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$2 million gift from Gail and Joe Dunn funds new student leadership program honoring Adolph Warren

The late Adolph Warren of Sampson County’s Midway community, who served as a high-school agriculture teacher in the county for 30 years, was a big believer in encouraging students to achieve their full potential, no matter their career paths. This guiding principle led Warren, a 1952 graduate of the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences at North Carolina State University, to impact the lives of thousands of the county’s youngest citizens through his teaching, FFA leadership and as a mentor and friend for life.

Now Warren’s legacy is being honored through a $2 million gift to the college from his daughter and son-in-law, Gail and Joe Dunn of Raleigh, to establish the Adolph Warren Leadership Program Fund and Endowment.

“Dad’s passion and love for teaching agriculture followed him well beyond his years in the classroom,” said Gail Dunn. “He loved life and lived it well, regardless of where his daily travels would find him. There weren’t many places he went, in Sampson and surrounding counties, where he wasn’t greeted with big smiles, warm strong handshakes and talk of special memories. His love for people and his gift of leadership were omnipresent. If you were fortunate to have known him, you will remember his inspirational motto, ‘Bo, go do your thing!’ I’m blessed he was my dad!”

Two funds recently signed into existence have established the Adolph Warren Leadership Program for students in the college: a restricted fund, which kicks off the program immediately, and an endowment fund to be established in 2019, which will support the program in perpetuity.

The Warren Leadership Program will be a one-year program for sophomore, junior and senior students in the college who have demonstrated interest in, and potential for, future leadership in agriculture and/or public service. Fellows will be selected through a competitive application process, with preference given to students involved with FFA.

“Adolph Warren was the consummate educator,” said CALS Dean Richard Linton. “He helped countless young men and women achieve their full potential, be it in agriculture, education, or whatever path they chose. Our college is proud to count Adolph Warren as an alumnus, and we are so grateful to the Dunns for allowing us to build on his legacy by creating a program that will prepare new generations of young people for leadership in North Carolina and beyond.”

Enrichment activities for the Warren Leadership Fellows will include government/public policy internships in the legislative and executive branches of state government; opportunities to participate in government/public policy experiences in Washington, D.C.; and campus-based leadership seminars, workshops and field trips that will enable students to meet with and learn from leaders in a variety of agriculture and public policy fields.

According to Joe Dunn, the program was destined to find its home in CALS.

“On September 11, 2013, we celebrated Adolph Warren’s life,” said Joe Dunn. “On that day, we heard Marshall Stewart share his personal story of the impact that Adolph had on his life. When Dr. Stewart was just 14 years old, Adolph recognized his leadership qualities and plugged him in to a journey of leadership and mentoring, which ultimately led him to work for national FFA and lead the state’s FFA program.

Dunn family and CALS administrators at the endowment signing event
The Dunn family (bottom row, left to right), Bailey, Gail, Joe and Page Dunn, join CALS administrators (top row, left to right) Dr. Sam Pardue, Dean Richard Linton and Dr. Marshall Stewart, at the endowment signing event.

“Gail and I knew we wanted to honor Adolph by replicating the leadership experience Adolph provided to Dr. Stewart and so many other students,” Joe Dunn added. “We are so fortunate to have Dr. Stewart’s experience and passion to create a first-of-its-kind leadership development program at CALS, which will generate opportunities for student internships each year. These students will be equipped to provide agricultural leadership, public service, policy research and education. The exposure the program will provide these fellows is unsurpassed. Dr. Stewart is the author of the program. Gail and I are extremely excited to work with him and Dean Linton. What a blessing to have one of Adolph’s former students design and create a program to continue his legacy.”

– Suzanne Stanard

For more information about the program or to request an application, please contact Dr. Marshall Stewart, director of college strategy and leadership, at 919-515-1681 or