Former Marine, president of Campbell University dies

16 Aug 2007 | MCB Camp Lejeune

Campbell University and the Marine Corps have suffered a great loss in the passing of a former Marine, president and chairman of Campbell University.

Dr. Norman A. Wiggins passed away the morning of Aug. 1 at Wake Forest University Medical Center.

Wiggins was the third president of Campbell University a small, private Baptist university outside of Raleigh, N.C. He was the school’s president for 30 years before stepping down as chairman due to medical complications. Wiggins was instrumental in making Campbell University the second-largest Baptist university in the world.

“Wiggins loved the Marine Corps,” said the Rev. Dr. Michael Simmons of Buies Creek First Baptist Church, Wiggins’ pastor. “He was always a Marine.”

Wiggins played a massive part in bringing higher education into the Marine Corps.

Wiggins was one of the first to establish college courses and programs on Marine Corps bases. His leadership helped Campbell become among the first private schools to offer education opportunities on military installations, including Fort Bragg, Pope Air Force Base, New River Air Base and Camp Lejeune.

“He changed a small, rural college to a university recognized around the nation,” said Dr. Bruce Blackmon of Buies Creek, school physician at Campbell for 24 years.

“He was a significant person, a man who left his mark on Harnett County, North Carolina, our nation and the world,” said Simmons. “He has touched the lives of thousands through the years.”

“Dr. Wiggins had a commitment to excellence in everything he did, and he had a way of bringing out excellence in everyone around him,” U.S. Rep. Bob Etheridge said. “That commitment is evident in all aspects of Campbell University. Under Dr. Wiggins’ leadership, Campbell experienced unprecedented growth in facilities, dollars and quality.

“The number of students’ lives he changed in a positive way is immeasurable. Campbell University, Harnett County and the entire state of North Carolina are better because of Dr. Wiggins,” Etheridge said.

Dr. Wiggins was a veteran of World War II. He left the Marine Corps as a sergeant. In 1967 Wiggins assumed the presidency of Campbell College and immediately involved the school in programs that would eventually become sports camps, professional schools and an award-winning and nationally recognized Army Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC) program. He also led in the college’s move to university status in 1979.