Jan. 30, 2024     

Leha Byrd 
ECSU Communications and Marketing     
Email or 252-335-8745  
ELIZABETH CITY, N.C. (Jan. 30, 2024) – Elizabeth City State University (ECSU) will honor six individuals at the university’s annual Founder’s Day Scholarship Gala Saturday, March 9. The event provides an opportunity to recognize Vikings and other community members who have gainfully contributed to the university and the state of North Carolina. It also commemorates the 133 years ECSU has provided higher education opportunities in northeastern North Carolina and beyond.
Since its inception in 2007, the gala has raised a total of $1.6 million to support the General Scholarship Fund. The gala is the ECSU Foundation’s premiere fundraiser.


This year’s nominees are recipients of the Chancellor’s Legacy Award, which recognizes individuals, businesses, corporations, and foundations who have best demonstrated the standard of excellence that defines and shapes ECSU as an institution. The Gala Awards Committee reviews and ranks nominations and final nominees are presented to Chancellor Karrie G. Dixon for approval. 

To purchase tickets or to learn about how you can become a sponsor, visit the event site. Doors open at 6 p.m., and the program begins at 7 p.m. at the K.E. White Graduate Center, 1862 Edgewood Dr. in Elizabeth City. Lodging accommodations for the event can be made at Fairfield Inn in Elizabeth City.  

This year's nominees include: 

Sen. Warren Daniel 

Warren Daniel represents North Carolina Senate District 46 – Burke, McDowell and Buncombe counties. He received a Congressional appointment to the United States Military Academy at West Point, where he graduated in 1991 with a degree in National Security and Public Affairs.  He was commissioned as a 2nd Lt. in the Army Field Artillery where he served for six years. In 1997, he left active duty to attend law school at The University of North Carolina (UNC) Chapel Hill, where he graduated with honors in 2000. Daniel has argued cases at every level of the North Carolina court system, including the North Carolina Court of Appeals and Supreme Court. In 2007, Warren was admitted to practice before the U.S. Supreme Court. 

Phyllis C. Elmore ‘82 

Phyllis Elmore is an avid supporter of ECSU and has organized several trips from the Washington, D.C. and Maryland areas to Viking Land to introduce students to her alma mater. She is a member of the Washington, D.C. Metro Alumni Chapter. Elmore has been an advocate for ECSU since she graduated and works to ensure potential college students are aware of their educational options. 

Lenora Jarvis-Mackey ’66 

Lenora Jarvis-Mackey has been the president and chief executive officer of River City Community Development Corporation (RCCDC) since it was founded more than 30 years ago. She has grown RCCDC’s programs and services to include Housing Counseling, Community Development, and Homelessness Services, Youth Development, Business and Economic Development, and Social and Cultural Awareness. 

Mackey was awarded an honorary Doctor of Public Service from ECSU in December 2020, in recognition of her many years of service and community contributions. She is also a recipient of the Order of the Long Leaf Pine Award, the highest honor bestowed upon a citizen of North Carolina by a sitting governor.  

Sen. Gladys Robinson 

Gladys Robinson is in her seventh term in the North Carolina Senate, District 28 which is Greensboro. She serves as Senate Caucus chair and previously served as Deputy Minority leader. She served as chair of the North Carolina Legislative Black Caucus Foundation, vice chair of the NC Legislative Black Caucus and is a former member of the UNC Board of Governors. Robinson is a retired community health executive with expertise in aging, health, and education, having worked in nonprofit leadership for 45 years. She retired after 35 years as executive director of Piedmont Health Services and Sickle Cell Agency, which provided minority health services for persons with illnesses including Sickle Cell Disease and HIV/AIDS.   

Gwendolyn Sanders ’77 

Gwendolyn Sanders serves as the president of the Elizabeth City Chapter of The Links, Incorporated and parliamentarian of the Elizabeth City Alumnae Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Incorporated. She is also a board member of the Elizabeth City Area Committee of 100. 

Her professional pursuits and expertise in conference and event planning led her to opportunities at the Washington, D.C. Board of Realtors and later with IQ Solutions, located in Maryland. She has also worked with her sorority at its national headquarters. At ECSU she completed her bachelor’s degree in English, with a concentration in Speech Pathology. She retired from ECSU in 2023 as the Deputy Chief of Staff in the Office of the Chancellor. 

James E. Swimpson ’62 

James Swimpson was accepted into Elizabeth City State Teachers College (ECSTC) in 1957 and earned a degree in Education. He was active in various organizations including the yearbook staff and Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Incorporated. On Oct. 13, 2022, he was recognized with a historic marker as the only surviving member of the original five ECSTC student activists. He, along with four other students from ECSTC, changed history by defiantly sitting at a whites only lunch counter in 1960. Swimpson worked as a social investigator in New York City before returning to North Carolina. In 1971, he began a 30-year career at ECSU, which included serving as director of Financial Aid.  


Elizabeth City State University provides students with a high-quality, affordable education as one of North Carolina’s leading four-year public institutions that is part of the University of North Carolina System. ECSU develops leaders who are courageous, resilient, and empowered through excellent student-centered, experiential learning. We offer baccalaureate, professional, and master’s degrees across a wide variety of interests. Excellence is the standard at Elizabeth City State University – success is our legacy. Come to Discover. Leave to Conquer. Visit