Welcome to a new Niner Nation academic year that is sure to be unlike any other! For those who are new to the University, I send out these 'fast five' updates periodically to provide a behind-the-scenes glimpse into some of my top projects and priorities. These updates are typically pretty brief, but after a hiatus over the summer, there's more than usual to share this time around so let's get on with it:
1. The 2019-2020 academic year started out strong with two important UNC Charlotte traditions: University Convocation for our faculty and staff, which occurs shortly before students move in, and New Student Convocation which brings together our new freshman and transfer students for a time of celebration and introduction to some of the university’s long-standing traditions.
2. You'll notice lots of new faces around here, not only with our new students, but also in several key faculty and administrative positions. Here are just a few:
- Rick Tankersley, Vice Chancellor for Research and Economic Development
- Catrine Tudor-Locke, Dean of the College of Health and Human Services
- Brook Muller, Dean of the College of Arts + Architecture
- John Bogdan, AVC for Safety and Security
- Sujit Chemburkar - AVC for Student Affairs
- Steven Dunham - Chief Risk Officer, Enterprise Risk Management
- Ragean Hill - Associate Athletics Director
- Rick Steele - AVC for Business Services
- Jon Varnell - AVC for Facilities Management
- Colleen Penhall – AVC for University Communications
Each of these individuals brings a wealth of experience and expertise to their respective roles, and I have great confidence in their leadership.
3. The tragedy of April 30 is never far from my thoughts, and I'm sure from yours as well. As we move forward in a new year, we will never forget those who were lost or forever impacted on that day. The Niner Nation Remembrance Commission has already begun working on how best to memorialize the victims in a way that is appropriate and meaningful. We are also already making plans for a remembrance event on campus and one at the Blumenthal in uptown Charlotte to mark the one-year anniversary next April 30. As we remember and move forward, we should all seek whatever help we need as we continue to process what happened. People heal at their own pace and we have to be sure to take care of ourselves and each other. Counseling services are available for students through the Center for Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS), and for faculty and staff through the Employee Assistance Program (EAP).
4. While we are looking out for our emotional well-being in this time of recovery and remembrance, know that the University is also working hard behind the scenes to ensure the physical well-being and safety of every member of Niner Nation. We are protected by an amazing Police and Public Safety department that includes 55 sworn law enforcement officers, with additional security in residence halls and at the light rail station. We utilize cutting-edge technology that allows us to communicate instantaneously with the broad campus community in times of crisis. We offer frequent training opportunities for our students, faculty, and staff to help us be prepared for crises such as active assailant situations. And this semester you should start to see safety information posted in classrooms that will provide important instructions on how to respond in various emergency situations. These and many other measures are in place to make sure that our community is a safe place to live, learn, and work.
5. And finally, I’m guessing most of you have heard by now that this will be my last year serving as your Chancellor. After a very fulfilling 44-year career in higher education, including 15 years as Chancellor of UNC Charlotte, it’s time for me to do something else. Lisa and I look forward to having more control over our calendars and we definitely are excited to be able to spend time with our twin grandsons, Brooks and Leo, and our new puppy, Bogey. I also look forward to being active in trying to share what I’ve learned about higher ed leadership with others considering such a career path. But first, we have an important year of work ahead, and I look forward to lots of opportunities to interact with the students, staff, and faculty who make UNC Charlotte such a special place. Indeed, We Are All Niners!
Phil Dubois, Chancellor