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ECU alumnus pledges $333,000 to establish HHP professorship

The president of Wingate University has pledged funding to establish the first endowed professorship at the College of Health and Human Performance at East Carolina University.

Jerry E. McGee, who graduated from ECU in 1965, has pledged $333,000 to establish the Jerry E. McGee Distinguished Professorship in the College of Health and Human Performance. This gift will qualify for state matching funds from the Distinguished Professors Endowment Trust Fund created by the N.C. General Assembly.

Glen Gilbert, dean of the College of Health and Human Performance, said of the donation, “We are deeply grateful to Jerry McGee for his generous commitment. This landmark donation will create a legacy that celebrates his inspiring history with the college and is especially promising in the current economic climate where competition to recruit exceptional faculty continues to increase.

“Like so many of ECU students, he embodies the American dream that determination and an education can make a bright future possible.  He grew up with little or no financial resources and sometimes had to literally fight his way to and from school. A college education was only a distant dream,” Gilbert said.

A first-generation college student, McGee said he made the commitment to establish the professorship because the university changed his life.

“No matter how much money I contribute, I will never be able to repay ECU for what the institution did for my family,” McGee said. “All of our teachers were totally dedicated to giving us every opportunity to succeed at ECU and beyond.”

A Rockingham native, McGee earned a bachelor's degree from the College of Health and Human Performance, a master's degree from Appalachian State University and a doctorate from Nova University.  

McGee has also held administrative roles at Gardner-Webb University, Meredith College and Furman University.

He enjoyed officiating college football games for 36 years, working more than 400 games, including three National Championship games. Crediting his alma mater for developing this talent and skill, McGee said the first game he officiated was in the ECU intramural program. If you can successfully serve as an official in the fraternity championship game at ECU, he joked, you can handle the Rose Bowl.  

In 2006, McGee received The Order of the Long Leaf Pine in recognition of his extraordinary service to the state, and in 2008, ECU recognized him with the Outstanding Alumni Award.

This story appeared originally in the Sept. 24, 2010 issue of Pieces of Eight. An archived version of that issue is available at