NCWU Welcomes Ronald Cotton

North Carolina Wesleyan University will welcome Ronald Cotton of Burlington, North Carolina on Thursday, February 15 from 6:30 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. in Powers Recital Hall at The Dunn Center. Serving 11 years in prison for a crime he did not commit, Cotton was falsely accused of raping Jennifer Thompson. At the time, Thompson was an Elon University student. Cotton’s wrongful conviction was largely based on faulty eyewitness identification procedures. Following his exoneration, Ms. Thompson and Mr. Cotton became friends and advocates for criminal justice reform.

Considered among the most famous DNA exonerations in U.S. history! Watch a two-part 60 Minutes episode about this case by clicking here.

Attendees of this event will witness the type of interaction an educated populace should demonstrate, but more importantly, how to engage in issues that sometimes divide us as a nation.

Open to the public. This event will provide students with the experience of interacting with their social community beyond what they read in textbooks. Discussing delicate issues of this type is both educational and engaging for our students and the community at large.

Attendees will have the opportunity to meet Mr. Cotton during a reception immediately following at 8:00 p.m. in the Powers Hall lobby.

Biancur Candidate for United Soccer Coaches Board of Directors Vice President

Beverly Biancur, NCWU Women’s Soccer Coach

ROCKY MOUNT, NORTH CAROLINA – NCWU Women’s Soccer Coach, Beverly A. Biancur was chosen as one of five candidates for the position of Vice President to serve on the United Soccer Coaches Board of Directors.

The United Soccer Coaches by-laws require all elections for Board of Directors positions to include two to five candidates on the final ballot. In this case, Biancur was incredibly honored to be one of five represented. To ensure integrity, voting was completed by the third-party service, Intelliscan. Personalized ballots were sent out via email to members of United Soccer Coaches beginning on Tuesday, January 2, 2024. Voting concluded on January 12.

While Biancur did not win, she felt incredibly appreciated stating, “I was honored to be nominated and hope to remain in consideration for future positions”. Winner, Nancy Feldman, was the former Head Coach of Women’s Soccer at Boston University. “Nancy will do an exceptional job on the Board,” Biancur noted.

Serving on the Board of Directors is the ultimate way for a coach to give back to the association and the game as a whole. Feldman will have a six-year cycle on the Board. During that time, she will spend four years as Vice President, ascend to President and then serve a final year on the Board as Past President.

Currently in her sixteenth year at the University, Biancur has been Head Coach of NCWU Women’s Soccer for twelve years. In all, she boasts over twenty-five years of coaching experience at the collegiate, high school and club levels. Her podcast has gained a lot of interest from the coaching body and is available on the United Soccer Coaches Podcast.

NCWU is the Pet-Friendly College for Animal Lovers

Research shows that pet ownership in the United States has significantly increased over the past three decades. In fact, according to Forbes Advisor, “As of 2023, 66% of U.S. households (86.9 million homes) own a pet.” Personally, it comes as no surprise with everything that has occurred in the last several years: the pandemic, rise in mental health and rate of inflation. So, what about college-bound animal lovers who own a pet and are looking for a pet-friendly college?

In the fall of 2023, NC Wesleyan University announced its plan to turn one residence hall into pet-friendly housing, thanks to a new program the University is piloting. This initiative allows students to keep their furry friends with them while living on campus, offering them the ability to still have access to the traditional campus life experience. One pet per student is allowed.

dogs on campus

The unique program has proved to be popular among students, as spots in the residence hall filled up quickly with the announcement. NCWU plans to move forward in the upcoming 2024-2025 academic year continuing to offer pet-friendly housing. The University’s pet-friendly housing policy is for dogs, cats and fish. Dogs must weigh under 40 pounds and have no history of aggressive behavior. All dogs and cats are required to be vaccinated against rabies and other transmittable diseases and be on anti-parasite medication. No animals may roam the campus unattended. Fish tanks are limited to 5 gallons in volume.

In addition to the joy and companionship they bring, pets also teach time and obligation management. A great remedy for anxiety and homesickness, they provide many students more structure in their daily routine, including exercise and time outside. Not to mention they can be a great icebreaker for making new friends.

At NCWU, we are committed to providing a safe and well-maintained environment for all students residing in pet-friendly housing. It is the responsibility of the pet owner to protect the rights of all students, ensure a safe and healthy living and learning environment, as well as practice behaviors that support the upkeep of university facilities and beauty of the campus. Students who bring a pet to campus are responsible for understanding and abiding by the regulations of the pet policy. Every pet owner is encouraged to carefully consider the advantages and disadvantages of the campus environment for their pet.

dogs pets on campus

By allowing resident students to bring their pet to live on campus, we aim to create a more balanced college experience and be the “Pet-Friendly College for Animal Lovers”. An environment that prioritizes health, wellness and connection.

If you’re a pet owner interested in college and can’t bear to leave your beloved animal companion behind, check out North Carolina Wesleyan University. The University’s Winter Open House is set for Saturday, February 3, 2024, and registration is underway. 

During Open House, students learn more about scholarships and financial aid, have the opportunity to speak with faculty and current students, gain information on the admissions process and can take a campus tour. You can learn more at

Magal Named Inaugural Souza Professor

In October 2023, Wayne Souza (Class of 1973) pledged a transformative gift to North Carolina Wesleyan University to advance the University’s nationally accredited program in Exercise Science. In 2021, the program moved into Wesleyan’s new Indoor Sports & Education Facility (ISEF) and recently has hired two new faculty members. The undergraduate degree in Exercise Science now accounts for NCWU’s second most popular major among traditional, incoming first-year students.

Dr. Meir Magal

“I have a passion to give back to my alma mater.  When presented this opportunity, it gave me a chance to not only give back and lend a hand, but to pull forward both NCWU students and boost an incredible program.” stated Wayne Souza in a recent interview.

This gift has allowed the University to launch a significant upgrade in equipment and facility. It also created the Wayne Souza Chair of Exercise Science. Dr. Meir Magal has been named the inaugural Souza Professor.

“I want to thank Mr. Souza for this very generous gift, I am honored to be named the Inaugural Souza Professor of Exercise Science! This charitable donation has allowed the Exercise Science Department to equip ISEF with cutting-edge resistance training equipment, enabling our students to gain invaluable experiential learning and research opportunities and engage in strength training with the University’s athletic teams.” expressed Dr. Magal.

Dr. Magal came to the United States from Israel to attend the University of Southern Mississippi where he played NCAA Division I Tennis and earned Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in Exercise Science, as well as a Ph.D. in Human Performance. In 2002, Dr. Magal joined the faculty of North Carolina Wesleyan. In his 22 years at Wesleyan, Dr. Magal has won multiple awards including the Exemplary Teacher Award and the Jefferson Pilot Professorship. In 2011, he was named a Fellow of the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM).  

Dr. Magal has authored or co-authored more than 20 peer-reviewed articles as well as numerous book chapters. He served as an Associate Editor on the 10th edition of ACSM’s Guidelines for Exercise Testing and Prescription and as Co-Editor of the 6th Edition of ACSM’s Fitness Assessment Manual. In addition, he also serves on the Editorial Board of ACSM’s Health and Fitness Journal and ACSM’s open-access journal, Exercise, Sport, and Movement.  He has been particularly active in mentoring research with undergraduate students, serving as Chair for more than fifteen senior honors projects and a co-author with undergraduate students on multiple papers and conference presentations.

He currently serves as Program Director and Professor of Exercise Science and as Chair of the School of Mathematics and Sciences.

Dr. Joe Lane, Provost of North Carolina Wesleyan, noted, “Dr. Magal represents the epitome of the engaged teacher, scholar and advisor whom we want to develop and highlight on the North Carolina Wesleyan faculty.  We are proud to honor him as the inaugural Souza Chair, and we look forward to the incredible work that he and his colleagues will accomplish with our students in the years ahead.”  

University Awarded Funds to Expand Nursing BSN Program

NC Senator Lisa Barnes and NC Representative Allen Chesser secured funding with the newly approved state budget for North Carolina Wesleyan University’s BSN Pre-Licensure program. On Monday evening, November 27, they visited the University’s campus to highlight this achievement with a $350,000 check presentation.

Senator Barnes endorsed the initiative, stating, “I fully support Wesleyan’s efforts to expand the BSN program, creating a pipeline for more nursing students to pursue their educational goals while providing well qualified healthcare staff to offset the shortages. It’s a win-win opportunity for our area.”

“Ensuring our community has access to high-quality healthcare workers will have positive impacts on the well-being of residents, as well as expanding access to quality local healthcare and creating local job opportunities,” said Representative Allen Chesser. “I am proud of the work Senator Barnes and I have been able to accomplish; to ensure valuable community partners such as NCWU so they can continue their great work for Nash County and our surrounding area.”

Both Representative Chesser and Senator Barnes are active in the districts they serve, which includes Nash County. They understand the positive impact a BSN Pre-Licensure will have on our community and they fully appreciate the significance North Carolina Wesleyan University has on our region.

NC Wesleyan currently offers a Post-Licensure Bachelor of Science in Nursing through their online RN to BSN program, allowing a pathway for registered nurses with an associate degree to advance their professional role in the healthcare system. With this additional funding, the University will now be able to expand their offerings to include a Bachelor’s Degree in Nursing (BSN) Pre-Licensure program. This will provide nursing students with the clinical skills necessary to deliver safe, evidence-based quality care, earn a bachelor’s degree in nursing and sit for the NCLEX exam.  

“The nursing faculty and I are are extremely grateful for the monetary contribution that NC Senator Lisa Barnes and NC Representative Allen Chesser have secured for NCWU’s prelicensure nursing program, as well as their support for nursing in our community. As the healthcare system continues to evolve and become more complex, it is imperative that we provide educational opportunities for students in our community and surrounding areas to enter the nursing profession and provide high-quality care to the residents in the rural communities that we serve. We look forward to growing the nursing program at NCWU and offering the prelicensure BSN option to our students,” stated Dr. Crystal Ostheim.

President Duff also acknowledged, “Dr. Dan and Brenda Crocker have also pledged $100,000 to our BSN Licensure program. As a retired physician from our community, Dr. Crocker understands the value and importance of having qualified nurses in our healthcare system. We are extremely grateful for this donation and their unwavering support of NC Wesleyan.”

Those in attendance included: Dr. Joe Lane, NCWU Provost & Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs; Dan Bell, NCWU Board Member; Roger G. Taylor ’70, NCWU Board Member; Terri Sharpe, NCWU Board Member; Paul A. Bauer ’86, Chairman of the NCWU Board of Trustees; Allen Chesser ’19, NC Representative; Cindy Edwards, NCWU Senior Executive of Operations; Lisa Barnes, NC Senator; Mark Hinson, NCWU Senior Executive of Philanthropic Engagement; Dr. Evan D. Duff, NCWU President; Suzanne Brackett ’87, NCWU Senior Vice President of Administration; Thomas Winstead, NCWU Board Member; and Dr. Daniel L. Crocker, NCWU Board Member.

New Offering at NCWU Allows for Two Degrees, Two Certificates in 2.5 Years

North Carolina Wesleyan University is introducing a new unique, accelerated program designed for students wishing to elevate their associate degree to a master’s degree. Through this new pathway, students will have the opportunity to earn an Executive Leadership Certificate, Human Resources Management Certificate, bachelor’s degree and a Master’s in Strategic Leadership in approximately two and a half years.

This degree option was designed with working adults in mind by offering 100% online classes. Students can earn certificates as they go with a focus on two classes per term. The University also offers career assistance, supportive advisors and faculty, and special tuition pricing for North Carolina community college graduates*. Students admitted into the Associate to Master’s program must meet all undergraduate requirements, attain bachelor degree conferral and submit graduate admissions material before they begin the M.S. in Strategic Leadership program.

“NCWU remains on the cutting edge of programming to accelerate the educational attainment of working adults in our state. We have been a leader in alternative pathways for adults to complete their college degree for over 45 years,” stated Dr. Evan D. Duff. “This is a one-of-a-kind program in North Carolina that allows community college graduates to fast track their learning while attaining multiple credentials along the way.”

Upon completion of the Associate to Master’s program, students will be qualified to attain the following industry certifications: SHRM Certified Professional (SHRM-CP) Certification, HRCI’s Associate Professional in Human Resources (aPHR) Certification and the Strategy Planning Professional (SPP) Certification.

If you already have an associate degree, this is a great opportunity to advance your education in less time in order to gain a competitive advantage in the workforce. Apply today to gain new skills and earn multiple degrees at a top-ranked university, taking the first step towards accelerating your career! Those who are interested can learn more at

Veterans Day Celebration Planned at NCWU

Join North Carolina Wesleyan University on Friday, November 10 for a Veterans Day event celebrating and honoring the men and women of our armed forces. The morning will start off at 10:00 a.m. with a patriotic salute to all Veterans and a special pinning for Vietnam Veterans.

NCWU ROTC cadets stand and salute the flag

The event will be held at the main flagpole in front of the Braswell Administrative building with guest speaker, Rep. Allen Chesser. In case of inclement weather, the event will be moved to the Garner Lobby at The Dunn Center. Rep. Chesser is an alumnus of NC Wesleyan and currently serves on the University’s Veteran Advisory Committee. Elected in 2022, Rep. Chesser is currently the State Representative for North Carolina House District 25, which covers the majority of Nash County. Before serving in the North Carolina House, he was a police officer for the City of Raleigh and the Town of Nags Head. Rep. Chesser is a combat veteran of the U.S. Army National Guard.

“With wars and rumors of wars consistently in the headlines, it is important to pause and recognize those who have served our Country and kept America free. We are thankful to have the opportunity to honor our Wesleyan and Rocky Mount Veterans by continuing our tradition of the Veterans Day Salute. We are excited to have Rep. Chesser, Dawn Cash-Salau and Andrea Bishop joining us this year and look forward to their contribution to the day,” stated Laura Estes Brown, Associate Dean of Veteran Services.

During the ceremony, Mrs. Dawn Cash-Salau will present the Christopher Cash Scholarship to this year’s recipients. In addition, the University is supporting the local Ride of Honor taking place November 10 and 11. This fundraiser benefits the PruittCares Foundation to help veterans and bring Camp Cocoon to Nash County. Andrea Bishop BSN, RN, Administrator of PruittHealth Hospice of Rocky Mount, will be speaking briefly about this event at NCWU’s Veterans Day Salute.

Tolson Awarded Algernon Sydney Sullivan Award

For his great career in serving the region’s people and needs, North Carolina Wesleyan University presented Norris Tolson with the Algernon Sydney Sullivan Award at their Homecoming game on Saturday, October 14. Mr. Tolson is the Vice President of Special Projects for the Carolinas Gateway Partnership. The award is presented to a community leader who best exemplifies excellence in character, leadership, service to the community and a commitment to spiritual values. This humanitarian award is meant to recognize those who have selflessly given and served others and the community.

(L to R): Mark Hinson, Norris Tolson, Dr. Evan D. Duff

Algernon Sydney Sullivan rose to success in New York City as a respected lawyer and a man who “reached out both hands in constant helpfulness” to others. After his death in 1887, the Society sought to honor him and the award bearing his name was established in 1925 by the Sullivan Memorial Committee and the New York Southern Society, which Mr. Sullivan had served as its first president.

“Mr. Tolson, for many years, has been a remarkable public servant in this region and statewide.  When considering the attributes someone should possess in order to be awarded the Algernon Sydney Sullivan Award, he was a clear choice and is well deserving of this honor,” stated Mark Hinson, Sr. Executive of Philanthropic Engagement at North Carolina Wesleyan University.

Before joining the Carolinas Gateway Partnership, Tolson served as a senior advisor for economic development with the Williams Mullen law firm, was President and CEO of the North Carolina Biotechnology Center, served as both the North Carolina Secretary of Commerce and the North Carolina Secretary of Transportation. He was elected to the North Carolina General Assembly and served in the House of Representatives from 1994 until 1997 representing parts of Edgecombe, Nash, Pitt and Wilson Counties at the time.  In 1999, Tolson served as the Chairman of the North Carolina Hurricane Floyd Relief Fund and in 2001 he was appointed to be the North Carolina Secretary of Revenue and stayed in this role until 2007.

Tolson proudly resides in Pinetops, NC.  He has three children and five grandchildren.

NCWU Embraces New Freshman Class

North Carolina Wesleyan University held its 67th annual New Student Convocation today in Minges Auditorium at The Dunn Center. President Dr. Evan D. Duff gave a warm welcome to over 300 new students who are embarking on their college experience, congratulating them on taking the next step in their educational journey. The newest class of Bishops make up a diverse group of students with 196 hailing from North Carolina, 63 of which are from the local region, and 45 international students from 24 different countries. The top five majors that this cohort will be pursuing include Business Administration, Exercise Science, Criminal Justice, Biomedical Science and Computer Information Systems.

Freshman students form a large W on the turf field at NC Wesleyan
NCWU Class of 2027

“During your time here, you will learn meaningful skills that will help you to successfully navigate life. Those include communication, collaboration, how to effectively make decisions, being self-aware and information technology skills. Your success in life is our success and we look forward to being an important part of your journey,” stated Duff.

This year’s guest speaker was Rhonda Vonshay Sharpe, a 1988 Mathematics alumna and founder of the Women’s Institute for Science, Equity and Race (WISER), which she is currently actively involved in. WISER is the first think tank to focus solely on the social, economic, cultural, and political well-being of women of color. Sharpe was born in New York City, but raised in Virginia. After graduating from NC Wesleyan, she obtained three master’s degrees: Applied Mathematics from Clark Atlanta University (1992); Operations Research from Stanford University (1994); and Economics from Claremont Graduate University. She obtained her Ph.D. in Economics/Mathematics in 1998, also from Claremont Graduate University.

Dr. Rhonda V. Sharpe

Sharpe has taught at a number of colleges and universities, including Barnard College, Bucknell University, Columbia University, Duke University and the University of Vermont. She is also the co-founder of the Diversity Initiative for Tenure in Economics (DITE), which she served as Associate Director from 2008 until 2014.

While addressing the new class of Bishops, Sharpe stressed the importance of not letting your past dictate your future.

“To the Class of 2027, I say to you: whatever your high school experience—whether you excelled or you had challenges—that was your past. Your future began when you stepped on this campus.” stated Sharpe. She went on to offer several tips for being successful over the next four years: be proactive, get to know your faculty, don’t be afraid to speak up in class even if you’re not always right, embrace and exchange ideas, acknowledge and appreciate those who maintain and clean your spaces, ask for help early and commit to look out for your fellow Bishop.

Throughout her address, Sharpe acknowledged multiple reasons why Wesleyan was a great educational choice for her. She closed by reiterating this sentiment, saying “Whether North Carolina Wesleyan was your first choice, your only choice, or your safe choice, as an alumna, I wish for you an educational experience that makes you feel like it was your best choice. It was for me.”

Afterwards, students exited The Dunn Center greeted by a cheering crowd of returning students, faculty, staff and friends of NC Wesleyan forming a time-honored tradition— the Bishop Tunnel. As they continued through the tunnel to enter the annual Rock the Mount event, they were each welcomed by President Duff and his wife, Marcy. Rock the Mount is a tradition at NCWU of welcoming new students to campus and to the community. Each year, it takes place the day before the University’s first day of classes, serving as the official kick-off event for the new academic year. Organizations come out to support and celebrate the start of a new school year with food, music and advertising. This year, almost 110 community organizations lined the center of campus to celebrate Wesleyan’s Class of 2027. There were a variety of food options provided by food trucks CP3 Catering & Food Trailer, Integrity BBQ, 3Boys Smoke Pit & Catering, Webby’s, Minnie Amazing Foods and Thingz, and Dewberrys Fruit Smoothies were on-site to provide a variety of food options for everyone and live entertainment was provided by Meredith Davis Johnson, the band “Blind Joy” and DJ 3two1.