VAUGHAN COLUMN: NCCU deserves the love

Mar. 22, 2014 @ 06:32 PM

N.C. Central University has made Durham happy.

In the words of the awesome Pharrell Williams, music man extraordinaire: “Clap along if you feel like happiness is the truth.” Let’s clap for N.C. Central University, or for those of us well familiar with Durham, just Central or NCCU.

The Eagles went to the Big Dance and they didn’t need to score an upset to be a Cinderella story. Now everyone else knows what we already knew.

NCCU is part of Durham, and I don’t just mean that the campus is in the city. Alumni Eagles build their nests here. In my more than eight years of interviewing hundreds people in Durham, two things come up over and over about the universities in this city. Many Durhamites you come across work at Duke. Many Durhamites you come across went to Central.

Sometimes both.

Duke is a nationally known university, and rightly so. NCCU has so many legacies and a proud statewide reputation. Now it’s gone national.

It doesn’t matter that the Eagles lost their inaugural Division I NCAA Tournament basketball appearance Friday. They played a great game. Now millions of people have heard of the Eagles. That’s a big deal. It’s time for Central to continue to build on the legacy started 105 years ago by Dr. James E. Shepard. First female Chancellor Debra Saunders-White is building her legacy already and her official installation isn’t until April 4. I think Dr. Shepard would be proud of what his National Religious Training School and Chautauqua has become.

To quote Pharrell Williams again: “Here comes bad news, talking this and that.”

In a week of triumph for NCCU, men’s basketball coach LeVelle Moton dealt with what every parent fears — a child being hurt. Moton revealed Thursday that his family didn’t come with him on the trip to the NCAA Tournament because his toddler son had been hospitalized after accidentally getting burned by coffee.

Up, then down.

LeVelle Jr. is recovering, and we all hope and pray that happens swiftly. The fact that Moton talks about his family, one we’ve seen in adorable photos from previous games, shows what kind of man he is. Moton is the kind of leader NCCU basketball needs, that NCCU needs, that Durham needs, that everybody everywhere needs. He is a leader who leads by example. Anytime a man reaches a professional pinnacle and wishes his family could be there to share it, you know he’s a good man and a good role model.

Here in Durham we know what NCCU means to the community. Now everyone else does, too.

Dawn Baumgartner Vaughan may be reached at or 919-419-6563. Follow on Twitter: @dawnbvaughan.