Ask any of the numerous donors to the College why they give, and their reasons might vary from helping support future students to attracting the best and brightest faculty members and everything in between. As the College continues to grow and captivate young students from around the world, the members of the Dean’s Circle are helping to ensure that the College maintains a competitive edge and creates an outstanding educational experience for students and faculty members. The Dean’s Circle is a comprehensive society for all unrestricted gifts of $1,000 or more to the College and its departments. Meet three Dean’s Circle donors, and learn why they give.
Dr. Nancy Allbritton
Powerhouse, teaching innovation, and dynamic. If you were to ask Dr. Nancy Allbritton to describe what attracted her to working at NC State and UNC Chapel Hill as the chair of the two schools’ joint biomedical engineering department, those are just some of the words she would use.
Allbritton is a Kenan Distinguished Professor at UNC Chapel Hill, having been recruited to the Department of Chemistry in 2007; holds a joint appointment with the UNC School of Medicine in the Department of Pharmacology; and was named head of the UNC/NC State Joint Department of Biomedical Engineering (BME) in fall 2009. She is the first woman department head in the College’s history.
She has received widespread acclaim for her research on cell signaling networks and microfabricated systems for cellular analysis and has more than 150 publications to her credit. Her research program has received more than $55 million in grant funding from the National Institutes of Health over the past 22 years. She is the scientific founder of four companies based on her lab’s work, and she holds 13 issued patents with five more pending.
As chair of the BME department, Allbritton knows firsthand how funding for college departments is essential in helping enrich both students and faculty members.
“To have money that can be used to support student activities that state money wouldn’t be able to support, to be able to do things that couldn’t otherwise be done, it’s important.”
Allbritton and her husband, Dr. Christopher Sims, a rheumatologist in the Triangle, donated toward the BME department fund.
“I think donating is the only way to build a university. I’ve had such a great time at NC State, and I think it’s important to give back.”
For Blake Miller, attending NC State was an easy choice.
“Both my grandfather and father attended NC State so I grew up bleeding red and howling,” said Miller, who earned his undergraduate degree in 2009 from the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering. “I knew in high school that I wanted to pursue engineering, and with the great buzz going around about Centennial Campus, I knew NC State was where I wanted to be.”
Nine days after graduating, Miller began work at Progress Energy in Raleigh, where he held various engineering roles within the company, including moves to Wilmington and Wade, NC. Miller was working with delivery operations in Wade when Duke Energy bought Progress Energy, so he was relocated to Charlotte working toward a leadership position. In April, he was promoted to construction and maintenance supervisor and now resides in Mount Airy, NC.
Thinking back on his time at NC State, Miller laughs and says that some of it was a blur.
“I met some of my lifelong friends, faced new challenges, was in situations that make you more independent – during that time and struggle, it made me a success.”
According to Miller, learning the balance between life and engineering is one of the greatest things NC State afforded him. “NC State gave me more than an education, it helped shape me into the person I am today.”
He has donated toward the College’s Leadership Fund and hopes that it will help others in achieving success and striking that balance.
“I want new students to have great opportunities, and this is my way of investing in their futures.”
Thinking back to his time spent at NC State, Allen McCall recalls the life lessons he learned while living on campus and the bonds he formed with fellow engineering students.
“Through the years we learned how to handle the vigorous academic challenges of the engineering school while at the same time enjoying the social opportunities NC State offered us,” said McCall, a 1974 graduate of the Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering. “My years at NC State were some of the best years of my life.”
Upon graduating, McCall worked for five years in several states for Helena Chemical Company in agricultural chemical sales. Upon returning home to Laurinburg, NC, he began his career with Canal Wood Corporation, now known as Canal Wood, LLC, as an entry-level forester, holding various supervisory roles over the years. Today, McCall is Canal’s president.
“We are proud to say that Canal is one of the largest privately owned fiber supply organizations serving the nation’s largest forestry companies in seven Southeastern states,” said McCall. “(I) am honored to work with the finest men and women in our industry.”
With a successful career, McCall feels the disciplines he learned in engineering have helped mold his approaches to problem solving and feels it is time to give back to the place that was most informative and memorable for him.
“I left Raleigh with not only a strong academic education but also a sense of belonging to something bigger than myself — the Wolfpack nation.”