Husband-wife establish Christian Entrepreneurship Endowment at Chowan

Published 10:02 am Thursday, August 24, 2017

By Brooke Reich
University Relations

MURFREESBORO – Chowan Alumni Harold and June Babb celebrated their 45th anniversary in June. They exude an air of affection and mutual support that has become increasingly rare.

When they look at each other, her eyes soften and his smile widens. Their relationship continues to stand the test of time. And it all began at Chowan University.

Recently life has brought them full circle as they returned to an even deeper involvement with Chowan. Harold serves on the Board of Trustees and was the Visiting Executive for the School of Business in February. Together, they have recently signed an agreement to establish the June and Harold Babb Christian Entrepreneurship Endowment, which will provide financial assistance to business students who are called to the mission field to support learning experiences beyond the confines of the traditional classroom setting.

Harold grew up in a small town (Portsmouth) and always had a “view towards another horizon.” While, his plan to play college sports didn’t work out, he discovered a new pursuit in academics.

June and Harold Babb photographed in front of McDowell Columns Hall by fellow alumnus Todd Wright.

“It was a poignant time,” he says. “I was never a student before I arrived at Chowan.”

Suddenly, he was surrounded by professors who saw more in him than he believed he was capable of.

“They expected things of me and wouldn’t let me off the hook,” he grins.

The encouragement and expectation sparked a new passion in him.

June grew up in rural Virginia on a cattle farm in King William County. Spunky and bright, she always knew education was important, but wasn’t sure what she wanted to do

“In the sixties women could either be nurses or teachers,” she recalls. “I loved math and figures.”

She chose to study accounting at Chowan, where she excelled.

After completing Associates Degrees at Chowan, the couple headed to Richmond, where Harold enrolled at the University of Richmond while June decided to go straight to work. They married in June of 1972, right after Harold graduated, then turned to the next goal, his pursuit of doctoral studies.

June’s work provided for the couple while Harold pursued higher education, earning a Master’s Degree from Virginia Commonwealth University and a PhD from Virginia Tech. Once their children were born (they have a daughter and son), June decided to work inside the home while Harold began his teaching career at the University of Richmond.

Harold describes himself as goal-oriented, and the proof is in his resume. He obtained a series of degrees, then climbed the academic ranks. At thirty-four, he was made full professor and department chair, and soon thereafter, received an endowed chair and Fulbright Scholarship. While continuing his teaching and research, he turned his sights to commercial ventures, building one successful business after another.

“I wanted to practice what I preached, which the students loved,” he says.

Harold advocates decisions based on three incremental metrics.

“First, it has to be legal,” he says. “But then, it also needs to be ethical. Finally, and most importantly, it has to be God-honoring.”

Which leads directly to the establishment of the June and Harold Babb Christian Entrepreneurship Endowment at Chowan University.

“Chowan is a great school for education and faith,” Harold says. “In some ways it has changed dramatically, but its core remains — same mission, same values, same basic identity.”

“We want to give back some of what Chowan gave to us,” June adds.

The Babbs see Chowan as a secular school with a strong Christian setting.

“It’s welcoming and open to all,” says Harold, “and at the same time all are shaped by the gospel while here. That’s very important to us, and it’s a hard balance to stick.”

“Business is ministry,” Harold says. “We know it is. Our work is where we form relationships. It’s where we have the conversations that lead to an opportunity to share Christ. As Christians, we’re all on a mission, all the time.”

June and Harold want to help prepare students for gospel-centered, evangelical work from a business perspective that will ultimately bring people to Christ, and they see Chowan as uniquely positioned to aid in that endeavor.

“It’s not a fit for every school,” Harold concludes, “but it’s a perfect fit for Chowan.”

The endowment is permanently endowed with only the annual earnings available for student assistance and the principal is pooled as a part of designated endowment of Chowan University. The fund is open-ended, and additional contributions may be made by June and Harold Babb and/or interested individuals.

For more information about the June and Harold Babb Christian Entrepreneurship Endowment, or establishing an endowment of your own, contact Vice President for Development John M. Tayloe at 252-398-1232 or