Describe your university in three words. Innovative. Inclusive. Resilient.
How do you stay engaged with students on campus? I love being with people and I really enjoy being around students. I like to hear what they think about UNC Charlotte and the future. It helps me think about where the university is headed now and listening to students makes me a better Chancellor. I began my tenure here in July as we were five months into the pandemic and the situation has made it more difficult to meet face-to-face. I like to be as accessible to students as I can and make the time to email and call students when they contact me. Our Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs and I visited with students and their families as they were moving in this September, which was really a joy. Recently I’ve taken scooter rides with various students around the university to get to know them while also enjoying our incredible campus.
What makes your university great? This fall, UNC Charlotte became the second-largest institution in the 17-member UNC System, exceeding more than 30,000 students, after a decade of explosive growth during which enrollment grew by 34 percent. Of course, growth itself doesn’t make a university great. In the case of UNC Charlotte, parallel advancements in a number of key areas mirror the journey of its student population and speak to the university’s overall trajectory and growing prominence.
The student body at UNC Charlotte reflects the growing diversity of the Charlotte region and in the state, and contributes to a variety of perspectives that support a rich intellectual environment. In fact, 37 percent are first generation college students, 37 percent are from underrepresented or underserved backgrounds and transfer students make up nearly half of our undergraduate population, the most of any university in North Carolina. But not only is our student population diverse; they are academically competitive. Our newest freshman class has an average weighted GPA of 3.9. Combined with our top-notch faculty, UNC Charlotte has this very curious, energetic, and increasingly interdisciplinary research environment. This institutional agility is attributable to relative youth; a spirit of interdepartmental cooperation permeates as the university approaches its 75th anniversary next year.
The proximity of the expansive 1,000-acre main campus to uptown Charlotte, to which it connects by light rail, provides convenience for high-visibility student internships. It also fosters collaboration and partnerships that make a direct and lasting impact on issues related to the people and communities of the region. The University convenes industry and government leaders who recognize the valuable contributions of UNC Charlotte alumni—70 percent of whom remain in the region after graduation—to the vitality of the local business community and its primary sectors: finance, energy and computer science.
What’s your favorite way to spend your free time? I enjoy the great weather in Charlotte. I love to walk, hike, play tennis, kayak and spend as much time as I can outside in the sunshine. I especially enjoy walking my dog around our beautiful campus.
What was the last thing you cooked or baked? Recently I made home-cooked chili with ground turkey.
If you could travel to one place you’ve never visited, where would it be and why? I’ve always wanted to visit Seoul, Korea. I have several friends and colleagues from Seoul who describe it as a fascinating place.