Southeastern college professor receives Governor Award for Outstanding State Government Service

Receiving the high honor of the Governor’s Award of Excellence for Outstanding State Government Service came as a surprise to Roy Jackson Marshall III, adjunct professor at The College at Southeastern and former deputy director of the North Carolina Museum of History.

Through his exhibit, “North Carolina and World War I,” he simply wanted to honor and remember the state’s men and women who served their country as part of the national centennial commemoration.

“I [felt] like if I [won] the award [it was] for them.” said Marshall.

Marshall’s award came as a result of his leadership of the 6,500-square-foot WWI exhibit, which opened April 8, 2017, 100 years after the United States declared war with Germany.

“I was not terribly surprised when I learned that Professor Marshall had been named as a recipient of the Governor’s Award,” said Brent Aucoin, professor of history and associate dean of The College at Southeastern for academic affairs. “I knew from my interactions with him, and from the feedback I’ve received from his students, that he is a consummate professional who possesses a wealth of historical knowledge and has honed the skill of teaching others. I am grateful to God that Professor Marshall is able to teach for The College at Southeastern, as I know that our students benefit greatly from sitting under such a faithful Christian, scholar and teacher.”

Marshall sees his work and studies of WWI as a platform to honor the veterans of the past who feel they have been forgotten. His book, “Memories of World War I: North Carolina Doughboys on the Western Front,” included a compilation of interviews from veterans, many of whom felt that their service was overshadowed by WWII. Many of these interviews, along with letters and diaries from nurses, were used in creating the scripts for the exhibit’s videos, Marshall noted.

The most personal aspect of WWI for him is that his grandfather, Jack Marshall, Sr., was also a North Carolina veteran who served under the American Expeditionary Force under General John J. Pershing. It was as an adult that Marshall’s grandfather opened up with him more about the war shortly before his death in 1980, he noted in his article, “World War I: A Season of Remembrance.”

Now Marshall is honoring his grandfather and many like him through the WWI exhibit, giving visitors a window into the lives of those who were affected by WWI. The exhibit is largely story-based and visually-stimulating.

The exhibit begins with six children describing the war from their six different countries (Britain, France, Germany, Russia, the Turkey and the United States), an element that immediately catches visitors by surprise, said Marshall.

Many of relics that line the walls of the exhibit, Marshall found in his walks through France. The entire exhibit, which was built three months before its opening, was a project that was produced completely in-house and was being discussed as early as the 90s, he explained.

One of the most personal elements of the exhibit is Marshall’s diorama of trench warfare that he and his sons spent months building together years ago. He never guessed it would be used in an exhibit one day. Visitors also walk through the recreation trenches, all while watching stories of soldiers, nurses and video footage of warfare with sounds of explosions and gunfire in the background.

As the exhibit ends, stories and maps of Europe give visual evidence of the after effects of war, which left countries changed forever.  

“Jackson Marshall has been an outstanding employee of the museum for over 30 years,” said Ken Howard, director of the North Carolina Museum of History. “His work as Deputy Director of the museum has propelled the North Carolina Museum of History to the forefront of state history museums. Jackson’s leadership in the creation and building of the award-winning exhibit on World War I, that has been seen by over 525,000 visitors to date, earned him the Governor’s Award for Excellence, the highest award given a state employee for their service to the state. We were very fortunate to have had Jackson Marshall on our staff.”

Marshall is one of the 2018 recipients of the Governor’s Award of Excellence, which is awarded to dedicated state employees in six different categories. The exhibit was originally slated to end in January 2019, but due to popular demand, it will remain open through Memorial Day 2019.

View a video overview of the exhibit here.

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