Presidents & Chancellors
John O. Crosby, the college’s first president, was reared and educated in Raleigh, NC having attended Shaw University where he earned a degree in theology. Before becoming president of the newly organized Agricultural and Mechanical College in 1892, Crosby served as moderator of the Rowan Baptist Association and principal of the State Normal School in Salisbury, NC. He designed the college’s first administration building and made the first of the bricks with which it was constructed. In 1894, Crosby planned the North Dormitory which housed one hundred students. He designed Crosby Hall which was known as the “finest structure of its kind throughout the southern states.” Under his administration, female students were admitted to the college in 1893 and remained there until the end of the session in 1901. They were not readmitted until 1928. It was also under his leadership that two academic departments were created: agriculture and mechanical arts. In 1896, amid internal as well as external criticisms, Dr. Crosby terminated his office as president and returned to Salisbury, NC where he resumed his position as principal of the L. C. State Normal School.
James Benson Dudley was born a slave on November 2, 1859 in Wilmington, North Carolina. He attended his hometown Missionary School and later an experimental school for African American youth in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Dudley graduated from Shaw University in Raleigh, North Carolina. He was also awarded a first grade teacher’s certificate from Sampson County, North Carolina. In addition to being a teacher, he was principal of the Peabody School in Wilmington for approximately fifteen years, served as editor of the Wilmington Chronicle and was active in politics.
Dr. Dudley was first appointed a member of the A and M College Board of Trustees by the legislature in 1895. He was then elected the Board’s secretary in May of the same year and on May 1896 was named president of the college. The college’s prestige, however, was declining as a result of internal and external conflicts; therefore, Dudley’s first task as president was to bring cohesiveness to the college family and to champion its cause throughout the state. As a result of hard work and much vigor by Dudley, the college grew and developed from fifty-eight students who lived in one brick dormitory to four hundred seventy-six students in regular session and five hundred students in summer session. By 1925, there was an increase in the physical plant from the one classroom building where eight teachers taught to thirteen buildings. Three of the buildings, Noble, Morrison, and Murphy Halls, are used today. The value of the college went from fifty thousand dollars in 1896 to over one million dollars and seventy-four more acres were purchased to add to the college’s twenty six acres. By 1904, the college owned a one hundred acre farm that was equipped with labor saving farm machinery and devices.
Susie Wright Sampson Dudley, wife of Dr. Dudley, is credited with writing the words to the A&T Alma Mater. On Saturday, April 4, 1925 after serving the college for twenty-nine years, James B. Dudley passed quietly at his home, the Magnolias, located on Dudley Street. The street was named in honor of him by the city of Greensboro. A faculty member asked to describe Dr. Dudley said that he was a “lover of students, a great leader and a grand teacher”.
Born on August 4, 1882 in Capahosic, Virginia, Ferdinand Douglass Bluford was the third president of A&T, serving longer than any president or chancellor. Completing elementary school in 1900, Bluford attended high school at Wayland Academy in Richmond, Virginia and college at Virginia Union University also in Richmond. He was ranked as one of the three best students in his class at Virginia Union, graduating from there in 1908. At Howard University in Washington, DC, Bluford received the Bachelor of Pedagogy degree in 1909. Prior to coming to A&T, he taught at A&M College in Normal, Kentucky; Kentucky State College in Frankfort, Kentucky; and Saint Paul Normal and Industrial School in Lawrenceville, Virginia. At A&T, Bluford was a professor of English for six years, an acting dean, a full dean and vice president. He was appointed acting president after the death of Dr. Dudley in 1925 and was chosen unanimously by members of the Board of Trustees as president on June 13, 1925.
With Bluford’s guidance, A&T was raised from a "D" class college in 1927 to an "A" class institution in 1932 by the North Carolina Department of Education and by other leading educational agencies. By 1955, the campus had grown to one hundred and ten acres, the farm land reached a total of six hundred seventy-two acres and the property value of the thirty-five campus buildings was twelve million dollars. The Graduate School and the Schools of Agriculture, Education, General Studies, Engineering, and Nursing were established as well as the Technical Institute.
Dr. Bluford was seventy three years old when he died on December 21, 1955. His body lay in state in Bluford Library, the new building that was erected in 1955 and named for him. The next morning, the Greensboro Daily News carried a front page column detailing Bluford’s contributions to A&T, Greensboro and the country.
Warmoth Thomas Gibbs was born in Baldwin, Louisiana on April 5, 1892. He earned the A.B. from Wiley College in Marshall, Texas, the A.B. in political science and history from Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts and the Ed.M. from Harvard University.
As a second lieutenant in the United States Army during World War I, Lt. Gibbs and his unit, the predominantly black 92nd Division Expeditionary Force, saw battle in France in 1917 and 1918 before returning to the States in 1919.
Appointed acting head of A&T immediately following the death of Dr. Bluford in 1955, Dr. Gibbs was officially inaugurated as president of A&T on November 9, 1956. Prior to being president, Dr. Gibbs served the college as teacher, director of the summer school and dean of the School of Education and General Studies. During Dr. Gibbs’ administration, A&T experienced phenomenal growth. The college acquired land to extend the main campus to Market Street and Dudley Street, making it more accessible from the highways. A&T was admitted to the Southern Association of Colleges and Secondary Schools in 1959. The guidance center became a separate department, a placement office was established, athletics flourished and coaching staffs were reorganized.
On February 1, 1960, one of the most dramatic events during the Gibbs administration occurred when four freshmen students, Ezell Blair, (Jibreel Khazan) of Greensboro, NC, Franklin McCain of Washington, DC, Joseph McNeil of Wilmington, NC and David Richmond of Greensboro, NC sat down at a segregated lunch counter at the downtown Greensboro Woolworth’s store. This event initiated the sit-ins that were a landmark of the civil rights movement.
History of The North Carolina Agricultural and Technical College, a book written by Dr. Gibbs in 1966, records the history of the university from its beginnings as a land grant institution to Dr. Lewis Dowdy’s administration. Copies of this book are located in Bluford Library Archives special collection. It serves as a premier account of A&T history. On May 23, 1960, the role of President Emeritus was bestowed upon him. Dr. Gibbs died at the age of 101 on April 19, 1993.
Samuel Dewitt Proctor was born on July 13, 1914. A native of Norfolk, Virginia, he received the A.B. in language and literature from Virginia Union University, Richmond, Virginia in 1942, the B.D. from Crozer Theological Seminary, Rochester, New York in 1945 and the Th.D. from Boston University in 1950. On July 1, 1960, Dr. Proctor accepted the invitation from A&T College to become president, having served successfully as pastor of the Pond Street Baptist Church in Providence, Rhode Island and professor, dean of the School of Religion, vice president and president of Virginia Union University.
Dr. Proctor was only thirty-nine years old when he was inaugurated as the college’s fifth president. His administration, though marked by brevity, was indeed significant. He reinforced the spirit of excellence among faculty and students and nurtured a sense of security and well being throughout the campus. New positions were created, old animosities of the past died away and some additions were made to the physical plant. Recognizing his skill in handling people and in building programs, the United States government called him in January 1962 to serve the country as Peace Corps director in Nigeria. Dr. Proctor resumed his presidential duties at A&T on September 1, 1963 but on March 1, 1964, he announced his resignation to become effective April 10, 1964.
Commenting upon his resignation, Dr. Proctor stated, “despite my deep personal loyalties to higher education in general and A&T in particular, the urgency of the summons to serve the country especially after the death of John F. Kennedy seems overriding.” Dr. Proctor died on May 26, 1997 in Cedar Rapids, Iowa.
Lewis Carnegie Dowdy was inaugurated on April 10, 1964 as the College’s sixth president and reappointed chancellor in July 1972, thus making him the first Chancellor of the University. A native of Eastover, South Carolina, Dr. Dowdy graduated cum laude from Allen University in Columbia, South Carolina, earned the master’s degree from Indiana State College and the doctorate of education degree from Indiana University. In 1951, he joined the A&T faculty as an instructor of education and director of student teaching. Before he became president, Dr. Dowdy served as an assistant professor of education, dean of the School of Education and General Studies, dean of Instruction and acting president in the absence of President Proctor.
Under Dowdy’s leadership, the university experienced its greatest period of growth with many of its schools achieving national recognition and accreditation. He reorganized instruction, creating the Schools of Education, Business and Economics and the College of Arts and Sciences. An expansion of four academic buildings, a new gymnasium, new football stadium and other service buildings were realized under him. Dr. Dowdy led the university through the tumultuous 1960s and 1970s. After serving the university for over twenty-one years, Dr. Dowdy resigned his position as chancellor on October 31, 1980. The new administration building was named for him on May 1, 1981. Dr. Dowdy died on Sunday, December 17, 2000.
Cleon F. Thompson, Jr. was born in New York, NY. He received his public school education in Bennettsville, South Carolina. He earned the Bachelor of Science and the Master of Science in biology from North Carolina Central University. In 1977, he completed the Ph.D. in educational administration from Duke University, with minor degrees in political science, economics, and educational law.
Cleon F. Thompson, Jr. was Vice President for Student Services and Special Programs of the University of North Carolina when he became Interim Chancellor of A&T on November 1, 1980. Dr. Thompson’s previous affiliation with A&T was that of assistant professor of biology from 1960–1961.
Dr. Thompson assumed the responsibility as chancellor with dedication, enthusiasm and progressive leadership. Through his good work, he earned the respect and admiration of the university family, alumni, community, local, state and national educators and officials.
In 1985, Thompson was appointed chancellor of Winston-Salem State University. After serving WSSU for ten years as chancellor, Dr. Thompson left the University in 1995 to continue work within the University of North Carolina System.
Edward Bernard Fort, born in Detroit, Michigan, assumed responsibilities as chancellor of North Carolina A&T State University on September 1, 1981. His inauguration as the eighth chancellor of the university occurred on Saturday, April 24, 1982. Dr. Fort earned the bachelor’s degree in history and the master’s degree in educational administration from Wayne State University and the doctorate in educational administration from the University of California in Berkeley.
As chancellor of A&T, Dr. Fort guided the university to national prominence as a leader in engineering and technology education. During his administration, the university initiated more than thirty new academic programs, awarded the first Ph.D.s in mechanical and electrical engineering, completed more than $50 million in new construction, including McNair Hall and a new Bluford Library, completed nearly $30 million in renovated facilities, expanded enrollment, established the $9 million Fort Interdisciplinary Research Center, increased the globalization of the campus, won two national first place Kennedy Center/American College Theater festival finishes by the College of Arts and Sciences theater arts program and numerous other accomplishments. The Edward B. Fort Interdisciplinary Research Center (IRC), completed in January 1997 and dedicated on March 22, 1999, was named in his honor. Dr. Fort retired from the University as Chancellor in June 30, 1999 and is now a professor in the Department of Human Development and Services and Chancellor Emeritus of the university.
James Carmichael Renick, a native of Rockford, Illinois, assumed the duties of chancellor on July 15, 1999. The installation of Dr. Renick as the ninth chancellor occurred on Thursday, April 20, 2000. Dr. Renick earned the Bachelor of Arts in sociology from Central State University in Ohio, the Masters of Social Work from the University of Kansas and the Doctor of Philosophy from Florida State University.
Dr. Renick, a recognized leader in the area of corporate/university relations, accomplished much since as chancellor. Several “firsts” are included in these accomplishments: the first NC A&T State University Medal for Human Rights was awarded on February 1, 2001 and A&T was the first of the UNC sixteen campuses to take advantage of new legislation that allows foundations to work with financial authorities to secure tax exempt bonds to fund capital building projects. On June 26, 2001, the University and Sit-In Movement, Inc. signed a collaborative agreement in order to accelerate the work to develop an International Civil Rights Center & Museum.
The University experienced record breaking enrollments of its undergraduate and graduate students. Institutional records for annual funding of sponsored research were set. The intention of the University was formalized through a strategic planning process called FUTURES wherein invited members of the university and the community joined together to provide institution-wide thinking about the future direction of NC A&T. From Generation to Generation: The Campaign for North Carolina A&T is the $100 million capital campaign that was established to support A&T in diversifying its resource base, in enhancing its curriculum to address changing educational needs and in building and renovating its physical plant with state-of the-art classrooms, facilities, and student housing. The Aggie Pride Compact, a document that outlines the standards A&T students are expected to live by, was written in 2003. Beautiful residence halls and classroom buildings have been erected. The A&T Four Monument, the landmark that honors the four freshmen students who sat-in at the downtown Woolworth in 1960 and Progress, a modern sculpture that is in the plaza of Craig Hall, adorn the campus.
Lloyd "Vic" Hackley was the tenth chancellor of North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University, having being appointed interim chancellor in June 2006.
A native of Roanoke, Virginia, Dr. Hackley holds an undergraduate degree in political science from Michigan State University and a doctorate degree in international relations from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Dr. Hackley is a a retired U. S. Air Force officer earning numerous military decorations including the Bronze Star for Valor, the Meritorious Service Medal and the Vietnam Cross for Gallantry.
Dr. Hackley is past president of the North Carolina Community College System, former chancellor and tenured professor of Fayetteville State University, and tenured professor of political science of the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff. He also coached track and cross-country at the U.S. Air Force Academy. Other positions Dr. Hackley has held are chair of the North Carolina Child Advocacy Institute, chair of the Arkansas Civil Rights Commission, chair of the President’s Advisory Board on Historically Black Colleges and Universities, faculty member in the Government Executive Institute at the UNC-Chapel Hill School of Business and Vice President in the University of North Carolina system.
Stanley F. Battle, educator, author and civic activist, assumed the role of Chancellor at North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University on July 1, 2007. He was installed as the eleventh chancellor of the university on Friday, April 25, 2008.
In Dr. Battle’s tenure at A&T, he re-centered the institution’s academic excellence by enrolling the finest freshman class in 25 years. In the fall of 2008, A&T was the first Historically Black College or University (HBCU) to receive the prestigious Engineering Research Center (ERC) grant awarded by the National Science Foundation, a cornerstone award of $18 million over 5 years with a 10-year life span. A&T was also the only HBCU in the nation with a Wall Street trading room.
Under Dr. Battle’s leadership, the institution focused on the following: preparing a globally competent student, moving the school of engineering into the top 25 in the nation, through the ERC, with a strong natural science focus, maintaining outstanding academics in liberal arts, education, nursing, agriculture, business, and fine arts, continuing to support the unique partnership with UNCG through the Joint Nano Science and Engineering School, and continuing the exclusive partnerships with Guilford Technical Community College (GTCC).
In his time at A&T Dr. Battle: implemented the Dowdy Scholarship program, a four year scholarship for outstanding scholars with GPAs ranging from 3.2 to 4.0; developed and implemented The Cosby Kids initiative (a joint effort with GTCC, tracking 4th, 6th, and 8th graders through high school to prepare them to enroll in college by focusing on math, reading comprehension and science); signed a Memorandum of Agreement with GTCC for students not quite prepared to enter A&T; and performed in a music concert and raised $22,000 in scholarship funds for students in the arts.
Prior to coming to A&T , Dr. Battle served as President of Coppin State University in Baltimore, Maryland. In addition to serving as President of Coppin, Dr. Battle earned academic administrative experience working as Vice Chancellor for Academic and Multicultural Affairs at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee and as Associate Vice President of Academic Affairs at Eastern Connecticut State University. He has four academic degrees, including a B.S. from Springfield College, an M.S.W. from Pittsburgh, and a Ph.D. in social welfare policy from the University of Pittsburgh in 1980.
Harold L. Martin, Sr., who has served since 2006 as senior vice president for academic affairs of the multi-campus University of North Carolina, was elected Chancellor of North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University by the UNC Board of Governors on May 22, 2009 and assumed his duties on June 8, 2009. He was installed as the twelfth chancellor of the university on Friday, April 23, 2010.
As the 17-campus University’s former top academic officer, Martin has been responsible for leading the University’s educational and research missions. He advised the president and Board of Governors on academic issues and policies of University-wide importance and overseen academic planning and budgeting, student affairs, sponsored programs and research, faculty support, international programs, and strategy development and analysis. He also worked closely with campus chancellors and chief academic officers on University wide academic initiatives and helped focus diverse campus missions to meet University and state goals and objectives.
Martin holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees in electrical engineering from A&T and a doctoral degree in the field from Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University. He joined the A&T faculty in 1980 and was named chair of the department of electrical engineering in 1985 after a nine-month stint as acting chairman. Four years later, he was named dean of A&T’s College of Engineering, a post he held until being named vice chancellor for academic affairs in 1994. From 1987 to 1994, Martin also served as an adjunct faculty member in the department of electrical and computer engineering at North Carolina State University. In 2000, he was tapped by the UNC President at that time to provide interim leadership for Winston-Salem State University following the resignation of their Chancellor. Sixteen months later, he was elected to the position on a permanent basis by the Board of Governors. Specializing in the field of computer engineering, Martin has written and lectured widely on computer architecture and increasing the representation of underrepresented minorities and women in engineering.
Named 2001 Man of the Year by the Winston-Salem Chronicle, Martin also received the 2008 Thurgood Marshall College Foundation Award for Excellence, Duke Power’s 2005 Citizen and Service Award, and McDonald’s 2005 African American Achievement Award for Education. The A&T Alumni Association named Martin Alumnus of the Year (1976), while Virginia Tech inducted him into its Academy of Engineering Excellence (2008) and honored him with its Distinguished Graduate Alumni Award (2004) and the Bradley Department of Electrical Engineering Academy of Distinguished Alumni Award (1998). He was awarded an honorary degree from Wake Forest University in 2007.
Martin currently serves on the SACS Commission on Colleges and Schools and on the boards of MCNC and Blue Cross and Blue Shield Foundation (serving as chair in 2009). Previously, he served on advisory committees of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, chaired the board of directors of the Southern Consortium for Minorities in Engineering, and served on the boards of trustees of the NC School of Science and Mathematics, the NC Board of Science and Technology, and the NC Biotechnology Center Advisory Board.
A native of Winston-Salem, North Carolina, Martin is married to Davida Martin, an A&T alumna. They have two sons, Harold Jr. and Walter.
Excerpted from the Aggie Report, May 29, 2009