N.C. A&T On Point Newsletter

VOL. 4/ NO. 1/ JANUARY 2021   

Chancellor's Message
Chancellor's Message

The Brilliant Legacy of an Aggie Legend
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N.C. A&T Chancellor Martin Sr.Earlier this month, North Carolina A&T State University marked the 35th anniversary of the passage of one of our most esteemed alumni: Dr. Ronald E. McNair, the brilliant astronaut who perished in the Space Shuttle challenger tragedy.

Millions know his name because of his untimely death. We at A&T knew him for his brilliance and for the extraordinary accomplishments packed into his all-to-brief life.

Ron was one year and one day my senior; I knew him as a fellow undergraduate. He was a shining light within the A&T College of Engineering, from which he graduated magna cum laude with a bachelor’s degree in engineering physics. But that was only the beginning..

Over the next 15 years, he earned a Ph.D. from MIT and four honorary doctorates, served as a staff physicist at the Hughes Research Lab in Malibu, undertook nationally renowned research in laser physics and was selected to be an astronaut by NASA.

Dr. Ronald E. McNairSo legendary were his accomplishments that he has been venerated in endless ways with schools, buildings and programs bearing his name across the country. Perhaps the most significant is the Ronald E. McNair Post-baccalaureate Achievement Program, a federal program funded at 187 campuses across the United States and Puerto Rico and designed to prepare first-generation students with financial need for doctoral studies. McNair Scholars have played a significant role in increasing the number of minority and first-generation doctoral graduates throughout America. 

I was fortunate to be named dean of the same College of Engineering from which we both graduated 3½ short years after his death, a place where colleagues and students today pass by a bust of Ron placed prominently at the front door of the college’s home building, which is named in his honor. A&T Engineering is America’s no. 1 producer of Black engineering graduates, with nationally prominent education programs and more than a dozen research centers.

Later this year, the college will open its new $90-million Engineering Research and Innovation Complex, a beacon of opportunity for students like Ron, eager to embark on a journey of learning and discovery, to realize their hopes and dreams. The progress and prominence of the college and its pending expansion are tied inextricably to his legend, the foundation of which took shape at A&T.

Ron would have turned 70 last fall. I like to think that were he still with us today, he would be immensely proud of what his alma mater has become and of the students today in whose hearts his legacy shines brightly.

- Chancellor Harold L. Martin Sr.

+ 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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Aggie Named GM, Exec. VP of Detroit Lions
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Former North Carolina A&T football star Brad Holmes (’02)
New Detroit Lions GM Brad Holmes (’02) arrives for his first day of work.

Former North Carolina A&T football star Brad Holmes (’02) was recently named general manager and executive vice president of the NFL’s Detroit Lions, the first graduate of a historically black university to ever hold the GM position for a major professional sports team in America.

Prior to landing the new role, Holmes was director of college scouting for the L.A. Rams, for whom he has worked for the past 18 years. He played a major role in securing the on-field talent that led the Rams to a Super Bowl berth against the New England Patriots in 2019.

“Throughout our search for a new general manager, Brad was someone who stood out immediately,” said Lions President and CEO Ron Wood. “His abilities as a critical thinker, along with his extensive experience implementing technology and analytics into his approach to scouting, were among the many decisive qualities Brad displayed in our time getting to know him during the interview process.”

At A&T, from which he graduated cum laude with a B.S. in journalism and mass communications, Holmes was a four-year letterman, two-year starter and 2001 captain of the Aggies football team, which won the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference and Black college football national championship in 1999.

During his time at A&T, he also triumphed over incredible challenges resulting from a terrible accident.

While Holmes was visiting Tampa during his 1999 Christmas break, his car was hit head-on by another vehicle, leaving him with a ruptured diaphragm and partially paralyzed. He fell into a coma and suffered a stroke before undergoing emergency surgery. With intensive speech and physical therapy, he recovered his ability to speak clearly and was released to play football again in May 2001.

After joining the Rams in 2003 as an intern, Holmes transitioned into scouting and served in a variety of roles within the organization’s player personnel department, including national scout, area scout, national Combine scout and scouting assistant.

Holmes is the son of Marvin Holmes, who also played football at A&T and was a guard for the Pittsburgh Steelers (1971-73), and nephew of former Lions defensive back Luther Bradley (1978 first-round NFL draft pick).

These Three Things: three arrows
These Three Things

A&T Joins with NBC Universal on NBCU Academy
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ncat broadcast television studio A&T broadcast journalism students collaborate on a simulated newscast in the Department of Journalism and Mass Communication Television Studio.

North Carolina A&T and 16 other colleges and universities across America have joined the NBCU Universal News Group to launch the NBCU Academy, a journalism training and development program for college students.

NBCUniversal announced the initiative in mid January along with $6.5 million in initial funding as part of a broader commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion in its news staffing and coverage.

“Creating an inclusive culture for journalism that represents the communities we serve is at theNBCUniversal logo very core of what we do,” said NBCUniversal News Group Chairman Cesar Conde. “Through NBCU Academy, we have the opportunity to widen our extraordinary legacy by building on-ramps for a talented generation of journalists and storytellers who—for so long—may have been overlooked.”

There are numerous reasons why A&T’s participation in this new endeavor is important, but these three things stand out in particular:

  • The program includes access to scholarships worth $3.5 million over the next two years, as well as support for faculty as they develop seminar courses. Those scholarships will not only be available to student A&T and other HBCUs, but scholars at Hispanic-serving institutions and colleges with significant Asian, Indigenous / tribal, Latino and Black populations.

  • A&T is the only North Carolina university included in the initiative. Five other historically black universities are also participants, including Xavier University in New Orleans, Claflin University in South Carolina, Clark Atlanta, Hampton University in Virginia and Morgan State in Baltimore.

  • Along with the National Association of Black Journalists’ long-running “Short Course” at A&T, the NBCU Academy provides exceptional opportunities to interact with prominent professional journalists. Students will also have access to NBCU News Group journalists, executives, managerial, production and editorial team members for instruction and mentoring.
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A&T Rising: Master’s Rankings Hold Good News
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US News badge, Historically Black Colleges 2021The most recent rankings from U.S. News & World Report hold good news for North Carolina A&T, as the university continues to rise in national, third-party evaluations of its quality.

The Best Colleges rankings for Online Master’s Programs recognized North Carolina A&T’s Computer Information Technology and Education programs as among the best in the nation.

The Computer Information Technology Master’s Program ranked no. 17 for such offerings for veterans, in recognition of both its quality and its affordability. The online IT master’s program overall ranked no. 28 in the nation.

A&T is the top North Carolina program included in the Best for Veterans rankings and trails only N.C. State in the overall program rankings. Other peers on these lists include Columbia, Johns Hopkins, Virginia Tech and Penn State.

In Education, A&T ranked no. 58 among 317 master’s programs ranked nationally. Leading peers include Florida, Arizona State, Ohio State, Purdue and Arizona. 

In each of these rankings, A&T is also the top-ranked in the nation among all historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs) and enjoys the highest position it has ever held in two of the three rankings.

The timing is significant for all three new listing. They track with recent major corporate gifts to A&T from Corning, Walmart, Dow, Carrier Global and others that provide significant new private support for the growth and development of these disciplines. They also come just as leaders in information technology such as Apple and Google are launching new initiatives with regard to HBCUs.

In U.S. News overall national university rankings, A&T moved up for the second year in a row and was ranked first among public HBCUs for the third year in a row, a position it shares this year with Florida A&M University. It is also nationally ranked by U.S. News among the nation’s best Computer Science programs.

Data Points
Data Points

Dr. Ronald E. McNair (’71) left behind an enormous legacy when he perished in the 1986 space shuttle tragedy. He is remembered today in numerous ways.
• 25 K-12 Schools in 14 states are named for Dr. McNair
• The McNair Crater on the moon bears his name
• McNair Hall at A&T is home to the College of Engineering 
• The Ronald McNair Scholars Program is active on 187 U.S. and Puerto Rico college campuses
• MIT’s McNair Building houses the Kavli Institute for Astrophysics and Space Research
• The McNair Center for Aerospace Innovation and Research is part of the University of South Carolina
• Dr. McNair was posthumously awarded the Congressional Space Medal of Honor in 2004

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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