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Judith Jamison, photo courtesy of Andrew Eccles
Chancellor Debra Saunders-White
Judge Penny Brown Reynolds
NCCU Prepares for the Installation of Chancellor Debra Saunders-White
Published: Tuesday, March 04, 2014

North Carolina Central University (NCCU) will install Dr. Debra Saunders-White as its 11th chancellor at 10 a.m. on Friday, April 4, during ceremonies at McDougald-McLendon Gymnasium on campus.

Saunders-White will deliver an Installation address, and a Chancellor’s Reception will take place on Brant Street Plaza immediately following.

Saunders-White is the first woman appointed to the permanent position of chancellor at NCCU and the second female chancellor to serve at any of the University of North Carolina system’s five historically black universities. She was elected by the UNC Board of Governors on February 8, 2013, and began her duties at NCCU on June 1, 2013.

Before her appointment as chancellor, Saunders-White was assistant secretary for the Office of Postsecondary Education at the U.S. Department of Education. She previously worked as assistant provost for technology and vice president for technology and chief information officer at Hampton University, and later as vice chancellor and interim associate provost at UNC Wilmington.

Before entering higher education administration, Saunders-White spent 15 years in the corporate sector. She joined IBM in 1979 as a systems engineer and soon transitioned to marketing, where she assumed increasing levels of managerial responsibility for IBM’s higher education, finance, and public-sector marketing. By the time she left the company in 1994, she had earned numerous awards for customer engagement and other accomplishments.

A Hampton, Va., native, Saunders-White earned her bachelor’s degree in history in 1979 from the University of Virginia, where she was a DuPont Scholar.  She earned a master’s of business administration from The College of William & Mary in 1993 and a doctorate in higher education administration from The George Washington University in 2004.

“Chancellor Debra Saunders-White’s installation is undoubtedly a momentous occasion in the history of the University,” said Dr. Dwight D. Perry, chair of the NCCU Board of Trustees.  “NCCU is positioned to make a singular contribution among institutions of higher education, particularly in the South. Chancellor Saunders-White's vision, knowledge, and skill will assure that we have the leadership necessary to achieve this potential."

During the Installation ceremony, Saunders-White will receive the University Medallion and take the Oath of Office. University of North Carolina President Tom Ross will preside over the Installation.

The university has planned a full week of events, from March 28 – April 5, to celebrate the Installation of NCCU’s first female permanent chancellor. The following activities are free and open to the public.

  • A Chancellor’s Walk and Community Clean-Up event will kick off the celebration at 9 a.m. on Saturday, March 29 in the Walker Complex on campus.
  • The NCCU College of Behavioral and Social Sciences will hold a discussion, "The Great Debate - HBCUs Can They Survive?" at 6 p.m. on Saturday, March 29, in the School of Education Auditorium.
  • At 3:30 p.m. Sunday, March 30, an interfaith service will take place in McDougald-McLendon Gymnasium. The guest speaker for the event is Judge Penny Brown Reynolds, a former prosecutor and assistant attorney general in Georgia. Brown Reynolds was the first African-American to serve as executive counsel to the governor of Georgia and was appointed to the State of Georgia court judgeship in 2000 by then-Gov. Roy Barnes. Also an Emmy-nominated television personality, Brown Reynolds presides over the internationally syndicated television show “Family Court with Judge Penny,” and serves as a commentator on issues related to law, politics, religion, and women and children's issues.
  • Georges Bizet’s opera “Carmen” will be presented at B.N. Duke Auditorium at 7 p.m., Monday, March 31. This event is sponsored by the NCCU College of Arts and Sciences and will feature student performers from the Department of Music and the Department of Theater and Dance.
  • Judith Jamison, artistic director emerita of the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, will give a guest lecture and participate in a Q&A session beginning at 7 p.m. on Tuesday, April 1, at the B. N. Duke Auditorium.  Jamison joined the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater in 1965 and quickly became an international star, most notably for her tour-de-force solo Cry. She has appeared as a guest artist with ballet companies all over the world, starred in the hit Broadway musical Sophisticated Ladies, and formed her own company, The Jamison Project. She returned to Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater in 1989 to serve as artistic director. Under her leadership the company completed two historic engagements in South Africa and a 50-city global tour to celebrate the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater’s 50th anniversary.

Jamison is the recipient of numerous awards and honors, among them a prime time Emmy Award, an American Choreography Award, the Kennedy Center Honor, a National Medal of Arts, a “Bessie” Award, the Phoenix Award and the Handel Medallion. This year, she became the 50th inductee into the Hall of Fame at the National Museum of Dance in Saratoga Springs, N.Y.

  • Students will celebrate Saunders-White’s Installation with a student-only talent night at 7 p.m. on April 2 in B.N. Duke Auditorium.

The full schedule of Installation events can be found at www.nccu.edu/installation. Media wishing to cover any of the events should contact the NCCU Office of Public Relations at 919-530-6295 or publicrelations@nccu.edu. To learn more about Installation, follow the university @NCCU

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