NC State University Foundation Presents 2023 Godwin, Menscer Honors
Two members of the NC State community received honors last week for their extensive voluntarism and philanthropy on the university’s behalf.
The NC State University Foundation presented Trent Ragland with the Jerry and Elizabeth Godwin Red Torch Award and Dellaine Risley with the Darrell and Carolyn Menscer Cup. The foundation’s annual awards ceremony and dinner took place Dec. 7 at the City Club in downtown Raleigh.
“As we have seen over these past few years together, philanthropic leadership and volunteer service are vitally important to this university’s success,” Chancellor Randy Woodson said at the event. “All of us have worked hard together to elevate NC State to extraordinary levels, and even more incredible transformations are ahead for this institution in the next few years.
“Dellaine and Trent — you have played vital roles in the transformations we continue to celebrate at NC State. Tonight, we celebrate you, your families and everyone who continues to make sure NC State can Think and Do what’s needed to solve grand challenges, serve our communities and prepare the next generation of leaders.”
The NC State University Foundation is a 501(c)(3) that supports, by financial assistance and otherwise, the various colleges within the university, the libraries and other university-connected functions. Brian Sischo, vice chancellor for university advancement, serves as its president of the NC State University Foundation.
Red Torch Award: Trent Ragland
The Jerry and Elizabeth Godwin Red Torch Award, established in 2007, recognizes an individual or family who exemplify the Godwins’ efforts of leadership and dedication on behalf of NC State. In particular, it recognizes significant service on campus volunteer boards.
Raleigh native William Trent Ragland III graduated from NC State in 1980 with a bachelor’s degree in business management. He is the owner and president of Ragland Properties Inc., a real estate development company, and chairs the W. Trent Ragland Jr. Foundation, founded by his father in 1959.
Ragland served on the Board of Directors for the NC State University Foundation for more than a decade, starting in 2008. He served on the Achieve Campaign Steering Committee from 2004 to 2008; as an executive committee member for the Friends of the Libraries from 1999 to 2015; on the NC State Investment Fund Members Board from 2012 to 2016; and as a cabinet member for Think and Do the Extraordinary, the Campaign for NC State, from 2016 to 2021.
“During my years serving at the Libraries, and then on the Foundation Board, I learned so much about the great things that go on at NC State,” Ragland said. “As everyone here probably realizes, once you get involved, you get fired up. I’m very proud of the very small part I’ve played in helping move the university forward.”
In addition to his wide-ranging volunteer service, Ragland — alongside his wife, Wes Taylor Ragland — has made financial contributions across campus, most particularly to Wolfpack Athletics, NC State Libraries and specific NC State colleges.
In Athletics, the Raglands are longtime season ticket holders for football and men’s basketball, and they have been major supporters of the NC State men’s tennis program. They have routinely advocated for NC State student-athletes, donating to scholarship funds and even helping with the design of the J.W. Isenhour Tennis Center.
For the NC State Libraries, the Raglands have given generously to a number of initiatives and funds, including the Susan Nutter Innovation Endowment, the Library Excellence Endowment and the Libraries Student Resource Fund.
As a member of the Friends of the Libraries, Ragland was an integral part of the fundraising and visionary effort behind the creation of the James B. Hunt Jr. library on Centennial Campus.
The Raglands have made gifts to the Poole College of Management, the College of Education and the Wilson College of Textiles, from which their daughter Suiter graduated in 2022. They established an endowment in the College of Education in 2019 that helps provide scholarships to support teachers seeking a master’s degree in New Literacies and Global Learning with a specialization in K-12 reading.
Ragland has lent his leadership and advocacy to organizations including but not limited to the Wake Boys and Girls Club, the North Carolina Museum of History Associates, the North Carolina Community Foundation and the Board of Trustees of Raleigh’s Saint Mary’s School.
“I have known Trent for a long time and have seen his commitment to NC State and our local community firsthand,” Mike Constantino, Foundation Board chair, said when presenting the Godwin Award. “Trent is the definition of a servant leader. Not the kind that try to draw attention to themselves, but the kind that actually do what they say; sacrifice for others; and lead by example.”
Menscer Cup: Dellaine Risley
The Menscer Cup, established in 1997, is presented by the NC State University Foundation each year to individuals or families exemplifying the extraordinary philanthropy, dedication and leadership of the foundation’s former board chair Darrell Menscer and his late wife, Carolyn. In particular, it recognizes the accomplishments of philanthropists and/or volunteer fundraisers.
Dellaine Risley, a native of the Pacific Northwest, moved to Raleigh and became a member of the Wolfpack in 1976 when her late husband, Dr. John Risley, joined the College of Sciences’ faculty. John Risley was an outstanding professor for more than 30 years, teaching as well as conducting research in the Department of Physics.
His research eventually led him to found WebAssign, an online homework and assessment tool designed to help people have a smoother teaching and learning experience. This spin-off company was relocated to Centennial Campus in 2003 and Dellaine served as a board member until it was sold to Cengage in 2016.
John and Dellaine’s shared passion for NC State led them to establish the John S. Risley Distinguished Professorship, a $1 million endowment that provides salary and other support in perpetuity for a senior faculty member in the Department of Physics. It was the first named professorship in the department’s history.
The couple created the John S. and Dellaine A. Risley Endowment, which will be fully funded by their estate in order to provide leaders in the Department of Physics and the College of Sciences with the flexibility to respond to unforeseen challenges or opportunities.
Supporting students, especially in the fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics, also has been a top priority. The Risleys established the Risley Scope Scholarship, a four-year, non-endowed scholarship supporting a physics student in the Scope Scholars program.
Other areas of support include contributions to the Physics Graduate Award, the Physics Department Enhancement Fund and the Physics Graduating Senior Award Endowment.
“I [recently] asked Dellaine what she wanted her legacy to be — an unnecessary question because her legacy is firmly established,” Constantino said. “Her family, generosity and philanthropy speak volumes.”
John passed away in 2013, but Dellaine, who serves as a trustee for the Risley Family Foundation, has continued to support NC State in many extraordinary ways, including through gifts to the Student Emergency Fund and the Feed the Pack Food Pantry.
She most recently created the John and Dellaine Risley Extraordinary Opportunity Scholarship, which provides under-resourced undergraduate students from North Carolina with the ability to learn, grow and succeed in the College of Sciences without financial constraints.
“I am dedicated to NC State,” Risley said. “NC State was so good to John. If people ask me why I support NC State, I say it’s simple. I support NC State because I can.”