Inspired: Three NC State families establish student success endowments

September 2017

NC State students inspire. Ask anyone in the Division of Academic and Student Affairs what gets them to work each morning, and they will answer, “the students.”

Yet faculty and staff are not the only ones who are energized by students. Inspiration travels home. When parents JoAnn and Kelly Barnhill, Alison and Jack Levinson, and David S. Thompson learned about the role of Academic and Student Affairs’ programs in preparing all NC State students for professional and personal success, they chose to give, volunteer, and advocate. They committed to the idea of supporting the success of all students through a diverse offering of programs and services and took action by establishing Student Success Endowments. Their endowments provide unrestricted and indefinite funding for the division and honor their shared commitment, as families, to NC State.

JoAnn and Kelly Barnhill

JoAnn ‘90 and Kelly ‘89 Barnhill met as varsity swimmers at NC State. They settled in Greenville, NC, and had three children. One of their daughters, Emmie, became an All-American swimmer in high school and was recruited by NC State to join the varsity swim team–just like her parents. She began at NC State in 2015, and JoAnn and Kelly’s relationship with their alma mater began a new phase: as parents. They were thrilled to be back on campus, cheering on Emmie and learning about how NC State had grown and changed. One event they attended was the Parents’ Breakfast, held every fall at The Point (the chancellor’s residence). There they began learning about the division’s programs and services and mission to ensure the success of all students.

Undaunted by Academic and Student Affairs’ size and breadth, JoAnn and Kelly left the breakfast eager to learn more. They came to understand that by getting involved with the division’s programs and services, students greatly increase their chances of academic success. They also learned that the division relies upon the generosity of private individuals to deepen its reach to all NC State students.

JoAnn and Kelly believe in the importance of a holistic approach to education that nurtures students’ development academically, professionally, and personally. Supporting Academic and Student Affairs was the perfect fit. They joined the division’s Board for Student Success (a volunteer fundraising and advocacy board) and established the Barnhill Family Student Success Endowment.

“The Division of Academic and Student Affairs’ programs resonate with us because we value a holistic approach to our children’s education. Everything the division does works to prepare students to be successful academically, professionally, and personally. We encourage everyone to think about ways to engage and partner with Academic and Student Affairs. We continue to have an amazing experience at NC State.”

Alison and Jack Levinson


Alison and Jack Levinson didn’t attend NC State. Yet when both of their daughters, Abby and Kate, chose NC State, they were eager to learn more and get involved. Like the Barnhills, one of the first events they attended was the Parents’ Breakfast. Again, like JoAnn and Kelly, they were inspired by the Division of Academic and Student Affairs’ mission to support the success of all students through a broad selection of programs and services. Within a year, Alison and Jack had become two of the division’s most dedicated supporters and advocates. They demonstrate how meaningful getting involved can be for both the students who benefit and the volunteers who give their time and resources. They further show that you don’t have to have attended NC State to become a member of the Wolfpack family.

Alison and Jack learn more about Academic and Student Affairs at every opportunity. They visit program sites and get to know the faculty and staff who administer them and the students who participate in them. They have served on Q&A panels, and they encourage and acknowledge the participation of fellow parents. Frequently, Alison and Jack are moved to give to the division, and they recently made a major commitment by establishing the Alison and Jack Levinson Endowment for Student Success.

“The Division of Academic and Student Affairs has given us a path to be engaged. We appreciate the opportunity to do our small part to support the success of the whole student. We have made thank-you phone calls to donors, attended events with prospective donors, and continue to learn more and more about the division’s programs. We have contributed financially to the Student Emergency Fund and the Styled for Success clothing closet. Together with our daughters, Abby and Kate, we established a Student Success Endowment, and we have all made contributions. We are all in on this.”

David S. Thompson

David S. Thompson is a lifelong member of the Wolfpack. He rooted for NC State as a child and graduated from the College of Engineering in 1984. After graduating, David started giving back, first to the Wolfpack Club. Over time, he learned about the Division of Academic and Student Affairs’ programs, served as chair of Arts NC State’s board of advisors, and made a naming gift to the Gregg Museum of Art & Design’s building campaign. Most recently, David joined the NC State University Foundation board of directors. In this new role, David will have frequent opportunities to advocate for the division before university leadership.

David raised his children, Chandler ‘12 and Reeves ‘15, to love the Wolfpack, and it was little surprise that they both chose NC State. Like their father, Chandler and Reeves are leaders. Chandler served as student body president while a senior at NC State, and Reeves served as vice president of the Student Wolfpack Club and vice president of recruiting for his fraternity, Sigma Phi Epsilon. David witnessed how involvement in Academic and Student Affairs’ programs prepared his children to succeed professionally and personally. As a way of honoring them both and their shared commitment to NC State, David established the David S. Thompson Family for Student Success Endowment.

“The experiences my kids had at NC State shaped my current giving more than my own. It was easy to see Chandler and Reeves grow in a few short years as a direct result of Academic and Student Affairs’ programs. I chose to create a Student Success Endowment because I was asked, I knew the impact of Academic and Student Affairs programs, and I trusted Academic and Student Affairs’ leadership to be a good steward of my gift.”

The Barnhill, Levinson, and Thompson families reflect with gratitude on the opportunity to come together as families and support student success. Their endowments have meant much more than writing checks; these three families have found a home for their philanthropy, advocacy, and legacies. Consider joining them–they would be delighted to welcome you to the Division of Academic and Student Affairs family–by supporting student success at NC State.

Giving to Student Success

Everyone at all giving levels can help promote success of the whole student. Student Success Endowments are established with commitments of $50,000 or more and produce an indefinite source of unrestricted funding. Gifts of any amount made to the Student Success Fund provide immediate, unrestricted support. All student success contributions are distributed across the Division of Academic and Student Affairs’ programs and services by the vice chancellor and dean.

To learn more, call 919.515.5317 or visit