Notable Alumni

Notable Alumni at Mars Hill University

Mars Hill has been preparing leaders who make a difference in their professions, their communities and the world since 1856. Here are some of Mars Hill’s more notable alumni (you’ll find others listed within the departmental pages throughout the MHU website):


Hope, C.C. ’41 – Started a 38-year banking career in 1947 as a result of helping a banker restart his stalled car, served as Vice-Chairman of First Union Bank, Board Member of the FDIC, President of the American Banking Association.

Potts, Erwin ’52 – Served as President and CEO of the McClatchy Company, the second largest newspaper company in the U.S., on the national boards of the Newspaper Advertising Bureau and the Newspaper Association of America.

May, Joyce ’84 – Worked in security for the Clinton White House, founded a private telecommunications and security firm that contracts primarily with the U.S. State Department.

Miller, Matt ’86 – White House Advisor to the Veterans Administration

Pizzi, Becca ’02 – first American woman to complete seven marathons on seven continents in seven days.

Price, David ’59 – U.S Congressman since 1986, recognized leader in foreign policy, ranking Democrat on the Democracy Assistance Commission, which he initiated to support new democracies around the world.

Thornburg, Lacey ’50 – Former Attorney General of North Carolina, appointed by President Bill Clinton to be United States District Court Judge, based in Asheville.

Ramsey, Liston ’39 – Longest-serving member of the NC House of Representatives, the only member to serve four terms as Speaker of the House, brought a fair share of political clout and state dollars to the mountains.


Peacock, Ken ’70 – Retired chancellor of Appalachian State University. Under his leadership Appalachian became known for its undergraduate research, internationalized curriculum, service-learning and sustainability, both in academic programs and campus practices.

Young, Fred ’54 – President Emeritus, Elon University. More than doubled the enrollment at Elon and increased the campus from 145 acres to 500 acres.

Wagner, Lavonda ’86 – Former head women’s basketball coach at Oregon State University, former assistant coach at Duke, member of MHC Hall of Fame.

Coble, Charles ’61 – Leading expert on education reform, served as Vice President of the Education Commission of the States, Dean of the School of Education at East Carolina University, Vice President for University-School Programs at UNC-Chapel Hill.

Hyatt, Margaret ’74 – Principal of Avery’s Creek Elementary School in Buncombe County, named the 2005 Wachovia Principal of the Year for North Carolina.

Tucker, Que ’74 – Commissioner of the N.C. High School Athletic Association, former assistant coach to Kay Yow at NC State.

Propst, H. Dean ’54 – Former chancellor of the University System of Georgia. During his tenure, he focused heavily on strengthening the schools in the system. His motto: “Character Above All.”


Stringfield, Lamar ’15 – In addition to being the founder and first director of the NC Symphony, Stringfield was a composer of symphonic works based on American folklore, and Pulitzer Traveling Fellowship winner, conductor, flutist, teacher, and promoter of local and regional musical groups, chiefly in North Carolina.

Holland, Dwight ’52 – Curator of Design and Planner of the NC Zoological Park, a primary mover to bring art to the public schools.

Locklair, Dan ’72 – World-renown composer, with works including “Since Dawn”, set to Maya Angelou’s “On the Pulse of Morning”, named Composer of the Year by the American Guild of Organists in their Centennial Year.

Dawkins, Johnnny ’74 – Screenwriter, winner of an Emmy (for “The Wave”), Gabriel, Image, Peabody,and Humanitas Awards, Story Editor with Gene Roddenberry for Star Trek: The Next Generation.

Abood, Cheryl ’77 – Hollywood producer, including films such as “Return to Neverland” and “The Tigger Movie.”

Burroughs, Bob ’57 – Prolific hymn-writer, Director of Church Music Department, Florida Baptist Convention.

Carroll, Katie S. ’69 – Director of television dramas such as Knots Landing, manager of the Directors Guild Producer Training Program.


Bryan, G. McLeod ’39 – Human rights advocate, author of 13 books and dozens of articles in national magazines, philosopher, professor, prophet, helped integrate both Mercer and Wake Forest Universities.

Harrelson, Walter ’42 – Hebrew Bible scholar and translator, theological educator, serving as President of Chicago, and Vanderbilt Divinity Schools and helping found the Wake Forest Divinity School.

Claypool, John ’50 – One of the most revered pastor/ theologians of the 20th century, the only Baptist in the 20th century to deliver the prestigious Lyman Beecher Lectures at Yale.

Roberts, Gene ’52 – Covered the Civil Rights Movement and later became the Managing Editor for the New York Times, described by Newsweek magazine as “perhaps the finest newspaper man in America,” received the Pulitzer Prize for history in 2007 for his book The Race Beat: The Press, the Civil Rights Struggle, and the Awakening of a Nation (co-authored with Hank Klibanoff).

Burroughs, Esther ’57 – Founder of “Treasures of the Heart Ministries”, sharing the gospel across the US, Canada, Europe, Asia, and Africa, national consultant on evangelism for women.

Sherer, Ann ’62 – Bishop, United Methodist Church, Columbia, Missouri chairperson, “Council of Bishops Initiative on Children and Poverty” Emory Medal Recipient.


Cavenaugh, Edward ’49 – Retired Deputy Director of Lab Programs, Centers for Disease Control.

Helvey, Bill ’50 – Physician, pioneer in aerospace medicine, expertise in regenerative life support systems in space travel.

Morgan, Monroe ’58 – Founded the first Masters program in Environmental Health in the nation, described by the World Health Organization as the best in the world, attracting over 2,000 students from 56 countries.

Smith, Karen ’81 – Interventional cardiologist.

Hough, Holly ’84 – Administrative Director for the Cancer Prevention and Control Network, writing a book on integrating alternative medicine with traditional Western medicine.

Houston, Mike ’94 – Head football coach, James Madison University. Winner of FCS National Championship.