2017 GRC Keynote Speaker

Dr. Phail Wynn, Jr.

Phail Wynn

Dr. Phail Wynn, Jr., was born in Wewoka, Oklahoma. He received his elementary and secondary education in Wichita Falls, Texas, and Lawton, Oklahoma. He received his undergraduate degree from the University of Oklahoma in 1969. From that time until August 1975, he was an officer in the United States Army, serving with the 82nd Airborne Division and later assigned to the former John F. Kennedy Special Warfare Center at Fort Bragg, North Carolina. His army career included a one-year combat tour in the Republic of Vietnam.

During his second tour at Fort Bragg, he enrolled as a part-time graduate student at North Carolina State University at Raleigh, where he received a Master's degree from the College of Education and Psychology in 1974.

In August 1975, he resigned his army commission to accept a fellowship to pursue full-time graduate study at North Carolina State University. He received his doctorate in 1977 from the College of Education and Psychology. He was inducted into the Honor Society of Phi Kappa Phi. He received the Master of Business Administration (MBA) degree in 1989 from the Kenan-Flagler School of Business at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He was inducted into Beta Gamma Sigma, the national business honor society.

In July 1977, Dr. Wynn accepted the position of Assistant to the President at Durham Technical Institute (now Durham Technical Community College) in Durham, North Carolina. In January 1979, he was promoted to Vice President, Support Services. In May 1980, he was appointed Interim President of Durham Technical Institute and served in that capacity until November 1980, when he was named President. He was the first African-American community college president in the North Carolina System. After his appointment as President, many innovations were implemented to enhance accessibility of all educational opportunities offered by Durham Technical Community College. As a result, the college serves more than 25,000 area residents each year through a variety of credit and non-credit course offerings. In addition, Durham Technical Community College has been a leader in providing training and instruction in various high-technology areas, and has provided customized training programs for most of the firms in the Research Triangle Park.

Some of Dr. Wynn's most significant community and professional activities include: Former Chair of the Board of Directors and interim president/CEO of the Triangle Community Foundation, member of the Board of Governors of RTI International, and member of the Corporate Board of Directors of SunTrust Banks, Inc. and N.C. Mutual Life Insurance Company. He is a founding Trustee of the Kenan Institute for Engineering, Technology and Science at North Carolina State University and also serves on the Board of Directors of the Research Triangle Park Foundation of North Carolina. He is the former Chairman of the Greater Durham Chamber of Commerce and formerly served on the North Carolina Board of Nursing, the University of North Carolina Health Care System Board of Directors, the North Carolina Education Standards and Accountability Commission, and the Governor’s Task Force on Science and Technology.

Dr. Wynn was named by the North Carolina State University Alumni Association as 1981's Outstanding Young Alumnus. He was honored as one of the country's outstanding community college presidents in a University of Texas national study of "Transformational" Presidents in American Community Colleges. The Greater Durham Chamber of Commerce named him as the recipient of its 1995 Civic Honor Award. Governor James B. Hunt, Jr. awarded him The Order of the Long Leaf Pine on November 9, 2000. Dr. Wynn received the Meritorious Service Award from the Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools at the 2000 Annual Meeting. He received the M.B.A. Alumni Merit Award for 2004 from the Kenan-Flagler Business School at UNC-Chapel Hill. He retired as President of Durham Technical Community College on December 31, 2007 and was named President Emeritus by the Board of Trustees. In 2012, the North Carolina Board of Community Colleges presented him with the I. E. Ready Lifetime Achievement Award, the highest distinction bestowed by the State Board.

He currently serves as Vice President for Durham and Regional Affairs at Duke University.