James H. Woodward

Chancellor from 1989 - 2005
A man with deep family bonds, he looks toward spending more time at Mountain Island Lake with his grandchildren when he retires.

Born in Sanford, Florida, Jim Woodward grew up in a close-knit family in Columbus, Georgia.  A typical boy who grew up playing ball with the YMCA and a boy scout, his paternal grandparents were tobacco and sugar cane farmers living in the Florida panhandle and his maternal grandparents were farmers in the mountains of east Tennessee.

After marrying his childhood sweetheart at the age of 16, Dr. Woodward completed high school and went on to enter college at Auburn University.  In 1959, when the space program was at its height, he decided that Aeronautical Engineering was the career path that he wanted to take, with the goal of working for an aerospace company.  Moving to Atlanta, he entered the School of Aeronautics at Georgia Tech where he did very well, graduating first in his class in December of 1961.  After receiving his BSAE, he was offered a fellowship to stay in graduate school to earn his Masters Degree, which he received in December of 1962.  Through another fellowship he earned is Ph.D. in engineering mechanics in 1967.

From 1965 to 1968, Dr. Woodward taught as an Assistant Professor and later as an Associate Professor of Engineering Mechanics at the USAF Academy in Colorado.  He was promoted to Captain in 1968.

In 1968 he decided to move his family back to the South to be closer to his parents and grandparents taking the faculty position of Assistant Professor of Engineering Mechanics at North Carolina State University.

In 1969 he accepted a tenured position of Associate Professor of Engineering at The University of Alabama at Birmingham.  In 1970 he left the university and took a position with the engineering firm of Rust International.  It was during this time that he pursued and received his M.B.A..

From 1969-1989 Dr. Woodward held ever-increasingly significant roles at The University of Alabama at Birmingham, serving as Dean of the School of Engineering and ultimately as Senior Vice President.

It was in July of 1989 that Dr. Woodward moved to Charlotte, North Carolina where he served as Chancellor of the University of North Carolina at Charlotte until his retirement in July of 2005.

Known for his integrity and leadership skills, UNC President, Erskine Bowles selected Dr. Woodward in June 2009 to be Interim Chancellor of NC State University, bringing the institution much needed stability. 

Called “a quiet giant,” an articulate visionary who reached out to the community and region, Dr. Woodward wants to be remembered as “someone who was honest, who believed in the core principles that undergird higher education, who cared about people here.”  He is remembered for being what many conclude as the right man at the right time to build a university for the future.

His interests include working with non-profit organizations that focus on disadvantaged youth and children, hiking, travelling and spending time with his three children, six grandchildren and his long-time sweetheart, Martha.

Chancellor Emeritus WoodwardCAREER HIGHLIGHTS

When Dr. Jim Woodward assumed his role as UNC Charlotte’s third Chancellor, he already envisioned the university as it would be—long after he retired.  Based on the foundation established by founder Bonnie Cone and emeriti chancellors Dean Colvard and E. K. Fretwell, Dr. Woodward knew the university had a firm footing, and it was his job to continue building the structure.

Service to the community and state is a key component of UNC Charlotte’s mission.  Under Dr. Woodward, service to the Charlotte community expanded.  Distance education and weekend classes were launched to better serve the needs of non-traditional students.  The Uptown Center, which opened in 1995, provided opportunities in graduate and continuing education to a broad array of students.

The Urban Institute was the university’s first major program to reach beyond Charlotte.  The growth of University City was evidence that UNC Charlotte was acting as a catalyst for the area’s development.

Expanding UNC Charlotte’s mission to permit the development of doctoral work is Jim Woodward’s legacy.  With one strategic initiative after another, Dr. Woodward paved the university’s way to becoming a doctoral research institution.  But he didn’t do it alone.  He had the help of people with both technical expertise and integrity who were focused on undergraduate education.  His brilliance was in taking the faculty and the university to research doctoral status and having everyone on board.  Including athletics.  He positioned the director of athletics as one of respect and as part of—not apart from—the university.  It is a tribute to Dr. Woodward that the athletics-academics and faculty-administration relationships are such unusually amiable ones.  One of the reasons for this was Dr. Woodward’s advocacy of strong faculty governance.  Another is his reputation for keeping promises.

As Dr. Woodward worked to establish a partnership with faculty, he began forging relationships with the UNC Board of Governors.  Slowly and steadily, he worked for the overall good of the UNC institutions, while advocating for UNC Charlotte. Dr. Woodward’s willingness to participate in board and committee meetings, and his ability to clarify issues were the keys to his effectiveness.  In 1990, when the Board of Governors initiated the first university-wide review of institutional missions in nearly 20 years, Dr. Woodward seized the opportunity.  Emphasizing the substantial difference between the higher education needs of the Charlotte region and what was then available, he argued for expanding the university’s assigned mission.  In 1993 the board gave UNC Charlotte permission to reclassify the university as a doctoral research institution.  However, this reclassification did not include funding.  Getting approval was very difficult, but the final 1994-95 budget included funding for UNC Charlotte’s first three doctoral programs.

Dr. Woodward was also successful in attaining state funds to double the size of the library, expand the C. C. Cameron Applied Research Center, build the E. K. and Dorrie Fretwell Building, and add a third floor to the Friday Building.  He was also highly instrumental in generating support for the $3.1 billion bond bill in 2000, of which UNC Charlotte received $190 million to add nearly 1 million square feet of academic space.  The university also received support for a $35 million new bioinformatics center and $4 million motorsports complex to sustain the state’s motorsports industry.

Financial resources were needed to build student and athletic facilities.   Dr. Woodward determined that state funds would be used for academic structures and user fees, students fees and private gifts would fund other facilities.  Following this plan, the university built two parking decks, three residence halls, and the Barnhardt Student Activity Center (SAC).  Private gifts allowed athletics to build the Wachovia Athletic Field House, Irwin Belk Track and Field Complex, and Miltmore-Wallis Athletics Training and Academic Center.  The first commencement held on campus in 30 years was on December 1996 in the SAC Halton Arena.

In 2000, the Charlotte Research Institute (CRI) was established.  The CRI was the vehicle for which UNC Charlotte fulfilled its role as an economic engine, creating partnerships in advanced manufacturing and applied technology.  The CRI accelerated UNC Charlotte’s development as a doctoral research university.  Through 2003, industry funding to the university jumped 65 percent, federal funding tripled, and external research dollars had increased to more than 125 percent.  The CRI provides

In 2002, UNC Charlotte launched the $100 million It Takes A Gift campaign, bolstered by a $10 million investment from the Duke Energy Foundation.  The university’s endowment grew from 1989-2004 from $14 million to $91.5 million, and external research dollars grew from $6.1 million to $30 million through 2003.

From 13,222 students in 1989 to 24,700 students in 2009, UNC Charlotte has continued to attract a diverse student body.  It is Dr. Woodward’s belief that it is the university’s responsibility to provide the means for an increasingly diverse population to achieve the American Dream and that higher education is the principal vehicle for upward economic and social mobility that contributes to the political and social stability of this country.

Called  “a quiet giant,” an articulate visionary who reaches out to the community and region, Dr. Woodward wants to be remembered as “someone who was honest, who believed in the core principles that undergird higher education, who cared about the people here.” 

Dr. Woodward was the right man at the right time to build a university for the future.




BSAE – Georgia Institute of Technology, 1962
MSAE – Georgia Institute of Technology, 1963
Ph.D. – Georgia Institute of Technology, 1967
M.B.A. – The University of Alabama at Birmingham, 1973



  • Engineering faculty member, U.S. Air Force Academy, N.C. State University, The University of Alabama at Birmingham, 1965-1989
  • Director of Technical Development, Rust International, 1970-73
  • Dean, School of Engineering, The University of Alabama at Birmingham, 1978-83
  • Senior Vice President, University College, The University of Alabama at Birmingham, 1984-89
  • Chancellor, The University of North Carolina at Charlotte, 1989-2005
  • Interim Chancellor, NC State University, 2009-10
  • Chancellor Emeritus, The University of North Carolina at Charlotte 2005 – Present



  • $32 million raised in 1989-1990 through the “Silver Anniversary Campaign,” which had an initial goal of $16 million.
  • Obtained approval to expand UNC Charlotte’s mission to include doctoral programs
  • Secured funding that led to the implementation of 12 doctoral programs
  • Development of 1995 Campus Master Plan that has guided approximately $300 million in capital investment.
  • Two U.S. Professors of the Year selected from the UNC Charlotte faculty: Dr. Al Maisto in 1997 and Laura Duhan Kaplan in 2001; Dr. Rosie Tong received the award while at another university.
  • Establishment of the Charlotte Research Institute in 2000 and the Institute for Social Capital in 2003.
  • Created the College of Information Technology in 2000 and the College of Health and Human Services in 2002.
  • “It Takes a Gift” campaign launched in 2000 with a $100 million goal; $117 million raised by conclusion in 2005.
  • Appropriations of $35 million for the Bioinformatics Center approved by the General Assembly in 2004.
  • Increased endowment from $14 million to $94.5 million
  • Overall enrollment increased from 13,222 to 19,846 and graduate enrollment from 2,079 to 3,630 conferring 47,696 degrees, including 136 doctorates.
  • The opening of the C. C. Cameron Applied Research Center, the expansion of J. Murrey Atkins Library and Dalton Tower, the construction of the E. K. and Dorrie Fretwell building, the James H. Barnhardt Student Activity Center, the Waylon H. Cato Jr. Hall building, the Russell M. and Sally D. Robinson Hall building, and the College of Education building.
  • The Irwin Belk Track and Field Center and The Wachovia Field House.
  • Three new residence halls, Witherspoon, Squires, and Cypress.



  • Rodney D. Chipp Memorial Award, Society of Women Engineers, 1989
  • Distinguished Alumnus Award, The University of Alabama at Birmingham, 1995
  • 1995 Excellence in Management Award sponsored by the Charlotte Chamber, the Rotary Club of Charlotte, and The Business Journal
  • North Carolina Order of the Long Leaf Pine, 1994
  • Honorary Doctor of Laws Degree, The University of Alabama at Birmingham, 1997
  • Georgia Institute of Technology Distinguished Alumnus Award, 1998
  • National Conference for Community and Justice Humanitarian Award, 2004
  • Cornerstone Award, Charlotte Region Commercial Board of Realtors, 2005
  • Public Leadership Award, North Carolina Technology Association, 2009