N.C. A&T On Point Newsletter

VOL. 3 / NO. 2 / FEBRUARY 2020

Chancellor's Message
Chancellor's Message

Sharing the Story of N.C. A&T
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N.C. A&T Chancellor Martin Sr.One of the most rewarding aspects of my job is the opportunity it affords me to share the remarkable story of North Carolina A&T, particularly our transformation over the past 10 years.

February brought one of those opportunities to me in the form of a keynote speech at a higher education marketing conference, where colleagues from across the country assembled to learn about A&T, how we’ve done what we’ve done and what lies ahead.

As I shared with them, the fruits of our recent labors can be traced back to 2009 and a simple question I posed to our faculty, staff and students upon being selected as chancellor: Are you ready to compete? Their emphatic and positive response to that question was the essential predicate for a long and ongoing series of strategic changes that have made us the largest historically black university in America, its top ranked public HBCU and a national leader in STEM education.

One of the critical components of turning around a university with declining enrollment and uncertain finances was aggressively focusing on our position in the marketplace and changing the way we communicated about the A&T brand. Gone are the days when alumni and constituents complained that we were a “hidden jewel” or a “best-kept secret.” They’ve been replaced by record-setting applications, ever-climbing record enrollment, dramatic growth in our academic profile, ascent in a wide range of rankings and brand affinity among our alumni that Gallup showed leads all University of North Carolina System campuses.

None of that, of course, was an accident. Every step in the past decade’s journey was guided by our disciplined, relentless implementation of strategic planning.

The audience of marketing professionals at that recent conference appreciated the message and the evidence of intentionality behind it. Numerous attendees wanted to learn more about the planning and commitment to excellence that is often referred to at A&T as our “secret sauce.”

We are nowhere near done. There are always areas where we can and must improve, where we can enhance the compelling brand proposition that we offer to prospective students, to donors and federal funders. Every member of A&T’s leadership team knows that we are committed to being better than we were yesterday, but never as good as tomorrow.

It’s a great story to share. But it’s an even better reality to lead, to contribute to and to watch unfold in real time, day after rewarding day, particularly when we know that the best is yet to come.

- Chancellor Harold L. Martin Sr.

Students cross the campus quad on a bright spring day.
+ To learn more about North Carolina A&T, please visit iTunes and subscribe to the On Point with Chancellor Harold L. Martin podcast.
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These Three Things

The Willie A. Deese College of Business and Economics
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Willie Deese speaks at the ceremony naming A&T’s business college after him.

North Carolina A&T took a major step forward on Feb. 27 with the formal naming of the Willie A. Deese College of Business and Economics, the university’s first college to be named for a major donor.

In a ceremony attended by faculty, administrators, students, alumni and business professionals, as well as Mr. Deese (’77) and many members of his family, the college was officially named after the business leader who served as one of Merck Pharmaceutical’s top executives for years. The college's main building for classrooms and offices, Craig Hall, will retain its name in honor of longtime legendary Dean Quiester Craig, who retired in 2013.

“What Willie has always understood is that business is about people. It’s about relationships,” said Merck CEO and longtime Deese friend Kenneth Frazier at the naming event. “He cares a lot about A&T. And he cares about the people of A&T. I think it’s highly appropriate that this college bear his name forever.”

While the college is the most recent A&T entity to carry the Deese name, it is hardly the only one. Mr. Deese has given total gifts to the university worth $10 million, in addition to chairing two capital campaigns that have raised many times that for A&T programs, faculty and student support and facilities.

Among the numerous areas of A&T that have benefitted from Mr. Deese’s support, three things have become particularly well-known to Aggie students, employees and campus visitors.

  • The Deese Clock Tower. One of A&T’s most iconic structures, the 88-foot-tall campanile is the tallest point on the university’s campus. Built with a $1.3 million gift from Mr. Deese, the tower was dedicated on March 24, 2017, as part of the university's quasquicentennial celebration.

  • The Fred and Janie Deese Auditorium. The largest classroom in the business college, the 250-seat auditorium is located in the center of Merrick Hall’s first floor. Mr. Deese dedicated it to his parents. It hosts some of the college’s largest and most high-profile events, such as the Closing Bell Speaker Series and other guest lectures from leaders in the business world.

  • The Deese Ballroom. One of the most notable spaces within A&T’s ultra-modern, 2-year-old Student Center, the ballroom has held dozens of large, significant events in its brief life, from major student forums to an economic development summit attended by White House and congressional guests to a young alumni homecoming gathering that saw it turned into a sprawling and sophisticated lounge.  
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Impact Icon: Bulls-eye

Chris Paul, Live Nation Urban Launch Internships
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Chancellor Martin and NBA star Chris Paul with students in Paul’s master class.

A burgeoning partnership between NBA superstar Chris Paul and North Carolina A&T is bearing new fruit for students at America’s largest historically black university.

The partnership launched last fall with a master class on entertainment, media and sports for 200 students in the Willie A. Deese College of Business and Economics and the Department of Journalism and Mass Communication in the College of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences. Paul and Harvard Business School Professor Anita Elberse, Ph.D., presented the course.

Representatives of the Chris Paul Foundation returned to A&T this month with leaders of Live Nation Urban, a division of the world’s leading live entertainment company, to establish an internship pipeline between the university and the company.

“One of my goals for Live Nation Urban has always been to introduce young African American future executives to the live music Industry,” said Shawn Gee, president of Live Nation Urban. “We are disproportionately underrepresented in this space, and it will take programs like these and partners like Chris and N.C. A&T to help change that narrative.”

Live Nation Urban will support multiple internships this spring and summer for A&T students. They will include opportunities with some of their festival platforms like Broccoli City Festival in Washington, D.C., and Roots Picnic in Philadelphia to learn the ins and outs of developing and producing large music festivals, as well as opportunities at Live Nation Urban in Los Angeles providing first-hand exposure to the industry.

Meanwhile, the master course introduced last fall, Special Topics in Management, is expected to become a permanent offering in the Deese College.

“Access through education helps level the playing field and true leadership comes from knowledge,” Paul said. “I’m looking forward to expanding the partnership with N.C. A&T and Live Nation Urban and seeing the future results of our efforts.”

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Lab Report

A&T Patent Advances Aircraft Safety
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Mechanical Engineering Professor Mannur J. SundaresanMechanical Engineering Professor Mannur J. Sundaresan has earned his sixth patent at A&T.

In the never-ending effort to make air travel safer, one major area of focus is on evaluation methods for detecting any defects in the body of airplanes. Plane manufacturers do that through use of thermographic evaluation – a process that is about to become more precise, more versatile and more valuable, thanks to a new patented technology from North Carolina A&T.

Awarded to Mechanical Engineering Professor Mannur J. Sundaresan, Ph.D., and his former advisee, Letchuman Sripragash, Ph.D., the patent is the sixth earned by Sundaresan in his 24-year career at A&T. Sripgragash is now an engineer at Siemens in Charlotte, N.C.

Their patent, “Normalized Defect Characterization of Pulse Thermographic Nondestructive Evaluation,” protects an enhanced technology that can make correct evaluations regardless of the kind of material it is evaluating. It uses a unique normalization procedure to eliminate the need to know the age or type of the material being scanned.

“Just saying a defect exists is not sufficient. It is critical to quantify what the defect is,” said Sundaresan. “This newly-patented technology uses physics-based data augmentation to fill in any gaps in data the thermographic evaluation may have missed. Additionally, we have a library of defects that exactly match real defects.”

The new patent raises to 44 the total number of patents awarded to N.C. A&T, with another 27 applications in process. A&T has spun off seven startup companies and licensed 16 patents for commercial activity beyond the university, as well.

Data Points
Data Points

A&T is a leader in the creation of a hemp industry in North Carolina. The university recently hosted its first Hemp Conference, and the size and impact of the industry it is helping to foster is already significant.
1,500 – Number of licensed hemp growers statewide
130 – Applications for NC hemp licenses in 2017
470 – Applications for N.C. hemp licenses in 2018
17,000 – Acres in North Carolina devoted to hemp cultivation
6.7 million square feet – Space in licensed N.C. greenhouses devoted to industrial hemp
$21,000 - $30,000 – The amount per acre that N.C. farmers can expect to gross for hemp seeds and hemp flowers.

Dr. Harold L. Martin Sr.

Erin Hill Hart
Todd Hurst Simmons

Kimberly "Nikki" Pressley

Yvonne L. Halley

Tonya D. Dixon
Jordan M. Howse
North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University
North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University is a land-grant university that is ranked by the Carnegie Classification of Institutions of Higher Education as a Doctoral University: High Research Activity.

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N.C. A&T is an AA/EEO employer, and it is an ADA compliant institution; thus, facilities are designed to provide accessibility to individuals with physical disabilities.