Park Foundation Honored with 2018 Menscer Cup

Chancellor Woodson, Adelaide Gomer and Charlie Stallings with the Menscer Cup

Park Foundation president Adelaide Gomer (center) accepts the Menscer Cup from Chancellor Randy Woodson (left) and NC State Foundation board chair Charlie Stallings.

The Park Foundation has been recognized with the NC State University Foundation’s highest honor.

At a Dec. 6 dinner, Chancellor Randy Woodson and Charlie Stallings, chair of the NC State University Foundation’s board of directors, awarded the Darrell and Carolyn Menscer Cup to the Park Foundation. Adelaide Gomer, daughter of the late Roy and Dorothy Park, accepted the honor in her role as president of the Park Foundation, which created NC State’s Park Scholarships program in 1996.

The Menscer Cup is bestowed each year by the NC State University Foundation to individuals, families or foundations exemplifying the extraordinary philanthropy, dedication and leadership of former foundation board chair Darrell Menscer and his late wife Carolyn. A 501(c)(3) public charitable organization, the NC State University Foundation actively supports NC State’s colleges, libraries and other university-based programmatic initiatives.

Adelaide Gomer with Park Scholars at Menscer Cup award dinner
Park Foundation president Adelaide Gomer (center) with Park Scholars following the Menscer Cup presentation.

The Park Foundation was established in 1966 by NC State alumnus Roy Park, who built a distinguished career as the founder of Park Communications Inc. Roy served as a trustee of NC State University from 1977 to 1985 and served as chair of the Alumni Association Board of Directors. “Though unbelievably busy with his business, my father never forgot North Carolina State University,” Gomer said. “He loved this school, and he credited it with his success.”

Roy and Dorothy each received the Watauga Medal – the university’s most prestigious nonacademic award – in 1975 and 2005, respectively. They were members of the Andrew Quarles Holladay Lifetime Giving Society and honorary lifetime members of the NC State Alumni Association.

The Menscer Cup celebration took place in the Dorothy and Roy Park Alumni Center – another illustration of the Park Foundation’s long-term philanthropic commitment to NC State. Woodson noted that the building was named during the university’s previous Achieve! Campaign, in honor of a gift directed by Dorothy. Current students and alumni from the Park Scholarships program attended the award dinner, including Thomas Bailey ’19, who provided the evening’s musical accompaniment.

The Park Scholarships program provides generous scholarship and experiential learning support for approximately 40 students each year as they grow in the program’s four pillars of service, character, scholarship and leadership. Scholars work with Park faculty mentors and participate in first-year seminars, leadership retreats and learning labs to further hone their skills. Over 1,000 students have benefited from the Park Scholarships program to date.

Adelaide Gomer with Park Scholarships donors
Adelaide Gomer (center) with Park Scholarships co-naming donors Diane and Jerry Cunningham; Nancy Ridenhour; Mimi and Tom Cunningham; and Mark, Linda and Lauren Cagley

Park alumni have developed a distinguished record of academic, professional and personal success after completing their undergraduate degrees. The Triangle Business Journal’s recent 40 under 40 feature recognized three Park Scholars alumni for their contributions as leaders in business and in service. Neal Robbins ’01, Jennifer Morgan ’02 and Will Quick ’07 were honored at the publication’s annual awards ceremony in June. In November of this year, Tommy Vitolo became the first Park Scholar elected to a statewide office when he won his election to the Massachusetts State House of Representatives.

“I would not be who I am today without this program. I am part of a community of scholars who are eager to learn and ready to make a lasting footprint on the world… I have no doubt that each and every one of us will use our unique gifts to turn this scholarship into an investment that will have impact far beyond our years at NC State,” said recent graduate Erica Neibaur in a statement read by Woodson.

“It’s ultimately the scholars themselves who show that, when given this opportunity, they will exceed all expectations,” Gomer said.

In 2013, the Park Foundation made a transformational $50 million pledge to establish the Park Scholarships program endowment — the largest gift in NC State’s history. 

The Park Foundation has continued to support the Park Scholarships program, most recently with a new $10.75 million commitment. This gift ensures a strong future of the program while adding to the momentum of the Think and Do the Extraordinary Campaign.

It is profoundly meaningful for all of us at the Park Foundation to participate in this remarkable program and the journey of each Park Scholar. I know that my father’s greatest hope would be that every Park Scholar will, in their own way, replicate what my father did and work hard, do well and give back.

Adelaide Gomer

In addition to the Park Scholarships program at NC State, the Park Foundation supports the Park Scholar Program at Ithaca College, where Roy served as president of the Board of Trustees. Logan Graham ’19 and his brother Taylor, who graduated from Ithaca in 2016, are the first sibling pair to participate in both Park programs.

The Park Foundation also generously supports causes related to public interest media, the environment and animal welfare.

At the Menscer Cup presentation, Woodson shared how the philanthropy of the Park Foundation has inspired Park Scholars and their families to give back to NC State. In fiscal year 2017, 95 percent of current Park Scholars and nearly of half their parents made a gift to the program. Nearly 400 donors have contributed to the endowment in the past year, and five donors have co-named Park Scholarships, all of whom were in attendance at the ceremony.

“Adelaide, I think Dottie and Roy would be so proud of all that the Park Foundation has made possible and the many extraordinary things the Park Scholars have done,” Woodson said.  “And I can think of no better way to honor them and their incredible dedication to NC State than by the way you have continued their philanthropic legacy and invested in the Park Scholars.”