University of Mount Olive Celebrates Founding

MOUNT OLIVE- The University of Mount Olive celebrated 63 years of providing Christian higher education at the University’s annual Founders Day Worship Service on Tuesday.

The Reverend Almond (Al) Warrick delivered the keynote address.  Warrick, a Johnston County native, has a long history with the University.  He attained his A.S. degree from Mount Olive Junior College (now the University of Mount Olive) in 1969. He then finished his undergraduate studies at Atlantic Christian College (now Barton College) with a B.S. in education and then finished his M.A. in education at East Carolina University. Warwick returned to Mount Olive in the early 80s to coach the Trojan basketball and softball teams, during which time he was named NJCAA Region 10 Coach of the year in 1983 and 1984. After serving a year in the Resource Development Office, Warrick became dean of students, a post that he held for four years.


In his remarks during the Founders Day service, Warrick talked about the institution as a place for transformations, sighting his own transformation as an example.  He referenced Romans 12:2 which states, “Do not be conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.”


Each year during the Founders Day celebration, the University awards one student with the Founders Leadership Award, a scholarship awarded in memory of the late Dr. W. Burkette Raper, president of Mount Olive College 1954-1995. Payable on future educational expenses at the University of Mount Olive, the scholarship is presented to a senior in the traditional program who has distinguished him/herself as an individual of character and initiative and who has demonstrated strong leadership qualities toward making UMO the institution of Christian higher education envisioned by its founders. The recipient is selected by a committee of faculty, student and staff representatives.


This year’s Founders Leadership Award was presented to Zarana Adial, a senior biology major from Mount Olive. During her time at UMO, Adial has been involved as a CAB president, an Ambassador, and a Resident Assistant (RA) while earning a position as a Head RA this year. Furthermore, as a biology major, she is a leader in the classroom with multiple projects that have involved overseeing various experiments during nights and weekend hours.


In one of the nominations for Adial, a faculty member said, “In every position, she has faced challenges and has been forced to work outside of her comfort zone; and in each of those positions she has flourished into a true and caring leader with a desire to help others. She has become a dedicated, loyal and spirited individual helping Mount Olive evolve into the University it has become. She has set the tone for other campus leaders by getting to know countless faculty, staff, and students and setting the bar across campus.”

For the final portion of the service, President Philip P. Kerstetter recognized 27 faculty and staff members for their continued dedicated efforts.  He presented each service award recipient with a gift engraved with the University seal.


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, and in Smithfield at Johnston Community College.  For more information, visit