Perspectives Online

Special Effects. Donor Recognition Gala kicks off historic fund-raising campaign as it honors individual, group and corporate support of the College. By Terri Leith.

Chancellor Oblinger (far left) and Dean Wynne (far right), with honorees (front row, left to right) Dell Murphy, Joseph Taylor, Ginger Taylor, Edward Gore, Dinah Gore, Annabelle Fetterman and Lew Fetterman; (back row) Dan Moore, Billy Carter, Dean Baker, Tommy Bunn, Brent Langston, Ray Best and Ralph Britt.

See related story While scholarships continue to grow, need for funding is stronger than ever

When the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences hosted its annual gala to thank its benefactors on Sept. 25, it was the perfect opportunity to let those who have been so instrumental in the College's fund-raising efforts be among the first to hear some historic announcements.

In kicking off the CALS Achieve! Campaign - the College's part of N.C. State University's newly announced $1 billion comprehensive Achieve! fund-raising campaign - Joseph O. Taylor Jr. revealed that the College's campaign goal of $275 million is the largest in the history of any U.S. land-grant college of agriculture.

Culpepper announced another special first for the University and the Achieve! Campaign. All four senior administrators of the College - Dean Johnny Wynne and his associate deans, Dr. Jon Ort, Dr. Steve Leath and Dr. Ken Esbenshade - have made commitments creating endowments to benefit the College: The Johnny and Jackie Wynne Scholarship Endowment, the Jon and Debbie Ort Scholarship Award for Outstanding Extension Personnel Endowment, the Steven and Janet A. Leath Agricultural Scholarship Endowment and the Ken Esbenshade Animal Science Scholarship Endowment.

Ginger Taylor also brought news of a newly created CALS Campaign Windows of Opportunity Web site, (see Web site opens 'windows' to giving).

Dr. Steve Leath and his wife, Janet, sign the Steven and Janet A. Leath Agricultural Scholarship Endowment.
Photo by Daniel Kim
Dean Johnny Wynne hosted the gala at the Sheraton Imperial Hotel and Conference Center in RTP. N.C. State University Chancellor James L. Oblinger and Provost Larry A. Nielsen joined Wynne in presenting special awards to benefactors of the College and in recognizing philanthropic efforts of College faculty, alumni and friends.

Among the organizations receiving awards for generosity to the College were the W.K Kellogg Foundation of Battle Creek, Mich., represented by Dan Moore, honored for providing $1 million to establish the Food Systems Leadership Institute and $700 000 for the College's Center for Environmental Farming Systems' Partnership with the Public; and the N.C. Tobacco Trust Fund Commission, which has awarded more than $52 million to projects to improve the long-term vitality of state communities historically dependent on tobacco and its $1.3 million in support of College research and Extension programs.

Honored as the 2005 Outstanding Corporate Donor was Smithfield Foods and its combined hog-raising entity, Murphy-Brown LLC, represented by Dell Murphy. Smithfield was recognized for its $7.2 million in support of waste-management research, and Murphy-Brown for its role as the largest single contributor to the College's Nickels for Know-How program. The companies' combined gifts to the Achieve! Campaign total $8.1 million so far.

Leaders of North Carolina's "green" industry (landscape, turf and nursery) also received awards. Brent Langston, president of the N.C. Association of Nurserymen, accepted his group's recognition as a major corporate sponsor for the the JC Raulston Arboretum's annual fund-raising gala and for its generous support of grants and gifts to the arboretum. Dean Baker, president of the Turfgrass Council of North Carolina, and Gene Maples, the council's executive director, represented the Council as it was honored for its support of the state's turf industry, turf research in the College, its research, teaching and extension endowment (currently with assets of $650,000) in the N.C. Agricultural Foundation and its efforts in securing more than $500,000 annually in state funding to create the Center for Turfgrass Environmental Research and Education at N.C. State.

CALS All-America alumni: Tom Burleson (left), and Stan Fritts got together at the gala, where Burleson was honored for his support of Avery County 4-H programs.
Photo by Daniel Kim
Four individuals recognized for outstanding volunteer efforts in support of the College were Tommy Bunn, a 1966 alumnus of the College, former chair of the N.C. Tobacco Foundation and board member of Golden LEAF; Annabelle and Lew Fetterman, who have served as co-chairs of the JC Raulston Arboretum Gala in the Garden, are major donors to the arboretum's building campaign and sponsor its office of membership and donor relations; and Duke Power's Ray Best, a graduate of the College's Department of Biological and Agricultural Engineering, who has been instrumental in Duke Power's continued support of the N.C. 4-H Electric Program. Best served as president of the 4-H Development Fund and helped the 4-H Gala raise $242,000.

Lois Grady Britt was honored posthumously with he Dean's Distinguished Service to Agriculture Award. An N.C. State and East Carolina University alumna, Britt created and funded the Lois G. Britt Outstanding County Extension Agent Award Endowment.

"Lois always led with charisma and a positive outlook," said Wynne, as he presented the award to her son, Ralph Britt, accepting the honor for his mother, who died in June.

A video presentation, "Profiles in Achieve! Philanthropy," honored the efforts of College faculty member Dr. Carm Parkhurst, alumnus Tommy Burleson, the N.C. State Collegiate FFA, and College benefactors Ed and Dinah Gore.

Parkhurst was honored as namesake and a benefactor of the Carmen R. Parkhurst Poultry Science Teaching Program Endowment; Burleson for his support of the Avery County 4-H Building Fund; and the Collegiate FFA for its funding and creation of the Collegiate FFA Scholarship Endowment.

The Gores are benefactors of eight endowments in support of College programs, including the Edward M. Gore Sr. Environmental Education and Research Endowments, the Dinah Gore Foods Nutrition and Fitness Endowment and the Edward M. Gore Landscapes of Opportunity Foundation Endowment.

In a first for the university and the Achieve! fund-raising campaign, all four of CALS' senior administrators - Dean Johnny Wynne and associate deans Ken Esbenshade, Steve Leath and Jon Ort - made commitments creating endowments to benefit the College. Here, Ort, director of the Cooperative Extension Service, is accompanied by his wife, Debbie, and his children, (standing, from left) Brad, Hunter and Katie, in creating the Jon and Debbie Ort Scholarship Award for Outstanding Extension Personnel Endowment.
They were honored as the charter recipients of the Joe and Ginger Taylor Outstanding Philanthropist Award.

The award was created to honor the Taylors, CALS campaign co-chairs and themselves benefactors of the College as donors and volunteers.

"Joe and Ginger's innovative and visionary thinking has led to the creation of the very successful Landscapes of Opportunity foundation, a unique philanthropic model that integrates economic, educational environmental and nonprofit goals by building partnerships with individual and corporate landowners, business leaders, universities and conservation groups," said Wynne, underscoring the aptness of the Taylor award going to the Gores.

"Ed and Dinah are passionate about stewardship of the land that they have been given, and they have been generous in utilizing that land as a gift to the College," Wynne said, noting that the Gores' contribution of two tracts to the College resulted in a sale representing the largest cash gift - $3.7 million - ever received by the College.