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Wynne Event a Win for CALS

Supporters pulled out the stops last week at a gala event honoring Johnny Wynne, who retires as the dean of the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences in July after nearly 50 years at NC State. But the honors, cheers and speeches couldn’t match the impact of a check in the jaw-dropping amount of $411,000 presented by a group of donors to create the Wynne Fund for Innovation.

The fund, the first of its kind established to honor a retiring NC State dean, will be used by CALS to enhance the university’s expertise in critical areas and allow faculty members to grow ideas into innovative solutions that drive economic impact. Joining Wynne and Chancellor Randy Woodson on stage at the McKimmon Center to present the check were major donors Dr. William K. Collins Sr., William H. Culpepper, Charles W. Davenport, S. Lawrence Davenport and Kendall Hill.

Top State Honor

Britt Cobb, chief of staff to Gov. Beverly Perdue, presented Wynne with the Order of the Long Leaf Pine in recognition of his contributions to the state.

Britt Cobb, right, presents Johnny Wynne with the Order of the Long Leaf Pine.

A  special surprise came during Woodson’s remarks, when Mr. and Ms. Wuf arrived to give Wynne a football and a basketball inscribed, respectively, by coaches Tom O’Brien and Mark Gottfried. Woodson said that while most know Wynne as a “calm and collected individual, he is truly passionate about Wolfpack sports.”

As photos from Wynne’s youth, college days and career played on a big screen, Jim Oblinger–who preceded him as CALS dean–shared anecdotes about Wynne, both on the job and off. Joining him were Steven Leath, president of Iowa State University and former CALS associate dean, and Deborah Johnson of the N.C. Pork Council, who offered the invocation. Singer/songwriter Teresa James and student Rossie Blinson performed musical selections.

A Big Night

In a night when his activities as CALS dean, faculty member and student were extolled by friends and colleagues, Wynne quietly took the stage and said, “I used to say, ‘When I retire, on Friday afternoon, I just want to turn off the lights and go home.’ This has been far from that. I am overwhelmed that over 400 of you are here tonight.”

The check presented by donors at Wynne's retirement event was big, in more ways than one.

As for the many noted college achievements during his leadership, he said, “I have headed an organization that’s accomplished all the things you heard about tonight. I want to thank all of those that helped – starting with our world-class faculty, the outstanding students, the dedicated staff and a great group of alumni. And we have a tremendous group of supporters of CALS.”

Then, reminding the group that 2012 is the 150th anniversary of the passage of the Morrill Act, which enabled the land-grant university system, Wynne said, “I believe in the land-grant mission. The Morrill Act gave average citizens the opportunity to go to school. I came from a 15-acre farm and was the first in our family to go to college. If I helped others to have that opportunity, then I’ve done what I’m supposed to do.”

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