined Dupont, where he held various research, marketing and sales assignments in the company's agricultural products and electronics business for 28 years. He was assigned both domestic and international business responsibilities and lived in Europe for several years before retiring in 1993. He then served in some of the top policy positions in the state. He was a two-term legislator (1994-1997), Secretary of Commerce (1997-1998), Secretary of Transportation (1998) and Secretary of Revenue (2001-2007).

Tolson serves on the N.C. State Board of Visitors and the Alumni Association board, as well as the College of Education Foundation. He also is a member of the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences Alumni Society.

C. Richard Vaughn of Mount Airy is a 1961 graduate of the N.C. State College of Engineering. He is chairman and CEO of the John S. Clark Company, chairman of the North Carolina Granite Corporation and chairman of Riverside Building Supply, Inc. He served on the university's Board of Trustees from 1985 to 1989 and again from 1999 to 2007, chairing the audit, finance and planning committee and the N.C. State Investment Fund Members Board. He also served as a director of the N.C. State University Foundation and is a current member of the Park Scholars Selection Committee and a director of the N.C. State Student Aid Association. He has been a member of the Alumni Association for 25 years and is a member of the W.J. Peele Lifetime Giving Society, which honors donors who have given $1 million or more to N.C. State. In 2004 he pledged $5 million to the Wolfpack Club to fund scholarships and renovations to the football stadium. The Wolfpack Towers were renamed the C. Richard Vaughn Towers in recognition of his generosity. Vaughn has also given more than $100,000 to N.C. State academic funds. He created the C. Richard Vaughn Scholarship Endowment to support an undergraduate scholarship in the College of Engineering.

For more information about the 2009 Watauga Medal winners, previous winners, and the program's history, visit NCSU News Services