November 1, 2016
Louisburg College celebrated Homecoming Saturday with hundreds of alumni, former staff, faculty and families returning to the historic campus on a gorgeous day to reconnect with friends, check out the spruced-up buildings and grounds and hear an update on new programs planned for the College.
Alumni enjoyed brunch as five classmates were honored with service awards. The Hurricanes delivered a rousing win on the football field, beating Ohio’s Hocking College 52-40 to remain undefeated. The pep band, cheerleaders and new Hurricanes mascot, Cat 5, revved up the crowd. An afternoon reception provided a forum for sharing memories.
In a brief synopsis, President Mark La Branche told alumni that while Louisburg College remains true to its mission, it is adding programs and attracting a more diverse student body. Enrollment, now about 700, is steady; grade-point averages have risen, he said.
Several new academic offerings are in the works. The College is preparing one of the best STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) preparatory programs around, featuring classes in solar and wind energy and a monthlong summer program for rural high school students. Louisburg College is also ramping up its business and education programs to cater to entrepreneurial students and to entice more young people to become teachers.
Some of Louisburg College’s athletic teams are ranked nationally, including Cross Country, which is fifth. A Track and Field team will be added in a year. In the spring, the college’s first bass-fishing team will compete, and Louisburg will restart its dance program. This past spring, members of the school’s Phi Beta Lambda business fraternity chapter brought home top honors in the national competition in two categories.
During the alumni brunch, five outstanding members of the college community received awards. The Allen de Hart Humanitarian Award, honoring the late Louisburg College professor, benefactor and advocate for the arts, was presented to Clara Frazier, retired chemistry professor and environmental steward.
Frazier, Class of ’55, joined the Louisburg College faculty in 1962, helped with the college’s concert series and served on the Franklin County Board of Supervisors. She has pushed for recycling, writing a column for The Franklin Times, Clara’s Conservation Corner. Frazier, wife of retired Louisburg College baseball coach Russ Frazier, has been an ardent supporter of the college, especially its baseball program.
The college posthumously honored William Byrd Wilkins with its Cecil W. Robbins Public Service Award, given to a member of the community who has shown exceptional dedication to the college through service. Wilkins, Class of ’85, enjoyed a career in the theater across the globe, then returned to Louisburg College to teach drama, a mentor and much-loved professor until his death in 2015. Wilkins’ family attended the brunch, and his niece, Renee Branch, accepted the award on his behalf.
Dr. Needham Yancey Gulley, class of ’98, was presented with the Distinguished Alumnus Award. Gulley, who grew up in Creedmoor, is an assistant professor in the Department of Human Services Higher Education and Student Affairs program at Western Carolina University. He was Louisburg College’s admissions director early in his career, earned advanced degrees and has presented research and workshops across the country and internationally. Gulley has a long history of advocating for social justice in education.
Louisburg College presented the Outstanding Young Alumnus Award to Travis Combest, class of ’98, for his significant accomplishments since graduation. Combest, who has a master’s degree in science and another in public health, has worked as an exercise therapist at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, is a lecturer for Baylor University with the U.S. Army Academy of Health Sciences and is working with the Centers for Disease Control’s Healthy People 2020 initiative on diabetes research.
Derrick Vause, class of ’14, was presented the Henry Douglass Lindsay III Young Alumnus Service Award for demonstrating extraordinary service to Louisburg College. Vause is expected to earn a bachelor’s degree in philosophy, with a concentration in law, from N.C. State University in December. He is a litigation support coordinator for a Raleigh law firm, serves in the U.S. Army Reserve and still holds a job with UPS, where he began working in high school. He is also a member of Louisburg College’s Alumni Board.