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Dr. Joseph Oxendine, Former Interim President of Catawba College, Dies at 90

April 23, 2020

Category: Alumni, Athletics, Staff

joe-oxendine.jpgDr. Joseph B. Oxendine of Pinehurst, who served as Interim President of Catawba College in 2011 at the age of 80 and was a member of the Board of Trustees, died Tuesday, April 14. Dr. Oxendine, 90, was Chancellor Emeritus at UNC-Pembroke. 

He was a 1952 graduate of Catawba, where he played three major sports — football, baseball, and basketball. Catawba awarded him the prestigious Adrian Shuford Jr. Award for Distinguished Service and the Distinguished Alumnus Award. He was inducted into Catawba's Sports Hall of Fame. 

Dr. Ken Clapp, currently Interim President at Catawba, said of Dr. Oxendine:  “Very early in his tenure at Catawba, Dr. Oxendine celebrated his 80th birthday. His age did not work to his detriment but indeed was a source of wisdom and experience and understanding that made him a respected leader among all constituencies. He was at ease with students, faculty and staff and provided valuable council at a time when greatly needed. Dr. Oxendine exemplified the best of Catawba in that as a person considered unlikely to receive a college education, he seized an opportunity made available by Catawba, turned it into a successful career and then used that education to give back and better the lives of countless others.” 

Dr. Oxendine, a Lumbee Indian and native of Pembroke, entered Catawba at the age of 18, after spending a year in Detroit working in automobile factory to make enough money to go to college.  

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Spring/Summer 2011 Issue of CAMPUS Magazine featuring Dr. Oxendine's Return to Catawba as Interim President

"My dad wanted me to stay home and go to that little small, local school, Pembroke Indian Normal School. I could go there for almost nothing and come back home and plow the fields and pick the cotton, but I viewed that as just an extension of high school," Oxendine said in an earlier interview at Catawba. "I decided I would go away to school, but realized that my father with eight children could not afford to send us off to college. I said I'd do it on my own.”  

After graduating from Catawba and while playing baseball in the minor leagues with the Pittsburgh Pirates, he earned his master's of education degree from Boston University. He served in the U.S. Army from 1953-1955 in Korea and Hawaii and then worked as a teacher and athletic coach in the Lynchburg Public Schools in Virginia between 1955 and 1957. 

He then became a Teaching Fellow at Boston University between 1957 and 1959 while he earned his doctorate of education from there in 1959. For 30 years, between 1959 and 1989, he served as dean and professor at Temple University in Philadelphia. He served as the first dean of Temple’s new College of Health, Physical Education, Recreation, and Dance. Dr. Oxendine was a supporter of women’s intercollegiate sports and an advocate for the improvement of recreation facilities in the North Philadelphia community and served as president of the Indian Rights Association. 

He published extensively in the fields of motor learning and sports psychology, authoring several leading textbooks in the discipline, notably “Psychology of Motor Learning.” Additionally he wrote the book, “American Indian Sports Heritage,” bringing together his love of sports and strong advocacy of American Indian issues throughout his career. For a number of years, he served as president of the Indian Rights Association in Philadelphia. He received the Boston University Distinguished Alumni Award and the Temple University Stauffer Award for Distinguished Service. 

He returned to Pembroke at the age of 59 to serve as the third chancellor of the university. During his tenure there, the institution changed its name from Pembroke State University, its Carnegie Foundation classification to Comprehensive I, and its athletic conference from NAIA to NCAA II. A new athletic logo was adopted, along with the foundation of the university's logos, still in use today New degree programs were also added under his leadership, including a RN-BSN nursing program (offered jointly with Fayetteville State University), an MBA program, MA degrees in Agency Counseling and School Counseling, and bachelors degrees in Criminal Justice, Community Health Education, American Studies, Mass Communications, and Birth-Kindergarten. The UNC Pembroke campus also expanded, with new and renovated buildings, and an increase in student diversity. 

Dr. Oxendine is survived by his wife of 58 years, Adrienne McNaughton Oxendine, and daughter, Jean Plaschke.

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