A celebration that began with the naming of the Poole College of Management at NC State University on December 17, 2010, continued with the unveiling of a wall display honoring the college’s benefactor, Lonnie C. Poole, Jr., on February 28, 2014, in Nelson Hall.
“We thank our donors several times throughout the year but today, we are honoring a very, very special friend of the college in a very special way,” said Ira R. Weiss, dean of the college, in welcoming those gathered for the ceremony.
Among the approximately 100 people attending were Poole’s two sons, Ven and Scott; Robert Hall, former chief financial officer for Waste Industries and his wife, Nancy Hall; and Dianne Spencer, executive assistant to the chairman for Waste Industries. Attending from NC State were Chancellor Randall Woodson; Dean Jeffrey Braden, College of Humanities and Social Sciences; university executive officers; and Poole College faculty, staff and students.
In his opening remarks, Woodson said, “This is a great day for NC State, a tremendous day for the Poole College of Management … an opportunity for us to step back and thank Lonnie Poole again for his amazing generosity. His gift to endow this college really sets NC State apart from many of our competitors."
“When Lonnie started talking to us about how he could help NC State, he really wanted to see this college move to the next level of excellence,” Woodson said. “He knows – as we all know – that we can’t be a world class institution without a world class college of management. And Lonnie’s gift is ensuring that we have the resources that drive us to that level of excellence.”
Poole’s gift enables the college to place a special focus on “ethics, sustainability and entrepreneurship,” Woodson said. “And the display that we’re revealing today will help every student who passes this corridor understand those issues and understand them well. So, Lonnie, we’re very proud that this college bears your name.”
Poole, the first in his family to go to college, received his bachelor’s degree in engineering from NC State in 1959 and his MBA from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 1965.
In 2010, Poole made a $37 million gift to endow the college, which had been established in 1992 and was the youngest college at NC State at the time. Poole's gift was the largest gift to the university and the first to name a college.
“It was a transformational gift,” Woodson has said, one that allows the college to make strategic investments and helps to build up the school and the university as a whole.
The wall display summarizes the progress of Waste Industries USA, which Poole established in 1970, and showcases his philanthropy, love of the outdoors, and commitment to The Boy Scouts of America. At the center of the display is an etching of Lonnie and his wife, Carol Poole.
The Waste Industries timeline highlights key stages in the company’s growth, including being traded for 11 years on the NASDAQ as WWIN and its subsequent return to private ownership, along with awards Poole has received for his leadership of the company and in the U.S. solid waste industry. Those include being named North Carolina Entrepreneur of the Year by Inc Magazine in 1992 and being inducted into the Environmental Industry Hall of Fame in 1994.
“Lonnie’s life and the growth of Waste Industries make for a compelling story that we want our students to know; we want them to know who our benefactor is,” Weiss said.
The college is currently working with a business case writer who is writing the life story of Poole and the Waste Industries business case. When completed, it will be presented to each Poole College incoming undergraduate and graduate student, and will be discussed in finance and strategy courses taught at Poole College.
Speaking of Poole’s philanthropy, Weiss said: “I mentioned that our celebration today is the continuation of the celebration that marked the naming of the college back in 2010. We are honoring Lonnie today for how his gift has already impacted Poole College and how it will impact the Poole College for many, many more years to come.”
When Poole came to the podium, he spoke about Waste Industries, his business and personal values, and philanthropy.
“Waste Industries is responsible for me and Carol being able to make such a gift to NC State,” Poole said. He also cited the roles of his two sons, Ven, who currently is chief executive officer of Waste Industries, and Scott, who had been involved in sales at Waste Industries and now works in real estate, as well as Jim Perry, who had been the company’s first employee and “has gone through all the jobs including president and CEO, and is currently serving as chairman.”
Poole also spoke about a key component in each of Waste Industries’ five year plans: to add value in four ways. He elaborated, drawing parallels to how the university adds value, as follows.
- Add value to the customer. The customer comes first; add value for the customer. For the university, it’s the same thing. The customers for this university are the people who employ the graduates.
- The employees. You have to reward them, recognize them.
Add something back to the community. The community in our case started out in Wake County and it expanded now to seven states with 2,000 employees and hundreds of thousands of customers. In the case of NC State, the community makes a great deal of difference in Raleigh, Wake County, the state of North Carolina and the country. And now, this is a global institution and it has an impact all over.
People who walk past this wall more than likely during their lifetime will walk past the Great Wall of China, or they’ll pass by the wall that divided Berlin. That means you’re global; you’ll travel and do great things, and you’ve got to remember a sense of community. And in your case, that is the entire globe … and Raleigh.
- Last but not least, you’ve got to add value for your shareholders. The shareholders must grow and prosper, and so must NC State and its shareholders, the people of North Carolina.
The unveiling ceremony took place during a week when colleges and universities across the country are recognizing student philanthropy, and Poole took a moment to commend Poole College students who are participating in the NC State University Senior Class Gift – making a contribution of $20.14 – or the three-year gift pledge made by the college’s Jenkins Master of Accounting graduates.
Following the unveiling ceremony, Poole had a casual lunch and conversations with Poole College student leaders.
Also installed at Nelson Hall, the evening prior to the unveiling ceremony, was a two-foot bronze statue of Lonnie Poole. It was formed from the clay model that sculptor Jamie Lester, of Morgantown, West Virginia, made as he created an eight-foot bronze statue commissioned by The Boy Scouts of America. Poole donated the mini-version of the statue to Poole College as a way of conveying the source of the values that have guided him in life and business.
The larger-than-life bronze statue now stands at the entrance to the welcome center for the Bechtel Family National Scouts Reserve in Mount Hope, West Virginia. It is part of a collection of bronze statues that the organization had commissioned to honor individuals for their significant service to and support of Scouting.