Most college graduates can single out the one professor whose influence had a lasting impact long after the classroom.
For Bobby Dole, it was Dr. Andre Nadeau, his physical education professor at UNC Pembroke.
Dole doesn’t believe he would’ve earned his degree if not for the personal attention and mentoring he received from Nadeau, whom he affectionately remembers as a five-foot-tall ball of energy.
“His influence during my years at UNCP has led to life lessons that continue to this day,” he said. “He inspired all those around him, but to see someone take that kind of interest in me personally, it meant a lot. When you were around him, you didn’t want to disappoint him. You wanted to do your best. You wanted to excel as a result of his influence.”
To honor his late professor, Dole and his wife, Tonya, made a sizable contribution to his alma mater. On March 1, the Nadeau family was on hand for a special naming ceremony and unveiling of the Dr. Andre J. Nadeau Men’s Basketball Players’ Lounge in the English E. Jones Center.
“When I was approached with this naming opportunity, it gave me a chance to look back at the people who influenced me and guided me through school and through life and Dr. Nadeau popped to the top of the list,” Dole said.
Dole, a Fayetteville native who now makes his home in Charlotte, is a 1977 graduate and former member of the basketball team.
“He brought out more from me, academically, than I thought was possible,” Dole said during his remarks. “Through his sheer will and nurture, I excelled in anatomy, kinesiology, and physiology. If he had only taught World Lit, my GPA would have been better,” he added, drawing a chuckle from the audience.
Nadeau’s daughters, Andrea Brown and Marianne Stoddard, and his 100-year-old widow, Jean, and other family members attended the ceremony, which also included remarks from Athletic Director Dick Christy and interim head men’s basketball coach Tony Jones.
“My father touched many lives and we thank Bobby Dole for his tangible gift of remembrance and to UNCP for this meaningful tribute. Our entire family is honored by your generosity,” Brown said.
A military intelligence officer during World War II, Nadeau taught at what was then Pembroke State University from 1969 until his untimely death in January 1981. He was in charge of the men’s intramural program and a founding member of the Braves Club, the university’s athletic booster organization.
“It’s just a matter of giving back,” Dole said. “This school gave me opportunities that I would have never had. I was the first person in my family to go to college and graduate. Had it not been for this school, there wouldn’t have been doors and opportunities that opened up for me.”