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Trio of Experience Appointed to Board of Trustees

Rocky Mount, N.C. - North Carolina Wesleyan’s Board of Trustees and its Chair, Velma H. Johnson, have appointed a trio of experienced leaders to serve the College on its Board.  The upcoming term will feature newcomers Howard N. Lee, Joseph H. Nelson, and A. Donald Stallings, whose biographies follow. This brings the total number of elected trustees to 28, with Bishop Alfred W. Gwinn, Jr. as an honorary member and President Jim Gray ex-officio.

Johnson and Gray could not be more pleased with this impressive trio of appointments.

“I am delighted with the Board’s appointment of these three distinguished new trustees, whose passion for Wesleyan, personal and professional expertise, and commitment to higher education will strengthen the Board’s work on behalf of the College,” said Johnson. “With our dynamic new President in place, the largest graduating class in eight years having just graduated, and our recent ranking in US News and World Report among the 50 best regional colleges in the South, this is an exciting time to be a part of the Wesleyan family.”

Added Gray, “We are fortunate to have so many accomplished leaders who are committed to this College. Our three new trustees fit both descriptions, and we will be a stronger school with their help.”


Senator Howard N. Lee
Senator Howard N. LeeSenator Howard N. Lee

A native of Lithonia, Georgia, Senator Howard N. Lee attended Fort Valley State College where he received a bachelor’s degree in Sociology in 1959. After serving two years in the United States Army and receiving an honorable discharge, he worked three years as a Juvenile Probation Officer in Savannah before enrolling in the Graduate School of Social Work at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. There, he received his Master’s Degree in 1966.


In 1969, Senator Lee was elected and served three terms as Mayor of Chapel Hill, and in 1977, Governor Jim Hunt appointed him Secretary of the Department of Natural Resources and Community Development, a cabinet-level post he held until 1981. Among numerous achievements, he initiated the “Mountains to the Sea Hiking Trail”.

Lee’s career has seen him serve as an administrator at Duke University and on the faculty at North Carolina Central and UNC Chapel Hill. He has also lectured at numerous universities throughout the South and Nation, contributing chapters to several books and having many articles published professionally.

In 1990, Lee was elected to the North Carolina Senate where he served for 13 years and built his reputation as a fighter for education reform. He sponsored or co-sponsored several major pieces of educational legislation which included Smart Start, More at Four (a Pre-kindergarten program), the Excellent Schools Act for school reform, and the Safe Schools Act. In 2003, Lee was elected Chairman of the North Carolina State Board of Education, and in March 2009, he was appointed by Governor Beverly E. Perdue to his current position as the Executive Director of the North Carolina Education Cabinet.

Howard and his wife, Lillian, a retired public school teacher, live in Chapel Hill and are the proud parents of three grown children and two granddaughters. He has recently released his memoir, “The Courage to Lead: One Man’s Journey in Public Service”.


Joseph H. Nelson
Joseph H. Nelson

A Rocky Mount native, Joseph H. Nelson is a graduate of The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill where he received his undergraduate degree in journalism. While at UNC, he was elected President of the Phi Gamma Delta Fraternity and served as Secretary of the Student Publication Board.  From there, Nelson attended United States Navy Officer Candidate School and served three years of active duty as Executive Officer of the USS Duval County.


Nelson’s career has taken him from his service as Director of Peoples and Centura Banks to the Director of Commonwealth Dealers Life Insurance Company.  Additionally, he is past President of the North Carolina Dealer Association Charitable Foundation, as well as past President, Vice President, and Treasurer of the North Carolina Automobile Dealer Association.

On the education front, Nelson served twelve years on the Rocky Mount School Board, including three years as Chairman, and he dedicated three years to the selection committee for the North Carolina Teacher of the Year award.  The first-ever Chairman of the Wesleyan Society, Nelson is also a previous co-Chair of NCWC’s Day for Wesleyan campaign.

Joe and his wife, Jean Davenport Nelson, have four adult children and seven grandchildren. He currently serves as President of Davenport Motor Company of Rocky Mount


A. Donald Stallings
A. Donald StallingsA. Donald Stallings

A Rocky Mount native as well, A. Donald Stallings is a local graduate who also took his talents to The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Having earned a football scholarship, he was later drafted by the Washington Redskins but due to his father’s illness, returned home after one season to manage his family’s business.


Don is now Chief Executive Officer of Stallings Oil Company and Eagle Transport Corporation, which he founded in 1968. Eagle Transport Corporation is a common carrier of petroleum products in the Southeastern United States and operates 400 units through 27 terminals as one of the top three petroleum carriers in volume in the US.  He is also an owner of Highway Service Ventures, Inc., which owns and operates Flying J truck travel centers in Maryland, Virginia, South Carolina and Georgia.

Stallings has been very active with UNC, his community, and professional trade organizations. He has served on UNC’s Board of Trustees, Alumni Board, and Athletic Council, while his professional appointments include his service on the Council of Texaco Wholesalers, the Board of the National Tank Truck Carriers, the Rocky Mount Area Community Foundation, and the YWCA Advisory Board.  Finally, he is a former board member of the North Carolina Petroleum Marketers Association, the Rocky Mount Chamber of Commerce, the Rocky Mount YMCA, and Communities in Schools.

Don is married to the former Billie Jones of Kinston, NC. The couple has two sons: Herb, who is Vice President of Eagle Transport Corporation, and Eddie, who passed away in February 2004.

On behalf of North Carolina Wesleyan College, we welcome each of these men to the Board of Trustees and thank them in advance for their dedication and service.