Institute for Emerging Issues Announces Five New Board Members

RALEIGH, N.C. -- The Institute for Emerging Issues (IEI) at North Carolina State University announced its recent appointment of five new members to its National Advisory Board. “Our Advisory Board helps us figure out how we can be most effective in preparing our state for the challenges we face going forward,” said IEI Director Leslie Boney. “They are experts and leaders in their fields, representing a diversity of perspectives across North Carolina, with a broad range of experience in business, civic engagement, education, public and private industry, and public policy. We couldn’t do what we do without their commitment, dedication, insight and passion for building a more prosperous North Carolina.”

Startup TechWire 2017 Sponsorships Now AvailableEach member serves an initial three-year term. The IEI Advisory Board will convene for their next meeting in May.

New appointments are as follows:

Dr. Robin Gary Cummings – Chancellor, UNC Pembroke

Cummings is the sixth Chancellor of the University of North Carolina at Pembroke, a board certified cardiothoracic and general surgeon, and former State Health Director for the NC Department of Health and Human Services. He is a native of Pembroke and a member of the Lumbee Tribe. He serves on the NC Institute of Medicine Board of Directors and the Southeastern Health Board of Trustees. He previously served on the NC Rural Center Board, the UNC Pembroke Board of Trustees, and the NC Commission of Indian Affairs. He received his undergraduate degree in zoology from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and his medical degree from Duke University.

James “Jay” Dixon - Senior Vice President, Global Quality and Compliance, Pharmaceutical Product Development, LLC.

Dixon is a seasoned executive with more than 30 years of experience in the contract research organization, pharmaceutical and biotechnology industries. At PPD, he is responsible for overseeing strategy and execution of the company’s global quality function, including clinical and laboratory quality assurance, regulatory compliance, risk management, policy and procedure management and quality management systems. He is on the board of directors for the NC Biosciences Organization (NCBIO), the trade association for the state’s bioscience industry. He holds a bachelor’s degree in biology from Campbell University.

Dr. Maureen Grasso - Dean, Graduate School, NC State University

Grasso is a nationally recognized leader in graduate education, having previously served as dean at University of Georgia’s Graduate School and associate dean of the Graduate School at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. She is also a tenured professor of textile sciences. Grasso has received numerous awards and recognitions for her work, including the Southern Graduate Schools Achievement Award for Outstanding Contributions to Graduate Education. She is on the board of directors for the Council of Graduate Schools, and held leadership roles within the Conference of Southern Graduate Schools. She received her bachelor’s degree in textiles clothing from Utah State University, her master’s in textile science from Cornell University, and her Ph.D. in textile science from the University of Tennessee.

Margaret Spellings - President, University of North Carolina

Spellings is a nationally known education thought leader and public policy expert. Before joining the University of North Carolina, she served as president of the George W. Bush Presidential Center in Dallas, TX, where she planned, managed, and implemented programs on economic growth, education reform, global health, and special initiatives focused on women and military service. Among her many accomplishments, she previously served as the U.S. Secretary of Education, Chief Domestic Policy Advisor for President George W. Bush, and President of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation. She received a bachelor’s degree in political science from the University of Houston, and received an honorary doctorate and Distinguished Alumna Award from the university in 2006.

Dr. James “Jimmie” Williamson - President, NC Community College System

Williamson is the eighth president of the NC Community College System, bringing extensive experience as a leader, innovator and proponent of community colleges. His background includes work in business, economic development, workforce development and community service. He previously served as president and CEO of the South Carolina Technical College System. He holds a Bachelor of Visual Arts and Master of Education in Guidance and Counseling from Winthrop University, as well as a Ph.D. in higher education administration from the University of South Carolina.

The full list of board members is available on the IEI website at

About the Institute for Emerging Issues
Housed at North Carolina State University, the Institute for Emerging Issues (IEI) is a nonpartisan public policy, think-and-do tank focused on North Carolina’s economy. Every February since 1986, the Emerging Issues Forum has attracted leaders in business, education and public policy to discuss an issue with profound implications for North Carolina’s future prosperity. For more than three decades, the Forum has helped catalyze the policy reforms, public investments and other proactive responses required to build an enduring capacity for progress in North Carolina. Please visit for more information.

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