Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Dubois: UNC Charlotte on a Roll; Serving Public Good

By Phillip Brown

As UNC Charlotte welcomes its largest class of freshmen this fall, Chancellor Philip L. Dubois, during University Convocation Tuesday, Aug. 14, reminded the campus community about the value of providing access to quality higher education, such as that provided by the University.

“Like perhaps many of you, I owe my current position in life to having had the opportunity to attend a public university at little or no cost,” said Dubois. “What has happened in the last 20 years, of course, could lead some to conclude that this country’s commitment going forward to accessible and affordable higher education is in some peril… The ‘public good’ of public universities is less apparent to many, even though it is clear that the production of degree-holding citizens has positive outcomes for state economies, the generation of state tax revenues, the health of the population, the reduction of crime and a variety of other indicators. It is our obligation to attempt to turn this around with advocacy and information… To fail to do so not only has the potential to undermine our national and state economies but could result in the creation of a large swath of middle and lower class voters who feel no stake in the future of the public university because they cannot afford to attend.”
Dubois noted that student interest in UNC Charlotte is at unprecedented levels, with record numbers of applicants and enrolled students, representing a more diverse population with stronger academic backgrounds.

“Our freshman class this fall will be over 3,600 students, nearly 500 more than last year as a result of a higher matriculation rate,” he said. “The third outstanding class of Levine Scholars joins us this fall. And, at the last commencement held in May, we celebrated the 100,000th alumnus of UNC Charlotte and a record-number of annual doctoral degrees awarded - 118.”

Despite tough economic circumstances, the University is on a roll, stated Dubois, adding it was apparent everywhere one looked across campus with new facilities under construction and renovation of existing ones. The University has added UNC Charlotte Center City, EPIC and Motorsports Research. One new residence hall has been completed and two more are under construction, and the University will soon bid a new student dining commons.

“Our industry partnership building – PORTAL - is coming out of the ground as I speak,” Dubois said. In addition, there is a new tennis facility and a nearly complete football stadium complex.

The chancellor said he and fellow University leaders remain optimistic that the gradual turnaround in the state’s revenue picture will continue and additional gains could be seen in future years.

“With that said, we are not going to quickly forget the experience of the last four years. Although the state budget for the second year of the biennium turned out to be much better for us than it could have been, we must remain prudent and conservative in managing our affairs,” he said. “Our governing motto has always has been “hope for the best, but plan for the worst. That approach has served us well.”

University Convocation is an opportunity for members of the campus community to hear about UNC Charlotte’s long-term goals and immediate plans and issues. Provost Joan Lorden; Vidal Dickerson, president of the Staff Council; Conor Dugan, president of the student body; and Faculty President Ed Jernigan from the Department of Management in the Belk College of Business; spoke at the event, too.

New members of the faculty and professional staff were welcomed, and faculty members who have been granted permanent tenure were recognized, along with those who are beginning their 25th year of service to the University.

The Broadcast Communications Department provided a live Web stream of University Convocation; click here to watch a recorded version.   # # #   Phillip Brown is internal communications manager at UNC Charlotte.

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