As a lifelong resident of rural Sampson County and a University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill alumnus, Allie Ray McCullen’s pride in being selected to the prestigious university’s Board of Trustees is two-fold.
One, it allows him to serve his alma mater, an honor he is humbled by and a duty to which he is very much looking forward. And second, he does so while representing not only Sampson County but the eastern part of the state.
He was one of five new members sworn in at the Board of Trustees recent meeting.
“I consider it an honor,” said McCullen, owner of The McCullen Group Inc., a real estate sales and appraisal firm in Clinton. “I was asked several months ago if I would serve and I was humbled by that. When you consider the thousands upon thousands that have gone through the college and received a diploma, I guess you can consider it an honor. I do.”
McCullen, who lives on the family farm in Keener, attended North Carolina State University and was inducted into the Phi Eta Sigma fraternity. He subsequently transferred to Carolina, where he graduated in 1968 with a Bachelor of Arts degree in history.
Over the years, he has served on various state and federal boards and commissions, including the State Banking Commission and the USDA-Agricultural Stabilization and Conservation Services Committee. Locally, he has been a member and chairman of the Sampson Community College Board of Trustees as well as the Sampson Regional Medical Center Board of Trustees, which he served for nearly 19 years — nine of them as chairman — before retiring earlier this year.
The UNC-Chapel Hill Board of Trustees has 12 members plus the student body president, who serves as an ex-officio 13th member. The board consists of eight members elected by the UNC Board of Governors — of which McCullen is one — and four appointed by the governor.
The Board of Trustees is tasked with promoting “the sound development of its institution … in a way that will complement the activities of the other institutions and aiding it to perform at a high level of excellence in every area of endeavor.” Each trustee acts as an advisor to the Board of Governors as well as to the chancellor on the management and development of the university.
At the July 23 meeting, the board re-emphasized the focus on internal improvement and external communication.
“I think everyone will agree that this is a very hard-working board,” Chancellor Carol L. Folt said, pointing to the group’s commitment to spending time on important issues.
McCullen said he is ready to tackle those issues, conceding it will be a learning process to start.
“There is a tremendous amount I don’t know about,” he remarked. “I will learn as we go along.”
Already, McCullen and others have gone through an orientation, including courses, as well as committee meetings and the board meeting. McCullen said he wants to delve further into the medical research conducted at the university, a subject that piqued his interest during his tenure with Sampson Regional’s board. The university is at the forefront of that research, notably as it relates to cancer treatment, McCullen noted.
He wants to continue to encourage and facilitate those breakthroughs, as well as support various other departments across campus.
“Health care is very important to me and quality education is as well,” he stated. “This university has a long tradition of excellence and I’m interested in providing that quality education at an affordable price.”
McCullen joins four other new members, each distinguished in their own right.
The other new trustees include: Julia Sprunt Grumbles of Chapel Hill, a former corporate vice president for Turner Broadcasting System Inc. who previously served as Carolina’s interim vice chancellor for development; William A. Keyes IV of McLean, Va., founder and director of the Institute for Responsible Citizenship; William E. McMahan of Charlotte, former chairman and CEO of Little-McMahan Corp who served six terms in the North Carolina House and just finished a term on the UNC Board of Governors; and Hari H. Nath of Cary, retired founder and CEO of the management consulting firm Technology Planning and Management Corp. who also recently completed a term on the UNC Board of Governors.
The Board of Governors appointed Grumbles, Keyes and McCullen to their seats, and Gov. Pat McCrory selected McMahan and Nath. All will serve four-year terms ending in 2019.
The new UNC Board of Trustees chairman is Dwight Stone of Greensboro, while the new vice chair is Haywood D. Cochrane of Elon.
“I’m the only resident east of Raleigh,” McCullen pointed out. “It’s been a while since somebody has been on the board representing the eastern part of the state.”
Stone was born in Spivey’s Corner and past Board of Trustees chairman Wade Hargrove was born in Sampson, however McCullen said he is filled with pride to be able to serve the board as a current and lifelong Sampsonian.
“I’m delighted for the east to have representation,” he said.
Reach staff writer Chris Berendt at 910-249-4616. Follow the paper on twitter @SampsonInd and like us on Facebook.