Endowed scholarships named for parents of longtime Campbell trust director

2015 Business School Alumni Convocation

Alumni and friends of Campbell’s Trust and Wealth Management program surprised Professor Jimmy Witherspoon at the annual Trust Advisors Forum in Pinehurst with scholarships in both of his parents’ names.

The James Ernest Witherspoon and the Louise Barnhardt Witherspoon School of Business Trust Endowed Scholarship Funds were announced at the Forum’s morning session on Feb. 21, by Ryan Newkirk (’01) as a tribute to Witherspoon. For many of the hundreds in attendance, the recognition was especially significant.

“It’s hard to articulate the influence that Jimmy has made on my life and the lives of countless students over the years,” said Newkirk. “He’s one of my closest friends, who always impresses me with his attention to detail, consistency and quick wit. I met Jimmy for the first time outside Pearson Hall, 22 years ago — and it’s amazing to think how the Lord turned that random encounter into such a meaningful, lasting relationship.”

Also playing a key role in the process, Phillip Strickland (’06), added, “What an honor to have participated in the scholarship recognition for Jimmy and his parents. I am only one of thousands of people Jimmy has impacted through the years. I can say personally that outside of my parents, no one has had a greater impact on my life than Jimmy Witherspoon. As I have told him many times, I am forever indebted to him and Campbell University.”

Plans to surprise Witherspoon began in August when School of Business Dean Kevin O’Mara and Nathan Rice, director of development, reached out to Newkirk and Strickland in an effort to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the school’s Trust program.

“We knew early on that we wanted to recognize Jimmy in a special way,” said Rice. “Honoring his parents was a meaningful way to express gratitude for his contributions to the Trust program at Campbell. It was immediately clear that we would reach our fundraising goals with relative ease. The challenging part would be surprising Jimmy with this honor.”

Over the next six months, a covert fundraising campaign yielded more than $50,000 in support from alumni and friends closest to Witherspoon; enough to endow a scholarship in each of his parent’s names. When the scholarships were announced at the Forum, the Trust Education Foundation committed an additional $25,000 to each scholarship. In total, more than $100,000 was raised in support of the two scholarships. Also of significance, the announcement came as a complete surprise to Witherspoon.

“I was shocked by and am humbled at the kindness and thoughtfulness of our friends and alumni,” said Witherspoon.  “I can’t imagine anything my friends and former students could have done that would have meant nearly as much to me, as their honoring my parents. My parents are, and will always be, the light of my life.”

Ernest Witherspoon, 96, and Louise Witherspoon, 89, reside in Wadesboro, NC where they worked for the Anson County School System for more than 40 years. For information on supporting these scholarships, please contact Nathan Rice, director of development, or submit your online gift here.