Crop and Soil Sciences Alumnus Norris Tolson Gives Back by Endowing Scholarship

Written by Kaki Carl

Tarboro native E. Norris Tolson has spent his life striving to make things better for others. He continues this tradition with the endowment of the Norris Tolson Family College of Agriculture & Life Sciences Undergraduate Education Scholarship for needs-based students.

Serving the citizens of North Carolina as a business and policy leader for nearly five decades, Norris Tolson graduated from NC State with a bachelor’s degree in Crop Science and Agribusiness in 1962. After serving in the U.S. Army Counter Intelligence Corps, he joined DuPont, where he held various research, marketing and sales assignments in the company’s agricultural products and electronics business with both domestic and international business responsibilities. He then served in some of the top policy positions in the state: as a two-term legislator (1994-1997), Secretary of Commerce (1997-1998), Secretary of Transportation (1998), and Secretary of Revenue (2001-2007).

Currently CEO of Carolinas Gateway Partnership, Tolson was recently appointed by Gov. Roy Cooper to the Global TransPark Authority as a representative of the banking and finance industry. He is also retired president and CEO of the North Carolina Biotechnology Center. In 2009, Tolson was awarded the prestigious Watauga Medal for his distinguished service to the university, and continues to serve NC State University as a member of the Board of Trustees.

As an undergraduate in the Department of Crop Science at NC State, Norris Tolson was active in a variety of campus organizations including the Agronomy Club, the Order of Thirty and Three, and the freshman orientation program. Tolson received awards including first place at the National Speech Contest at the American Society of Agronomy, first place at the Farm Bureau Talk Meet, and the Outstanding Senior Award. As student body president 1961-62, he focused on strengthening the student government judicial system, including the Honor Code and the Campus Code, and worked to develop student-faculty relationships, improve new student orientation, and promote campus beautification.

The striving to make things better continues, as distinguished alumnus E. Norris Tolson provides for direct assistance to worthy undergraduates as stated in the description of the scholarship itself: The Norris Tolson family wishes to give something back to NC State University for the many opportunities that have been provided to them, and to honor undergraduate students who have been and continue to be the heart of NC State and the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences.

Scholarship applicants must be a rising sophomore, junior, or senior enrolled in CALS and have a cumulative GPA of 3.25+, with preference to North Carolina residents. Learn more about the Norris Tolson Family College of Agriculture & Life Sciences Undergraduate Education Scholarship.