WILSON, N.C. — April 27, 2015 — Barton College is pleased to announce the establishment of the Whitehurst Family Honors Program, endowed through a substantial gift by Barton trustee Garnett B. Whitehurst, Ph.D., of New Bern. The official announcement was made at the College’s Spring Board of Trustees Meeting held this past Saturday, April 25.
With this commitment to Barton College, Dr. Whitehurst has joined another faculty member and other trustees who will be recognized at the Founders’ Society level of giving. This endowment gift follows an earlier endowment made by Dr. Whitehurst to support a scholarship in the School of Sciences. He also has generously provided funding for equipment and student research activities in the sciences program.
“Honors research programs are one of the many ways that colleges attempt to provide scholarly research experiences for students,” Dr. Whitehurst explained. “My own career as a scientist began through an honors research program as an undergraduate at North Carolina State University. That experience helped stimulate my interest in furthering my education by attending graduate school to major in biochemistry at Iowa State University. The additional education has been crucial to the development of my research career.”
The College’s Honors Program has experienced significant growth during the past four years and currently boasts an enrollment of 99 students in 2015. A strong commitment to academic excellence and service to community, coupled with a dedicated director leading the program, were significant strides by the College in the eyes of Dr. Whitehurst, a successful scholar, researcher, and entrepreneur in the field of biochemistry.
“In visiting numerous campuses at small and large institutions, I have discovered a strong interest in providing experiences for undergraduate students to work with faculty, which, in turn, provide opportunities for students to develop critical thinking and problem-solving skills,” continued Dr. Whitehurst. “This gift to Barton College will hopefully support this academic honors program, which has been intentionally designed to stimulate an interest in research by its participants and to guide them toward career paths where they can eventually have a significant impact upon their chosen fields and upon society in general.”
The mission of Barton’s Honors Program is to inspire futures by teaching students to think for themselves and to live for others. This is accomplished by teaching and challenging qualifying students academically, socially, and culturally. The vision of the Barton College Honors Program is for its graduates to be career-ready leaders who are able to think critically and find meaning and purpose in their work.
The Honors Program helps transform students from being receivers of knowledge to creators of knowledge. Students in the Honors Program often pursue post-graduate work in a variety of graduate and professional schools, and Barton’s Honors Program is designed to best prepare students to compete and excel in these endeavors. “The combination of rigorous in-class experiences and intensive out-of-class experiences make Barton honors students well-rounded contributors to Barton’s community and to the community at large,” noted Dr. Gary Daynes, provost and vice president for academic affairs at Barton College.
In addition to the academic requirements, students are expected to be leaders on campus, both in and out of the classroom. They participate in a wide range of cultural events on campus, including plays, lectures, athletic events, art exhibitions, and other intellectual activities. Students enjoy the privileges of early registration and the opportunity to live in East Campus Suites on the Honors floors. Funding may be available to help offset the costs of conferences and entrance exams. Students are also encouraged to travel internationally, but this is not a requirement for graduating with honors.
“Serendipity occurs when we are able to match a donor’s passion to an important mission of the organization….it is truly magical!,” shared Carolyn Harmon, senior advisor to the president at Barton College. “I have been honored to help Dr. Whitehurst fulfill his goal to name the Whitehurst Family Honors Program. For several years, Dr. Whitehurst has been involved with the activities of the Honors Program and has been impressed with Dr. Bane’s vision for the program. He is always reminding me of the importance of involving individuals in the life of the College, so that they can realize ways they might help with the success of our students. We believe his gift will influence the philanthropic decisions of other alumni and friends.”
A member of the Barton College Board of Trustees since 2011, Dr. Whitehurst is also a former member of the Barton science faculty, teaching from 1982-1990. He currently teaches biology and chemistry at Pamlico Community College in New Bern in addition to his work at Brooks Whitehurst Associates Inc., a company co-owned by Dr. Whitehurst and his father. His work for the company currently focuses on coated fertilizer products used to improve nitrogen use efficiency to prevent losses as a result of ammonia release as fertilizers are used in either forestry or agriculture. The patented technology is being marketed worldwide.
He earned his Bachelor of Science degree in Biological Sciences (biochemistry emphasis) from North Carolina State University and his Ph.D. in biochemistry from Iowa State University. Dr. Whitehurst also received an Executive Certificate in Management and Leadership from the Sloan School of Management at MIT.