Editor’s Note: This is the first of a recurring column about our Chancellor. To get to know him better, we had Chancellor Robin G. Cummings walk us through a typical day in his life. Going forward, the Chancellor’s Corner will take a Q&A format, in which all students can submit their questions to the Chancellor via the Pine Needle.
No questions are off the table. Direct message your questions to our Twitter page (@UNCP_PineNeedle) or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
As I enjoyed a bowl of Cheerios and cup of coffee, I began my morning as I do each day by thinking about how we - faculty, staff, students and supporters - can advance UNC Pembroke.
Then I left the Chancellor’s Residence for my office in Lumbee Hall to prepare for the day. Walking in the lobby, I was greeted by Rip Turner, the University Switchboard Operator, who always goes out of his way to make everyone feel welcome.
I left campus to deliver the Convocation Address at Richmond Community College in Hamlet. My message to the students focused on their need for grit - a combination of perseverance and passion - in order to achieve success in life. I was surprised and honored when RichmondCC President Dr. Dale McInnis, a UNCP alumnus and great supporter of his alma mater, presented me with an honorary Associate in Science Degree, the highest degree bestowed by his institution.
During the ceremony, the college presented its Alumnus of the Year Award to accomplished logistics professional Brett Deaton, who is also a UNCP graduate. He lives in the Atlanta area and works as Director of Supply Chain for Toyo Tire North American Manufacturing. It’s always energizing to meet people who have achieved great success thanks to the education they received at UNCP.
After Convocation, we enjoyed a delightful lunch with President McInnis and members of his Board of Trustees, including Dr. John Stevenson, a friend from my days practicing surgery at Moore Regional Hospital. Following the lunch, I returned calls as I headed back to Pembroke for a busy afternoon.
Back in Lumbee Hall, I met with Student Government Association President Dajer Fernandez, who takes his role very seriously and is doing an outstanding job representing our student body.
The SGA President, Faculty Senate Chair, Staff Council Chair and I meet monthly as a group to discuss how we can work together to advance UNCP, but this was my first opportunity in a while to spend quality, one-on-one time with Dajer. Our conversation focused on elevating the culture of philanthropy at UNCP and his desire to be more involved in those efforts.
I returned a few more phone calls and e-mails before walking across campus to celebrate the 30th Anniversary of the James B. Chavis University Center. The building’s namesake, Dr. Chavis, served UNCP for more than three decades, rising to the position of Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs.
I was glad his widow, Judy, was able to attend the celebration in the UC Lounge. In my remarks, I described the UC as the “heart of the university” and said despite social media and advancing technologies, we will always need a physical space where students can come together.
Chancellor Cummings pausing his busy day to grab a bad of popcorn
I grabbed a bag of popcorn from the UC Anniversary Celebration to snack on as I raced back to Lumbee Hall for a special called meeting of the Board of Trustees Executive Committee.
With one minute to spare, I raced into a conference room on the fourth floor of Lumbee Hall for the meeting and greeted Board Vice Chair Don Metzger of Lumberton. The other Executive Committee members participated via conference call.
The Executive Committee was presented UNCP’s Intercollegiate Athletic’s Report and approved a land transaction involving property adjacent to campus.
As soon as the meeting concluded, I hopped in the car and drove to Lumbee River EMC Stadium for a quick visit to show my support for our Women’s Soccer team. I was very pleased with the number of fans in the stands and later learned it was a record crowd.
I was greeted in the stadium by smiling members of Zeta Tau Alpha, who were encouraging fans to “Think Pink” for Breast Cancer Awareness Month.
Catching the UNCP Women’s Soccer game, while snapping a picture with the Zetas, Chancellor Cummings supports his Braves.
After I left the game, freshman Alexis Pittman scored with 26 seconds to play, to give UNCP Braves a 2-1 victory over USC Aiken. Go Braves!
After saying my quick “hellos” at the soccer game, I traveled to the Weinstein Health Sciences Building to update the Student Government Association about university developments.
I try to attend their meetings at least twice a month, although unfortunately my schedule doesn’t always allow it. It’s great to spend time with this engaged group of students who are passionate about advancing their university.
I briefed them on a variety of topics, including the Board of Governors’ recent visit to UNCP, as well as developers planning to construct additional housing in Pembroke.
Then, I drove to Old Main to attend the Native American Speaker Series. Tonight’s speaker was Heather McMillan Nakai, a Federal Indian Law attorney.
Her fascinating lecture focused on her litigation against the United States to correct the unjust treatment of Lumbee people. Raised in the Allenton community near Lumberton, Heather is staff attorney at the National Indian Gaming Commission where she serves as the counsel for the Oklahoma City Region.
Following the lecture, my wife, Rebecca, and I enjoyed dinner in the Chancellor’s Residence (stuffed pork chops, asparagus, baked sweet potato, unsweet tea). In a twist of fate, the Residence sits a stone’s throw from the former Pembroke School where we met, when I was in the 8th grade and she was in the 7th.
This evening, as I checked my email, the day inbox included notes on a wide range of topics, including preparing for an upcoming Board of Trustees workshop, strategy for approaching donors, and providing input to my team regarding scheduling requests.
Following my email check, I paused for a few minutes, as I try to do each night, to reflect on aspects of the day I hope will have a lasting impact and position UNCP for success in the decades and generations to come.
Just before midnight, it was time for bed — time to get a little rest before starting it all over again the next morning in the most rewarding job I can imagine.