Two Benson Residents Appointed To University Of Mount Olive Board Of Trustees

MOUNT OLIVE – The University of Mount Olive has appointed five new Board of Trustee members:  Pam Hardison Braxton, Paula Coates, Sylvia Herring, Borden Franklin “Frankie” Howell, Jr, and Robert Wilkerson.

The University of Mount Olive Board of Trustees is the University’s governing body, and has shaped the growth of the institution since its beginning.  The Board is made up of 30 trustees.  With expertise in many fields, including agriculture, education, theology, business, human resources, finance, accounting, medicine, and law, the University’s Trustees bring a diverse perspective to responsible governance. The newest members are:

Pam Hardison Braxton of Deep Run graduated from South Lenoir High School.  She earned her BA in English from Salem College and her MAEd in English from East Carolina University.  Braxton, and husband Johnnie, have one son, John; a daughter-in-law, Laurie; and two granddaughters, Sophia and Elin.

Braxton has worked in education for most of her adult life.  She has taught at South Lenoir High School and Lenoir Community College.  She has served as Assistant in Admission at Salem College and Director of Admissions at Mount Olive College. Since retiring, she has tutored exceptional children at Southridge Learning Center, as well as led ACT & SAT prep workshops.  Braxton has served on the boards of ECU Alumni, Lenoir County SPCA, Salem College Board of Visitors and Alumnae Board, and she currently serves on the Free Will Baptist Children’s Home Board of Directors.  Braxton is a member of Deep Run OFWB Church where her roles have included Sunday School Teacher, Church Clerk, Deacon, and Choir Accompanist.

Dr. Paula Coates of Benson is married to Danny Coates.  The couple has three children and three grandchildren:  daughter Brandy Coates and her son Daniel Scott “Scotty” Jernigan; son Bradley Coates, his wife, Sarah, and their daughters Emma Grace and Charlotte; and son Brett Coates.

Coates earned her BS degree and her M.Ed. in secondary mathematics education from NCSU, her master of school administration from ECU, and her doctorate of education from Fayetteville State University.  Her extensive career in education includes 29 years of service to Johnston County Public Schools where she served in the roles of teacher, Assistant Principal, Principal, Executive Director of Federal Programs, and Deputy Superintendent.  She has also taught at Johnston Community College.  Coates is a member of St. Mary’s OFWB Church in Benson, where he has served for over 45 years in various capacities including:  Young Women’s Circle member, Woman’s Auxiliary member, Bible School Director, Choir member, Sunday School Teacher, Scholarship Committee Chair, Pianist, and Deacon’s wife.

Sylvia Herring of Benson was born and raised in Johnston County. She is married to Mark Herring.  They have three children and five grandchildren.

Herring has volunteered in Johnston County for 30 years including having served as Meadow Athletic Association for 12 years; Meadow PTA Treasure and Advisory Board member. She created the Meadow Share Program for students at Christmas.  This program is still serving the children and families of the Meadow community.  Additionally Herring served on the South Johnston High School Advisory Board, Booster Club Vice President, and substitute teacher.  She continues to serve as chair of the county-wide Advisory Board, a position she has held for 20 years.

Borden Franklin “Frankie” Howell, Jr of Goldsboro was born and raised in the Rosewood Community of Wayne County. He attended Rosewood High School and NC State University.  Howell and his wife, Lynette Hartley Howell, own and operate Howell Farming Company, Inc. They have a daughter, Melissa Beasley and her husband, Danny, and a son, Garrett, and his wife, Sarah. They have four grandchildren: Coralynn, Cash, Britt, and Hartley.

Howell’s many involvements include serving as Secretary/Treasurer for the Southeastern Growers Association, Board member of the North Carolina Sweet Potato Commission, Board member of the North Carolina Watermelon Association, Advisory Committee member for BB&T, and member of Spring Hill Original Free Will Baptist Church.   He previously served as past President of the NC Vegetable Growers Association.

Robert B. Wilkerson of Greenville is married to Cathy Stokes Wilkerson.  The couple has one son, Matthew; daughter-in-law, Ashley; and grandsons, Ben, Luke, Ethan, and Thomas.  Wilkerson has been a member of Black Jack OFWB Church since the mid-1980s, where he has served in roles such as Youth Leader, Bible Study Leader, Deacon, and Chairman of the Deacon Board.

Wilkerson earned his AS in funeral service from Fayetteville Technical Community College (FTCC) and his BS in business administration from ECU.  He earned his funeral service license in 1982 and has been employed with Wilkerson Family Funeral and related companies for over 40 years.  He currently serves as Vice President of S. G. Wilkerson & Sons, Inc. and as President of Pinewood Memorial Park, Inc.  His community involvements have included service as former Vice President of the Greenville Jaycees; Greenville Noon Rotary Club member, Director on the Board of Directors, and Chairman of the Membership Committee; REAL Crisis Center Board of Directors member; Carolina Pregnancy Center Board of Directors and Board Chairman; and OFWB Minister’s Program Board of Directors member.  He has served on the Advisory Board for the Funeral Service Department at FTCC for over 30 years.  He currently holds the position of President of the Board of Directors for the East Carolina Vocational Center Foundation.

“The University of Mount Olive Board of Trustees is delighted to add these talented and well respected business and civic leaders to our Board,” said University of Mount Olive President Dr. H. Edward Croom.  “Their individual and collective knowledge, insight, and connections will surely help to elevate and advance the mission of our institution.”

The University of Mount Olive is a private institution rooted in the liberal arts tradition with defining Christian values. The University is sponsored by the Convention of Original Free Will Baptists.  For more information, visit