Distinguished Guests

John Howard (L) and Joe Gordon, recipients of the 2016 CALS Distinguished Alumni Award.

The Distinguished Alumni Awards are granted each year to outstanding graduates of the college to recognize decades of stellar achievement and an ongoing commitment to giving back to NC State University.


Visionary Veterinarian

Dr. Joe Gordon’s impact extends far beyond the successful network of animal hospitals he has established across the Triangle. A veterinarian by trade and a philanthropist at heart, Gordon works hard to support those in need – animals and fellow human beings alike.

His CareFirst Animal Hospital organization partners with local animal rescue groups, enabling them to expand critical services. This work has inspired other practices to follow suit, creating even more opportunities for animals in need.

Outside the veterinary world, Gordon and his wife, Debbie, have made a huge investment in the lives of North Carolina’s youth with a $3 million gift to establish the Farm to Philanthropy program at NC State. Through two initiatives – ASPIRE and STEAM – the program expands rural students’ access to an NC State education. This award honors the Gordons’ passion for students and philanthropy, Dean Richard Linton said.

Pioneering Partner

Agricultural pioneer John C. Howard Jr. took a chance when he enrolled in the inaugural class of the Agricultural Institute 56 years ago. Since then, he’s been a state leader in pursuing new farm markets and new technology.

An early adopter of precision agriculture, Howard’s farm has changed dramatically since he graduated from the Ag Institute in 1962, growing to include swine, row crops and equipment sales. Howard served on the North Carolina Board of Agriculture and was appointed by President Ronald Reagan as a member of the National Commission on Agricultural Policy.

This honor recognizes Howard’s years as an integral partner to CALS, Dean Richard Linton said. Howard has hired many CALS graduates and opened his farm to Dr. Billy Flowers, a professor of animal science, for swine research that can only happen on a large-scale operation. He and his wife, Scarlett, are also faithful supporters of the regional 4-H livestock program.

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