Meredith College alumnae gathered on campus May 17-19 for Meredith Alumnae Reunion Weekend. More than 600 were in attendance for the weekend of events. All alumnae are invited back to campus each year, but individual classes are invited to attend a special reunion every five years.
The Class of 1969 celebrated their 50th reunion and members were inducted into the Golden Oaks Society at a luncheon on May 17. In her remarks, President Jo Allen, ʼ80, highlighted their four years as students and the world outside the gates of Meredith College. Ann Batson James, ՚67, a member of their big sis class, lead them in the official oath of induction. After reciting their oath, President Allen gave each alumna a pin as a symbol of their membership to the Golden Oaks Society.
Friday evening all classes celebrated together in Johnson Hall and the courtyard and enjoyed music from The Band of Oz.
Saturday morning began with breakfast at Belk Dining Hall and a campus traditions tour. Later in the morning, at The State of the College in Jones Auditorium, alumnae awards and philanthropy awards were presented and President Allen gave a College update.
Erin Cleghorn, director of The Meredith Fund, gave an annual giving report for each reunion class and presented overall fundraising totals of $5,963,964.
A Meredith Mentors special overview was given in Kresge Auditorium that afternoon and class meetings were held. The Alumnae Marketplace was also open throughout the day in the Cate Center. On Saturday evening, individual classes held activities throughout Raleigh.
The weekend concluded Sunday with a worship service in Jones Chapel. Rev. Mandy England Cole, ՚99, delivered the sermon and music was performed by the Alumnae Choir. A yoga session was also held in the courtyard. Both sessions were followed by a brunch.
Congratulations to this year’s alumnae and philanthropy award recipients. Read more about this year’s recipients below.
Deborah Jordan Matthews, ʼ74 │ Distinguished Alumna Award
Deborah Jordan Matthews, ՚74, has remained committed to Meredith College by being a dedicated volunteer to benefit alumnae and students.
Matthews’ support of Meredith includes serving on the Board of Trustees for seven years, serving on the Presidential search committee that hired President Jo Allen, being the President of the Alumnae Association and as a past regional director. Four years ago she rallied her classmates to participate in funding an endowment for the Meredith Legacy Scholarship as their 50th reunion gift. This prestigious scholarship is the highest honor available to incoming freshmen. Not only did she recruit the initial group to give to the scholarship, but is still actively pursuing other members of her class to be a part of this special gift. In addition, she is a member of the Onyx and Iris Societies.
Matthews’ passion for education is evident in her lifelong work. She completed her Master of Education at Duke University in 1980 and has since been employed in the field of education. She has served as an elementary and academically gifted and talented teacher in various North Carolina counties and was director of the AG elementary program in Wake County. She is currently a consultant for Bridgewater Educational Services.
Emily Hines Harper, ʼ09 │ Recent Graduate Award
The legacy of Emily Hines Harper, ’09, will be felt at Meredith for generations to come, because of her love for the College. Harper battled osteosarcoma for nearly four years and lost her battle on October 29, 2018. Her time as a Meredith Angel was filled with helping others, volunteering, connecting people so they could succeed, and showing leadership with confidence, enthusiasm, and humor.
As a student, she was passionate about serving on the Honor Council all four years, including as chair her senior year. She studied abroad the summer after her sophomore year and Sansepolcro, Italy, was her favorite place because of the special relationship Meredith has with the village.
One year after Harper graduated, cum laude from Meredith with a B.S. in Business Administration and Finance, she started the Networking Angels alumnae group with Michelle Riche Goode, ՚73. She felt it was vital for alumnae to support each other in the professional world.
Last year she considered how she could help young women in her hometown of Henderson, N.C. This led her to create an endowment for students from Vance County who need financial support. Whether they are undergraduate, graduate, or Wings students, Vance County residents will be able to benefit from the Emily Hines Harper Scholarship.
Gayle Price Van Velsor, ʼ64 │Career Achievement Award
Gaye Price Van Velsor, ՚64, was a trailblazer in the corporate world and frequently credits her Meredith education for her success. Now retired, the former vice president of Progress Energy broke the glass ceiling starting in the 1970s. She was often the only woman at any given level of leadership and was a strong leader before many women were seen in the boardroom.
After graduating from Meredith with an English degree, Van Velsor began her professional career as a school teacher in Johnston County before moving to Raleigh to work as a copywriter for Carolina Power & Light (now Progress Energy). A promotion eventually transferred her to Wilmington. She continued to receive promotions and as the eastern region vice president, she oversaw operations for all of Eastern North Carolina.
Her leadership resulted in an invitation to join the board of New Hanover Regional Medical Center. She went on to serve as the board chair for many years. In the early 1990s she was the Wilmington YWCA Woman of the Year and a Wilmington Star-News Person of the Week. She was also a mentor to younger women in her organization and after her retirement young employees, male and female, still sought her advice.
Kay Perkins Carrington, ՚87, and Family│Meredith Memorial Philanthropy Award
Kay Perkins Carrington, ՚87, attended Meredith in her 50s, graduating with a degree in political science. As an adult learner, she enjoyed her time at Meredith and found the community friendly and accepting. That fondness led her to leave a gift in her estate to a place she treasured deeply.
Born in Climax, Ga., in 1931, she met her husband, John Carrington, in the early 1950s while working as a civilian for the U.S. Army in Fort Benning, Ga. They married in 1955 after he was discharged from the Army. They moved to New Jersey and she worked at Campbell Soup Company in the personnel department. In 1962 she left to become a homemaker and her husband bought Sirchie Fingerprint Laboratories. Over the next 40 years the company grew to more than 100 employees, providing forensic products and training.
In 1975, her family including her sons, Kent and Scott, moved to Raleigh. She was active with the First Church of Christian Scientists, Wake County Republican Party, and was appointed by Governor Jim Martin to the board of First Flight Centennial Foundation. She was supportive of USO, Wounded Warrior Projects, the Gary Sinise Foundation, and the Veterans Leadership Council of North Carolina – Cares.
Susan Harris Frazier, ʼ81│Meredith Philanthropy Award
Susan Harris Frazier, ՚81, attended Meredith College in her early 30s through the 23+ program (now called Wings), and it changed her life. As a single mother Frazier was trying to figure out what she wanted to do and after returning to college decided to major in psychology. As a student she developed friendships with the other 23+ students and loved that her professors encouraged her and prepared her for a career.
Those positive experiences led her to give a gift to establish the Wings Directorship Endowment. The funding for this gift came from her family’s donor-advised fund at the Triangle Community Foundation established by her mother in an effort to teach her family about philanthropy. The gift will help support the full-time director of the Wings Program. Frazier has given to the Wings Program for a number of years in the form of scholarship support.
After graduating from Meredith she completed her master’s degree at N.C. State and then worked at the Women’s Center in Raleigh as the director of volunteers. She went onto coordinate the transportation program at the AIDS Service Agency and then went in a new direction and graduated from massage school. As an avid lifelong student she is always ready to learn new things.
Cindy Parkman Godwin, ՚89│Meredith Reunion Philanthropy Award
Cindy Parkman Godwin, ՚89, has served others throughout her life and it is evident in her work and volunteer efforts. She believes that you should give what you can to honor those who have been gracious to you. Godwin’s positive experiences as a student and alumna of Meredith led her to establish a planned gift to The Meredith Fund.
As a student, she was involved in many aspects of campus life including being a resident assistant, student adviser, dorm council representative, defense counselor for the Honor Council, and was on The Meredith Herald staff. She also worked two and a half years for the Dean of Students as a student assistant.
Godwin carried those skills into her first job as associate director of United Way of Wayne County and later served as director of volunteer services at Wayne Memorial Hospital in Goldsboro.
Once Godwin moved to Wilmington, she served on the board of CareNet Counseling Center, has been a member of the Cape Fear Garden Club, and volunteered with the NC Azalea Festival. In addition, Godwin attends Winter Park Baptist Church and is a founding member of The Way Foundation, an organization that funds local, national, and international Christian missions.
Photo shows left to right: Deborah Jordan Matthews, ՚74, Lynn, Mike, and Davis Harper family of Emily Hines Harper, ՚09, President Jo Allen, Gayle Price Van Velsor, ՚64, Cindy Parkman Godwin, ՚89, Susan Harris Frazier, ՚81, and the Director of Wings Tom Manning on half of Kay Perkins Carrington, ՚87, and family.