Higher Education
6:17 pm
Tue April 22, 2014

Wingate University President Will Retire In May 2015

Wingate University President Jerry McGee is stepping down in May 2015. 

McGee has served as president of the Union County school for more than 22 years and oversaw major changes during his time as University president – including its transition from a college to a university.

Wingate University President Jerry McGee
Wingate University President Jerry McGee
Credit Courtesy of Wingate University

  This is actually Jerry McGee's second retirement. For years, he was a college president during the week and major college football referee on the weekends.

He retired as a referee in 2009. And now five years later, after helping raise $200 million, McGee will retire in May of 2015 as president of Wingate University.

"When you're president of a rapidly-growing institution, it's like riding on a very fast train and you have to find the right place to get off," McGee says. "There's always a new building to build or another program to start … "

Wingate University was still Wingate College when McGee took over in 1992. He led the transition to Wingate University three years later. 

"My daughter didn't need Wingate. She was ready to go to college," McGee says some parents would tell him. "Well, Wingate is where you go to college. But back in their days, as youngsters, Wingate was where you went to study for a year or two before you were ready to go to college."

Under his leadership, enrollment grew from 1,000 to 3,000 students. The school now offers five graduate degrees, three doctoral programs.

Sylvia Little-Sweat is an English professor who attended Wingate in 1959, when the campus had just 600 students. She says McGee's commitment to providing more professional courses and healthcare programs is what allowed the university to survive when other small liberal arts schools struggled.

"I think his vision in seeing the professional dimensions that were possible here have made a great deal of difference in our enrollment and our desirability to a lot of students who want to go into pharmacy or into physical therapy or into the physician's assistant program or the nursing program," Little-Sweat says.

McGee is the Wingate's 13th president and is currently the state's longest-serving university president.