Friday, 01 October 2021 14:06

UNCP renames building in honor of Chancellor Emeritus Joe Oxendine

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Dr. Joe Oxendine led UNC Pembroke for a decade. Dr. Joe Oxendine led UNC Pembroke for a decade. UNCP

PEMBROKE — Chancellor Emeritus Joe Oxendine helped transform UNC Pembroke and his legacy lives on in his commitment to education, his community and the university he cherished. 

One of the major accomplishments during his tenure was the official name change to UNC Pembroke. The Board of Trustees voted last week to rename West Hall in honor of Oxendine. The 40,840-square-foot state-of-the-art facility recently completed a $13.6 million renovation and will be known as the Dr. Joseph B. Oxendine Administrative Building. 

"There are few individuals who have had the impact at UNCP as Dr. Oxendine. His passion for education, UNCP and others were abundantly clear, and his work set our university on a path to reach where we are today," said Chancellor Robin Gary Cummings. 

"It is fitting to honor his long-standing commitment to our university with this renaming. I’m grateful to our Board of Trustees for approving this request so Dr. Oxendine’s service and impact will forever be honored and connected to our campus and our university’s history." 

Dr. Oxendine led the university as the third chancellor from 1989 to 1999. A turning point in the history of the university was the name change in 1996, a result of a collective effort by Oxendine, Dr. Adolph Dial, community leaders, UNC System and legislative officials.  

During an unveiling of the new name, Oxendine was quoted as saying, "the new name has given us increased recognition and a clearer perception in the minds of our public that we are indeed an integral part of the University of North Carolina System." 

Oxendine's numerous accomplishments include the adoption of the institution's first official athletic logo, introducing the red-tailed hawk mascot and the university logos still in use today, reclassification of the university to a comprehensive II institution by Carnegie Foundation and the establishment of the Office of Regional Initiatives. 

New degree programs were also added under Oxendine's leadership, including a RN-BSN nursing program, an MBA program, masters degrees in agency counseling and school counseling, and bachelors degrees in criminal justice, community health education, American studies, mass communication, and birth-kindergarten education. 

An endowed professorship in the School of Education is also named in his honor. 

In a tribute following his death in April 2020, Dr. Lawrence Locklear, university historian and director of the Office of Student Inclusion and Diversity, recalled Oxendine's efforts to rebrand the university's image, increase community outreach and regional engagement, expand and improve academic programs, emphasize faculty scholarship and research and improve the student experience. 

Oxendine's wife, Adrienne, was overcome with emotion after receiving a call from Chancellor Cummings after the vote. 

"I was very happy to hear the news," said Oxendine, who lives in Maryland. "I think this is a wonderful tribute to him. He did accomplish much in his career, but he never boasted about those things. He enjoyed and appreciated his time at the university, and I think he made a difference with the name change and other improvements to the curriculum." 

Oxendine came to UNCP after a 30-year career as a faculty member and dean at Temple University. Born and raised in Pembroke, Oxendine's family ties were deeply rooted in the university's history. He was the great-grandson of John J. Oxendine, one of the institution's founders and first Board of Trustees. 

Joe Oxendine moved to Detroit at 17 and worked in an automobile factory to save money to pay for college. He graduated from Catawba College, where he played football, basketball and baseball. He played minor league baseball with the Pittsburgh Pirates for three years and later served in the U.S. Army in Korea. After his service, he worked as a teacher and coach in Virginia. He then became a teaching fellow at Boston University while earning a doctorate of education before joining Temple University in 1959.  

He retired in 1999 and was awarded chancellor emeritus status. He continued teaching classes at UNCP for several years and later served as interim president at Catawba University, where he served as a member of the Board of Trustees. 

West Hall was initially designed as a women’s dormitory in 1965. Newly renovated in 2020, the building is home to the College of Arts and Sciences, Accessibility Resource Center, Teaching and Learning Center, Online Learning, Internal Audit, Title IX Clery Compliance and the Department of Informational Technology.  

"He would be amazed that a building would be named after him," Adrienne Oxendine said. "You just don't know how happy my daughter (Jean) and I are about him being recognized in this way. He did a lot in his overall career, but I think a highlight for him was going back to Pembroke. He always held a special place in his heart for Pembroke."