WALLACE HYDE GIFT TO WESTERN TO ENDOW                                                                                     
Photo of Jeanette Hyde
Jeanette Hyde, vice chair of the board of trustees at Western, looks over documents regarding a contribution from her husband, Wallace, that will lead to an endowed professorship in gerontological social work at Western.
Photo of Chancellor Bardo, Jeanette Hyde and Phillip Walker
Chancellor John Bardo, Jeanette Hyde, and Phillip Walker, chair of the board of trustees

CULLOWHEE – A gift from Raleigh businessman Wallace Hyde, former chairman of Western Carolina University's board of trustees and long-time university benefactor, will enable establishment of an endowed professorship in gerontological social work in honor of his wife and current board vice chair, Jeanette Hyde.

Announcement of the $250,000 gift to Western came Thursday, March 10, as the university's board of trustees gathered for committee reports and dinner prior to its quarterly meeting Friday, March 11.

Although Jeanette Hyde is a successful businesswoman and banking executive who is perhaps best known as U.S. ambassador to the seven Eastern Caribbean nations of Barbados, Dominica, St. Vincent, St. Lucia, Antigua, Grenada and St. Kitts-Nevis from 1994 until 1998, she always has called social work her “true calling.”

“Wallace and Jeanette Hyde have long been among this university's closest friends and advocates, and this gift is a wonderful testament to their commitment to Western,” Chancellor John W. Bardo said. “The establishment of the Ambassador Jeanette W. Hyde Distinguished Professorship will greatly enrich our social work curriculum.”

Through a program initiated by the General Assembly to encourage private support of public institutions of higher education, Western will request $250,000 in matching funds to create the $500,000 professorship in gerontological social work.

Mrs. Hyde attended Wake Forest University and graduated from Delta State University. She taught school for two years on the Greek island of Crete before going into social work and counseling with the N.C. Administrative Office of the Courts. It was there that she gained an eternal appreciation for social work.

“As a former social worker, I have seen first-hand the contributions social work professionals are making to our society each and every day. The increasing number of senior citizens in our nation's population will require social workers with enhanced levels of education and training, and I hope this endowed professorship can enable Western to bring in a nationally recognized expert in gerontology who can help address those needs,” she said.

“Although I have been away from the profession for many years, I still have an incredible passion for social work. The social work training I received prepared me well for many other endeavors, in business, politics and diplomacy. It helped me learn to better understand situations from others' perspectives,” she said. “And I believe that we all, as human beings, have an obligation to do whatever is in our power to help our fellow human beings.”

Mrs. Hyde serves on boards for the Eisenhower Exchange Fellowships, N.C. Community Foundation, Council of American Ambassadors, Young Americas Business Trust, and American Diplomacy Publishers Inc. She formerly served on boards for the UNC at Chapel Hill School of Social Work, Triangle World Affairs Council, Methodist Home for Children, and Wake County Communities and Schools. A former member of the N.C. Board of Transportation, she is a current member of the boards of trustees at Wake Forest and Elon universities.

She received the Triangle World Affairs Council's Distinguished Citizen for Public Service Award in 1998, International Visitors Council's Citizen of the World Award in 1998, and YWCA Academy of Women's Outstanding Woman in Public Service Award in 1994. The U.S. Coast Guard presented her with its highest civilian award for public service in 1996 for her drug trafficking interdiction treaty work, and the U.S. departments of Defense and Justice, and U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency distinguished her with Civilian Service awards in 1997.

Her husband, Wallace, attended Western on scholarships for football and basketball, earning his bachelor's degree in physical education from Western in 1949 and his master's degree in public school administration in 1953. He earned his doctorate at New York University in 1959. A teacher, coach and athletics director in N.C. public schools early in his career, he was instrumental in establishing North Carolina's drivers' education program.

Listed in “Who's Who Among American Politics,” Hyde was a member of Western's board of trustees for 16 years, including a record 11 years as chairman. He headed Gov. Bob Scott's statewide committee to restructure the N.C. higher education system, from which the 16-campus University of North Carolina system evolved in 1971. He was elected to the first Board of Governors in the new UNC system in 1972, and received the WCU Alumni Association's Distinguished Service Award that year. Western presented him an honorary doctorate in 2002.

“In making this gift, I wanted to help the university I love the most in its efforts to achieve excellence, and I wanted to honor the woman I love the most,” Hyde said. “I feel very strongly that everyone should help his or her university. Too many people go away after getting their degree and never give anything back to the university.”

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Last modified: Friday, March 11, 2005
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