ECSU holds dedication ceremony: Dr. Helen Marshall Caldwell School of Education and Psychology

ECSU holds dedication ceremony: Dr. Helen Marshall Caldwell School of Education and Psychology

Kesha Williams
March 13, 2012


The second of Elizabeth City State University's four academic schools of study now bears a name selected to honor a cherished member of the community. On March 10, a crowd of current and former administrators, faculty, staff, students, area residents and elected officials gathered to celebrate. The Helen Marshall Caldwell School of Education and Psychology is named in honor of the university's first female Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs and the first female and first African American to serve as chairperson of the 16-campus University of North Carolina Faculty Assembly. She also served as vice chairman of that assembly.

Caldwell served a total of 44 years at ECSU but nine years as Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs. Previously she had been a distinguished faculty member who rose from instructor to full professor with tenure in the ECSU Department of Language Literature and Communication. She started her career at ECSU in 1953 and ended it in 1997. A $10,000 scholarship, funded by former ECSU Trustee Frank Skidmore, was established within the ECSU Foundation upon her retirement. Caldwell, was also granted Professor Emerita status.

"This is a tremendous honor for me to have The Helen Marshall Caldwell School of Education and Psychology carry my name, a direct result of the initiative of the young men and women I taught. Today they are renowned leaders in their own right, in every profession, teachers, professors, doctors, lawyers, entrepreneurs, engineers, many others," Caldwell said. "My family and I will be forever grateful to you, the Board of Trustees and the administration for, in my lifetime, placing my name in perpetuity in the history and archives of Elizabeth City State University-- The Helen Marshall Caldwell School of Education and Psychology."

Many of the university's premier programs were developed and added to the curriculum under her leadership as Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs.  Mathematics and art education were instituted as degree granting programs; majors in  marine environmental science, economics, social work, aviation and biology were submitted to General Administration, leading to the university's offering of the first graduate degrees; the Weekend/Evening Program was planed and instituted , allowing services to the first large population of non-traditional students. During her career, she published articles, served on numerous professional and civic boards and committees, including the American Speech and Hearing Association; the Governor's Committee on Excellence in Education; the President's Council on Exceptional Children; and the American Association of State Colleges and Universities/Academic Affairs Advisory Board. In addition, she served as an associate editor of the Journal of Speech and Hearing Services in Schools.

During the program, her former students came to the podium and relayed memories of a dedicated, graceful, caring, prim instructor who was as concerned with their written responses as their oral presentations. A former student, Dr. Leonard A. Slade Jr. who has published many poems in nationally recognized magazines and academic journals, submitted a poem, "Dr. Helen Marshall Caldwell" for the dedication ceremony.

"Dr. Helen Marshall Caldwell"

She was a loyal wife.
We admired.  We see a sweet mother.
The sweetness making the soul noble,
Developing minds to the maximum.

And under her Vice Chancellorship
Elizabeth City State became nationally-ranked.
Here lives an intellectual giant

Regal with style and grace
A work celebrated that
Changed the world.

Her named immortalized
Her whole being made Divine.

She maintains the Helen and Thomas Caldwell $100,000 endowed scholarship in the ECSU Foundation which serves outstanding incoming freshmen scholars and student athletes. Her deceased husband, Thomas L. Caldwell, was a cherished football, baseball and golf coach, a Professor Emeritus, and Director of Athletics . The Thomas L. Caldwell Physical Education Center and Field House was named in his honor in 2006.

Some of her community service posts follow:
Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc.,
The Links, Incorporated,
The Hope Group;
The National Association of University Women,
National Council of Negro Women
The National Epicureans
The National Alumni Association

American Speech and Hearing Minority Educator of the Year Award
Jack and Jill Regional Director's Award
Delta Sigma Theta Outstanding Advisors Award,
Governor James B Hunt's conferral of the Order of the Long Leaf Pine (1997)

Caldwell earned a bachelor's degree in English from Virginia State University, a master's degree in Speech from New York University and a doctorate in Higher Education Administration with a cognate in Speech Pathology and Audiology from The George Washington University. Caldwell is a certified Speech Pathologist.