N.C. A&T College of Health and Human Sciences to Be Named for Hairstons

By Jackie Torok / 04/14/2021 College of Health and Human Sciences

EAST GREENSBORO, N.C. (April 14, 2021) – Fifty years ago, two young students met and fell in love at North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University: one a football player from Charlotte who was studying to become a teacher and the other a local girl pursuing a bachelor’s degree in social service.

They married a year after they both graduated from North Carolina A&T, with a family and career together in business following soon thereafter. That joint career was successful and prosperous enough that it allowed them to give back to their alma mater in many ways – so many that today, the university announces it is naming the College of Health and Human Sciences (CHHS) after John R. and Kathy R. Hairston ‘75.

The Hairston College becomes the second A&T college in two years to be named, with the Willie A. Deese College of Business and Economics becoming the first last year.

“John and Kathy Hairston are distinguished alumni who embody Aggie Pride,” said CHHS Dean Lenora R. Campbell, Ph.D. “Over the years, they have made generous contributions to the university and the College of Health and Human Sciences, and we are extraordinarily pleased to have our college bear their name.”

A formal ribbon-cutting ceremony for the John R. and Kathy R. Hairston College of Health and Human Sciences is being planned for a later date, when safer conditions relative to the COVID-19 pandemic allow for larger gatherings.

“John and Kathy Hairston consistently demonstrate a commitment to the preeminence of our university through their philanthropy,” Chancellor Harold L. Martin Sr. said. “We are proud to honor them in this way for all they have done and continue to do to support excellence, innovation and community service through our College of Health and Human Sciences.”

Naming the college for the Hairstons elevates its reputation of excellence, allowing it to continue attracting first-rate talent in both faculty and students. It also raises the CHHS profile within the realms of academia and research.

The Hairstons most recently bestowed a multi-million, multi-year cash pledge in unrestricted endowed funds to the college to address a variety of needs, including scholarships, department chairs, fellowships and distinct program offerings at the nation’s No. 1 public historically Black university.

“We are compelled to contribute to A&T and to our community because so many people provided us with the opportunities to succeed,” said Kathy Hairston. “We want to do our part to make sure others receive opportunities for success.”

“It is said that to whom much is given, much is required,” said John Hairston. “Giving back is the right thing to do.”

After graduation with bachelor’s degrees in industrial arts education (John) and social service (Kathy), John Hairston first became a teacher and coach and then began a small construction company to supplement the family income. As they started a family – they have two sons, John R. Jr. and Jeffrey, and a daughter, Jennifer -- the couple became interested in owning a McDonalds’ franchise, and John enrolled in its owner training program.

Within two years of John completing his training, they purchased their first McDonald’s restaurant in downtown Atlanta. He and Kathy reinvigorated the formerly struggling location, ultimately receiving an award for most improved restaurant in the region.

After three years, the Hairstons returned to Charlotte to purchase and build more McDonald’s locations. All told, they procured 11 restaurants over a 40-year span. Throughout their careers, they supported numerous civic and athletic organizations to continually invest in the people of the communities they served.

The Hairston and their company, John R. Hairston Enterprises, Inc., earned numerous major awards from the McDonald’s Corp.: the Golden Arch, given to the top 1% of McDonald’s owners and operators based on sales, performance and community involvement; the Ronald Award, predicated on sales, performance and community involvement; and the Street Fighter Award, for ingenuity, creativity and aggressiveness in building market share. The couple received the latter award three times.

They retired in September 2020.

Longtime supporters of A&T, the Hairstons gave many times of their time and treasure. They established the John R. and Kathy R. Hairston Distinguished Professorship of Sociology and Social Work in April 2017 and the John R. & R. Hairston Endowed Scholarship that supports sociology and social work students. Additionally, Kathy Hairston received the 2013 Alumni Achievement Award for her outstanding levels of achievement and excellence in sustained scholarship, career achievement and service to the university.

“We owe a lot to A&T and the Charlotte community. We want our legacy to be that we did what we could to make a positive difference in the world,” said John, a graduate of West Charlotte High School. Added Kathy, who graduated from Dudley High, “The advice I offer our fellow Aggies is this: Never forget where you came from, and always reach back to help others.”

Media Contact Information: jtorok@ncat.edu

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