ECSU's Founders Day Gala VII illuminates honorees

ECSU's Founders Day Gala VII illuminates honorees
April 01, 2014

The March 8, 2014 annual Founders Day Gala brought approximately 300 people to the Kermit E White Graduate and Continuing Education Center in support of the university's seventh scholarship gala. Faculty, staff, students and alumni not only celebrated another Founders Day weekend, the 123rd, but joined guests in support of the five honorees illuminated for their contributions in business, education, government and the military. Organizers were most appreciative of supporters who contributed to the scholarship gala as well as those who attended the black tie, event--- the university's premier fundraising event. Barbara Hamm Lee, a media executive, journalist, and talk show host with WHRO/WHRV, was this year's guest mistress of ceremony who assisted Chancellor Charles Becton with the introduction of recipients of the Chancellor's Legacy Awards: Dr. Shirley Turnage, an award winning educator/administrator and consultant is the president of a grant writing firm, "Dominion Consulting & Grant-Writing, LLC." She has written and/or assisted with the writing of funded proposals in excess of $20,000,000. Turnage graduated from the institution in 1967. Turnage accepted the award reserved for the education/the arts category. Willis Langley, a former teacher, manager and area supervisor and operations manager who oversaw 22 McDonald's restaurants. He purchased his first franchise in South Carolina and grew the business into seven locations with the help of his wife Clara and their three offspring. He accepted the award reserved for the business category. Lt. Cmdr. Navin L. Griffin, an award winning U. S. Coast Guard officer, is directly responsible for maintaining mission readiness for 2,750 personnel, 8 afloat assets, 7 subunits and developing contingency and operational plans. Past posts include four years as an International Port Security Program Liaison Officer responsible for providing provide technical expertise to foreign officials regarding anti-terrorism and four years as a Command Duty Officer where he oversaw 11 subunits, 23 afloat assets, multiple duty teams who were expected to responded 24 hours per day, 7 days-a-week to 11 Coast Guard missions. He accepted the award reserved for the military category. Willie J. Stewart, Jr., a 1969 graduate of the institution, a retired District of Columbia Public Schools teacher and football coach at Anacostia High School. He has been inducted into numerous "Hall of Fames" and was featured in three NFL Film documentaries. He accepted the award reserved for the sports/entertainment category. Richard Olson, city manager for the City of Elizabeth City, currently directs a workforce of approximately 300 and administers an annual budget of $71 million. Among his many duties, Olson noted some projects he oversaw that increased public use of the areas--the renovation of 12 blocks of Elizabeth City's downtown-- a project known as "Streetscape;" the creation of Mariner's Warf Park, the South Park Baseball Complex and the River Road Soccer Complex.; the creation of the Elizabeth City Aviation Park which entailed the purchase of 63 acres --15 acres of park property reserved for ECSU's Aviation Science Program. He accepted the award reserved for those in the government category. Guest performer and four-time Grammy® Award winner, singer/songwriter, Regina Belle shared a wide selection of hits from her R&B, jazz and soul music career that spanned 25 years. She also thanked fans for embracing her most recent recordings, two gospel albums, "Love Forever Shines," a 2008 production and "Higher," a 2012 production. ECSU Vice Chancellor for Institutional Advancement William Smith said the university remains grateful for those who sponsored the fundraiser and as well as those who purchased tickets and attended. Financial support from donors remains critical to the needy and deserving students who rely on scholarships to attend ECSU, 123 years after the institution first opened its doors. Proceeds from the gala support those scholarships. Since 2009, approximately $365,000 has been raised for scholarships. The ECSU Foundation, thanks to the generosity of its supporters, has been supporting ECSU students for 43 years.