Owens received the foundation’s 2017 Darrell and Carolyn Menscer Cup for outstanding philanthropy, dedication and leadership on behalf of NC State during a dinner held Dec. 7 at the StateView Hotel on Centennial Campus. The presentation was made by Chancellor Randy Woodson and Trent Ragland, chair of the foundation’s board of directors.
Jim is a visionary who understands the importance of NC State’s leadership in our state, nation and beyond. He’s a committed advocate for our students, faculty and programs, and he’s always eager to talk about new ideas and about how to translate what we teach to the real world. He enjoys learning from our students and faculty as much as they enjoy learning from him.
Owens – the retired chairman and CEO of Caterpillar Inc., where he began a successful 38-year career as corporate economist – has consistently put his volunteer time and his financial support behind his belief in the university’s need to lead and to produce leaders who solve problems and strengthen the economy, Woodson said.
Together with the support of the Caterpillar Foundation, his gifts have particularly benefited various areas within Poole College of Management.
Each year, for example, the James W. Owens/Caterpillar Faculty Fellowship Endowment provides supplemental support to one or two faculty members in the college who are focusing on international economics or finance.
Taking that commitment a step further, Owens established a distinguished professorship in the college. Dr. Sebastian Heese is the first faculty member to hold the Owens Distinguished Professorship of Supply Chain Management.
Caterpillar supports the Owens Graduate Fellowship Fund to provide fellowships in the Jenkins Graduate School of Management.
Owens earned three degrees from NC State: a bachelor’s in textile technology, a master’s in textile technology and a doctorate in economics. He received scholarship support himself as an NC State student from Elizabeth City, and takes philanthropy and the idea of “paying it forward” personally as well as seriously, Woodson said.
Several years ago, Owens established the Nellie Maude Matthews Owens Scholarship Endowment, named for his mother, to provide need-based scholarships to students from economically challenged northeastern North Carolina. Five students are benefiting this academic year.
The NC State University Foundation created the Menscer Cup in 1997 to honor Darrell and Carolyn Menscer for “exemplary leadership of advancement efforts.” While chairing the foundation and co-chairing the Campaign for NC State Students, Darrell Menscer led efforts in university fundraising, endowment management and alumni service.
Each year, the cup goes to an individual or family that has made a major impact by going “above and beyond” in their service and generosity.
Owens and his wife, Katie, are members of the W.J. Peele Lifetime Giving Society and the R.S. Pullen Society, and lifetime members of the Alumni Association. They have been important donors to the Wolfpack Club, the Lambda Chi Alpha housing redevelopment fund, the new Chancellor’s Residence, the Our Three Winners Scholarships, the Caldwell Fellows and other areas at NC State.
An eight-year member of the Board of Trustees, Owens completed his two-year term as chair earlier this year.
He has received the Watauga Medal (2006), NC State’s highest nonfaculty honor for significant contributions. Poole College of Management has recognized him as Alumnus of the Year (1999) and Person of the Year (2009) for his volunteer and advocacy efforts, as well as his professional and personal accomplishments.
Beyond campus, the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB) named Owens as a 2015 Influential Leader. He is a member of the Board of Directors for Morgan Stanley, IBM and Alcoa, and he is a former member of the board of directors of FM Global Insurance and Black and Veatch and a former senior adviser for Kohlberg Kravis Roberts and Co.
The Owenses support a long list of interests that includes Illinois Central College, Doctors without Borders, the Council on Foreign Relations, Easter Seals, the Children’s Home Association of Peoria, the University of Illinois and the Children’s Hospital of Illinois.
More than anything, Jim is a Wolfpack role model – someone who has worked hard, enjoyed tremendous success, and is driven to help others succeed.
At the Menscer Cup presentation, Woodson and Brian Sischo, vice chancellor for university advancement, also highlighted recent university successes and the progress of the Think and Do the Extraordinary Campaign. The Campaign seeks to raise $1.6 billion by 2021 to provide student and faculty support, improve the physical campus, build the university endowment and more; through Nov. 1, the total had neared $1.17 billion.
The NC State Foundation is a nonprofit organization whose aim is to further the university’s land-grant mission and strategic goals through fundraising, the acceptance of private gifts, and the management of endowments and investments. Along with NC State Foundation board members, guests at the annual Menscer Cup event include members of the UNC Board of Governors and the NC State Board of Trustees, former cup recipients, university deans and executive officers.