Benjamin Eagles Fountain Jr.

Benjamin Eagles Fountain, Jr.,

This week the North Carolina Humanities Council remembers the life and legacy of Benjamin Eagles Fountain, Jr., who passed away on March 12, 2016. Fountain was a long time educator in North Carolina and a member of our Constituting Committee from 1971–1972. Fountain also served as a trustee on the Council’s board for five years.

Fountain was born on July 20, 1929 in Rocky Mount, North Carolina. He earned three degrees from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill: A.B. in 1950; M.Ed. in 1952; and Ph.D. in 1958. Fountain began his service to North Carolina’s institutions of public education in 1950 as a high school teacher the Nash County Schools and his career spanned a half century. Fountain served in a variety of posts including: elementary school principal, school superintendent, university professor, community college president and as the second president of the North Carolina Community College System during its formative years in the 1970s.

Through his many positions within the public education system, Fountain sought to eliminate barriers to educational access in North Carolina. As Superintendent of Elizabeth City Schools in 1961 he oversaw the successful integration of the district. Fountain furthered the mission of North Carolina community college system to provide accessible, high-quality educational opportunities and minimize barriers to post-secondary education across the state through his unwavering support for the system’s "Open Door Policy.” While serving as president of the eight-year-old North Carolina Community College System, Fountain supervised the system’s expansion and consolidation as each of the fifty-seven community colleges developed permanent campuses and earned their accreditation while creating hundreds of new job and opening academic programs to students.
Fountain was also engaged in many civic activities and organizations over the course of his life including serving on the board of the North Carolina Symphony and as President of the Kinston Arts Council. Recognized for his service in the public and nonprofit sectors, Fountain was honored as the President Emeritus of the North Carolina Community College System and in 2009 he was inducted into the North Caroliniana Society.

In his later years, as he reflected on his life as an educator, Fountain was fond of quoting Thomas Carlyle's words, "Blessed is the man who has found his work."
The North Carolina Humanities Council recognized Fountain’s lifetime of dedication to increasing access to education in 2006 by presenting him with the Council’s highest honor, the John Tyler Caldwell Award for the Humanities. This award pays tribute to individuals whose life and work illuminate one or more of the multiple dimensions of human life where the humanities come into play: civic, personal, intellectual, and moral.