Newly appointed members of the UNC Board of Governors got a taste of the UNC Pembroke experience during a visit to campus on Monday.
University system leaders toured the campus and heard presentations from students and faculty as part of a statewide university system tour.
The group was welcomed on campus by Chancellor Robin Gary Cummings, his wife, Rebecca, the Lumbee Ambassadors, and the Lumbee Tribe Culture Team, demonstrating the university’s unique heritage.
The board members, who were joined by UNC system President Margaret Spellings, were led on campus by a traditional wood flutist in a similar fashion to UNCP’s commencement procession. Inside, prior to interacting with students, faculty and staff during a poster session, the Lumbee Tribe Culture Team performed a cultural demonstration in honor of the guests.
The 12 board members, including Pembroke native Kellie Blue, spent the afternoon talking with a cross-section of student and university leaders. They were also exposed to the university’s cultural history and saw a glimpse of the cutting-edge classroom environments that launch UNCP graduates into successful futures across the globe.
The group’s first stop was the University Center Annex where they interacted with students, faculty and administrators who exhibited the student success-driven focus of the university.
Represented during the poster session were Military and Veteran’s Outreach, Student Government Association, PURC (Pembroke Undergraduate Research Council), Community and Civic Engagement, Academic Pathways to Success, Maynor Honors College, Athletics, and the Center for Student Success.
Afterward the group, which included UNC system staff, toured areas of distinction for UNC Pembroke. Stops included the Weinstein Health Sciences Building and its nursing simulator lab and the Museum of the Southeast American Indian in historic Old Main
Their stop at Weinstein included a tour of the state-of-the-art nursing simulator lab. The clinical learning lab is a 14,500 square foot facility utilized by all levels of student nurses. Seven individual laboratories are equipped to offer simulated learning experiences in basic care, advanced care, maternal/child care, pediatric care, home care, psychiatric/mental health care and health assessment.
During the 2017 session of the North Carolina General Assembly, legislators provided up to $100,000 to study the feasibility of establishing a School of Health Sciences and Health Care at UNCP. The study, anticipated for release in March, will help identify additional health profession programs that will allow the university to confront health needs of its service region. This study recognizes UNCP’s role as the region’s problem-solver and engine of transformation in many areas, especially in health care.
The last stop was the Thomas Family Center for Entrepreneurship which houses the Entrepreneurship Incubator. A reception followed, attended by UNCP trustees, foundation and alumni board members, several state and local dignitaries, and Harvey Godwin, chairman of the Lumbee Tribe in North Carolina. At the conclusion of the reception, the Lumbee Tribe Culture Team performed an honor song.
The group learned that this year, the Thomas Center has graduated the first business from its program, has eight of nine office spaces filled, and has more than 13 people attending the JumpStart program to initiate new business growth. The success of these entrepreneurs and small business owners translates to economic growth and job creation for southeastern North Carolina.
Blue, a UNCP alumnus and former UNCP trustee, beamed with pride during the visit.
“We have some exciting things happening at UNC Pembroke and people are excited about it all across the state, including the Board of Governors and General Administration, so we have to take advantage of this,” Blue said referring to NC Promise.
NC Promise is a component of the state legislature’s college affordability program. Beginning fall 2018, tuition for in-state students will be $500 per semester. Out-of-state students will pay $2,500 in tuition per semester.
“We are very enthusiastic about what NC Promise might do for applications and enrollment here,” said UNC Board of Governors member Tom Fetzer.
“I had a fabulous experience,” Fetzer said. “You have a wonderful chancellor who comes from a non-traditional background. He is doing great things here.
“The campus is lovely, especially the internal spaces that have been created for the students and you have ambitious plans for the rejuvenation of the infrastructure around the campus.”
Chair Lou Bissette, Vice-Chair Harry Smith, and longtime member Frank Grainger accompanied the new members.
Smith said he recognizes the tremendous value UNC Pembroke brings to the region.
“UNC Pembroke is no doubt one of the shining stars bringing value to North Carolina and its region,” Smith said. “The Board of Governors is focused on allocating resources to Pembroke for their continued success.
“We are focused on Chancellor Cummings and Pembroke achieving growth that will establish UNCP as the anchor economic institution in Southeastern North Carolina.”
Board member Darrell Allison said he, too, was impressed, particularly by the history lesson he got during the museum tour.
“You get a sense of the history and how far the university and the tribe have come,” Allison said. “Every pathway that our university schools have taken to joining the university system is unique and different, and UNCP is obviously rich in history.
“I learned about their struggle, even in the struggle you appreciate and sense that history of heritage. Being African American and listening to the struggle and identifying on many different levels in terms of their forefathers and their perseverance.
“The other thing that was impressive is that we ended the tour at the Entrepreneurship Incubator,” he said. “We see an institution that is invested in the region, so as board members we have to be thoughtful, make strategic investments, and listen to the chancellor so that we can continue to make a great school even greater.”
To end the tour, Chancellor Cummings addressed the group at the reception.
“It’s fitting we’re ending the visit here in the Entrepreneurship Incubator because it represents how we are advancing our vision for UNCP,” Cummings told the Board of Governors members during the closing reception. “That vision — that reality — is a university serving as the anchor institution for economic development for southeastern North Carolina — a university collaborating every day with businesses, non-profits, local government and anybody willing to roll up their sleeves to tackle tough issues like economic development, education and healthcare.
“As you leave here today, I hope you will view UNCP as an ambitious, service-minded institution that embraces the label of ‘regional university,’” Cummings said. “There is no other entity, no other institution, positioned to change southeastern North Carolina. And in order to advance southeastern North Carolina, we do it one student at a time.”