UMO Celebrates the Career of Longtime VP for Enrollment Dr. Barbara Kornegay

UMO Celebrates the Career of Longtime VP for Enrollment Dr. Barbara Kornegay

MOUNT OLIVE- The University of Mount Olive recently celebrated the accomplished career of Dr. Barbara Kornegay during a retirement reception held in her honor.


Kornegay began her 34-year career at Mount Olive Junior College in 1984 as Director of Planning and Institutional Research.


Kornegay was later promoted to Assistant Vice President for Planning and Institutional Research and finally to Vice President for Enrollment, a position she has held for the past 21 years. When Kornegay first came to the College, there were about 300 students.  As VP for Enrollment Kornegay and her team, of approximately 20 people, have been responsible for undergraduate recruitment, admissions policies and procedures, marketing, enrollment information and management.  Today’s enrollment is approximately 3,250.


Kornegay has served under four of the institution’s five presidents.


“All of them were different,” she shared.  “However they each kept our mission and vision in focus. This approach really helped me to be centered on how to best serve the institution.”


Over the years, Kornegay has seen the development of new programs and enrollment growth for   traditional aged students, adult students and online and graduate students. She has seen the institution grow from a junior college, to a college, and now to the University of Mount Olive.


“The campus, and all the locations were developed during my time here,” Kornegay said.  “It is pretty exciting to walk or drive to places that represent enrollment expansion.  New athletic programs like lacrosse, wresting and field hockey, and new academic programs, especially in teacher education and agriculture, have enhanced our enrollment and our visibility as an institution.  And, we have been able to attract good academic leaders, coaches, and staff as a result of these changes.”


“Dr. Kornegay has been instrumental in my growth as a professional,” said longtime colleague Tim Woodard. “She led by example and her passion for the University was evident.  She truly loves the University and is always working to find ways to make it a better place. She will truly be missed by all of us that worked directly with her.”


When asked what has been the most exciting thing she has witnessed during her time at Mount Olive, Kornegay said, “The development of the agriculture program.  Dorothy Whitley and Tommy Benson, along with Don Scott and later Sandy Maddox, provided the impetus for us to get teacher education, and particularly agriculture education recognized as a new enrollment opportunity at UMO. This program also gave my husband and me many chances to work together for the growth of the University.”


When Kornegay first came to Mount Olive, she was a single parent with a three-year old daughter.


“Jimmy Williams and Opey Jeanes arranged for me to meet George Kornegay, and my life changed in a way I could never have predicted,” Kornegay recalled about being introduced to the man who eventually became her husband. “George supported me in all my career goals, and he became a father for Kathryn.  Although George was 13 years older, than me, our ages did not matter. The two of us made a team as we worked to grow our community and UMO.”


Kornegay recalls many dinner table conversations and rides throughout the countryside looking at the crops where she and George talked about what “their” university could become.


“George’s affection for this region, this community, and this institution were contagious, and I fell into love with this part of our state just by being around him. Through him I learned the joy of giving back. His example and his encouragement gave me the freedom to think and act beyond anything I could have ever dreamed. His passion and enjoyment of giving just became a part of me.”


When asked how she wants to be remembered at the University, Kornegay said, “I hope people will remember that I worked hard and smart, and that I stayed focused on the growth and stability of our institution so that students can be well served within our doors.  I also hope my hard work, dedication and loyalty to the mission and vision of our University constitutes a contribution for the future. And with my husband’s help, I hope that we, as a team, will be remembered for our leadership toward important dreams for UMO students.”


As she looks to retirement Kornegay plans to continue to serve the town of Mount Olive as Commissioner for District 3.  She will also work at the University on a part time basis as Special Assistant to the President for Strategic Initiatives.


“Dr. Kornegay is the epitome of what the heart of our University is,” says Dr. David Poole, UMO President.  “Her tireless advocacy for students, the community, and our state continue to leave an indelible mark on the history of this region.  I am thrilled she is willing to take on this new role as we develop the strategies to advance the next phase in the life of UMO.”


In addition to her roles in local government and her new part time position with the University, Kornegay would like to have more free time for family, church involvement, and travel.


“The legacy of family becomes more important as one looks at retirement and what is yet to be done in one’s life,” she said.  “And I am fortunate to have some great children–my own biological daughter, and three great step children, their spouses and lots of grandchildren to make my life full.”


The University of Mount Olive is a private institution rooted in the liberal arts tradition with defining Christian values. The University, sponsored by the Convention of Original Free Will Baptists, has locations in Mount Olive, New Bern, Wilmington, Seymour Johnson Air Force Base, Research Triangle Park, Washington, Jacksonville, in Smithfield at Johnston Community College, and online.  For more information, visit

(center) Dr. Barbara Kornegay, longtime Vice President for Enrollment at the University of Mount Olive, is pictured holding a resolution written and presented to her at a retirement celebration held in her honor.  She is surrounded by current and former coworkers, friends, and family.