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Alumni Affairs Award

Gwendolyn Marie Davenport Bowser

Gwendolyn Bowser resides in Plymouth North Carolina. She received her former education in the public schools of Washington County, North Carolina and graduated from Washington County Union High School in 1963. She pursued a higher education at Elizabeth City State Teachers College, now Elizabeth City State University. In 1969, she received a Bachelor of Science degree in Elementary Education with a minor in Art Education. Ms. Bowser completed her graduate studies at Bowie State University, Bowie, Maryland and Trinity College in Washington, DC.

Ms. Bowser is a retired educator. Her professional career spans over 16 years. During her tenure, she served as an elementary school teacher in the Herford County Public School system in North Carolina and also in the Anne Arundel County Public School system in Maryland.

She has profoundly influenced the lives of many children and adults through her instruction, guidance, mentoring, support, and nurturing. She has received numerous awards and special recognition for her untiring efforts and dedicated service in the field of education and community involvement. Some of the awards that she has received are: The Boys Scouts of America Voluntary Award for working with Cub Scouts; VFW “Teacher of the Year Award”; the YWCA, A Tribute To Women of Color Good Samaritan Award; the Greater Glen Burnie Chapter of the Coalition of 100 Black Women Community Service Award; the City of Baltimore, Maryland proclaimed Friday, February 9, 1996 as “Gwendolyn Bowser Day” for her outstanding work in the community. Ms. Bowser was also featured in the Baltimore Sun Newspapers in the Food Section with some of her favorite recipes that she had prepared for family members and friends. The ECSU NAA presented her with the Viking Pride Appreciation Award and the Viking Spirit Award for outstanding service. The William T. Bowser, Sr. Alumni Chapter presented her with a Special Recognition Award for her tireless efforts on behalf of the chapter.

Ms. Bowser is often referred to as “Ms. Viking Pride” by many of her fellow alumni because of her staunch support of ECSU. She works diligently in fundraising endeavors to raise funds for student scholarships and the ECSU Band Program. Gwen is a life member of the ECSU NAA, Inc. and is actively involved with the William T. Bowser, Sr. Alumni Chapter (MD). She has held office on the local and regional level, and currently serves as 2nd Vice President on the national level. She is a member of the Viking Varsity Club and the 1819 Club. She is a member of the Washington Plymouth Alumnae Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. and the Washington County Pride, Inc., a community service organization.

Ms. Bowser is widowed. She was married to the late William T. Bowser, Sr., a 1965 ECSU graduate for whom the William T. Bowser, Sr. Alumni Chapter is named. She is the proud mother of two sons--Craig and Christopher Bowser-- and five grandsons.

Business Award

Jeff Dixon

Jeff Dixon is the president and general manager of City Beverage Co., Incorporated with locations both in Elizabeth City and Manteo, North Carolina. He has served as president of the Elizabeth City Jaycees, was twice selected as president of the Elizabeth City Boys and Girls Club, and was named chairman of the Elizabeth City Area Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors. He was elected to the Pasquotank County Board of Commissioners in 2004, and was chosen by his peers to sit on the Albemarle Hospital Authority Board of Commissioners. Currently, he is chairman of the Pasquotank County Board of Commissioners.

Recently, Mr. Dixon served on the Search Committee for the selection of the ECSU’s 10th chief executive officer and chancellor. Mr. Dixon and his family, owners of the City Beverage Company, have for countless years provided generous in-kind services and beverages for many fund-raising and cultivation functions held by the university.

Education Award

Dr. Linda Hayden

Linda Hayden is a mathematician and research director at Elizabeth City State University. After graduating from I. C. Norcom High School in Portsmouth, Dr. Hayden attended Virginia State University and went on to graduate from there in 1970 with her B.S. degree in mathematics and physics. In 1972, Dr. Hayden received her M.A. degree in mathematics and education from the University of Cincinnati; and, in 1983, she received her M.S. degree in computer science from Old Dominion University. Dr. Hayden earned her Ph.D. degree in mathematics and education from American University in 1988. Her doctoral thesis was titled, “The Impact of an Intervention Program for High Ability Minority Students on Rates of High School Graduation, College Enrollment, and Choice of a Quantitative Major.”

Dr. Hayden began her teaching career as an assistant professor of mathematics at Kentucky State University in 1972 where she remained until 1976.  Dr. Hayden then served as an assistant professor at Norfolk State University. In 1980, she was appointed as an associate professor of computer science at Elizabeth City State University (ECSU). At ECSU, Dr. Hayden founded, and served as director of, the Center of Excellence in Remote Sensing Education and Research (CERSER). She was promoted to full professor and named as the associate dean of the ECSU School of Mathematics, Science, and Technology in 2002. In addition, Dr. Hayden has served as a research fellow at the Department of the Army Training and Doctrine Command, and as a visiting professor at American University and the University of the District of Columbia.

Her research has been published in national and international journals such as, the Proceedings of the National Science Teachers Association and the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineer - Geosciences and Remote Sensing Society Joint International Conference Proceedings. Dr. Hayden was a founding member of the Eastern North Carolina Chapter of the Geosciences and Remote Sensing Society (GRSS) and subsequently served as president.

Dr. Hayden is a recipient of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers Professional Achievement Award as well as the U.S. Black Engineer Magazine Emerald Award for Educational Leadership. In 2009, the National Science Foundation presented Hayden with the Presidential Award for Excellence in Science, Mathematics, and Engineering Mentoring, and the National Association for Equal Opportunity in Higher Education presented her with the NOBLE Laureate Award.

On February 25, 2013, Dr. Hayden was interviewed by The HistoryMakers, a national non-profit research and educational institution committed to preserving and making widely accessible the untold personal stories of both well-known and unsung African Americans. Dr. Hayden is now a member of this prestigious society of history makers.

Dr. Hayden and her husband, Lee V. Hayden Jr., live in Portsmouth, Virginia. They have one son, Kuchumbi Linwood Hayden (‘99).

Military Award

COL Rodney Haggins

Col Rodney Haggins, a 1987 graduate of Elizabeth City State University, is a manpower and force management professional with more than 13 years of design, development, integration and resourcing military organizations to support the US National Military Strategy. Currently, he serves as the Chief of Current Operations, Force 2025 and Beyond Army Capabilities Integration Center in Fort Eustis, VA

Some of his other assignments include serving as the Army Chief of Staff Senior Fellow Kellogg School of Management in Evanston, Illinois. This fellowship was a career broadening assignment that allowed Col Haggins to build a strategic partnership in which the Army and the Kellogg School of Management benefited in the areas of general management and leadership with special emphasis on finance, operations and technology management.

Col Haggins also served as the Manpower Division Chief HQ US CENTCOM at MacDill Air Force Base, Florida. He was responsible for organizational change management for the HQ and for the validation and sustainment of service specific joint individual augmentation requirements for daily wartime in the CENTCOM Area of Responsibility. Among other critical functions, he was also the Joint Manpower Review Working Group Lead, responsible for documenting and sustaining active and reserve component Joint Manpower structure (Army, Navy Air force, Marine) and providing oversight for the distribution of discretionary funding and man-days for steady state and short term support to the war effort.

Other leadership positions in his career portfolio include his service as a platoon leader, executive officer, commander, observer trainer, secretary of the General Staff, general’s aide, branch chief and division chief. He completed two combat tours to Iraq (Desert Shield/Desert Storm (1990-91) and Iraqi Freedom (2008-09) and one peacekeeping tour in Bosnia, Herzegovinian (Joint Endeavor 2005-06).

Col Haggins, a native of Goldsboro, North Carolina, earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Criminal justice from ECSU. He holds a Master of Strategic Studies degree from the U.S. Army War College in Carlisle, Pennsylvania. His major awards and decorations include: The Defense Superior Service Medal, Bronze Star (3rd Oak Leaf Cluster), the Meritorious Service Medal (4th Oak Leaf Cluster), Army Commendation Medal, Army Achievement Medal, National Defense Service Medal, Iraq Campaign Medal, and Airborne Wings.

Haggins is married to the former Brigitta France of Orangeburg, South Carolina. They have two sons--Rodney Jr. and Matthew.

Education/Philanthrophy Award

Drs. Darnell Johnson and Stephanie Bailey Johnson

Dr. Darnell Johnson is currently an Endowed Professor of Education at Elizabeth City State University and Dr. Stephanie Bailey Johnson is a retired principal of Camelot Elementary School in Chesapeake, Virginia. Together they are a marvelous example of what it means to be loyal to their alma mater.

As a couple, they hold the lifetime distinction of being among the top 10 major alumni donors of Elizabeth City State University. Both are active life members of the ECSU National Alumni Association, Incorporated and major contributors to their local alumni chapter in Portsmouth, Virginia. Currently, Stephanie is the director of the Mid-Atlantic Region of the ECSU NAA and both she and Darnell play a major part in executing the responsibilities of this important role.

Stephanie has served both in Portsmouth and Chesapeake Public Schools for 35 years. The Johnsons met at I.C. Norcom High School in Portsmouth, Virginia and attended Elizabeth City State University in North Carolina where he majored in mathematics and she majored in elementary education. Both graduated from ECSU with high honors. During their college days at ECSU, Darnell was a member of the 1971Championship CIAA Football Team and was drafted as a Free Agent by the Dallas Cowboys.

Darnell was the president of the Student Government Association and NCAA Postgraduate Fellows Scholar, while Stephanie was the captain of the Varsity Cheerleaders for four years. They were both awarded Who’s Who in American Colleges and Universities.

Stephanie has led the way of success at Camelot where the school has been awarded a Fully Accredited Status for seven consecutive years, the prized Exemplary School Award for three consecutive years, and the Virginia State Highest Performance Award in 2009.

Additional degrees were conferred on Darnell and Stephanie from The University of Kentucky, Old Dominion University, and The George Washington University. The Johnsons have served on numerous boards, councils, local and state committees for civic and employment-related activities. They have received numerous awards and recognition from organizations throughout Hampton Roads, Maryland, and North Carolina.

The Johnsons serve as consultants and facilitators for marriage seminars, educational divisions, government agencies, as well as regional and state conferences.

Darnell is a member of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity and Stephanie is a member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority.
In their marriage, they have always lived by the scripture “…But as for me and my house, we shall serve the Lord,” as well as “In all thy ways acknowledge him and he will direct thy path.”  They are the parents of Dawn Lynese Walthall (Bryan) and three wonderful granddaughters Steffi, Maeah, and Faith.

Community Service Award

Mary Elizabeth Sharpe

Mary Elizabeth Sharpe, the daughter of the late Minister Butler Sharpe, Sr. and Bessie Lamb Sharpe, was born in the Weeksville section of Pasquotank County on July 6, 1931. She attended Union Chapel Elementary School and P. W. Moore High School, after which she matriculated at Elizabeth City State Teachers College (now Elizabeth City State University), earning a Bachelor of Science degree in Elementary Education in 1957. Ms. Sharpe did further studies at University of North Carolina—Chapel Hill, Hampton Institute, Duke University, and East Carolina University. She retired after 36 years of commendable teaching in the public schools of North Carolina.

As an active member of the community, Ms. Sharpe is affiliated with numerous clubs and organizations, including the North Carolina Association of Educators and National Association for North Carolina Retired Educators. She is the first vice president of Salem Township Democratic Committee and a member of the Elizabeth City Community Relations Committee. She is also a member of Pasquotank County Senior Citizens Club; Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Incorporated; Hood Chapter #33 Order of Eastern Star, Prince Hall Affiliation; J. W. Hood Assembly #155 Order of the Golden Circle; and Prison Fellowship.

Her involvement with her church began at an early age. She was member of the Junior Usher Board and Sunshine Band. In later years, she elevated her service to Sunday school teacher and various church ministries in which she has served in various capacities.

In service to Elizabeth City State University, she has been an ardent supporter through her membership with the ECSU National Alumni Association, Incorporated and the Elizabeth City Area Alumni Chapter, where she served as president of both the national association and the local chapter. In addition to her role as a supervisory teacher for her alma mater, her gifts to the university, both in-kind and financial, have been consistent and generous. She is currently a member of the ECSU Board of Trustees Naming of Buildings Committee.

For her extraordinary services, Ms. Sharpe has received numerous awards: Witherspoon-Harris Community Service Award; Doctor of Humane Letters, presented by The Theological and Southern Baptist Seminary, among other distinguished honors.

Government/Education Award

Cecil Perry

Cecil Perry was born and reared in the Okisko Section of Pasquotank County. He graduated from P. W. Moore High School in Elizabeth City, North Carolina. He received his bachelor’s degree in mathematics and science from St. Augustine’s College and a master’s degree in administration and supervision from Virginia State University.

Mr. Perry’s career of more 40 years in public education began in Hertford County when he accepted a position as a mathematics and chemistry teacher at C. S. Brown High School in Winton, North Carolina. In 1961, he returned to his alma mater, P. W. Moore High School as a mathematics teacher and assistant basketball coach. When schools integrated, Mr. Perry was transferred to Northeastern High School to teach mathematics. His career began in administration in 1972 when he was appointed assistant principal at Northeastern.

Prior to his retirement in 1998, Mr. Perry spent 14 years as the principal of Central Elementary School and four years as principal of Pasquotank Elementary School. After his retirement, he served as interim principal at Camden Middle School and as an adjunct professor, observing and evaluating teachers for Elizabeth City State University.

Mr. Perry was elected to serve on the Pasquotank Board of County Commissioners in 2003. As an elected official, he has served as chairman of the board of the Pasquotank Board of County Commissioners, Elizabeth City Housing Authority, Local State Employees Credit Union, Albemarle Economic Development Commission, , and District 48 Precinct, along with a host of other board and committee leadership positions.

Commissioner Perry’s awards include the prestigious Order of the Long Leaf Pine presented by North Carolina Mike Easley in 2006; an achievement award from Bishop Richard Thompson presiding prelate of the Eastern North Carolina Episcopal District AME Zion Church; and principal of the year award from the Elizabeth City-Pasquotank County Schools.

In all of his work, Commissioner Perry has been a strong supporter of Elizabeth City State University, bringing a strong voice to all of higher education, and in particular, his understanding of the importance of ECSU to the social, economic, and cultural enhancement of Elizabeth City, northeastern North Carolina, and the state of North Carolina. No single action or contribution needs to be cited for those who know that Mr. Perry has been relentless in his efforts to preserve the ECSU legacy for future generations of talented underserved students.

He is married to his childhood sweetheart, Lillie Cooper. They are the proud parents of three sons—A. Tyrone Perry, DDS; Dwayne Perry, and Ron Perry. He has seven grandchildren and on great grandchild.

Sports/Business/Education/Philanthropy Award

Argle B. Whitfield

A.B. Whitfield was born in Portsmouth, Virginia. He enjoyed distinguished high school and college careers-All Conference in football, wrestling, and track as well as winning The Most Outstanding Athlete Award in 1964 and 1965.

A.B. Whitfield, a 1965 graduate of Elizabeth City State University, was a four-year starter on the Vikings football team, was captain of the wrestling team, and a member of the track and field team. In his junior year, Whitfield received All-CIAA honors in all three sports.

Upon graduating, this ECSU Sports Hall of Fame member, played professional football with the Dallas Cowboys in 1967 and the Denver Broncos in 1969.

After his retirement from professional football, A.B. continued his education, obtaining a master’s degree in education. His passion for sports and people was evident as he pursued several careers.

  • A.B. Whitfield Photo Productions, A.B. Whitfield, President – He specializes in corporate photography and sports productions. He has worked with clients including Hertz, United Negro College Fund, Colgate-Palmolive, CIAA, and the NCAA.
  • Trey Whitfield Foundation, Inc., (named in honor of his son who died in a boating accident) A.B. Whitfield, Founder and Chief Executive Officer--The Foundation provides financial support for talented, young men and women who aspire to attend college. The foundation has raised over 2 million dollars for deserving students of all nationalities.
  • Trey Whitfield School, A.B. Whitfield, Co-Founder and Chief Operating Officer – The school has emerged as one of the top private schools in the country and has been featured on the Bill O’Reilly Show, CNN and NBC for its strong academics and character building.

In support of his alma mater, A.B. also established the Agnes Whitfield Endowment Fund, which is named in honor of his mother and managed by The Elizabeth City State University Foundation.

A.B. is the recipient of numerous awards and citations for his humanitarianism, charitable, and community activities. He serves as a board member of many organizations. He is also a trustee of New Hampton School, a preparatory institution located in New Hampshire.