Chowan University presents 2017 Distinguished Alumni Award recipients
MURFREESBORO, NC – This year Chowan University Alumni Todd Wright ’84, Herman Spencer III ’00, and Alison Kolezynski ’12 were escorted onto the football field during half-time of the Homecoming Football game on Saturday, October 21st and acknowledged as the University’s 2017 Distinguished Alumni Award Recipients. A dinner followed the game where each recipient had their family and friends accompany them, had their award presented by Dr. Christopher White, President of the University, and gave an acceptance speech. Included during the dinner, the University honored Bill Little with the Community Service Award.
Todd Wright ’84
Todd Wright is a 1984 Graduate of Chowan College where he earned an Associates degree in Business Administration. He was a member of the 1982 – 1984 Men’s Basketball team led by Chowan Hall of Fame Coach Bob Burke. In his two years as a Chowan basketball player, Wright helped the Braves win two consecutive conference titles and also to become the first basketball team in Chowan’s 169 year history to win 30 games, ending the 1984 season with a 30-9 record. Wright’s 1982 – 1984 team also compiled a total of 57 wins, to set another record that has yet to be surpassed.
Most notably, Wright was a vital part of the 1984 Chowan Braves team that advanced to the NJCAA National Championships in Hutchinson, Kansas for the first time in school history. With no time remaining on the clock, Todd hit a buzzer beating jumper from the wing to send the Braves to the final 8. The season would end with a loss in the final four, but would leave the 1984 team with the legacy, of being the only Chowan basketball team to ever make it to the NJCAA Tournament Final Four.
Since leaving Chowan, Wright has built a highly regarded Commercial photography and video studio in Richmond, Va. Through his photo/video career, he has been recognized by many peer organizations and publications featuring his work. Some of Wright’s commercial clients include Seiko, Google, Wal-Mart, Chase Bank, UPS and many other national and international brands.
Herman Spencer III ’00
Herman Spencer is a native of Plymouth, North Carolina and graduated from Chowan College in 2000. He was a student athlete for four years on the men's basketball team coached by Hall of Fame coach Bob Burke.
Spencer studied Printing Production and Imaging Technologies at Chowan College and went on to work in the fast-paced environment of the newspaper industry, starting in 2000 at The News & Observer in Raleigh, NC. Passionate about being in a competitive environment, Spencer found the newspaper industry a natural fit.
In 2000, he was promoted to Director of Imaging in the newsroom of The News & Observer. In 2010, Spencer became a Regional Director and oversaw imaging systems for the Southeast US markets. In 2014, he was promoted to a Corporate role with the McClatchy Company, parent company of The News & Observer. In 2015, he became head of a newly created department, the PreMedia Technology Division for The McClatchy Company, where he now supervises a staff that maintains and supports companywide premedia systems for all 30 McClatchy markets across the country.
Spencer credits a strong mother and Coach Burke as being very instrumental in this success. He says "Coach Burke taught all of his players to test your limits and put in the necessary work in everything you do to reach your highest potential."
Alison “Allie” Kolezynski ’12
Allie Kolezynski is a 2012 graduate of Chowan University. The Strongsville, Ohio native earned a degree in Business Administration prior to obtaining a MBA from Cleveland State University in 2013.
As a student-athlete at Chowan, Kolezynski was a four-year starter and captain on the softball team. She was a three-time All-CIAA selection, three-time CIAA Commissioner’s All-Academic Team honoree, two-time NCCSIA All-State selection, NCCAA All-American, Capital One Academic All-American and Daktronics All-Region team member. Kolezynski led the team to three consecutive CIAA Northern Division titles and the program’s first-ever CIAA championship in 2010.
Off the field, she served a three-year term on the NCAA Division II Student-Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC), including a two-year stint as vice-chair, and went on to be a co-adviser during her time as an administrator at Chowan.
As a senior, Kolezynski was named the 2012 CIAA Woman of the Year, the highest honor bestowed on a female CIAA student-athlete. She was again recognized by the league in 2013 receiving the Commissioner’s Service Award for representing the CIAA SAAC and contribution to Chowan.
Upon graduation, Kolezynski spent four years as Assistant Athletic Director/Director of Athletic Communications at her alma mater. In that capacity, she handled all communications for Chowan University’s 18 varsity sports, which included website maintenance, social media and publications. She earned CIAA Sports Information Director of the Year accolades in 2014 and 2016.
In January 2017, Kolezynski was named Assistant Commissioner for Communications and Operations at the Mountain East Conference. She resides in Fairmont, West Virginia.
The circumstances of W.J. “Bill” Little, Jr.’s birth did not foreshadow a future so rich in diverse experiences and service leadership. Born in 1927, to a farming family in Stanly County, North Carolina, this youngest of five children might have remained on the farm had it not been for the Second World War, which, as it did for many Americans, affected the life decisions and directions for the family. Moving from the farm to the city, most of the family worked in the textile mills. After high school, Bill followed his brothers into military service and joined the U.S. Navy. Following his honorable service, he went to college on the GI Bill and became a respected high school teacher and award-winning athletics coach.
After this period of teaching and coaching, he worked for the federal government in critical capacities at the Department of Air Force, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, and the Department of Energy. Bill has also served as a member/officer of the North Carolina Senior Tarheel Legislature, Chowan University Board of Trustees, Northampton County School Board, Duke University Council on Aging, County Forest Association, and as the chair/deacon for numerous government, agricultural and church committees.
Sharing in Bill’s endeavors and successes of those early adult years, and for many years after, was his wife, Mary Jordan. They were married in Jackson, N.C. on June 8, 1949, and together raised two children, Bill, III and Julie Kim, in whom they instilled the lasting value of giving while living and beyond. They co-founded the North Carolina Senior Education Corps connecting local retired citizen volunteers with school needs. In 1997, God called Mary home. Their shared love for teaching and deep commitment to education abides across the state, to include a scholarship bearing their name at this university.
As for Bill’s giving, an exhaustive listing would be too lengthy for the purpose of this writing, but it can be said of him that the mention of his name prompts a smile and words of praise for his many contributions to individuals, organizations, and institutions. Anyone who knows him well, and any who only know of him, would say without hesitation that W.J. “Bill” Little, Jr. has been a good Christian, a faithful husband, a loving father, a patient teacher, and a loyal friend.
Join Chowan University in giving a big congratulations to these outstanding individuals!