NC State Honors Gen. H. Hugh Shelton in True Pack Fashion
Two decades ago, Gen. H. Hugh Shelton retired from the U.S. Army after having served as, ultimately, the 14th Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Shelton began his military career as an Army ROTC cadet at NC State and later commanded the 82nd Airborne Division, the U.S. Army Special Forces and the U.S. Special Operations Command on his way to the most senior position for commissioned officers. Retiring in October 2001 after nearly 40 years of service, Shelton’s final days in uniform were spent helping his beloved nation through the first days of the “war on terror.”
Those decades of servant-leadership would have been enough for most people to feel content in their contributions to the world around them. For Shelton, they were just the opening act of a life that has been wholly spent for others.
Shelton has devoted his “retirement” — he hardly slowed down upon reentering civilian life — to enabling others to find their path to meaningful leadership roles during and after their time at his alma mater. Shelton graduated from NC State’s Wilson College of Textiles in 1963 with a bachelor’s in textile technology and earned a master’s from Auburn University in 1983. He was then awarded an honorary degree from NC State in 1998, as well as the university’s Watauga Medal in 2012, in recognition of his passionate and public support of all things Wolfpack.
Shelton’s efforts to benefit NC State have included his creation of:
- the Shelton Leadership Center, which works to instill the values of honesty, integrity, diversity, compassion and social responsibility in members of the Pack;
- the General Henry Hugh Shelton Leadership Scholarship Endowment, which helps students maximize their leadership skills through experiential learning and self-discovery;
- the Chancellor’s Leadership Development Program, which enables first-generation and/or students from rural North Carolina to achieve their collegiate dreams at NC State;
- the Red Hat Shelton Challenge, a six-day summer program focusing on the Shelton Leadership Center’s core values;
- and much more.
While his impact on the university can never be repaid, NC State began a $1 million fundraising campaign in 2021 to honor Shelton and his wife, Carolyn, with a special named area on Centennial Campus. Suite 4100 in the James B. Hunt Jr. Library was the result, with university leaders, alumni, friends of the Sheltons and more contributing to the cause. The funds raised were then placed in an endowment to help support the extraordinary mission and programs of the Shelton Leadership Center.
Support the Shelton Leadership Center!
Nearly 100 attendees gathered April 1, 2022, to celebrate the official renaming of Suite 4100 as the General H. Hugh and Carolyn Shelton Suite. The new suite signage was unveiled during the event, as was a special donor recognition plaque that honored those who gave to the campaign. Debbie Acker, director of the Shelton Leadership Center, said the suite was chosen for this naming because it is currently used by the Shelton Leadership Center’s staff, student interns and fellows for campus and community partner meetings and program preparation.
“Many have joined us to honor two North Carolinians who have sacrificed and served our state, nation and world by endowing our suite, the General H. Hugh and Carolyn Shelton Suite, made possible by friends of the Shelton Leadership Center,” Acker said. “Students are the ones who will benefit from these donations, which will sustain us in years to come.”
The event also coincided with a major milestone for the center, which was founded in 2002.
“Today, we celebrate our past, our present and our future,” Acker said. “It is exciting to achieve 20 years of training youth, college students and professionals who desire to develop as values-based leaders. It is exciting to know that there are many people who believe in our mission to ‘inspire, educate and develop values-based leaders committed to personal integrity, professional ethics and selfless service.’”
Shelton was characteristically humble when it came to discussing the suite naming itself, but his appreciation for the center’s efforts was clear.
“The thing that I’m most proud of regarding the Leadership Center is the number of students that we’ve been able to touch, that have graduated over the last 20 years, and how they’ve bought into values-based leadership,” Shelton said.
“My hope,” he added, “is that, downstream, every student leaving NC State has not only a degree that is world-class, from a university that is world-class, but is also steeped in values-based leadership — that we have students who, when they go into the workforce, are able to pass this onto other workers. If we do that, it’s a force-multiplier.”
For more information regarding Shelton’s impact on NC State, visit sheltonleadership.ncsu.edu.