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NC State To Honor Barnhardt, Poole, Sall at Founders Day

Three Watauga Medals will be presented at the North Carolina State University Founders’ Day Dinner on March 10 at the McKimmon Center. The Watauga Medal is the highest nonacademic honor bestowed by the university.

Chancellor James Oblinger will present the medals to Robert Barnhardt, dean emeritus of NC State’s College of Textiles; Lonnie Poole Jr., chairman of the board of Waste Industries USA, Inc.; and Virginia Sall, a longtime volunteer for several organizations, including NC State, CARE USA and the World Wildlife Fund.

The Watauga Medal was established in 1975 by the Board of Trustees to honor people who have made significant contributions to the advancement of the university. This year’s event commemorating the 121st anniversary of the founding of NC State University will begin with a reception at 6:30 p.m. followed by dinner at 7 p.m. Tickets are $60. Call (919) 513-1682 for reservations before Feb. 27. Additional information is available online at

Barnhardt, who lives in Cary, served as dean of the College of Textiles from 1987 until 1999. He also served the university as interim provost and interim chancellor. In 1996, Barnhardt commissioned the “Link Report” to help identify new directions and programs for the College of Textiles and still serves as a guide for its long-term strategic planning. As dean, his efforts with the state legislature and textile industry helped gain financial support for the college to move to Centennial Campus. Barnhardt continues to serve the university through contributions to scholarships, an endowment to the library and volunteer work.

Poole, a Raleigh resident, was the first person in his family to attend college. He graduated from NC State in 1959 with a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering, served a tour of duty in the military, and then obtained an MBA from UNC-Chapel Hill. In 1970, he founded Waste Industries USA, Inc., and served as both chief executive officer and chairman of the board until 2002. He continues to serve as the company’s chairman. Waste Industries, a solid waste services company, went public in 1997 and serves more than 700,000 commercial, industrial and residential customers in North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia, Georgia and Tennessee.  Poole has served as director of the NC State University Foundation and the Endowment Board as well as several college-based foundations. Poole and his wife, Carol Lynn Poole, provided a naming gift in 2007 for the Lonnie Poole Golf Course under construction on Centennial Campus.

Sall, who lives in Cary, is an active volunteer for several NC State fund-raising and outreach activities. She serves as co-chair of the Physical and Mathematical Sciences Campaign Committee, helping the college to surpass its fund-raising goal ahead of schedule. She has been an advocate for private support for the expansion and completion of the new Mathematics and Statistics Building. In addition to her work on behalf of NC State, she has been an advocate for impoverished mothers and young children. Sall represents La Leche League International to the United Nations, serves on the board of CARE USA and World Wildlife Fund and is a co-founder of Cary Academy.