Today, former Cape Fear Community College President Eric McKeithan received one of the highest honors given by the governor of North Carolina. Dr. McKeithan was awarded the Order of the Long Leaf Pine for his outstanding service of over 30 years to the state of North Carolina.
He retired in June from CFCC after serving as president for 18 years. McKeithan received the award the Wilmington Rotary Club from CFCC Board Chairman Barren Nobles.
Nobles said that Dr. McKeithan is a worthy recipient of the â€œThe Order of the Long Leaf Pineâ€ because it recognizes and celebrates a life given in service to the citizens of North Carolina.
â€œHe is to be commended and admired for his life-long commitment to developing and improving educational opportunity in our state, especially at Cape Fear Community College,â€ Nobles said.
McKeithan was president of CFCC from 1994-2012. He led the college during the largest period of growth in the collegeâ€™s history. During his time, annual student enrollment more than doubled – from just over 5,000 students in 1994 to over 12,000 in 2012. In addition, the number of academic programs increased from 33 to 78 – and the size of the facilities grew from 221,000 square feet to 1.3 million square feet. Before taking the helm at CFCC, he served as president of Caldwell Community College for ten years.
Since the Order of the Long Leaf Pine was created in 1965, more than 6,000 people have received the award. Originally, the Order was a symbolic honor for visiting dignitaries, but later it became an honor for notable North Carolinians. McKeithan joins the ranks of previous award winners, which include notable Tar Heels such as Maya Angelou, Michael Jordan and Andy Griffith.