Dr. Carolyn Buck

October 12, 1948October 12, 2021
Obituary of Dr. Carolyn Buck


Apex Funeral Home

“Tell me about despair, yours, and I will tell you mine.” Dr. Carolyn Elizabeth Burrell Buck passed away peacefully at home on her 73rd birthday following a two-year battle with stage four uterine cancer. Dr. Buck is survived by her two children, Patricia Coan and Adé Buck, her son-in-love, Bartholomew Coan, her grandson, Alexzander Buck, her sisters, Gwendolyn Bryant, Annetta Burrell, and Valerie Burrell, her nieces Felicia Burrell, April Burrell and Joi Bryant, her great-nieces Zanabrea Burrell-Mitchell, Aniyah Bryant and Leilani Bryant and her great-nephew Zacharia Burrell-Mitchell. Her parents Rumiller Burrell and Ola Mae Burrell and her brother Reuben Burrell pre-deceased her. Dr. Buck was born on October 12, 1948 in Benham, Kentucky. She was the eldest of five children. Dr. Buck earned a bachelor’s degree in psychology from Bennett College, a master’s degree in counseling from North Carolina A&T State University, and a doctorate in Higher Education Administration from Claremont Graduate University. She did further study at San Diego State University in Multicultural Education and completed a certificate from Fielding Graduate University in Evidence-Based Coaching. Dr. Buck was a loud and proud Bennett Belle and a member of Zeta Phi Beta sorority. Dr. Buck was a visionary who forged a bridge between her practice as a leader in higher education and her research which informed change. As a transformative servant leader, she engaged in research that explained the gaps in the educational pipeline for students of color with clarity. Beginning with her study that examined retention rates for high-risk students enrolled in a summer bridge program, where she translated the findings into effective strategies for supporting those students. In her role as a student affairs leader, she developed a model for peer mentoring among underrepresented college students. Her doctoral research queried the important question; if where students began their academic studies influenced their success as doctoral students. Dr. Buck’s research was seminal and important for practice. As a student affairs professional she served in leadership roles in four year and graduate institutions and as well as community colleges in California. Dr. Buck served was a member of the Association for the Study of Higher Education (ASHE) and The America Educational Research Association. She presented her research at several of those organizations’ national conferences. She also served on the ASHE Council on Ethnic Participation awards Committee. In addition, she also presented research papers on African American Women leaders as mentors in higher education. As a Leader, she has mentored colleagues who have become presidents and vice presidents of institutions of higher education. Dr Buck served as an empowering facilitator for 10 years with the program, Sisters Going to Work It Out, a conference to uplift 9th grade girls at risk in San Marcos area. After retirement she continued to support students and professional leaders through consulting and coaching. She had extensive knowledge of assessment and served on WASC accreditation teams in Hawaii and California and was a finalist for an assessment grant in Hawaii. Dr. Buck has influenced the lives of many, and her presence will continue to through their good works. After her cancer diagnosis, Dr. Buck undertook aggressive treatment and went on to sell her long-time home in San Diego and purchase her dream home in North Carolina. One of her greatest joys after treatment was being able to witness and participate in her daughter’s 2020 wedding and to return to the hiking trails with her lifelong friends, The Centipedes. Dr. Buck loved being in nature, among trees. Even among the darkness, “it never hurts to keep looking for sunshine”. Her last days were spent in the bosom of friends and family. Given the pandemic, in person services are not planned. The family invites you to share your remembrances of Dr. Buck on her memorial tribute page: In lieu of flowers, the family asks that you honor Dr. Buck’s memory and life’s passion by donating to Bennett College, Dr. Buck’s alma mater, a private historically black liberal arts college for women in Greensboro, North Carolina.

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