Joe Hice, NC State’s chief communications officer and former director of corporate communications for Harley-Davidson, worked for a while with new Alumni Association Executive Director Benny Suggs ’69 at the motorcycle maker. He shares a few thoughts about Suggs today on his blog:
There are a few people in our lives that make a lasting impression. Benny Suggs is one of those who made a lasting impression on my life. Benny was an admiral in the U.S. Navy when we first met and he and his office helped me organize an event for Harley-Davidson at the Navy base in San Diego.
Benny is a devoted Harley rider and I knew he was also a loyal member of the Wolfpack less than five minutes after we met. Somehow the conversation just made it’s way to NC State way back when.
Benny left the Navy shortly after we met and he joined Harley-Davidson where I was working. We had some great years together, working on the growth and expansion of Harley-Davidson University — his first job in higher education:-) — and on a couple of projects that are burned into my consciousness. When you meet him just ask about the work we did for the Navy Seals or the ride to New York City with a number of Harley-Davidson Police and Firefighter Motorcycles the week after 9/11. The images will never go away.
Ralph “Benny” E. Suggs ’69, Rear Admiral, U.S. Navy (ret.) and general manager of the Harley Owners Group (HOG) and Rider Services at Harley-Davidson Motor Co., has been named executive director of the NC State Alumni Association, Vice Chancellor Nevin Kessler announced today.
Suggs was the College of Humanities and Social Sciences 2006 Distinguished Alumnus of the Year. He has also served on the General Hugh Shelton Leadership Initiative Board of Advisors at the university for the past eight years.
“We’re thrilled that Benny Suggs is returning to the university he has loved and supported over the years,” Alumni Association President Dennis Howard ’67 said. “He epitomizes the leadership and public service commitment graduates of NC State are known for throughout the nation.”
As general manager of the Harley Owners Group, Suggs is responsible for managing an organization with 1.2 million members worldwide. He manages all rider-training programs sponsored by Harley-Davidson as well as authorized rentals worldwide. He has a full-time staff of 60 and thousands of volunteers around the world.
“Benny has been responsible for the growth and success of the Harley Owners Group through some very challenging times,” Kessler said. “His efforts to enhance the experience and engagement of Harley-Davidson riders with the company will translate directly to his leadership of the Alumni Association. He will be able to help us engage a larger number of alumni with the university and build those lifelong bonds that are so important to NC State.”
Suggs served for 30 years in the U.S. Navy and was deputy commander in chief, U.S. Special Operations Command, upon his retirement in 2000. He also served as commander of Carrier Group Six/John C. Stennis Battle Group and was director for Operations, Plans and Policy, U.S. Atlantic Fleet where he was responsible for the training and deployment preparations of more than 175,000 personnel.
A Navy aviator, Suggs earned his Naval Aviation Wings in 1971. He has received the Defense Meritorious and Distinguished Service medals, five Legion of Merit medals and two Navy Commendation medals.
“My wife, Kellie, and I are thrilled to be returning to North Carolina and to my alma mater. It truly is ‘Red & White for Life’ in this family,” he said.
The Alumni Association engages more than 175,000 university alumni through programs and services that foster pride and enhance a lifelong connection to NC State.
Irwin Holmes '60 played on NC State's tennis team, making it the first integrated team in the ACC. (Photo courtesy of Special Collections, NCSU Libraries)
The Class of 1960 returns to campus Friday and Saturday for its 50-year reunion. Classmates will join the Forever Club, which consists of NC State alumni who graduated at least 50 years ago, to reconnect, tour the campus and sit in on “Classes without Quizzes.” Special programming includes a banquet featuring Chancellor Randy Woodson. Bobby Purcell ’77, executive director of the Wolfpack Club and a member of our Board of Directors, will speak at a luncheon for the Class of 1960, and the Forever Club will be treated to a luncheon with NC State women’s basketball coach Kellie Harper. (See a list of all the activities here.)
Among the graduates returning is Irwin Holmes ’60 (photographed above). He was one of four black students who integrated the 1956 freshman class, and he earned a spot on NC State’s tennis team in fall 1956, becoming the first black student-athlete to compete for the college and later the first African American to win a varsity letter in the Atlantic Coast Conference. He went on to earn a master’s in electrical engineering from Drexel University and worked at IBM from 1969 to 1988. In our Autumn 2006 cover story, NC State magazine wrote about his experiences at NC State. After the jump, read an excerpt from the story:
On a sun-soaked afternoon in September 1956, a group of NC State freshmen assembled for a three-day orientation sponsored by the campus YMCA. About 150 students were there—all young men, all with short hair and shirts tucked into belted pants. They attended a picnic, nightly sing-alongs and a series of talks on wholesome topics such as “Growing Religiously in a Technical College.” They sized up one another, hoping to make new friends to help them find their footing.
Congratulations to Trudy Mackay! The William Neal Reynolds and Distinguished University Professor of Genetics and Entomology was elected to the National Academy of Sciences (NAS). She’s the ninth current NC State professor to be elected to NAS, one of the most important scientific societies in the world.
Mackay does research into the genetic and enviromental factors that affect variation in complex traits, working mostly with the fruit fly. We interviewed her for the Autumn 2006 issue of NC State magazine. Here’s what she told us when we asked why she studied fruit flies:
A big surprise when people sequenced the genomes of various species is not how different we all are, but how the same genes are recognizable in species like flies and people. If I find genes that affect how long flies live, then it’s reasonable to suggest the same genes could be tested in human studies. You can do a lot of experiments quickly with flies, and you can then test your hypotheses on higher animals.
You can read the interview below the jump. Read more about Mackay here, here and here.
Chancellor Randy Woodson met with NC State alumni and friends in Charlotte on Monday night, and we have some pictures and video from the evening below. You can read more about his visit here. We’ll have other welcome events for Chancellor Woodson soon, so keep an eye on our events calendar.
Members of our Tri-State Alumni Network (N.Y., N.J. and Conn.) attended Monday’s taping of The Daily Show and got to spend a little time with the host, Jon Stewart. Before the show, they gave him a tutorial on how to do the Wolfpack hand sign, which he did at the 17-second mark of last night’s program. Good thinking, guys. Watch it here.
Network leader Amy Rothberg ’03 sent us these pictures:
We received an e-mail this week from David Clifton that included a link to the above video that features his father, Colonel David Clifton ’48, singing “The Last Farewell.” A pilot in World War II who served in the 303rd Bomb Group, Colonel Clifton will turn 90 years old on May 3. And according to his son, he’s “always secretly wanted to perform on the ‘big stage.’” So the younger Clifton put his father on YouTube, and the goal is to have more than 1,000 views of the video before May 3. “What we want to be able to show him on his birthday is that he is now ‘famous,’” the younger Clifton says. So let’s help: Watch the video, which features Colonel Clifton singing “The Last Farewell” interspersed with images of B-17s and two of the combat missions he participated in.
Chancellor Randy Woodson (Photo courtesy of NC State Athletics)
Tim Peeler, managing editor of GoPack.com and a frequent contributor to NC State magazine, spoke with Chancellor Randy Woodson recently about athletics and its importance to the university. Woodson also talks about his favorite sports and even his memories of Wolfpack basketball great David Thompson and our 1983 NCAA title run. Read the full interview here. One excerpt is below:
GoPack.com: Can you talk about your basic philosophy about college athletics and its importance to the university?
Chancellor Woodson: As I have said publicly and frequently, I am a huge fan of college athletics. On a personal level, I enjoy the environment and enthusiasm that the alums and others have for the university, in many cases because of athletics. It is a big part of the brand for the university. It is something that has the potential to help attract great students and keep alumni coming back to NC State. That is a good thing. But it can be a challenge when it is not done well or ethically. Every indication is that NC State has been working hard to be compliant with the NCAA rules. What I see is a university whose alumni are passionate about athletics. I have already heard from a lot of them.
Thursday afternoon update: Also check out this interview that Wolf-TV, the student run TV station at NC State, conducted with Chancellor Woodson:
Check out the above video of underwater filmmaker Mike deGruy’s talk during TED’s The Mission Blue Voyage, which brought together ocean experts to share their knowledge over a four-day adventure to the Galapagos Islands this week (April 10-14). deGruy, a 1975 NC State graduate and zoology major, owns the Film Crew, which makes films for the likes of PBS, BBC, National Geographic and the Discovery Channel. He’s been shooting the oceans for more than 30 years and has been described as “one of the world’s greatest underwater cameramen.” In the talk featured on TED, he shares how he became fascinated with octopus at age 5 or 6, and he describes what it’s like to go deep into the water and explore the mid-water community. Interspersed with his comments are clips of the deep waters shot by his company.
NC State magazine profiled deGruy in a cover story in 1992. Included in the profile was deGruy’s first-person account of the time a shark nearly ripped his arm off and killed him. Read the account after the jump.
That was one of those situations when I was completely unprepared for what unfolded. I had taken some time off from graduate work at the University of Hawaii to be manager of a marine research lab, and I was scuba diving with a friend in about 60 feet of water at Eniwetok Atoll in the Marshall Islands in the Pacific. It was a reconnaissance dive to find out what research might be done there.
Chancellor Randy Woodson will be the guest on WRAL’s “On the Record” on Saturday at 7 p.m. (That’s Channel 5 in the Triangle.) WRAL.com has posted a story and video that includes highlights of Chancellor Woodson’s comments from the interview. In the two-minute video alone, Woodson talks about the need to raise NC State’s profile and touches on transparency, athletics and even pine pollen.