Thursday, June 11, 2009

Choice of Woodward reflects on UNC Charlotte

When UNC President Erskine Bowles chose Jim Woodward as interim chancellor at NC State this week he did so in the midst of a crisis. The crisis is that the ongoing controversy about former NC first lady Mary Easley's position at NC State had led directly to the resignation of NC State Chancellor James Oblinger -- whose stepping down followed those of the provost and the chairman of the NC State board of trustees. This regretable saga is a blow to NC State's heretofore sterling reputation. State is a fine school and a great asset to North Carolina. But, bad things happen and this one happened to State.

So when Bowles needed someone to help the school recovery from this stunning chain of events, he acted decisively and with wisdom. He looked to someone who is has an unassailable history of integrity, effectiveness and wisdom -- Jim Woodward. UNC Charlotte's chancellor from 1989-2005, he led UNC Charlotte firmly into its current era as a doctoral, urban research university. Among numerous other achievements, he methodically built up the facilities to support our expanidng academic prowess. Simply put, he's a giant among UNC Charlotte's constellation of incredible servant-leaders.

So, how does this reflect well on UNC Charlotte? It validates that this school has been led by outstanding leaders of vision and capability -- and of course, that description fits our current chancellor, Philip L. Dubois, as well. But not only are we a well-run instituion, we are -- and have been -- perhaps the very best run UNC school for years. UNC Charlotte has had to scrap and scrape to get by, perenially short-changed in terms of state funding-per-student. We're a relatively new school, growing in the shadow of long-hallowed counterparts like Chapel Hill and State. Our alumni base is still young and relatively less affluent. Yet we are an efficiently and cost-effectively run campus. We're a university of opportunity, collaboration and discovery -- you'll find no ivory towers at UNC Charlotte. We are moving fast on an upward trajectory, thanks to people like Dr. Woodward, Dr. Dubois, and former chancellors E. K. Fretwell and Dean Colvard.

So, out of all the stellar leaders he could have chosen from, Pres. Bowles tapped someone from little ol' UNC Charlotte. He chose a great man from a great school. Those of us invested in UNC Charlotte should be very, very proud.

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