Dr. Benjamin F. Speller honored with 2019 Chowan University Humanitarian Award
Bertie County native Dr. Benjamin F. Speller, Jr. was honored with the Chowan University Minnie Wood Perkins Humanitarian Award at the Reverend George T. and Luvenia B. Rouson Memorial Lecture on February 6.
An avid historic preservationist, Speller played a vital role in the preservation of African American history and culture in North Carolina. Speller’s advocacy, vision, and leadership provided the early inspiration and foundation for the creation of the North Carolina African American Heritage Commission. In 1984, Speller established the African American Resources Program in the School of Library and Information Sciences in partnership with the North Carolina Center for the Study of Black History. An African American Archival Collection was established in 1985. With a 1998 legislature grant, the archival collection was moved to UNC-Chapel Hill Manuscripts Department as a joint African American Research Archive.
Speller, a 1962 graduate of North Carolina Central University (NCCU), holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in history. He earned the Master of Arts degree in Teaching (MAT) and the Ph.D. in Library and Information Science from Indiana University in Bloomington. Speller was a professor in the School of Library and Information Sciences at North Carolina University from 1976 until his retirement in 2004. He served as Dean of the School of Library and Information Sciences from 1983 until 2003, the longest serving academic dean at the University.
While at NCCU, Speller developed the first interdisciplinary Master of Information Science degree in the University of North Carolina system based on the curriculum and guidelines of the Association of Computing Machinery. Upon retirement in 2004, he was a lecturer in information management at San Jose State University in California, until 2010. He served as a senior research fellow in the Office of the Provost at NCCU for the Rapid Response Project with Lockheed Martin from 2003 until 2012.
Speller has served on the Board of Directors of nearly all the state’s historic preservation organizations. He received Preservation North Carolina’s 1998 Ruth Coltrane Cannon Award, North Carolina’s most prestigious Preservation Award and the 2017 Old North State Award from Governor Roy Cooper.
Speller is a volunteer in Edenton, NC, where he serves as a member and secretary of the Edenton Historical Commission. He is a member of the Board of the Roanoke Island Historical Association, Manteo. He is vice president of the Board of the Directors of the Historic Hope Foundation in Windsor, NC. Speller serves as president of the Friends of the Museum of the Albemarle and is a columnist for the Elizabeth City Daily Advance Newspaper.
Please join Chowan University in congratulating Dr. Benjamin F. Speller!