William Madison Randall Library

Buildings & Landmarks: Education Building
Date Opened: 2004
Abbreviation: EB
Namesake: Donald R. Watson (1926-1994)

Above: Education Building, 2007. Middle and lower: North Carolina Teachers Legacy Hall in Education Building, 2007. (Photos by UNCW Archives).

Above: Portrait of Donald Watson. (courtesy of Watson School of Education)

Above and Middle: Mrs. Betty Stike (photos from UNCW Archives)
Above: Dr. Eleanor Wright, 1989 (photo from UNCW Archives) Middle: Donor recognition plaque for Eleanor B. & G. Philip Wright
Above: Mrs. Dorothy Marshall, 1958 (photo from UNCW Archives)

Building History

Opened in 2004, the Education Building is a 3-story, 80,500-square-foot facility. In 1997, Robert E. Tyndall, then Dean of the Watson School of Education, approached Chancellor James R. Leutze with his concept for the new facility. The School had long outgrown King Hall, where it had been for 27 years. Dr. Tyndall proposed a new education building to serve as a “living tribute to the teaching profession.” In 1998 UNCW received planning funds ($1,775,000) from the North Carolina legislature to design the building.

Thanks to the successful Higher Education Bond Referendum of 2000, the Watson School of Education received $18,725,000 for a new building. 73% of voters statewide favored the bond, and it passed in all 100 counties. Groundbreaking took place on January 17, 2002, and the building was officially occupied in September, 2004.

The facility houses the Watson School of Education, the Professional Development System, the Service Office of Public Schools, the Teaching and Principal Fellows, and the Curriculum Materials Center. Prominent is the North Carolina Teachers Legacy Hall, an exhibit designed to honor educators and administrators, showcase historic milestones in the teaching profession and celebrate the continuation of teaching excellence in the state of North Carolina.

The year 2004 marked the opening of the new building and the 40th anniversary of teacher education at UNCW. The Department of Education and Psychology of Wilmington College was originally housed in Hoggard Hall. In 1969 the department moved temporarily to Kenan Hall and the following year to the new Education/Psychology building--King Hall. In 1973, Education became its own department, separate from Psychology. In 1979, the University reorganized into the College of Arts and Sciences, the School of Business Administration, and the School of Education, and department chair Roy Harkin became Dean of the School of Education.

The past forty-plus years have seen more than name and building changes. Now the Watson School of Education is the third largest producer of certified teachers out of forty-seven institutions in North Carolina.

Watson School of Education timeline


Watson School of Education

Mr. Donald Watson was a noted Wilmington businessman. He was born in Kenly, North Carolina and studied accounting at Elon College. In 1967, he purchased Pepsi of Wilmington and by 1976 he had formed the Carolina Bottlers partnership with Mr. Carl Brown. This company was sold in 1988 to Pepsi, Inc. Mr. Watson felt that, “the key to economic prosperity in the Cape Fear Area was through education, ” which he supported with a number of financial contributions to UNC Wilmington.

In March 1994, just before his death, Mr. Watson made a major donation which brought his lifetime giving to the university to more than $2 million. His 1994 donation established a distinguished professorship and an endowment for the School of Education plus a major merit scholarship program for UNCW. In return, the School of Education was renamed Donald R. Watson School of Education (UNCW Magazine, Spring/Summer 1994, p.4).

In 1993, Mr. Watson and his business partner donated property valued at $1.3 million. This contribution was used to establish two endowed chairs, one in the School of Education and another in marine sciences (UNCW Magazine, Spring/Summer 1994, p. 6).

“Don Watson has done something of significance that will have an important impact for years to come. He was a man of vision. Not only was he thinking of what would help the school in 1994, but he looked ahead to 2094,” said then-Chancellor James Leutze at the time of his donation (UNCW Magazine, Spring/Summer 1994, p.4).

Mr. Watson was an active business leader. In addition to co-owning Pepsi-Cola Bottling Co., he invested in WMFD radio station, which later merged with another with WHSL. He also had an interest in Carolina Pipe Company.

Mr. Watson was a long-time leader in community service. He had been chair of the United Way capital campaign. He also served as president of the Wilmington Chamber of Commerce, participating actively in the drive to construct a new building. In recognition of his efforts, the new board room was named in his honor.

Throughout his life, Don Watson was devoted to the community and especially to his family. He also enjoyed the life of an outdoorsman. His family recalls his many contributions with pride, recognizing them as befitting of his generous nature and of the high value he place on the role of education.

Betty Holden Stike Education Lab

As part of their undergraduate curriculum, UNCW students in elementary and special education tutor local children in the Betty Stike Educational Laboratory (also known as the Ed Lab). In preparation for student teaching, UNCW students work in the Ed Lab, coaching youngsters in reading, writing, and math in a positive environment.

Mrs. Betty H. Stike is one of the founders of the education program at UNCW. She was born in Brunswick County. She earned her bachelor degree from Appalachian Teachers College in Boone, NC and her master degree from East Carolina University. Mrs. Stike taught in the North Carolina public schools for 24 years. She came to Wilmington College in 1964 as only the second faculty member in education. (The first was her department chair, Dr. Harold Hulon). Mrs. Stike taught methods courses and supervised student teachers, logging many miles on her car visiting schools in Pender, Onslow, Columbus, Brunswick, and New Hanover Counties. In addition, Mrs. Stike became one of the first to teach a middle school curriculum. Mrs. Stike retired from UNCW in 1983. To this day, she supports the School of Education in numerous ways, including the funding of a scholarship.

In a 2006 visual/oral history interview, Mrs. Stike said, “I’m so proud that they have named the learning lab in my honor. I feel so good about what they’re doing in there. The materials are just superior… Parents say the students have just progressed so much under this tutorship. [It’s] a wonderful service for this community and parents recognize it.”

New Hanover Schools Young Adult Transition Classroom

In a partnership between UNCW and New Hanover County Schools, this classroom serves special-needs students from the school district during daytime hours. During evenings and weekend the classroom is used for UNCW courses and programs. This arrangement allows for an on-site experience for special education candidates and an age-appropriate facility for area students with special needs. The Watson School of Education recognizes Eleanor B. and G. Phillip Wright for sponsoring this classroom

Dr. Eleanor B. Wright was born in western New York and moved with her family to North Carolina as a child. She earned bachelor and master degrees in special education from Greensboro College and State University of New York at Geneseo respectively. Dr. Wright taught in Guilford County for 12 years. In 1973, she began teaching educational psychology for the Department of Psychology at UNCW. In 1975 she designed the first special education curriculum for UNCW’s young Department of Education. The first UNCW students to major in special education graduated in 1979. Dr. Eleanor Wright has spent her university career training special needs educators and championing the field of special education.

Dr. Wright has served the School of Education in administrative positions as department chair for five years and as Associate Dean for 2 years. She earned her Ph.D. in 1983 while working full-time. Her extensive service to the university included working on the Education Building design committee with Dean Robert E. Tyndall from 1998-2004.

Following her retirement in 2003, Dr. Wright worked as a contractor on various projects such as Watson School of Education history, Legacy Hall, and the WSOE Art Collection. Since 2006, she has enjoyed retirement and travel.

Dorothy P. Marshall Information Kiosk

Mrs. Dorothy P. Marshall is native to this region and has lived in Wilmington since she was a teen-ager. In 1949, after graduating from East Carolina University, she came to Wilmington College as secretary to Dean R.C. Beemon and part-time instructor in business education. She later served as secretary to Dean William Madison Randall. When Dr. Randall became president of the college in 1958, Mrs. Marshall became registrar for the college, succeeding Dr. Marshall Crews in this position. From 1973-1980 she was also director of admissions. Mrs. Marshall was registrar until her retirement in 1992.

Mrs. Marshall holds the record for the longest period of employment at UNCW—43 years. She has worked for the first five UNCW chief administrators: Dr. Hamilton, Dr. Hoggard, Dr. Randall, Dr. Wagoner, and Dr. Leutze,

In 1998 Mrs. Marshall was selected as “Citizen of the Year” by the Alumni Association. She has been active in the Order of Isaac Bear, serving four years on the executive board and four years as vice-president. Mrs. Marshall serves on the UNCW Board of Visitors and on the Watson School of Education Board of Advisors, and supports a scholarship in the School of Education.

Mrs. Marshall has knowledge and first-hand experience with UNCW history starting in the early Wilmington College days. As she said in a visual/oral history interview conducted for UNCW Archives, “We started from scratch in ’47.”

Grace M. Burton Math Classroom

Dr. Grace M. Burton (1939-2005), was a dedicated faculty member in education from 1977 until her retirement as full professor in 2003. She was born in Woonsocket, Rhode Island. She graduated from Annhurst College in Connecticut with a major in mathematics. She received her M.A. and Ph.D. from the University of Connecticut, specializing in mathematics education and elementary education. Before UNCW, she held a number of teaching positions.

Dr. Burton regularly taught math methods courses for future K-6 educators. She published over 100 scholarly articles and authored college and elementary textbooks. She presented at hundreds of professional conferences. Her honors included the UNCW Board of Trustees Teaching Excellence Award (1991)--the most prestigious award given at UNCW--and the UNCW Distinguished Teaching Fellowship (1992).

In an oral history interview, Dr. Burton explained why students like her classes. “My enthusiasm [and] practicality.  They like that I don’t mind that they don’t know math, because you don’t have to know it when you come in.  You just have to know it when you go out.  You have to know how to teach it.”  

Dr. Burton played an important role in the growth of the School of Education. When she came, she was only the 10th full-time faculty member in a department that had about 25 student teachers a year.

The Grace M. Burton Promise of Excellence Fellowship is awarded to first-year graduate students in education, providing in-state tuition for one year.

Eunice T. MacRae Information Kiosk

Mrs. Eunice (“Bambi” ) T. MacRae is former chair of the UNCW Board of Trustees (1993) and a former Wilmington College student. She worked as a Pan American Airlines flight attendant in the mid-fifties and sixties. Since 1967, she has put in decades of volunteer work. She has supported scholarships at UNCW and has served on numerous boards. In 2004, Mrs. MacRae was diagnosed with lung cancer. As a survivor, Mrs. MacRae has worked to raise funds and awareness for treatment and early detection of lung cancer. She is an avid golfer and has served as the honorary chair of the “Take A Swing At Lung Cancer” golf tournament in Pinehurst, N.C.