Three Catawba College Alumni, including two educators and a collegiate basketball coach, will be recognized and honored during Catawba College Homecoming festivities slated October 26-28 on campus. Other activities scheduled during this weekend include a Blue Masque Reunion for former theatre students, an alumni golf tournament, an alumni lacrosse game, a 1:30 p.m. home football game against Wingate University, a free music concert, a president's reception, a first-year theatre performance and an alumni block party.
Distinguished Alumnus Awards [View Photos]
Catawba College Alumni Charles David "Dave" Robbins '66 of Richmond, Va., Dr. Shirley Peeler Ritchie '52 of Salisbury, and Dr. Karen Dutson Wood '72 of Salisbury will be recognized as recipients of Distinguished Alumnus Awards. These awards are made annually at homecoming by the College Alumnus Association to individuals who have served their community, distinguished themselves in their profession, and served the College community.
These three individuals will be honored at noon Saturday, Oct. 27 during a barbecue luncheon slated in the Goodman Gymnasium of the Abernethy Physical Education Center.
Charles David "Dave" Robbins '66
Considered one of the premier college basketball coaches in the nation, Robbins is in his 30th season as head coach of the Virginia Union University's men's basketball program. In his 29 previous seasons, Robbins has amassed 691 wins, nine victories away from the 700-win milestone.
While at Catawba, he was recognized with many football honors, including All-Conference, All-Region, All-State, and honorable mention All-American. Following graduation from Catawba, Robbins played semi-professional football with a team in Richmond. Then, after several years coaching high school basketball, Robbins joined Virginia Union University in Richmond, Va., in 1978. During his first year as head coach (1978-79), he led his team to the CIAA Championship, the first time that Virginia Union had captured the CIAA crown in 24 seasons.
While at WUU, Robbins has collected 13 CIAA Championships, three National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Division II National Championships. He is responsible for helping mold the careers of NBA All-Stars Ben Wallace and Charles Oakley.
With his winning percentage nearing 80%, Robbins is a strong candidate for the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame. He is a member of Catawba's Sports Hall of Fame. In 2005, he received the coveted National Coach of the Year Award as selected by the National Association of Basketball Coaches (NABC).
A native of Gastonia, Robbins and wife Bunny are the parents of two daughters and members of Bon Air United Methodist in Richmond.
Dr. Shirley Peeler Ritchie '52
A Salisbury native and a 1952 alumna of Catawba, Dr. Shirley Peeler Ritchie double majored in religion and philosophy and sociology. She earned her master's degree in guidance and counseling and her doctorate in the areas of child development and family relations from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro.
A member of the Catawba faculty from 1981 until her retirement in 1993, she served as director of the college's elementary education program. She received both the Swink Prize for outstanding classroom teaching and the Algernon Sydney Sullivan Award during her years at Catawba. Ritchie was recently honored when Catawba's new Academy for Teaching was named in her honor as Catawba Shirley Peeler Ritchie Academy for Teaching.
She has served on the faculty at UNC-Charlotte and as director of Project ASCENT, a special program for gifted children that operated under the auspices of the N.C. State Department of Public Instruction. She has worked as a coordinator and counselor for a federal program to mainstream handicapped children in the Salisbury City Schools; as an elementary school counselor and school social worker in the Salisbury City Schools; and as a social service worker in the Cabarrus County Department of Social Services.
She serves on the board of Partners in Learning and has served as chair of that board. She is a member of the Catawba College Board of Trustees. She has served as chair of the Charlotte Area Educational Consortium, and has also served on the board of Rowan Regional Medical Center, the board of the Paul Laurence Dunbar Family Resource Center, the board of Meals on Wheels of Rowan County, and as a member of the Congregation Council of St. John's Lutheran Church.
Ritchie and husband Raymond, a 1953 alumnus of Catawba, are parents of three adult children, Cliff, Mark, and Celia.
Dr. Karen Dutson Wood '72
Dr. Karen Dutson Wood, a native of Medford, N.J., now makes her home in Salisbury where she received her bachelor of arts degree in English and psychology from Catawba in 1972. She earned her educational specialist designation and master's degree in reading education from Appalachian State University and her Ph.D. in reading education from the University of Georgia. She is a member of the faculty at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte, serving as a professor of reading education and coordinator of the master's in literacy program and for the literacy specialization in the Ph.D. program in curriculum and instruction in urban education.
The author of more than 175 articles, chapters and books, Wood was employed as a textbook author for McGraw-Hill for 17 years. She often invites her students to co-author material with her and published her first article with a student in 1991.
Before joining UNCC in 1982, Wood was a reading teacher and specialist and a K-12 instructional coordinator in the public schools. In 1995, she was the first recipient of UNCC's College of Education Excellence in Teaching Award. She was a finalist for UNCC's Bank of America Excellence in Teaching Award in 2000 and 2006. In February of 2007, she was presented with the Harshini V. de Silva Graduate Mentoring Award at UNCC.
She is a member of the International Reading Association, the National Reading Association, the College Reading Association, Delta Kappa Gamma and Phil Delta Kappa. She is a member of Catawba's Chiefs Club and a supporter of the Salisbury-Rowan Symphony.
A member of St. Luke's Episcopal Church, she and husband David are parents of four children.
A Dedication to the late Mary Dearborn [View Photos]
Catawba College will memorialize the late Mary Dearborn, the daughter of Catawba's 13th president, Dr. Howard R. Omwake (1931-42) and the wife of Catawba's 15th president, Dr. Donald Dearborn (1963-1967), during a dedication ceremony at 10:30 a.m. Saturday, October 27 at the entrance to the Hurley Press Box. The College will dedicate the patio located at the entrance of the Hurley Press Box in Shuford Stadium as the Dearborn Patio.
The beloved former first lady of Catawba College, who was a dedicated Catawba Indians fan, died December 6, 2006 after a short period of declining health. She was 95.
Mrs. Dearborn was a longtime member of the Chiefs Club and actively supported events sponsored by the Shuford School of Performing Arts. Catawba awarded her an honorary doctorate in 1976, the Algernon Sydney Sullivan Award in 1977, and the Catawba Distinguished Alumnus Award in1988. In 1995, at Catawba's annual Service of Praise and Thanksgiving, she was one of five individuals recognized for their exemplary lives of service. She held leadership positions in a number of civic and professional clubs and was active on the local, conference and national levels of the United Church of Christ. She was president of Senior Citizens Prime Timers from 1986-1993 and volunteered with the United Way, Rowan Community Concert Association, Meals on Wheels and the Council on Aging. A voracious reader, she was a member of Mardi Book Club and Travelers Club and regularly attended Catawba's annual Brady Author's Symposium.
In addition to her three children, survivors include five grandchildren, seven great-grandchildren (the newest of whom, Mary Margaret Jackson, was born to parents Luke and Kate Jackson, October 17, 2007).
Activities for Everyone
Those attending Catawba College's Homecoming are sure to find something to interest them.
An Alumni Golf Tournament is slated for 12:30 p.m. Friday, Oct. 26 at McCanless Golf Club. An Alumni Lacrosse Game begins at 9 a.m. Saturday, Oct. 27 at Frock Fields on campus. Catawba goes head to head against Wingate University beginning at 1:30 p.m. Saturday in Shuford Stadium.
A band, dancing, food and activities for the kids are part of the All Alumni Block Party scheduled Saturday beginning at 4:30 p.m. at the Frock Fields complex.
Other activities include a president's reception at the President's House with Dr. Robert and Brenda Knott Friday evening between 7 and 8:30 p.m.; a First-Year Theatre Student Performance, "Pulse," scheduled at 7:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday evening in Florence Busby Corriher Theatre; a Blue Masque Theatre Students Reunion between 9 and 11 p.m. on Friday in Keppel Auditorium; and a free concert featuring the Catawba Music Department's ensembles at 7 p.m. on Saturday in Hedrick Theatre.
For more details, contact the Catawba College Alumni Office at (704) 637-4394.