Building a Trailblazing Legacy
Q: When you think of the word ‘brave,’ what does being brave mean to you
A: A fundamental component of bravery is a willingness to challenge yourself. This sense of embracing the unknown — and often the uncomfortable — is a key to UNCP’s mission of Changing Lives Through Education.
“Brave” doesn’t simply describe our athletic nickname and honor our heritage; it expresses UNCP’s state of mind and the character we develop in our students. It’s an attitude about facing life.
Q: What excites you the most about the potential effect N.C Promise will have on the University?
A: The most exciting effect of NC Promise is our increased ability to put a college education within reach for more students and their families. UNCP was founded 131 years ago to expand access to an entire race of people.
NC Promise builds on that trailblazing legacy in an unprecedented way. NC Promise represents the commitment of our leaders to provide a quality education at an affordable price to all NC students. And it shows their commitment to UNCP and our future.
Q: According to a 2017 data request, out of 398 faculty, 291 members of the faculty are white. Can you speak on any plans for possible diversity initiatives to increase minority faculty?
A: While we are focused on improving, data shows that UNCP is ahead of national averages for faculty diversity in nearly all ethnicities. Unfortunately, the number of minority candidates with the required education and experience to be productive at our level is low.
We work hard to recruit highly-qualified candidates, but competition is strong. It is incumbent on universities like ours to train the next generation of minority educators for service in higher education as well as pre K-12 classrooms.
Q: There are several unused buildings and various unused equipment (i.e the Conservatory, West Hall), are there plans for increased infrastructure on campus?
A: The university’s Facilities Planning and Construction Office is continually working to maximize our resources to meet current and anticipated needs, including growth fueled by NC Promise.
Additionally, the UNCP Master Plan, which is periodically re-evaluated, lays out a long-term vision for our campus. Upcoming projects include the renovation of West Hall, which will house the Instructional Innovation Center, as well as the construction of the new School of Business facility.
Prospect Road will receive a significant makeover thanks to a $5 million N.C. Department of Transportation project that will improve traffic and pedestrian safety. You may have already noticed preliminary work on this project, which will result in occasional lane closures.
The inconvenience is a small price to pay for the improved safety and aesthetics that will result. And we are always aware of and addressing our parking needs.
Q: Do you think there is a disconnect between the local community and college students? If so, what are your thoughts on how we can repair those relations?
A: I sincerely hope there is not a disconnect between UNCP students and the local community. As someone who grew up just three miles down the road, I believe the people of Pembroke embrace UNCP, its historical significance and its impact on the town and entire region.
However, we are always looking for opportunities to strengthen and improve all our relationships. Volunteerism is one of the ways we foster relationships between students and the community. Last year, nearly 3,600 UNCP students volunteered more than 28,000 hours across our region.
We have an agreement with the Lumbee Tribe to use their cultural center property for our cross country teams. Additionally, events such as Pembroke Day, GPAC shows and the upcoming BraveNation Powwow provide community members an opportunity to visit campus and engage with students, faculty and staff.
The university has a strong relationship with the Pembroke Town Council, and we are partnering on a number of initiatives. Collaborative projects include the Entrepreneurship Incubator, bicycle and pedestrian enhancements, and beautification efforts.
I know the town leadership is actively looking for ways to encourage our students to leave campus and explore the area. Work is underway to bring more businesses to the downtown area to serve the needs of our students.
Q: According to UNCP’s “Diversity Dashboard,” Native Americans students make up 15 percent of student population. Being a historically Native American university, with NC Promise approaching, how do you plan to keep that percentage stable?
A: Given our historic mission and our location, service to American Indians remains an important commitment. We have strong connections with the Lumbee Tribe as well as the other seven tribes across our state.
I have taken an active role in recruiting students of all races, including American Indians. Earlier this month, I had the honor of addressing a large number of high school students and their families at the N.C. Indian Unity Conference Scholarship Breakfast.
We have worked to cultivate relationships with American Indian tribes and prospective students from other parts of the nation by hosting leaders of the Seminole Nation of Oklahoma and the Chickasaw Nation.
Additionally, Admissions representatives recently traveled to Oklahoma to recruit students in largely American Indian communities.
Q: With an entire staff trained to always make your image and reputation appear impeccable, how do you manage to let your personality shine through?
A: The role of the Chancellor’s Office staff is to manage operations so we can serve the university. We work hard to convey my personality in the communications that come from my office, although it is most evident in my personal interactions.
There is nothing I enjoy more than spending time with students – whether through brief conversations as I walk across campus or sit-down meetings in my office to discuss their educational and professional aspirations.
Rebecca and I host numerous events at the Chancellor’s Residence throughout the year that provide an opportunity to connect with students.
I also attend Student Government Association on a regular basis as well as a variety of athletics competitions and other campus events.