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Honors and Awards

Carol Love Recognized With NCRPA’s Hall of Fame Award

Carol Love - Carol Love Recognized With NCRPA's Hall of Fame Award - College of Natural Resources News - NC State University

For some, a passion for helping others live the best life possible is a lifelong passion — and Carol Love is no exception. Recently awarded the Hall of Fame Award by the North Carolina Recreation and Park Association (NCRPA), Love has been a steadfast leader in the field, from her 25 years of service at the NC State College of Natural Resources to her time serving the City of Raleigh.

A former professor of parks, recreation and tourism management and associate dean for academic affairs in the college, Love has strived to make a true difference since she was a student government association officer, drill team and dance troupe member at Shaw University in Raleigh. 

When she was studying to earn her bachelor of science in health and physical education at Shaw, Love completed an internship at John Chavis Memorial Park in Raleigh that sparked a deeper interest in cultural programming and parks and recreation, which ultimately led to a passion for ensuring diversity and inclusion in the community’s recreational opportunities. The organizers at John Chavis Memorial Park were incredibly influential on Love’s decision to go into the field of parks and recreation.

“Seeing people who look like you is extremely important, as is having mentors who have experience in things that you consider in a way that you can understand from your cultural background,” Love said. “When I was at Chavis, all of the leaders were African American males and females, and there were others who worked for the City of Raleigh in administration, so that said to me, ‘If they can do this, so can I.’”

After she received her bachelor’s, Love relocated to the north for a while to attend graduate school at the University of Wisconsin at Milwaukee. At the university, Love was a social work intern at a neighborhood recreation center for youth and adults. It was there that her passion to improve the quality of life in the community was further ignited.

Upon finishing graduate school, Love moved back to North Carolina where she worked for five years at her alma mater. While at Shaw, she served as the program director for the student union and was responsible for helping bring national lecturers and entertainers to homecoming shows and events, including R&B singer Gladys Knight, soul singer Jerry Butler, and boxer, activist and poet Muhammad Ali.

When Love wasn’t running student union programs at Shaw, she taught holistic health. But then parks and recreation came calling again, and Love spent the following two years working in parks and recreation for the City of Raleigh. She ran a community center in Apollo Heights, which was a new development at the time, where she served as the center’s first director.

Known as the Ralph Campbell Community Center, the facility was named after community activist Ralph Campbell Sr., who served as president of the Wake County Chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People and the Raleigh-Wake Citizens Association during the 1960s.

During her time at NC State, Love earned a master’s degree in recreation administration and a Ph.D in psychology. Upon joining the faculty, she was named Outstanding Teacher and Outstanding Academic Advisor,  a recipient of the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Department of Parks, Recreation and Tourism Management, and an African American Pioneer in Parks and Recreation. Her research delved into leisure in world cultures, the psychology of sport and improving the performance of student-athletes.

“The highlight for me was exposing students to international experiences,” Love said. “I got to go with students to Mexico, to eastern Europe, and west Africa; we established some exchange programs in those communities. In Hungary, I got to teach a summer course with some of our students there and we spent about six weeks there, expanding their worldview by actually taking them to these different countries and experiencing the life, the leisure, the parks and the historic sites.”

“When the students came back, they realized how much more there was to the field than the things they were learning at NC State,” Love added.

Beyond her time at NC State, Love served 17 years on the Wake County Parks and Recreation Commission, where she completed two terms as chair. Since 2016, she has been an active member of the Raleigh Parks, Recreation and Cultural Resources Advisory Board and a member of the John Chavis Memorial Park Celebration Committee since 2015.

Recently, Love has played an instrumental role in securing funding to renovate the John Chavis Memorial Park and Community Center. In her spare time, Love enjoys golfing and international travel and has racked up quite the travel log, visiting every continent except Antarctica.

Love envisions a bright future as the field of parks and recreation continues to grow: “My hope for the future is that the park and recreation field will continue to improve the quality of life of people and bring together people of all different backgrounds.”