The late Dr. Mel Gay honored with the Order of the Long Leaf Pine
During Central Piedmont Community College’s (CPCC) Spring Forum on January 23, 2013, Dr. Marcia Conston, vice president for Enrollment & Student Services, presented the family of Dr. Mel Gay with the Order of the Long Leaf Pine. The distinction is one of the most prestigious honors awarded by the Governor of North Carolina.
The honor, created in the mid-1960s, is given to individuals with a proven record of extraordinary service to the state of North Carolina. Recipients are selected based on their contributions to their communities, the extra effort they demonstrate in their careers, and the many years of service they commit to their organizations.
To know Dr. Gay was to understand that he possessed all of the characteristics associated with the Order of the Long Leaf Pine – dedication, compassion and honor.
Before his passing on February 3, 2012, Dr. Gay had been employed by CPCC for more than 40 years. He began working for the College in 1969 as a counselor, advising students on their career objectives and goals. In the years that followed, he held a variety of leadership roles at CPCC, including Director of Counseling Services, Vice President of Student Development, Dean of Student Development and Associate Vice President for Student Services.
In addition to being a skilled mentor, Dr. Gay was passionate about serving students with developmental disabilities. He spearheaded several special projects/grants throughout his career that assisted this demographic, including the U.S. Department of Education’s Postsecondary Education Consortium for the Hearing-Impaired, Learning Disabilities Consortium, Learning Disabilities Model Education Program and Consortium, and Student Support Services for the Disadvantaged.
Dr. Gay was also a strong proponent of veterans. He served as Chairman of the CPCC Veterans Committee, and the Veterans Resource Center was established during the time of his leadership. Also, partly due to his leadership as Veterans Committee Chairman, CPCC was named a "Military Friendly College" in 2011.
During his tenure at the College, he was recognized for numerous CPCC awards including the 1993 “Administrator of the Year Award for Excellence” and the 2010 “Innovation of the Year Award.”
He was also an active community member, serving on the Board of Directors for Charlotte’s International House, Goodwill Industries, Community College Ministries of Charlotte and National Kidney Foundation of North Carolina; and was recognized by all as an established writer, accomplished speaker, and most importantly, a dedicated husband, father and grandfather.
And so, no truer words can be spoken of Dr. Gay in his memory than those included on the award scroll, given to every Order of the Long Leaf Pine recipient:
“Here’s to the land of the long leaf pine,
The summer land where the sun doth shine,
Where the weak grow strong and the strong grow great,
Here’s to ‘down home,’ the Old North State!”