James A. Gray III
James A. Gray, III became the sixth president of North Carolina Wesleyan College on June 1, 2009.
A native of Winston-Salem, he came to Wesleyan with extensive experience in higher education administration and fundraising, as well as a solid background in international business, communications and public relations.
A UNC-Chapel Hill graduate and Morehead-Cain Scholar, Gray launched his career in communications in his native Winston-Salem and then devoted 20 years to communications and public relations management positions in Atlanta.
Mr. Gray’s career includes eight years in top management positions in New York. During his time there, he served as president of U.S. Operations for London-based Citigate Communications; president of public relations for Brouillard Communications, the corporate division of J. Walter Thompson; and as president of Manning, Selvage & Lee/U.S., which is the ninth largest public relations agency in the world.
Mr. Gray returned to North Carolina to serve as associate dean for marketing and communications at Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business. Just prior to arriving at Wesleyan, Mr. Gray served his alma mater, UNC-Chapel Hill, as an associate dean for external affairs of the Kenan-Flagler Business School.
James Gray has devoted his time as a board director for a number of community-improvement organizations in Atlanta, New York, and North Carolina. Locally, he was the chair of the highly-successful 2011 campaign for the United Way Tar River Region and is currently serving the organization as president-elect.
President Gray is a board member for the Rocky Mount Area Chamber of Commerce and the Carolinas Gateway Partnership, and served as chair of the Rocky Mount Organizing Committee for the 2013-14 USA South Spring Championships. In addition, he participates in the Rocky Mount Chapter of Rotary International.
Mr. Gray has been active in The United Methodist Church and is a member of the University Methodist Church in Chapel Hill and Duke Chapel in Durham.
James Gray and his wife Beth, aka, “Prez and Mama Prez,” live in the president’s house on the Rocky Mount campus along with their dog, Ruby. They have 3 adult children and 7 grandchildren.
On a daily basis, the Grays serve as quasi-parents to all of the Wesleyan students, most of whom they know by name. The Prez gets his exercise and keeps a close eye the students and the entire campus as he rides around on his bicycle, known as the Prez Limo.
Inauguration of James A. Gray III – October 23, 2009
Current Board of Trustees Chair Vel Johnson served in 2009 as the board’s vice chair and chair of the presidential search committee. She administered the oath of office at Mr. Gray’s inauguration ceremony as his wife, Beth held the Bible.
Chair Johnson said, “We are delighted to have Jim Gray join us at Wesleyan. He has proven leadership and fundraising skills and has already generated enormous energy and enthusiasm among those who have met him.”
Dr. Michael L. Lomax, president and CEO of the United Negro College Fund and former president of Dillard University spoke at the inauguration ceremony. He recognized Mr. Gray’s foresight and leadership, and praised his personal commitment to citizenship, diversity, and community-building efforts.