Alumnus David Congdon to Receive Honorary Degree, First Cohort to Graduate from Congdon School

Friday, December 13, 2019

UNCW alumnus David Congdon ’78 will be presented an Honorary Doctor of Business degree in recognition of exceptional contributions to his profession and to the university. He will receive the degree alongside the first cohort of students to graduate from a school named in his honor during fall commencement on Dec. 14.

Congdon will join the 29 graduates of the David S. Congdon School of Supply Chain, Business Analytics and Information Systems as they walk across the stage in Trask Coliseum. The seniors are among the first cohort of approximately 98 students graduating from the Congdon School within the Cameron School of Business. The remaining students will receive their degrees in May 2020.

Congdon and his wife, Helen, donated $10 million to UNCW in December 2018, the largest outright gift commitment in university history. The Computer Information Systems Building will be rededicated as David S. Congdon Hall.

“UNCW is proud to award David Congdon with the degree Doctor of Business in recognition of his outstanding dedication to the university, his exemplary community service and his leadership as a philanthropist,” Chancellor Jose V. Sartarelli said. “His generous support will help the university continue to address pressing needs of the region and educate future business leaders and innovators.” 

The gift provides resources in the form of scholarships, professorships and programmatic funding for the Congdon School to achieve a high level of distinction in the areas of supply chain, business analytics and information systems, said Cameron School of Business Dean Rob Burrus. A portion of the gift was allocated to fund improvements to the CIS Building.

“The full effect of the gift will be realized over the next seven years,” Burrus added.

Congdon graduated from UNCW with a bachelor’s degree in business administration and was named the 2008 Cameron School of Business Alumnus of the Year. He has spent his career, which began when he was a teenager and continued after graduation, with Old Dominion Freight Line Inc. The company was founded in Richmond, VA, in 1934 by his grandparents. Its headquarters relocated to High Point, NC, in the early 1960s.

Congdon’s experience has included dockworker, truck driver, mechanic, industrial engineer and various executive positions leading up to his promotion to the role of president and chief operating officer from 1997-2015. He was named CEO in 2008 and currently acts as executive chairman of the board. He has been recognized in the Triad and by Fortune magazine for his business and community leadership, and serves on a number of community and industry boards.

“UNCW gave me my base education from which I’ve had a successful business career, and I’m happy to be in a position now to be more involved with the university,” said Congdon. “My sincere thanks goes out to the members of the UNCW Board of Trustees for their consideration and decision to honor me this way.”

Business major Alexis Petty is “ecstatic” about graduating from the Congdon School.

“The management information systems department within the Congdon School has some of the best professors I have ever had. I could not have asked for better mentors,” said Petty. “The majority of my instructors played a part in helping me to obtain not only an internship, but also my job at MetLife, which I begin in January. It is because of their interest in their students that I felt confident and comfortable in this extraordinary learning environment.”

A key initiative of UNCW’s Strategic Plan is working to ensure that students are employed within six months after graduation.

- Venita Jenkins