N.C. health secretary Cohen to deliver commencement address for Winter Commencement

Less than a week after delivering her final COVID-19 update to the people of North Carolina, Dr. Mandy K. Cohen will deliver the commencement address for Campbell University’s Winter Commencement, set for 10 a.m. on Saturday at the Pope Convocation Center in Buies Creek. 

Cohen, a graduate of Cornell University who earned her Doctor of Medicine from Yale School of Medicine and her master’s in public health from Harvard School of Public Health, is stepping down as North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services secretary after serving in the role for nearly five years. She became the face of COVID-19 response in the state in 2020 with her regular televised updates alongside Gov. Roy Cooper; and under her leadership, North Carolina became a model for best practices in providing equitable access to COVID testing and for data quality for vaccinations by race and ethnicity.

Campbell University will celebrate a total of 470 graduates this weekend, representing seven schools and Adult & Online Education. Of the graduates, 45 are scheduled to earn doctorate degrees, and 79 will earn a master’s degree. 

In addition to serving as commencement speaker, Cohen will be awarded the Algernon Sydney Sullivan Award at Saturday’s ceremony. Recent honors for Cohen include being named one of the Top 25 Women Leaders in Healthcare by Modern Healthcare; and the Leadership in Public Health Practice Award from Harvard University’s T.H. Chan School of Public Health for her strong leadership during the pandemic. 

She was also named Raleigh News and Observer’s 2020 “Tarheel of the Year” for her leadership throughout the pandemic.

The Rev. Milton A. Hollifield Jr. will receive the J.A. Campbell Meritorious Service Award on Saturday. Hollifield, retired head of the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina, served as the 14th executive director-treasurer of the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina from 2006 to this year. He also served as director of the BSCNC’s Evangelism Division beginning in 1993, and he later became executive leader of the Mission Growth Evangelism Group.

Hollifield, who started his career as a funeral director, then a lineman for Carolina Power and Light, is widely regarded for his ability to foster positive relationships with diverse groups. This important trait became paramount in navigating governance matters with the BSCNC’s affiliated universities. He was instrumental in creating an amicable path for the separation of the BSCNC and its affiliated universities. In partnership and with a unified vision, Campbell entered into a voluntary and autonomous relationship with the BSCNC. Hollifield’s denominational statesmanship made the process and change of relationship possible.

Photo: North Carolina Dept. of Public Safety