Perspectives Online

Blalock, Etheridge and Tolson honored, Collins Endowments created at annual joint foundations luncheon


Gathered at the foundations meeting are Dean Johnny Wynne (left), Keith Collins, Margie Collins, Rep. Bob Etheridge, Dr. Carlton Blalock, Norris Tolson and Chancellor Jim Woodward.
Photo by Becky Kirkland

The joint luncheon meeting of the N.C. Agricultural and Tobacco foundations on Nov. 11 was quite a red-letter day for the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences. That’s because the meeting was occasion for the annual presentation of the Ag Foundation’s two Distinguished Service awards, along with a special presentation to one of CALS’ 2009-2010 Distinguished Alumni and the signing of an endowment in the College that’s part of a planned estate gift of approximately $2.5 million to N.C. State University.

Dr. Johnny Wynne, CALS dean, who hosted the luncheon at the University Club ballroom on the N.C. State campus, welcomed the group to the 19th Annual Joint Fall Luncheon of the N.C. Agricultural and Tobacco Foundations, which also included the N.C. Dairy Foundation for the first time this year.

Larry Wooten, president of N.C. Farm Bureau and a member of the Ag, Dairy and Tobacco Foundation boards, presented the invocation, which was followed by remarks from Dr. James Woodward, NCSU chancellor.

“Thanks to all of you assembled here today for the truly wonderful leadership and support you provide for the College and N.C. State,” said Woodward, who congratulated the 2009 Agricultural Foundation Distinguished Service Award winners, Dr. Carlton Blalock and U.S. Rep. Bob Etheridge, who were honored for outstanding service to and support of the College.

Woodward called Blalock “an agricultural innovator and someone I’ve heard described as a diplomatic icon who has served our state’s citizens for the last 60 years,” and said that “Congressman Bob Etheridge exemplifies what it means to serve the people of North Carolina.”

Blalock holds a 1948 bachelor’s degree and 1952 master’s degree in animal husbandry from the College, as well as a 1963 doctorate in extension administration from the University of Wisconsin. Blalock first served N.C. State and farmers across the state as a dairy specialist before being selected as the second state 4-H leader, a position he held from 1964 to 1970. He was then promoted to director of the N.C. Agricultural Extension Service and served on the CALS administrative team until his retirement. In 2006 he was honored as a National 4-H Hall of Fame laureate, and during the 4-H Centennial Celebration in 2009, he was also inducted into the North Carolina 4-H Hall of Fame.

Blalock thanked the Ag Foundation and the College and reminisced about his travels as Extension and 4-H leader, when he found that other schools were “jealous of our foundations here at N.C. State and programs such as Nickels for Know-How.”

Etheridge serves on the Committee on Ways and Means in the 111th Congress, considered one of the most powerful committees. As a part-time farmer, Etheridge plays a unique role in protecting and promoting North Carolina’s agricultural interests. A strong advocate for higher education and N.C. State, he supported increased funding for USDA biofuels research and development in the 2008 Farm Bill. He was also an unwavering champion of the tobacco buyout legislation.

Also honored at the luncheon were Norris Tolson, 2009-2010 CALS Distinguished Alumni Award winner (along with Dr. Calvin McNeill, who received his award in October), and Margie and Keith Collins, N.C. State alumni whose planned gift will establish endowments in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences and in the College of Engineering’s Department of Computer Science.

Tolson, a 1962 CALS crop science graduate, has served in the N.C. House of Representatives and as the state’s Secretary of Revenue, as well as secretary of the state’s departments of Transportation and Commerce. He is now president and CEO of the N.C. Biotechnology Center.

Margie Collins, a 1979 CALS horticultural science graduate, who has had a successful career in nursery sales and as the local accountant for one of the largest legal firms in the Southeast, now assists nonprofits using her accounting skills. Keith Collins, a 1982 Engineering graduate in computer science, is senior vice president and chief technology officer at SAS Institute.

The Collinses’ outright and estate gifts will include a distinguished professorship and multiple endowments to benefit students in excess of $2.5 million. At the luncheon, they signed the Margaret “Margie” P. Collins Fund for the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences.

“The new fund is already providing annual support for the CALS Ambassadors program and two CALS student leaders’ scholarships,” Wynne said. “And when this legacy gift is fully realized, it will establish several named endowments to benefit the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences.”

In addition, their estate gifts will establish several named endowments to benefit the College of Engineering.

— Terri Leith