Alumni News Category
Emerson Fullwood says that he has been part of two revolutions in his lifetime.
The first came in 1966, when Fullwood entered NC State as one of the first African-American men to attend the recently integrated university. The second came years later but was also transformative.
“It was a great time to be at NC State because we had a chance to lend our voices to civil rights, but also to all of the other changes that were happening, such as the Vietnam War, ending apartheid in South Africa and the fight for individual freedoms for everyone,” the Wilmington native says.
Fullwood was recently honored for his contributions to civil rights by the Countywide CDC Committee on the Humanities and the Arts, a nonprofit organization that sponsored an event celebrating the 50th anniversary of the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
He remembers joining friends to picket pizza parlors and taverns along Hillsborough Street for the right to have a meal. They succeeded. But what Fullwood is quick to emphasize is the way that NC State supported integration and fulfilled his goal to attend one of “the best universities” that he could find.
“I was looking for an exceptional education, which of course I did get at the university,” says Fullwood, who graduated in 1970 with an economics degree from the Poole College of Management. “On the academic side, it was an incredible experience, and it was so incredible because outside of the classroom was so extraordinary during the 1960s.”
After graduating, Fullwood went on to receive an MBA from Columbia University and then landed the job where he spent his entire career – at Xerox, the Fortune 500 corporation that has been providing printers and other document management tools to businesses worldwide for more than 100 years.
He started in sales and quickly moved into the executive ranks, eventually working in offices in Europe, Asia and Latin America. When he retired in 2008, Fullwood was executive chief staff of developing markets operations for the company.
He says being at Xerox allowed him to witness the second revolution – the rapid growth of modern technology and its effect on every aspect of society today.
“I got to be a big, big part of a global, iconic company that literally changed the way business was done around the world,” said Fullwood. “When I was in school, we could not have had a discussion on mobile devices. We did not have computers and iPads in front of us. I was able to be a huge part of a place that revolutionized communications and brought technology to the forefront.”
Growing up in Nebraska, Kelley Dennings loved the outdoors, was reading Greenpeace magazine in the sixth grade and started her high school’s first environmental club. Still, the self-professed tree-hugger says she “didn’t know a lick about trees.”
But today, she can tell her longleaf pine from her oak – and she’s teaching others, too. Dennings is director of behavior change strategies at the American Forest Foundation, a Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit that helps woodland owners learn how to take better care of their forestlands.
It’s an important step in environmental protection and sustainability. More than one-third of America’s forests are privately owned, but Dennings says many landowners don’t realize that their property needs maintenance to stay healthy.
It’s not always easy to convince them, either. Most of the targeted audience are 60 to 80-year-olds who inherited their woodlands from family members. Some of them are distrustful of the unknown and confused by the various entities and options that are available to them.
“We have worked really hard to create the right message, in the right tone,” said Dennings, who graduated from NC State in 1998 with a degree in natural resources. “Somebody might not want to manage for timber, but they might want to manage for wildlife and don’t necessarily understand that those two can be complementary.”
Together with state forest services and other agencies nationwide, Dennings coordinates campaigns that will encourage forest owners to become engaged in state-specific projects to protect their land. In New England, that means explaining about the benefits of conservation easements. In the West, the priority is encouraging forest thinning to prevent catastrophic wildfires.
Identifying the landowner is a tedious process that comes from poring over tax rolls and weeding out property owners who aren’t viable prospects, such as farmers. Then the AAF turns to a direct mail campaign, sending multiple letters to woodland owners to encourage them to learn more about what they can do to protect their forests. Those that reply can get a free handbook with information about what can be done or request that a forester come to walk the land and offer suggestions.
Dennings says the good news is that woodland owners usually can pick what interests them, such as attracting wildlife to their land, hunting, species restoration, conservation or timber production.
But those same landowners may not reap the benefits of the efforts they make for decades, which makes engagement a harder sell.
“We’re asking people to do things they wouldn’t necessarily think of, so it’s out of their comfort zone,” said Dennings. “We have to engage with these landowners for years and years and years to get to our desired outcome.”
Daryl Liles and his brother, Derek, have always done everything together. They were born together, as twins, so that’s only natural.
Derek Liles paints one end zone of Carter-Finley Stadium. Photo by Ted Richardson.
They grew up rooting for the Wolfpack together with their parents. They came to NC State and graduated from the Agricultural Institute in 1998 together.
And now they work to protect the sacred grounds of NC State athletics for coaches, players and fans. Daryl is the turf supervisor for athletics grounds, and Derek is facilities supervisor.
This fall will be their 15th full season working athletic events, from double-headers at Doak Field to game-day Saturdays at Carter-Finley Stadium.”With the pressure that comes with college athletics, it puts pressure on coaches to win,” Derek says of his job. “That puts pressure on everybody else. We work a lot of hours. You like to see a season come in, but you like to see them end, too.”
Daryl Liles raises a net for an extra point attempt at Carter-Finley Stadium. Photo by Ted Richardson.
The twins told themselves when they were at the Agricultural Institute that they would graduate and own their own landscaping business. “We cut grass all of our lives and grew up on a farm in Knightdale,” Daryl says. But they both got an internship with the athletics facilities division on campus that presented them with options, one of which stood out.
“In turf grass, you’re either on the golf course, athletic fields, landscaping or sales. [But with athletic fields] you get satisfaction of how your field looks,” Daryl says. “And you’re getting paid to watch Division I athletics. But at the same time, you’re here if something goes wrong to deal with it.”
That something could be an assortment of trouble. It might be an airplane liquor bottle shoved in a urinal during a game. It might be managing an array of contests across campus on a Saturday afternoon. It might be a breaker going out on a scoreboard. Or it might mean having to delay painting the football field for a Saturday game all week because of a tropical storm, as was the case when the University to South Carolina came to town one year.
“Friday morning, there was no paint on the field,” Daryl says. “We came in at 4 o’clock that morning, painted throughout the day and finished at seven that night.”
Of course, as Derek points out, sometimes something going wrong could bode well for NC State fans. “Early on, we dealt with tearing down goal posts,” he says. “It seems like every week, we’d beat Florida State or East Carolina, and we’d scramble to get a new set of goal posts up.”
The Liles brothers love being near college athletics every day on the job, even if it does mean they can’t use their two season tickets to football games (they give them to their parents). But they do get to enjoy their season tickets to the Carolina Hurricanes.
The ice is the one place where they can just be fans.
NC State magazine was granted full access in fall of 2013 to see all the behind-the-scenes work that goes in to putting on a game at Carter-Finley on Saturdays. We included a feature about what we saw in the summer issue, which should be in mailboxes very soon. We also produced a video to show how the stadium comes alive.
NC State magazine profiled the university’s efforts in regenerative medicine in the summer issue, which should be in mailboxes soon.
But it turns out there’s a Wolfpacker also stressing regenerative efforts at the Naval Medical Research Center that could become standard practice across the globe.
The center, located in Silver Spring, Md., focuses on solving battlefield medical problems, studying infectious diseases, and understanding health problems associated with non-conventional weapons.
Capt. John W. Sanders III
And Capt. John W. Sanders III, who graduated from NC State in 1987 and is the center’s commanding officer, believes investments in regenerative medicine research will help to develop better ways to help tissue heal after traumatic blast injuries.
“This is a level of trauma that historically people did not survive,” says Sanders, who adds that today’s resusciative techniques help produce a 98 percent chance of surviving for those who suffer the injuries.
The Naval Medical Research Center is working to develop tests that can help doctors judge how well a particular wound is likely to heal and which strategies would be best to promote healing, such as adding anti-inflammatory therapies or transplanted cells. When soldiers are evacuated from Afghanistan or Iraq, any tissue removed from blast wounds is collected and analyzed in detail—the cell types and body chemicals that are present and in what amounts. The resulting database will help researchers discover which chemicals or cells are most important in healing these devastating wounds.
The center also works to improve prosthetic limbs, in collaboration with regenerative medicine pioneer Anthony Atala, director of the Institute for Regenerative Medicine at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center, where researchers are developing ways to prepare prosthetics so human skin will bond to better and prevent infection.
Sanders, whose expertise is in tropical medicine, says that NC State’s new investments in regenerative medicine are wise.
“Regenerative medicine is part of the evolution of our medical care, both for soldiers and sailors injured in battle and for civilians who may suffer a blast injury,” he says. “Like so many other examples of military technique, we expect techniques developed to take care of combat injuries will ultimately end up being used in other areas of medical care, from cancer to reproduction.”
Visitors to Washington, D.C., will get their first look at the planned Dwight D. Eisenhower Memorial in 2017 when the memorial commemorating the 34th president of the United States opens across from the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum.
While architect Frank Gehry was chosen to design the memorial, landscape architect and soil scientist Barrett Kays is concerned with a much deeper question — what in the world will go on underneath Eisenhower Square?
Kays, who graduated from NC State with a design degree in 1973 and with a Ph.D. in soil science in 1979, is one of the country’s leading experts in integrating soil science in the design of landscape architecture projects in urban areas. (NC State magazine profiled Kays in 1996 when he took on a project in New York City’s Central Park.)
He recently completed the construction documents for the manufactured custom soils and drainage system for the memorial’s site.
“At the Eisenhower Memorial, we have to control the moisture,” says Kays, president of the consulting firm Landis Inc. in Raleigh. “So we have to remove about 35,000 cubic yards of material from the site.”
A planned view from Eisenhower Square. (Photo courtesy of Eisenhower Memorial Commission.)
Kays will replace it with a custom blend of soils that, as he describes it, will drain well when it’s extremely wet and keep in enough moisture when it’s dry.
“Typically in the past, the way urban parks get destroyed is when you have these large events with a lot of people, when they occur after a large rainstorm event,” Kays says. “The National Mall was destroyed over and over in the 1960s. In Central Park, behind The Metropolitan Museum of Art, they would have a million people there at a time.”
But with technology and a focus on landscape architecture in urban planning, Kays says scientists have been able to have a large rain event with no runoff.
It used to be that students might take a year after college graduation to travel around before starting a job. But two architecture graduates, Brian Gaudio and Abe Drechsler, have decided to thread travel into their jobs and have gone to work for themselves.
Gaudio and Drechsler are the brains behind Within Formal Cities, a project in which they will study informal communities in South American cities and produce a documentary about the subject. The two were awarded the Duda Travel Scholarship, established by Linda and Turan Duda. Turan Duda is an NC State graduate and is a partner at Duda Paine Architects in Durham, N.C.
And Monday, Within Formal Cities launched a crowd-funding campaign to help raise money for their trip, which will take place in September and October.
Gaudio says he had spent a lot of time on service projects in the Dominican Republic, and that the cities of Bogota, Lima, Santiago, Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paulo seemed like the next logical step in studying how cities around the world will handle the next influx of people coming to them. Within Formal Cities’ website states that an estimated 1.41 billion more people will move to urban areas over the next 40 years.
“We chose South America for a few reasons. It’s closer, so you do more with the fellowship money,” Gaudio says. “South America has been dealing with these housing issues for a long time.
The pair will travel around the five South American cities and interview architects, community organizers and professors about how the respective city deals with housing challenges. They will identify a neighborhood and look at buildings built both by private citizens and by the government. They’ll also be shooting film for a film they’ll edit and release when they return.
“We’re really trying to do more than just study things for ourselves,” Gaudio says. “We think creative people like architects and designers have a lot to offer.
“Seventy percent of the world’s population will be living in cities. It’s going to be a very important challenge for the world.”
Doug Mattox was a history buff long before he majored in the subject at NC State.
As a boy growing up in Wendell, N.C., he discovered stamp collecting. No one in his immediate family was a stamp aficionado, but Mattox gravitated to it. And just like a stamp, the hobby stuck.
Today, Mattox is the founder and president of Mattox Coins & Stamps, Inc., a Raleigh company that generated $1.5 million in revenue last year.
“It’s just the treasure hunter in me,” he says, when asked what has kept his business going for more than 35 years. “You never know what’s going to come in the door or what you’re going to find in a box of stuff. That’s what keeps it fun.”
As the name implies, the company deals in more than just rare stamps. Mattox and his son, Austin, work as agents and brokers, appraising the value of coins, currency, stamps and envelopes and selling them to auction houses.
The work attracts a variety of clientele, ranging from universities and bank trusts to individuals who inherit items from deceased loved ones and aren’t sure of their value. Other customers come to Mattox with items they purchased for investment and are ready to sell.
But the Internet has fooled many a would-be collector, says Mattox, who graduated from NC State in 1976. People often buy coins that are purported to be rare by advertisers, only to learn that they were duped when they come to Mattox for an appraisal.
One of the most counterfeited items that Mattox comes across are U.S. gold coins. Valuable ones are about 90 percent pure, but Mattox says people often come to him excitedly with some, only to find that their coins are perhaps 50 percent gold, or even just gold-plated brass.
“I tell them just to put it in the bank or give it to a kid,” he says. “You know, on the Antiques Roadshow, everybody gets good news. But here, more people get bad news than good news.”
Over the years, Mattox has encountered many old and unusual items. One day, he might find himself appraising German currency from the 1920s. The next, a $5 American bill from the 1880s. The priciest item sold recently was a set of Tibetan stamps from 1907 for $121,000.
But as a former American history major, Mattox gets the most excited when an American colonial item comes his way.
“That’s always fun because we weren’t very populated – even in big cities – in colonial days,” he says. “So when you run across envelopes or currency, that’s always cool.”
One California day, a scared and suicidal man walked into a homeless shelter in a city he’d never been to before. He’d been discharged from a psychiatric hospital in Las Vegas three days before, given a bus ticket and shipped off to Sacramento with barely any food and little medication.
He was looking for help – but he never imagined it would come from Phillip Reese, a 1999 NC State graduate and investigative reporter for The Sacramento Bee.
Reese and colleague Cynthia Hubert uncovered a systematic process of patient dumping by the Nevada hospital, which shipped 1,500 mental patients out of state over five years, stranding many in unfamiliar cities with no support system.
Some ended up turning to crime, including one murder.
Reese and Hubert’s reporting led to multi-million dollar reforms in the Nevada mental health care system, led to Rawson-Neal Psychiatric Hospital being stripped of its accreditation and received several prestigious awards, including becoming a finalist for the 2014 Pulitzer Prize for investigative reporting.
Reese, a former Technician editor-in-chief, called the patient dumping series the most important and effective work of his career thus far.
“This was a very taxing story to report,” Reese said in an email interview. “Cold calling people and asking them about their time in a mental hospital is tough.”
Finding the patients and family members who were willing to talk was one challenge. So was identifying the trend. To do it, The Bee requested the receipts of bus tickets that has been purchased in the last five years.
Reese, who is skilled at data analysis, put the receipts into a database and mapped them. He discovered Rawson-Neal had bused patients to each state in the continental United States during that period, and that’s when he and Hubert started tracking them down.
Some were dead ends. Some of the patients’ stories couldn’t be verified. But thousands of hours later, Reese and Hubert had spoken with nearly two dozen patients and 100 family members, as well as former Rawson-Neal employees who confirmed that busing patients without escorts happened more frequently than officials claimed.
The reports led Rawson-Neal to change its busing policies so that now no one can travel without a chaperone. The state of Nevada also has allocated $30 million in additional funding for mental health care in the state.
“That was validating,” said Reese.
Since the series was published in 2013, Rawson-Neal made changes that enable it to continue receiving federal Medicare funds. A civil rights lawsuit filed on behalf of the Sacramento man that was the catalyst for Reese’s series was just dismissed, but the attorney plans to appeal.
Asked if he has any other investigative pieces currently on his radar, Reese has a one-word reply:
Students certainly had their fair share of options as to which club they might want to join during the early 1980s on campus. There was the Biological and Agricultural Engineering Technology Club. Students could explore conservation in the wildly popular Leopold Wildlife Club. Or they could stay on top of their studies with the Water Ski Club.
But for one club, 1984 marked a major breakthrough as NC State’s campus was introduced on this day for the first time to the Steady State Breakers, the only professional breakdancing crew in Raleigh, the Technician reported.
Steady State consisted of four students who were visionaries, seeing that breakdancing would have just as much staying power as the salsa and or the waltz. Scott Wilce, Richard Lewis, Curtis Hamilton and Elaine Furtis had been practicing daily for several months and worked on other campuses to spread their gospel of gyration.
“The Breakers won a Breakdance contest at Groucho’s during finals week last semester and gave a Breakdancing demonstration at Groucho’s a few weeks ago,” the Technician reported. “In addition, they are currently working a Breakdance clinic at Duke University.”
The club members’ styles varied, with each excelling in one of the multiple facets of the art form. “Other moves include the Hanglide, which is spinning the body using the hand as a pivot and the legs for balance; the Backspin; the Headspin; the Windmill, which is spinning alternately on one shoulder then the other; and the Suicide, which is a no-hands forward flip where you land flat on your back.”
Tommy Burleson was a first-team All-ACC performer after his sophomore year in 1972, but that summer, the 7-foot-4 center took his talents national as he was picked to be on the 12-man Olympic team by head coach Henry Iba.
The pick on this day 34 years ago came after two weeks of Olympic trials at the Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, Colo. Burleson was one of three rising juniors that year to be named to the team, according to the Technician.
Norm Sloan, Burleson’s coach at NC State, visited the trials and said the experience gave the center a chance to see for himself just how good he was. “Tom didn’t appreciate how good he was on a national level until these trials,” Sloan said. “This was a good experience for him.”
“I really wanted to make it and I couldn’t sleep the night before the naming of the team on Sunday afternoon,” Burleson said in the Technician. “It is the greatest honor ever bestowed upon me. It meant so much to me and I tried to do everything it took to make it. Not only on the court, but all the little things required. Coach Iba told us it was as tough mentally as it was physically playing in the Olympics and that was why we had such a rigorous training program.”
The ’72 Olympics in Munich that September became forever linked to the massacre by terrorists of eleven athletes from Israel.
The games were also marred by a controversial finish to the men’s basketball final, in which the U.S. team lost to the Soviet team in a game it had initially won. Burleson and his teammates never collected their silver medals.
Burleson recounted the experience for a feature story in NC State magazine in summer 2012.