Perspectives Online

McNeill and Tolson honored as 2009-2010 CALS Distinguished Alumni


Dr. Calvin McNeill unveils the 2009-2010 CALS Distinguished Alumni display, depicting biographies of McNeill and of Norris Tolson.Marc Hall Photos

In ceremonies Oct. 9, the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences presented its 2009-2010 Distinguished Alumnus awards to Calvin McNeill, M.D., and E. Norris Tolson, in recognition of their outstanding career achievements, which have brought honor and recognition to the College, and for their commitment to the land-grant principle of service to community, state and nation.

McNeill, of East Orange, N.J., is senior director of brand safety for Novartis Pharmaceutical Corporation. Tolson, of Pinetops, is president and CEO of the N.C. Biotechnology Center.

A native of Raeford, McNeill, graduated with a bachelorís degree in biological sciences, with honors, from N.C. State in 1976. He then attended the UNC School of Medicine as a North Carolina Board of Governors Medical Scholar, graduating in 1980. He completed an anesthesiology internship and a diagnostic radiology residency at the Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, D.C.

Dr. Calvin McNeill (center) is presented his College of Agriculture and Life Sciences Distinguished Alumnus Award for life sciences by Dr. Jim Woodward (left), interim NCSU chancellor, and Dr. Johnny Wynne, CALS dean. The Distinguished Alumnus for agriculture was Norris Tolson, who was not present at the ceremony.
McNeill then started his distinguished medical career as medical officer and radiologist in the U.S. Army. From there, he moved into pharmaceutical research, serving as manager of Professional Services for Squibb Diagnostics, assistant director of Medical and Clinical Affairs for Whitehall-Robbins Healthcare, medical director and head of Global Safety for Glaxo SmithKline and senior director of Risk Management for Daichi Sankyo Pharma, before his current role with Novartis Pharmaceutical Corporation. His affiliations include the Radiological Society of North America, the American Society for Clinical Pharmacology and Therapeutics, and the National Medical Association, as well as the Phi Kappa Phi Honorary Society as a life member.

McNeillís service to N.C. State and his community is exceptional. Chosen as the 1999 N.C. State Alumni Association Outstanding Young Alumnus, McNeill has served on the N.C. State Alumni Association Board of Directors and the N.C. State Athletics Council, and he is currently a member of the N.C. State Board of Visitors. McNeill is a charter and lifetime member of the N.C. State Alumni Association and is a contributor to the N.C. State Wolfpack Club, N.C. State Alumni Association and several other N.C. State entities. His generous gifts have allowed him inclusion into the L.L. Polk and W.C. Riddick lifetime giving societies, and he is a regular member of the Chancellorís Circle for annual giving.

Within his community, McNeill participates in the Big Brother/Big Sister program of Greater Essex County, N.J. He serves the Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity as a life member, as special adviser to current general president, as adviser to the national chair of the fraternityís Health and Wellness Committee and as East Orange, N.J., community organizer.

An Edgecombe County native, Norris Tolson graduated from N.C. State in 1962 with a bachelorís degree in crop science. He then served in the U.S. Army Counter Intelligence Corps before taking a position with DuPont. Tolson held various domestic and international research, marketing and sales responsibilities in DuPontís agricultural products and electronics divisions.

Tolson has served North Carolina in the N.C. House of Representatives and as the stateís Secretary of Revenue, as well as secretary of the stateís departments of Transportation and Commerce. In 1999, he was chair of the North Carolina Hurricane Floyd Relief Fund.

Dr. Calvin McNeill responds after receiving his award as 2009-2010 CALS Distinguished Alumnus, at the Collegeís Alumni Awards Reception, held Oct. 9 at the N.C. State University Club, Centennial Campus.
His latest efforts have concentrated on developing North Carolinaís biotechnology industry. He was one of five co-conveners leading the creation of North Carolinaís Strategic Plan for Biofuels.

Tolsonís support of N.C. State University has earned his inclusion in the L.L. Polk and Pullen lifetime giving societies. He serves on the N.C. State Board of Trustees, the N.C. State College of Educationís Foundation Board and the N.C. State Alumni Association Board of Directors. Within the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, he has advised on numerous issues, especially those related to legislative funding, and he has been a dedicated fund-raiser for the CALS Alumni and Friends Society.

In March 2009, Tolson was honored with the Watauga Medal, the highest non-academic award bestowed by N.C. State University.