The Distinguished Alumni Award is bestowed upon a Campbell alumnus or alumna that has distinguished themselves in their personal and professional career and their support of Campbell University. We recognize these individuals, who are nominated by our alumni throughout the spring, during our annual Homecoming celebration. Join us as we celebrate this year’s class: Kristin Cooper (’82), Casey Langdon (’08), and Jimmy Witherspoon (’80). Registration is now closed.
Kristin Cooper (’82)
Kristin Cooper, who earned her law degree from Campbell University in 1982, serves as First Lady of North Carolina, a state she has called home for most of her life.
The daughter of an artist and a Vietnam veteran and physician, Mrs. Cooper grew up in Oklahoma City along with her three younger sisters. She attended public schools, earned her undergraduate degree from the University of Oklahoma, and then attended Campbell Law School. After graduating, she worked as a staff attorney to the legislature in Oklahoma and in North Carolina.
First Lady Cooper uses her platform to improve the well-being of children in North Carolina. She champions initiatives, organizations, and people who are working to create a safe, nurturing, healthy environment for children and their families. Her focus is on foster care, child abuse and neglect, childhood hunger, and literacy. Additionally, she focuses on the arts and nature to ensure that all children in North Carolina have access to play and thrive creatively. Mrs. Cooper’s attention to these causes underscores how the integration of these issues stems from the effects of adverse childhood experiences, trauma, toxic stress, and poverty.
Kristin has served as a Guardian ad Litem for children in Wake County since 2003, using her legal expertise to represent foster children in court. Kristin and other volunteers assure that at-risk children do not become neglected or abandoned. Kristin also served two terms on the North Carolina Arts Council, and serves on Raleigh Little Theatre Advisory Board.
She and Governor Roy Cooper raised their three daughters in North Carolina. Each of them is a graduate of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
Mrs. Cooper also has a passion for North Carolina’s wildlife. As an amateur birder, she joined efforts with Audubon North Carolina to restore native plant life to the grounds at the North Carolina Executive Mansion. Together, they’ve planted over 1,000 native plants, carefully selected to support native bird and pollinator populations on the Mansion’s downtown Raleigh plot. A similar garden has been planted at the Governor’s Western Residence in Asheville.
Mrs. Cooper is currently working toward her goal to visit all 100 counties in North Carolina. Her favorite part of being first lady is the unique opportunity to explore North Carolina and spend time with people everywhere she goes.
Casey Langdon (’08)
Dr. Casey G. Langdon is a Harnett County native who graduated with his Bachelor of Science degree with a double major in Biochemistry and Biology in 2008.
He entered the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences at Yale University in the Fall of 2009 and earned his PhD from the Department of Pathology in 2015. Dr. Langdon continued his scholastic training as a postdoctoral research associate at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital until 2022. He recently began his own laboratory in the Department of Pediatrics at the Medical University of South Carolina in Charleston, SC in December 2022.
Throughout his career, Langdon’s research has focused on determining the molecular underpinnings of human cancers to develop more efficacious, less toxic therapeutics. As a graduate student, under the mentorship of Dr. David F. Stern, Langdon used high throughput drug screening techniques to empirically determine novel combination therapeutic agents and the mechanisms that underlie their efficacy for melanoma, non-small cell lung cancers, and pancreatic adenocarcinomas. As a postdoc in Dr. Mark E. Hatley’s laboratory at St. Jude, Langdon focused on using organismal models to examine how rhabdomyosarcoma, a rare but devastating pediatric cancer, develops and grows. His work illustrated how tumor suppressor loss contributes to sarcoma development through multiple ways. He has published twelve peer-reviewed journal articles, including first author publications in Biomolecules, Pigment Cell and Melanoma Research, Molecular Cancer Therapeutics, and Nature Communications.
As a new investigator at the Medical University of South Carolina, Langdon continues to examine how proteomic, genetic, and epigenetic changes seen in cancer cells specifically drive tumorigenesis and if these changes cause “Achilles’ heels” that can lead to new treatments. His laboratory studies Ewing sarcoma, a pediatric bone cancer with poor survival rates and lifelong co-morbidities, with the goal of translating basic science discoveries into transformative clinical care and impact.
Langdon resides in Charleston, South Carolina with his wife, Ruthann, and two children – Maria (4) and Thomas (2).
Jimmy Witherspoon (’80)
Jimmy Witherspoon (’80) serves as the Chairman of the Department of Trust and Wealth Management at Campbell University, the director of the Trust program, the Jefferson Pilot Chair of Insurance and as an Associate Professor of the Lundy Fetterman School of Business since 1983
Mr. Witherspoon has been with Campbell University for 40 years, and in addition to his duties as a professor, he is Director of the Trust Advisors Institute; Director of the Trust Advisors Forum,; Director of the ATFA Certification Forum; and Secretary/Treasurer of the Trust Education Foundation, Inc.
Mr. Witherspoon has directly or indirectly aided in the funding of over 40 academic scholarships for the students majoring in trust and wealth management and aided in the Foundation raising over $2 million for the support of the students in the major.
His list of awards and recognitions is vast and includes:
• Most Outstanding Professor of Campbell University as selected by the Student Government Association: 1998, 2004, 2007, 2012 and 2021
• Most Outstanding Teacher in the School of Business: 1989, 2003, 2010
• Most Outstanding Professor as selected by Senior Class of the University: 1987
• Outstanding Young Men of America: 1989
• Former students and the members of the Board of Directors of the Trust Education Foundation established and funded three trust scholarships: One in his name, one in honor of his mother (Loiuse Witherspoon) and one in honor his father (Ernest Witherspoon).
Mr. Witherspoon was born in Wadesboro, North Carolina, with his parents working at Anson County Schools for 40 years. Mr. Witherspoon’s father served as assistant superintendent and vocational director for 42 years, helping to place students in jobs – like his son would one day do.
He received his B.B.A. in Trust Management and minor in Finance Planning from Campbell and his Juris Doctorate from Wake Forrest University School of Law.