College of Natural Resources Category
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.”
John David Wagner got his career start when he was a student at NC State and agreed to help a doctoral candidate gather samples of bobcat tracks. Today Wagner is the director of operations at the Conservators’ Center in rural Caswell County, N.C., a wildlife preserve dedicated to protecting threatened animal species through wildlife rescue, captive breeding and education.
The center provides habitats for a variety of exotic animals, including wolves, dingoes, tigers, ring-tailed lemurs and ocelots — some of whom were abused and rescued from irresponsible owners. A New Guinea singing dog named Melody came to the center from a breeding facility that had a surplus of the animals; a lynx named Diego was given up by an owner who had not realized it is illegal to own a lynx in California.
Wagner, who graduated from NC State in 2008 with a degree in fisheries and wildlife management, got involved with the Conservators’ Center as an undergrad while helping a researcher who needed a number of tracks from a single bobcat for a computer program under development. Now he oversees its overall operation, including animal care, construction and maintenance and visitors’ services. He also leads its emergency response team and assists with donor relations.
Included in his duties is figuring out how to get a full-grown lion to take a shot. A lion named Thomas — rescued from a breeding facility in Ohio that was being shut down due to Animal Welfare Act violations — had a nagging ear infection that oral antibiotics couldn’t seem to cure. Eventually, the staff had to call in an ear, nose and throat specialist to examine Thomas under anesthesia. He found bacteria that could only be treated with injectable antibiotics.
“The drug required a large volume to be administered — ten times over the course of 14 days,’’ Wagner says. The animal care staff trained Thomas to crawl his way into a specially designed tight space for his injections, and he recovered.
Looking forward, Wagner says the Conservators’ Center plans to expand its education and conservation breeding programs as well as help develop systems for tracking animals and their genetics information. One goal, he says, is “putting facilities in touch with one another to help diversify the gene pool for these obscure species.’’
Wagner says the center faces the same financial challenges that other nonprofits struggle with, but having a committed staff makes the venture successful, along with an ever-growing interest from visitor groups – by far the biggest source of income.
“Year after year, we see the same teachers bring their classrooms out, and as they have told other teachers at the same school, in the same school system, and even in neighboring school systems, we have seen a tremendous surge in the number of field trip requests,” says Wagner.
Families and individuals can also schedule a tour. Wolfpack fans note: You can even hear wolves howl during a special twilight tour for nocturnal species.
The Alumni Association is honoring 26 NC State professors with the 2014 Faculty Awards for their outstanding work in the classroom, in the laboratory and in the field. We talked (via email) with some of the recipients about their work and the keys to being a successful professor.
Today we’re visiting with Kimberly Bush, a teaching assistant professor in the Department of Parks, Recreation and Tourism Management. Bush is one of eight professors being recognized with Outstanding Teaching Awards.
What prompted you to become a professor? When I first graduated The Ohio State University, I immediately went on to obtain a master’s degree and I also served as an assistant field hockey coach at a Division I school. From there, I went into coaching at the college level. In some of my initial coaching jobs, I had the opportunity to teach at the college level in addition to my role as a coach. I immediately fell in love with teaching college students. I enjoyed seeing athletes off the field and in the classroom, and enjoyed meeting the general student population. I was also able to use many concepts from coaching in the classroom (motivating others, teaching individuals how to set and achieve goals, etc.). I loved coaching, but did not see myself on the fields for the remainder of my career. Thus, I made a conscious decision to obtain a second master’s degree and a Ph.D. so that I could teach at the college level as a full time career. My teaching knowledge has always influenced my coaching and my coaching has always influenced my teaching.
What are the keys to being a successful professor? For me, a key in being a successful educator is taking the time to get to know my students. This can be challenging with large class sizes, but I have found the more I know about my students as individuals the more I can meet their individual needs and motivate them. My teaching is largely influenced by the notion of an ethic of care (Bell Hooks). An ethic of care is developed from experiences and involves an individual’s feeling of connectedness with others as well as a desire to nurture others. I believe my ethic of care and the responsibility I feel toward others connects me to students and motivates my teaching. The objective of my classroom teaching is to instill in students an ability to think and act critically. I do this through formal lectures with open discussions, partner discussions, discussion boards, peer-to-peer teaching, guest lecturers, field trips, and hands on learning experiences. I put students first and foremost. I do this through understanding and valuing them as whole people, taking into consideration all aspects of their lives to help them succeed in meeting academic and future employer expectations.
What gives you the greatest satisfaction as a professor? I gain satisfaction in several ways. First, seeing my students deeply and passionately discuss a topic in class is satisfying. This is not always easy to accomplish, but when it happens, it’s a fantastic feeling! Also, I am a strong believer in the obligation a land grant institution has to its community. I directly engage students with external partners, and have designed programs that have my students working with community partners. It is extremely rewarding to see my students in the field working hand in hand with the community to accomplish a larger goal. For example, I (along with a community partner) have designed a program, College Bound, which is a collaboration with NC State, three other universities, and a local low income elementary school. I have traditionally brought 200 PRTM volunteers to College Bound for the purpose of inspiring elementary students to think about college, while simultaneously providing an opportunity for NC State students to engage with a low-income, high minority population. Watching elementary students learn from college students, and then having discussion in our class at NCSU about what our college students gained from the experience and how they can apply this to their future is very satisfying. Finally, following my students as they graduate and enter their profession is rewarding and motivating. I enjoy keeping in touch with my students, following their successes, assisting them through challenges, and learning from them, as they can inform my teaching and help me grow as a professional.
Rocky Branch Creek is the stream that runs a mile through the heart of NC State’s campus along Sullivan Drive and behind Carmichael Gym. It was once an unsightly ditch with the distinction of being the most polluted stream in North Carolina.
Today, the creek meanders through a floodplain, full of aquatic life, and serves as a model of restoration practices for the region.
Lucy Laffitte, science education specialist for UNC-TV, used the transformation of Rocky Branch Creek as a centerpiece for her thesis when she received her Ph.D. in forestry from NC State in 2010. And she has documented the work in a new education video for Quest, a web-based venture funded by the National Science Foundation to provide education on the science of sustainability.
Laffitte was working as a graduate researcher and sustainability coordinator for Centennial Campus when she first became interested in the stream restoration project. The Rocky Branch Creek transformation was well underway and the university was interested in working on House Creek on the College of Veterinary Medicine campus and North Creek on Centennial Campus.
What interested Laffitte was not just how the project changed the creeks but how it changed attitudes, and her Ph.D. thesis focused on how institutions learn.
“Institutions grow rigid by nature over time and are not as innovative,” she says, and the way to change that “is to bring people from the margins — a student, a faculty member — into the process.”
Working for Quest, which is a collaboration of public TV stations in six states, Laffitte wrote and produced the video showing how NC State gained a new appreciation for rainwater as the Rocky Branch project unearthed the stream from culverts, integrated the flowing waters into the landscape and created floodplains to capture and filter rainwater. That appreciation is reflected in the interest in rain gardens such as those recently constructed at Syme and Lee dorms, Laffitte says.
One of the most important parts of the creek restoration was removing most of the culverts, a process called “daylighting.” “You have to put creeks in sunlight or they’ll die,” Laffitte says.
Rocky BranchCreek is continuing to change attitudes as it serves as a model for urban creek restoration. A greenway along the creek features interpretive signs that explain the restoration concepts, and the creek itself is used by students and faculty at NC State as an outdoor teaching laboratory.
— Sylvia Adcock ’81
Ally Amavisca has been fascinated with marine science for most of her life.
Amavisca, who studied marine and coastal resources as a student at NC State, works now as a marine science educator. She leads two programs at the Monterey Bay Aquarium in Monterey, California.
“I really liked teaching, so I moved to California and started doing education,” Amavisca says.
After graduating from NC State in 2004, Amavisca took a year off before starting law school at UNC. During that time she was also a marine science technician with the U.S. Coast Guard, where she primarily worked with oil spills. She worked for an environmental law firm, but soon decided that education was what she really wanted to do.
“I missed being outdoors,” Amavisca says. “I decided that maybe I didn’t want to do law.”
At the aquarium, Amavisca works with teens in the Student Oceanography Club and the Teen Conservation Leadership program.
The Student Oceanography Club is more-science oriented and allows students to come in and do experiments, hear talks from local scientists, and create conservation projects of their own. The Teen Conservation Leadership program focuses on students learning marine science and leadership through volunteering. These high school students learn leadership skills through activities such as helping families in the touch pools at the aquarium and teaching children how to properly handle the animals.
“It gives me the opportunity to inspire them and teach them to care about the ocean and the environment,” Amavisca says.
Teaching through the programs at the aquarium are not the only ways Amavisca has gotten into education. She gives talks every year to different groups about the importance of oil spill science that she learned about during her time with the Coast Guard.
She also spent three years at the Phoenix Zoo as a programs coordinator and had an opportunity as a part of the Grosvner Teacher Fellow Program with National Geographic to travel to the Arctic Circle and give talks aboard the National Geographic Explorer to other guests.
“I was the only non-formal educator, and I was super privileged to get that experience,” Amavisca says.
The favorite part of her job at the aquarium is working with the kids from the Teen Conservation Leadership program to build confidence and leadership skills.
“It’s so awesome to see the kid at the beginning of the summer who is really shy and unsure of themselves,” Amavisca says. “And then two months later, you see them blossom and have interactions with a family of four and they’re teaching the little kids about the animals.”
Given her name, it’s fitting that Snow Roberts found the inspiration to pursue adventure travel on trip in the scenic landscape of Alaska.
It was 2000 and she had just finished her master’s degree in parks, recreation and tourism management at NC State. The sense of accomplishment she felt from completing her graduate studies blended with the phenomenal backdrop of Prince William Sound to give her a feeling she longed to experience outside of a crammed office and 9-to-5 life. She kayaked for the first time. She battled the chill of the sound’s icy waters.
And Roberts, who now organizes trips for her Blue Highway Adventures, walked away changed.
“It was a very natural experience that fueled me for other trips,” she says. “I want to make every trip like that one. Just very unique.”
Roberts says she was also inspired to pursue a profession in adventure travel from the time in her youth she spent going to camps and forming bonds in small groups. She went to camps around North Carolina and even went on a three-week camping trip to California.
“I was just immersed in that experience where you meet an entire new group of people in a cabin,” she says. “You can forge great relationships that way. …I took this group of friendships that were formed through those experiences, and they stood the test of time.”
Snow Roberts at Bryce Canyon, Utah.
After graduate school at NC State, she worked for Broadreach, a company that sends kids on educational adventures around the world, for roughly 11 years. Then in 2013 she began Blue Highway Adventures on her own.
She’s now gearing up for a summer of trips that will send participants to exotic locales and incorporate crossfit training. But she’s finding that the business side of things offers her a new education and that doing her own marketing, web design and legal paperwork is far away from a bike ride through Holland or hike in Peru.
“There’s whole side of things not necessarily in my wheelhouse, and I’m having so much fun learning about it,” says Roberts, who explains the genesis of her first name is actually a family hand-me-down and a marketing coup. “It’s so unique. It serves me great in the travel adventure industry.”
Roland Kays is a research associate professor and director of the Biodiversity and Earth Observation Lab at the Nature Research Center at the N.C. Museum of Natural Sciences.
We talked with Kays for the winter issue of NC State magazine about his role on a team that confirmed a new mammal species, the olinguito, during a 2006 expedition to the cloud forests of Ecuador. News of the discovery — which came after research in museums and elsewhere suggested that such a species might exist — captured the attention around the globe when it was announced last summer.
Our interview with Kays covered more ground than we could fit in the magazine, so here are excerpts from the rest of the interview:
What do you know about the olinguito’s diet? We definitely saw them eating fruit, so we know they eat fruit. If you look at their teeth, they’re kind of pointy like a predator or like an insect eater. So we think they might eat some other stuff.
How were you able to get so much information about the olinguito by looking at in the trees? Well, we shot one and put it in the museum collections. If you want to describe a new species, you need to have a voucher specimen. You need to have that in your hand. We didn’t want to kill any of them. It’s not very fun. But we had to have our vouchers so that other scientists can go back and verify our findings, and also so we can have the fresh DNA to make these comparisons.
What does this discovery tell us about the area where the olinguito was found? It shows that the tree canopies are this sort of frontier of discovery, that there’s still a lot of unknown stuff up there. I’m sure there’s more discoveries to be made in these forests, and especially in the canopies.
How does the olinguito compare to other olingos? This one is a lot redder, has a bushier tail and is smaller – it’s actually the smallest member now of the raccoon family.
How is it possible that we’re still discovering new mammal species at this point? Every year we’re finding new mammals, and most of them are bats and rats and smaller things. But the age of discovery in mammals is still ongoing. There’s still lots and lots to learn.
Why are such discoveries important? There are still things to learn about our planet and still just this basic cataloguing of what’s here that is ongoing. It’s an important endeavor. This discovery, in particular, highlights the importance of these cloud forest habitats, that these are really special places that are really diverse. In addition to the olinguito, there’s a special bear called the spectacled bear that lives only in South America, only in these cloud forests. This is a really special habitat that is under siege by developing agriculture. This really highlights the fact that these are biologically rich places that deserve protection.
Were there any common mistakes in the reporting of the discovery? Yes, but it’s a little complicated so I can’t necessarily blame them. They reported that it’s the first new carnivore [discovered] in 35 years. But when we say carnivore in this way we mean member of the order Carnivora, which is a group of mammals that includes the raccoons, the bears, the weasels, the dogs, the cats. And most of them eat meat, but a lot of them don’t. So in this case, this is a fruit-eating carnivore. And so the press messed that up a lot — they called it a meat eater.
Caldwell Fellows and alumni came together in the Brickyard this weekend to turn scrap planks of plywood into a red lean-to for the 22nd annual Shack-a-Thon, a weeklong fundraiser for Habitat for Humanity of Wake County.
Beginning Monday, the shack became a temporary home for participating Caldwell Fellows. In addition to manning their shack during the day, the Fellows will take turns spending the night until the event ends at 5 p.m. Friday.
Julia Rao and Ryan O’Donnell pass time in the Caldwell Fellows’ shack.
Julia Rao, a sophomore in mechanical engineering, helped build the shack on Sunday and was one of the first to staff it on Monday.
“When we started we had absolutely no plan,” Rao says. “I’m impressed we were able to make it look this good.”
Ryan O’Donnell, a junior in business administration, joined Rao in the shack. Looking up from his Chinese homework, he mentioned that this year’s shack is slightly larger than those in previous years. “We’ll be able to fit more people in it, that’s for sure,” he says.
According to Shack-a-Thon rules, each organization’s shack must be manned by at least two students at all times and can be no larger than 12-by-12 feet.
Last year, the Fellows raised about $3,400 and placed third behind the first-place Poole College of Management and second-place College of Natural Resources. According to Summer Higdon, a senior in wildlife biology and leader of the Caldwell Fellows’ Shack-a-Thon effort, the group hopes to raise $4,000 this week through in-person and online donations.
In addition to collecting donations, the group will raffle off donated gift certificates and coupons from local restaurants.
Higdon says she plans on spending most of her free time in the shack this week. “Everyone seems really excited about it,” she says. “It’s more exciting when you can see it there and you think ‘oh I get to live in this shack, that’s really cool.’”
To contribute to Habitat for Humanity through the Caldwell Fellows, visit 2013ncsushack.kintera.org.
– Alex Sanchez
The Caldwell Fellows program is an intensive leadership-development scholarship program that was created by the Alumni Association to honor the legacy of Chancellor John T. Caldwell.
The Alumni Association is honoring 21 NC State professors with the 2013 Faculty Awards for their outstanding work in the classroom, in the laboratory and in the field. We talked (via email) with some of the recipients about their work and the keys to being a successful professor.
Today we’re visiting with Michelle Harrolle, an assistant professor in the Department of Parks, Recreation and Tourism Management in the College of Natural Resources. Harrolle is one of seven professors being recognized as Alumni Association Outstanding Teachers.
What prompted you to become a professor? I love teaching and always have. Thinking back to my childhood, my friends and I would play school and I always wanted to be the teacher. Teaching is in my nature and a part of who I am. My road to becoming a professor began in 2006 when I was a collegiate head swimming coach at Providence College. I realized I enjoyed the teaching aspects of being a college coach.
What are the keys to being a successful teacher/professor? First and foremost, I believe teachers truly need to care about their students. I always want to see my students succeed. The second most important part of my success has been my willingness to change and adapt. As society changes, so do our student. I enjoy adapting my teaching techniques (e.g., encouraging students to use laptop and tablets in class) and developing strategies to improve my teaching and student engagement (e.g., using student response systems in class).
What gives you the greatest satisfaction as a professor? When students are critically thinking and they have that “a-ha” moment, I am a very happy professor. I love it when former students come back after graduation and tell me they have used financial ratios and break-even analysis within their professions.
NC State University, the Wolfpack Club and the Alumni Association will recognize some of NC State’s greatest stars tonight at Prestonwood Country Club in Cary, N.C., honoring 18 alumni and friends of the university for their professional and personal accomplishments and their continuing support of NC State, the Wolfpack Club and the Alumni Association.
The honorees at the 9th Annual NC State Evening of Stars are:
COLLEGE DISTINGUISHED AWARD RECIPIENTS
Tommy Bunn ’66, College of Agriculture and Life Sciences: Bunn, president of the U.S. Tobacco Cooperative, has spent more than 45 years in the tobacco industry. He got his start growing tobacco on his family farm, then went on to work for 21 years as executive vice president of the Leaf Tobacco Exporters Association and the Tobacco Association of the United States. He also worked in the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the N.C. Department of Agriculture, and was a charter member and chairman of the Golden Leaf Foundation Board of Directors.
Charlie Stuber ’65 PhD, College of Agriculture and Life Sciences: For more than 35 years, Stuber held a joint appointment as a genetics professor at NC State and a research geneticist with the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Agricultural Research Service. Stuber then came out of retirement to return to NC State in 2006 to develop and direct the Center for Plant Breeding and Applied Plant Genomics. The USDA Agricultural Research Service named him the Outstanding Scientist of the Year in 1989 and inducted Stuber into their Science Hall of Fame in 1989.
Steven Schuster ’73, College of Design: Schuster is the founding principal of Clearscapes, a full-service architectural design firm in Raleigh. Under Schuster’s leadership, Clearscapes has been recognized with more than 75 design awards and worked on such notable projects as the Marbles Kids Museum in Raleigh, the Haw River Ball Room, the Raleigh Convention Center and the Contemporary Art Museum. Schuster is also a national leader in the historic preservation community. He serves on the Board of Visitors at NC State.
Robert Bridges ’70 MED, College of Education: Bridges taught sixth grade and then high school in Wake County before becoming principal at Crosby-Garfield Elementary School. He then went on to work in Wake County’s central office as a director, assistant superintendent and deputy superintendent before becoming the superintendent in 1984. After five years leading the state’s second largest public school system, Bridges went on to become provost at St. Augustine College in Raleigh, and then worked as an education and management consultant and chaired the N.C. Advisory Commission on Raising Achievement and Closing Gaps.
Stephen Angel, ’77, College of Engineering: Angel is chair, president and CEO of Praxair, Inc., a Fortune 300 company that ranks as the largest industrial gases producer and distributor in North and South America, with sales of $11 billion in 2011. Before joining Praxair, Angel spent more than two decades at GE, most recently as general manager of the company’s $2 billion power equipment business. He serves on the board of directors of the U.S.-China Business Council and PPG Industries, and is a member of the Business Roundtable, the Business Council and the U.S.-Brazil Forum.
Jimmy Clark ’74, College of Engineering: Clark is the owner and president of Guy M. Turner, Inc., a diversified company that is a leader in the handling and moving of the heaviest equipment in the fields of rigging, machine tool installation, crane services and specialized transportation. The company has 12 offices in the United States and Canada. Clark serves on the NC State Board of Trustees, as well as on the board of directors for the NC State Alumni Association and the Engineering Foundation. He previously chaired the NC State Board of Visitors.
John Edmond ’87, College of Engineering: While earning his PhD in material sciences and engineering, Edmond teamed with other graduate students and young faculty on some promising silicon carbide research. Upon graduation, the group co-founded what became CREE Inc., one of the world’s top LED manufacturers. Today, Edmond is director of advanced optoelectronics for the Durham-based company, which makes energy-efficient LED lights, lighting components and semiconductor products.
Susan Warren Rabon ’82, College of Humanities and Social Sciences: Rabon is a member of the N.C. Utilities Commission, which regulates the rates and services of all of the state’s public utilities. Rabon, who received her law degree from the University of Virginia, has also worked as a clerk in the N.C. Court of Appeals, as special counsel and then chief of staff for the N.C. Department of Justice, and senior assistant for administration in the office of the governor. She has previously served on the NC State Board of Visitors.
Kevin Beasley ’79, Poole College of Management: Beasley, a CPA, is a partner-in-charge of tax practice at the Raleigh office of Grant Thornton, one of the Big Six international accounting firms. He previously worked at Arthur Anderson, where he rose to the position of partner and earned a spot in the inaugural class of the NC State Accounting Hall of Fame.
Ray Tanner ’80, College of Natural Resources: Tanner, a former All-ACC baseball player at NC State, was named athletics director for the University of South Carolina last year after spending 25 years as a collegiate head baseball coach, including nine years as the head coach at NC State. Under Tanner’s direction, the baseball team at South Carolina won two NCAA Division I Baseball Championships and made six appearances in the College World Series. Tanner has been named National Coach of the Year three times.
Sung Won Lee, ’60 MS, ’67 PhD, College of Physical and Mathematical Sciences: After earning his graduate degrees at NC State, Lee returned to his native South Korea to lead the S-Oil Corporation to success as the third largest oil refinery in Korea. He also served as chairman of two South Korean chemical companies. But his passion is downhill skiing, and his family built Korea’s oldest and largest ski and snowboard resort, which will host alpine skiing events for the 2018 Winter Olympics and 2018 Winter Paralympics. Lee is founder and president of the Asian Ski Federation, former vice president of the Olympic Council of Asia and honorary president of the Korean Ski Association.
Michael Fralix ’00 PhD, College of Textiles: Fralix is the president and CEO of [TC]2, a company that develops next generation supply chain technologies such as 3-D body scanners used in product development for apparel and equipment, made-to-measure clothing, clothing size and style recommendations and body shape analysis.
Dr. Laura Rush ’97 DVM, College of Veterinary Medicine: Rush began her career as a registered nurse, specializing in the care of cancer patients, before going to vet school. Following graduation, she joined the faculty at The Ohio State University College of Veterinary Medicine and headed a laboratory funded by the National Institute of Health that focused on cancer research in dogs and humans. Rush now works as vice president and associate medical director for GSW Worldwide, a healthcare marketing firm where she helps develop marketing strategies for healthcare companies.
WOLFPACK CLUB AWARD
Nora Lynn Finch, Ronnie Shavlik Award: Finch was a pioneer for collegiate women’s athletics, serving as the ACC’s first female assistant athletics director and negotiated the first women’s basketball tournament television contract with CBS. At NC State, Finch served as head volleyball and softball coach, associate head coach for women’s basketball, and assistant, associate and senior associate athletics director. She is currently the ACC’s associate commissioner for women’s basketball operations and senior women’s administrator. She has been inducted into the National Women’s Sports Hall of Fame.
ALUMNI ASSOCIATION AWARDS
Ryan DeJong ’05, Outstanding Young Alumnus: DeJong, chief operating officer of FIRM Consulting Group, has led the Tampa NC State Alumni Network since 2007. As network leader, DeJong has aggressively promoted his alma mater and the Alumni Association. He recruits and manages volunteers to staff local college fairs and plans many types of group activities for his fellow Tampa Wolfpackers.
Sherice Nivens ’98, Outstanding Young Alumnus: Nivens, cardiac sales manager for Intuitive Surgical, is a member of the PAMS Alumni and Friends Advisory Board and a founding member of the Dean’s Circle. She served as the keynote speaker for the 2009 Department of Chemistry graduation ceremony and the 2010 Society of African American Physical and Mathematical Scientists annual banquet.
Bill Collins ’54, ’61 MS, Meritorious Service Award: Collins, a world renowned expert in tobacco field production, was a Philip Morris Professor in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences for 28 years. Since retiring in 2005, Collins joined the CALS Office of College Advancement as senior director of development. He is a former member of the board of directors of the Alumni Association.
Judi Grainger ’72 MS, Meritorious Service Award: Grainger served as president of the Alumni Association board of directors in 2011 and served for a total of 14 years on the board. She also serves on the NC State Board of Visitors, the College of Education Advisory Board and the board of directors of The State Club.