NC State People Category
It is widely known that NC State students often go on to become great engineers, entrepreneurs, teachers, scientists and military leaders.
What may not be as widely known is the university’s track record in producing college and university presidents.
But on this day in 1951, the Technician reported that NC State was “rapidly gaining a nation-wide reputation as a training ground for college and university presidents.”
William G. Van Note
The story was prompted by the news that William G. Van Note, head of NC State’s Department of Engineering Research, was set to become the new president of Clarkson College of Technology in Postdam, N.Y. The paper said Van Note would be the fifth faculty member from NC State (or State College, as it was known then) to become university presidents since 1939.
Others who made the leap were:
- Blake R. Van Leer, former dean of engineering at NC State, who became president of Georgia Tech.
- Robert F. Poole, former dean of the graduate school at NC State, who became president of what was then known as Clemson College.
- Carlyle Campbell, former head of the English department at NC State, who became president of Meredith College.
- David A. Lockmiller, former head of the Department of History and Political Science, who became president of the University of Chattanooga.
Too often, talk around the water cooler on Mondays involves this wronged football fan griping about that blown call by the refs. (Luckily, that’s not the case for NC State fans today, as the Wolfpack rolled South Florida on Saturday, 49-17).
But technology that NC State researchers have introduced may help to mute some of the grumbling and Monday-morning officiating.
David Ricketts, associate professor of electrical and computer engineering, and Dan Stancil, department head for NC State’s Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, are part of a team that developed the Magneto-Track System. It’s technology that helps television viewers track the football with their eyes when they’re watching a game.
“It’s not meant to replace the chain, but to enhance the viewing experience,” Ricketts says. “When the quarterback hikes the ball, you don’t see it. The next time you see it, someone’s running it or the quarterback is throwing it.”
The research began at the Disney Research Lab at Carnegie Mellon University, where Ricketts and Stancil taught before coming to NC State. Ricketts says they were trying to do some research with sports visualization, and since Disney owned ESPN, it made sense that the team turned to football.
How Magneto-Track works is pretty easy to understand. There is an antenna inside of the football, wrapped around the belly of the ball. Also enclosed under the pigskin is a transmitter, which can be picked up by various antennae set up around the field.
The exchange is predicated on a magnetic field, not radio waves. “Why that is important is that radio waves, like with cell phones, get blocked by people,” Ricketts says. “But with magnetic fields, it goes right through. We can figure out where the ball is.”
An antenna and a transmitter are placed inside the football under the pigskin, making the tracking possible.
Ricketts believes the technology is ideal for situations where the ball goes missing at the bottom of a pile on a goal-line stand or at the bottom of a rugby scrum. In fact, he adds, one of the leading rugby manufacturers in Europe has expressed interest in adding the technology to their balls.
But as of now, there’s not any discussions between the researchers and the NCAA or the NFL to introduce Magneto-Track to their respective games.
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.
The last remnants of Riddick Stadium, as noted in the winter issue of NC State magazine, came down last April when the stadium’s field house was demolished to improve pedestrian access and safety near the railroad tunnel. That means that the only remaining salute to one of the most important figures in NC State’s history is Riddick Hall, which houses the physics department.
And as much as Wallace Carl Riddick did for the university, both as an athletics coach and as an administrator trying to grow NC State, it’s fitting that the campus can’t wholly shake his name.
Riddick first came to NC State in the college’s infancy, joining the North Carolina College of Agriculture and Mechanic Arts in 1892. He came as a professor of civil engineering after graduating UNC-Chapel Hill and obtaining a graduate degree from Lehigh University (and, according to his obituary in the American Society of Civil Engineers, even being expelled from Wake Forest College for being a member of a fraternity, or as the college saw it, a secret society).
In his years of building a robust civil engineering department at the college, Riddick became known as being the “father of engineering in North Carolina,” as former chancellor J.W. Harrelson once described him. And David Lockmiller, in his History of the North Carolina State College of Agriculture and Engineering, credits Riddick’s efforts as being the driving force behind bringing sewer connections and city water to campus in the early 1900s. Riddick also coached the 1898 and 1899 football squads.
Riddick was elected vice-president in 1908 and president in 1916. The college’s name was changed to North Carolina State College of Agriculture and Engineering during his time in office, according to Hardy D. Berry’s Place Names on the Campus of North Carolina State University. Riddick gave up the post in 1923 to become the first dean of the School of Engineering.
When Riddick Engineering Laboratories were dedicated in April 1951, the formal program memorialized Riddick, who had died in 1942, as “the man who has served State College in more capacities and for a longer time than any other person.” It also hailed his leadership for guiding “the college through the turbulent period of the first world war and its aftermath. Under his guidance the college made some of its greatest progress.”
Riddick later in his life.
In Riddick’s file at the Alumni Association, there is a letter from his wife, Lillian Daniel Riddick, in which she outlines her husband’s belief in NC State and the students it serves. She tells a story about a group of Serbian students who were brought over to study at NC State with their first year paid for. But when it became apparent that personnel changes at the college had led to those same students not having a funding source for their remaining three years, Riddick stepped in. As president, he persuaded the Board of Trustees to let the Serbian young men finish their studies with the college giving them their tuition and board.
It was that belief in education that defined Riddick and his commitment to NC State, where his name will never be forgotten.
Lewis Worth Seagondollar, who witnessed the testing of the first atomic bomb as a scientist on the Manhattan Project before becoming head of the physics department at NC State, died in Raleigh on Friday. He was 92.
Seagondollar joined the faculty at NC State in 1965, serving as head of the physics department from 1965-75, and as a physics professor until his retirement in 1991. He had worked as a professor at the University of Kansas before coming to NC State.
Seagondollar began his career as one of the youngest scientists to work on the Manhattan Project to figure out how to create the first nuclear bombs as part of a secret arms race with Germany during World War II. He was part of a three-man team, known as the W Group, that did experiments at Los Alamos Nuclear Laboratory that verified the critical mass of Plutonium 239, a fissionable material that is used to create a nuclear chain reaction and create a blast. As the team’s junior member, Seagondollar worked an overnight shift beginning at midnight, but also had the chance to encounter notable scientists such as J. Robert Oppenheimer and Enrico Fermi.
As part of his work on the Manhattan Project, Seagondollar was one of a handful of people who witnessed the first test explosion of an atomic bomb, at a bombing range south of Los Alamos, New Mexico. Seagondollar described the Trinity Test in a 2010 article in The News & Observer and in a 2007 speech at the American Center for Physics.
Seagondollar and other observers were stationed nine miles from the bomb site and, according to the story, told to look in the opposite direction of the blast. Seagondollar was wearing the darkest lenses he could find, the dark blue glass used by welders. But even with their backs turned, the assembled scientists were startled by what they witnessed.
“The amount of light that I saw there was the most intense light I have ever seen in my life, and I hope to God I never see another thing like that,” Seagondollar recalled in his 2007 speech. “There were mountains in the distance, and they actually seemed to mechanically jump forward.”
After counting to 15, Seagondollar turned to see the explosion. He initially thought he had forgotten to wear his dark glasses. “I was looking through the blue glass, but it was just pure white light coming through,” he said in the newspaper article.
Seagondollar described what he saw as “the proverbial mushroom cloud.” “It was not particularly loud, but it was heavy rolling thunder,” he said.
One of Seagondollar’s colleagues invited him to return to the site 30 days after the explosion to check on some experiments. Seagondollar said in his 2007 speech that he was struck by how small the hole from the blast was – about 30-40 feet wide. “Outside of that crater, though, it was really horrifying,” he recalled. “The desert floor had simply melted and was green glass. It had begun to break up into chunks about so big, and it was quite radioactive.”
An undated photo of Worth Seagondollar from his time at NC State. (Photo courtesy of Historical State, NCSU Libraries)
Years later, after giving a speech at NC State about his work on the Manhattan Project, Seagondollar was forced to confront the reality of how the atomic bomb had been used in Japan. During his speech, Seagondollar had said that the bombs had been effective and positive in bringing the war to an end. After he was finished speaking, Seagondollar noticed a member of the audience approaching him. It was a professor visiting from Japan, and he used his cane to whack one of his own legs. It made a hollow sound.
“He told me that he had lost his leg at Hiroshima, and that he agreed that what happened was beneficial to both the Americans and the Japanese,” Seagondollar recalled in the newspaper account.
Throughout his career, Seagondollar sought to support and honor other physicists. He was active in Sigma Pi Sigma, the national honor society for physics, including a stint as the organization’s president. In 1999, Sigma Pi Sigma established the Worth Seagondollar Service Award in recognition of outstanding service to the organization.
Seagondollar, who died peacefully in his sleep, had just celebrated his 71st wedding anniversary. He is survived by his wife, Winifred; their three children, Bryan, Laurie and Mark; and by four grandchildren and two great grandchildren. A memorial service will be held at a later date.
Rudolph “Rudy” Pate grew up on a tobacco farm in Robeson County, where he learned about the plowing, curing and harvesting of tobacco. He was active in the 4-H, serving as president of the Robeson County Council of 4-H Clubs and winning the county corn championship one year.
But as the valedictorian at Barker Ten Mile High School (so named because it sat halfway between the Barker Methodist Church and the Ten Mile Baptist Church), Pate wanted to write. He had covered the local beat for The Robesonian, the local newspaper in Lumberton, in addition to his farm duties and a part-time job at the Robeson County Cold Storage Company. Pate also knew he wanted to go to NC State, even though it didn’t have a journalism school to help him become a writer.
In the end, it didn’t matter. After graduating from NC State in 1943 with a degree in agricultural education, Pate was was able to combine his knack for storytelling with his love for NC State to become the man in charge of telling the university’s story. As the longtime head of the university’s Office of Information Services and then the university’s vice chancellor for foundations and university relations, Pate was known throughout North Carolina as the man who always had a good tale to tell about NC State and its people.
Pate, who served NC State for a total of 35 years, died Tuesday. He was 93.
“The biggest thrill in my work has been to see NCSU, in my lifetime, grow from a small land grant college to one of America’s 25 top public research universities — an amazing accomplishment,” Pate wrote after he retired from NC State in 1985.
A story in the Alumni Association’s magazine following his retirement described Pate as a “grinning Robeson County farm boy” who knew how to promote his beloved university with homespun stories. The story quoted an unnamed university benefactor talking about his experience with Pate: “I had some money in my pocket once. Got to missing it and thought someone had stolen it. Come to find out, Rudy had talked me out of it.”
But no matter how Pate was described, the story said, most people considered Pate a friend and treasured “the good humor that radiates from him like warmth from a cozy stove. And if, in the glow of a shared laugh, he begins to talk about the important contributions of North Carolina State University, most people find themselves persuaded.”
During his years as a student at NC State, Pate worked in the College News Bureau and wrote for the Technician and The Wataugan, a campus humor and literary magazine. During his senior year, Pate was editor of The Agriculturist, a magazine published by students in the School of Agriculture. He was a member of the YMCA Cabinet, the Student Government Council and Golden Chain, the university’s top honor society.
Upon graduation, Pate went to work as an agriculture teacher at his old high school. It wasn’t long, though, before he felt the pull back to NC State. Within a few months, Pate returned to work at the College News Bureau. A few years later, Pate returned home to Lumberton when The Robesonian offered him a job as city editor. Five months later, Chancellor John Harrelson traveled to Lumberton to convince Pate to come back to NC State, according to a 1952 story in The News & Observer naming Pate “Tar Heel of the Week.”
Pate would go on to serve 19 years as director of the State College News Bureau and 16 years as head of the university’s development and public relations efforts. Between those two periods, he served as associate director of the Southern Regional Education Board in Atlanta and as assistant to UNC President William Friday, a friend from their days as students at NC State.
Pate was well respected by reporters and editors throughout North Carolina, in part because of his willingness to deal with them on unfavorable stories about the university as well as those that told of the university’s accomplishments.
The “Tar Heel of the Week” story about Pate summarized his philosophy on negative stories: “The quicker you get them over with, the better. Get out all the truth as quickly as possible. That means fewer stories, and the story will die and be forgotten more quickly.”
But Pate loved to tell of the university’s many achievements, even if it required extra reading at home to make sure he understood the work being done in areas such as nuclear physics engineering. He would then write stories about NC State on his Royal typewriter (he employed the hunt-and-peck method with his two pointer fingers.).
Pate’s wife, Paige, also did her part to promote the university — even if it meant resorting to a bit of superstition. In 1967, The Raleigh Times told the story of a red-and-white herringbone skirt that she wore when NC State played Duke in football. The team won three straight years against Duke when Pate wore the lucky skirt. “I’m real happy State won Saturday, but I’m more inclined to think it was because of Earle Edwards and the boys and not my skirt,” she told the newspaper.
During his years at NC State, Pate chaired the committee that created the Watauga Medal and was a member of the committee that created the plans for creating the University of North Carolina Television Network. Private donations to the university and its foundations increased from $1.3 million a year to $6.8 million a year in 1984, according to an account at the time of his retirement.
Even in retirement, Pate continued to serve the university. He was a consultant in the construction of the Park Alumni Center, home of the Alumni Association, on Centennial Campus. His daughter, Mary Paige, and her husband, Bill Murray, are both graduates of NC State.
“NCSU provided ‘a window to the world’ for me, as a student, and opened up the doors for me,” Pate wrote upon his retirement. “With the help of many fine people (and especially Paige), I was able to walk through those doors and proceed to this point in my life. I will, therefore, always be indebted to the University for its guidance and inspiration and hope, in some minor manner, to be able to continue to assist it.”
Pate, who lived in Georgetown, S.C., is survived by his daughter, Mary Paige Murray, son-in-law, Bill Murray, of Georgetown, S.C., his granddaughter, Cameron Kelly, her husband, Chad Kelly, of Raleigh, and brother and sister-in-law, Eugene and Phyllis Pate of Lumberton, N.C.
The family will receive visitors at 1 p.m. Friday at Mitchell Funeral home, 7209 Glenwood Avenue, Raleigh. Funeral services will follow at 2 p.m. Interment will be at Raleigh Memorial Park.
In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made to The Rudolph Pate Endowment, N.C. State Alumni Association, attn: Becky Bumgardner, Office of University Development, Campus Box 7501, Raleigh, N.C., 27695-7501 or Tidelands Hospice, 2591 N. Fraser St., Georgetown, S.C., 29440.
The Wolfpack has lost a dear friend and one of its most ardent supporters, as Frank Weedon, a former NC State senior associate director of athletics, has died.
Weedon, a native of Washington, D.C., held several posts in the athletics department and did just about anything imaginable to help Wolfpack athletics flourish.
After graduating from the University of Maryland and serving for three years in the U.S. Army, Weedon joined NC State in 1960 as the department’s sports information director, a post he held for 12 years. He became an assistant athletics director and then a senior athletics director in an administrative career that spanned 23 years.
He was a fixture at NC State sporting events. He was the mind behind listing NC State basketball legend Tommy Burleson’s height at 7-foot-4, making him more of a headline as the tallest player in the country, even though Burleson was closer to 7-foot-2. He was the one who suggested Kay Yow’s name when Willis Casey wanted to hire the first woman to coach in women’s athletics at NC State. Weedon once even collected a technical foul at a Wolfpack basketball game. And he created the Wolfpack Radio Network so fans across the state could tune in to listen to games.
Even though he retired from the university in 1995, Weedon remained heavily involved in athletics. He became the keeper of Wolfpack sports history, gathering memorabilia for the Hall of Champions inside the Murphy Center.
Weedon, who was 82, had been declining in health in recent years, the News & Observer reported today.
NC State has had 14 chancellors lead the university throughout it’s history, but none resisted the job more than Carey Bostian, who served as chancellor from 1953-59.
In the summer of 1953, he was unanimously elected to succeed John Harrelson, and Bostian agreed to take the job under one condition — that he be allowed to step down in just a couple of years. And it was on this day 60 years ago that he took office as the chancellor of NC State College.
He eventually stayed in the position for six years and dealt with a larger faculty role in running the college, students wanting more campus freedoms and the beginnings of the integration debate on campus.
Despite his administration’s challenges, Bostian served as a needed leader during a time of changing dynamics at NC State. “The college was undergoing various stresses in the 1950s with the burgeoning enrollments and limited autonomy under the UNC Consolidated University,” Hardy D. Berry wrote in Place Names on the campus of North Carolina State University.
Bostian stepped down in 1959 to return to what he loved best — teaching. He won the Alumni Distinguished Teaching Award in 1968 and retired from teaching at NC State in 1973, after more than 40 years of service to the university. Today, Bostian Hall, which houses the botany, entomology, microbiology and zoology departments, bears his name.
In the 1947 Agromeck‘s dedication, the staff wrote that Bostian was “a wise counselor, a true friend, and an inspiration to all.”
Photo by Kevin Jones, USA Baseball.
NC State baseball pitching phenom Carlos Rodon spent his summer doing what comes naturally — playing baseball.
But he, along with teammate Trea Turner, traded in his Wolfpack jersey for the red, white and blue colors of the USA Baseball National Collegiate team.
“It’s more baseball and you use it to get better,” Rodon says of his past two months on the team that went 20-3 including exhibition games against Coastal Plain League teams, a trip through Japan and a five-game sweep of Cuba back in the U.S. “You get to represent your country. And who doesn’t like playing baseball?”
Rodon went 3-0 with the team, pitching two dominant victories in the Cuba series, the second one coming July 23 at Durham Bulls Athletic Park. It’s a place where Rodon shined against UNC in the ACC tournament in May. He had 11 strikeouts in his last performance against Cuba. “I wouldn’t say the park does it,” Rodon says of his dominance at the DBAP, “but I love playing there.”
Future opponents of Rodon might fear his involvement in international competition more than those he just finished striking out. That’s because the Wolfpack junior feels he came out of the experience with another pitch in his repertoire going into next season. “I worked on my change-up and found a lot of command,” he says. “It’s just another pitch I can add to my arsenal.”
Former Student Body President Norris Tolson likes to kid fellow Wolfpacker Jim Hunt about the former governor’s knack for politics even before he ran for state office.
“He had a machine long before he became a politician in state government,” Tolson, a 1962 graduate of NC State, said in an interview with the Student Leadership Initiative. The NCSU Libraries project chronicles former student leaders’ time on campus. “He had a machine at NC State so a lot of us who had been in [Future Farmers of America] were recruited into the Governor Hunt machine when he was at NC State.”
Tolson talked about how an emphasis on leadership in his high school experience in Pinetops, N.C., led to a seamless transition into influential roles when he arrived at what he called “the big city.” “So I got very involved early on and it just became a way of life,” Tolson said. “I enjoyed it, I enjoy that, I still enjoy being involved in policy making.”
That involvement in policy-making has always come easy for Tolson, who serves on the NC State Board of Trustees and the Alumni Association’s board of directors. He’s also worked in state government and is the president and CEO of the N.C. Biotechnology Center, a nonprofit funded by the state to accelerate commercialization of science and technology coming from the university and private researchers.
In Tolson’s five interviews with the Student Leadership Initiative, he discussed how campus leadership forces student participants to balance service with their schoolwork. And he stressed the importance of the university’s honor code during his time on campus.
“That was in the day when you violated the rules you got kicked out,” he said. “You didn’t get mollycoddled or you didn’t get pampered. You were kicked out of school, and that was a very serious offense for a young person at NC State.”