- School of Library and Information Science Distinguished Alumni Award (1987)
Benjamin F. Speller, Jr. is the retired dean and professor of North Carolina Central University School of Library and Information Science. Speller joined the faculty in 1976 and served as its dean for twenty years from 1984 to his retirement in 2004. His career has spanned decades including 42 years in the UNC system as a librarian, researcher, planning and budget officer, professor, and academic dean. After retirement, Speller has taught online courses in library science for San Jose State University and California State University at Fullerton for five years.
During his tenure at NCCU, Speller established the African American Resources Program in 1984, and an African-American archival collection under a partnership with the North Carolina Center for the Study of Black History in 1985, which was later moved to UNC-Chapel Hill in 1998. The collaborative archive is considered as an exemplary model and pioneer for the preservation of African-American history and documentary resources.
Speller is a recognized expert on college and university planning, specializing in institutional research, strategic planning, assessment, and budgeting. He is currently an active consultant for strategic planning in academic environments. Also, he is a member of the University of North Carolina System's Task Force on Performance Planning and Budgeting. For his work, Speller has received a variety of honors: Distinguished Services Award (1971), Elizabeth City State University; Distinguished Alumni Award in Library Science (1986), Indiana University; and, listed in Who's Who in America 1987; Road Builders Award (1997), North Carolina Library Association.
Along with his career, Speller is an avid historic preservationist, having served on the Board of Directors of nearly all of North Carolina's historic preservation organizations. He served as president of the St. Joseph's Historic Foundation (1986-1994) during the initial renovation of the Education Building of the Historic St. Joseph's AME Church complex and proposed the current name of this community facility, the Hayti Heritage Center of Durham. He served as president of the Historic Stagville Foundation; program chair of the Historic Preservation Society of Durham; and program chair of the African American History Committee, Historic Hope Foundation, Windsor, North Carolina. Speller is currently on the Board of Directors of the Historic Preservation of North Carolina; serves on its Executive Committee, and is one of its representatives on the Board of Directors of the Bellamy Mansion of Decorative Arts in Wilmington. He is the charter chair of the North Carolina African Americana Network for Historic Preservation which was found March 1998 through the efforts of a state-wide taskforce of the State Historic Preservation Office, North Carolina Department of Archives and History. He is a member of the state's National Register Advisory Committee and the State Historical Records Advisory Board (SHRAB) and the National Trust for Historic Preservation. In recognition of his efforts towards preservation, Speller received the 1998 Ruth Coltrane Cannon Award, the state's most prestigious Preservation Award.