Fabulous 50: Commencement Milestones 1971

NC State University's 1971 commencement exercises took place on May 15 of that year.  There were a number of "firsts."

That year was the first time a woman graduated with the highest academic grade point average.  Jane Carol Pickard achieved that honor as she received a B.S. in applied mathematics.  While at State she had been elected to the Phi Kappa Phi honor society, and she made the dean's list all 8 semesters she was enrolled.  In her career, as Jane Pickard Bowers, she became a programmer and software engineer at IBM.

In May 1971 Arthur John Clement became the first African American to graduate from the College of Design.  He earned a Bachelor of Architecture degree.  Clement was also one of the founding members of the Eta Omicron Chapter of Alpha Phi Alpha, the first African American fraternity at NC State.  In 1973 he earned an M.Arch. from M.I.T., and he later became a principal in the firm Clement & Wynn, LLC, of Atlanta.

Also in 1971, Joel Lawson Williams was awarded the first Ph.D. from NC State's College of Textiles.  His field of study was in fiber and polymer science, and his dissertation was titled Preirradiation Grafting to Wool and Cellulosic Fibers.  Williams had previously earned B.S. and M.S. degrees from NC State.  In his career he became a polymer scientist and radiation chemist at BD Technologies and Innovation.

Please feel free to explore NC State history at our Historical State portal, as well as Special Collections materials at our Rare and Unique Digital Collections site.  The Special Collections Research Center is open by appointment only.  Appointments are available Monday–Thursday, 9am–12pm and 1pm–4pm.  Please contact us at library_specialcollections@ncsu.edu for appointments or any questions. You can also submit a request to use materials, and we will email you with available appointment times.