UNC Pembroke’s new Chancellor Kyle R. Carter looked into the future of the University in his first Chancellor’s Address on the first day classes of the Fall Semester.
Chancellor Carter promised that the August 18 address would be the first of an “annual tradition.” About 800 members of the University and wider community attended the hour-long program in the Givens Performing Arts Center.
The speech combined elements of an inaugural and a state-of-the-University address for a chancellor who has been on the job since July 1, 2010. Dr. Carter peered into the future, but cautiously, extending his vision to the next 300 days.
UNCP’s fifth chancellor, who has been on a listening and learning tour that included attending Lumbee Homecoming and a kayaking trip on the Lumber River, said he will call on the University’s entire constituency to help build “a shared vision of the future.”
“Today’s address starts our relationship, and it lays a foundation upon which we can build that relationship, he said.
The new leader of the University said he has “a lot to learn.” Dr. Carter rolled out a plan to acquire that knowledge of the University and the surrounding community.
“We will use the next 300 days, to discuss the future of the University,” he said. “I have contended all along that the best visions are shared ones.”
Dr. Carter said he would call on “our partners in the community.. to be part of the conversation.” He will issue a stakeholders survey to establish a “baseline of information as we go forward to build our vision.”
“Over the next 300 days I will invite input from a broad spectrum of internal and external constituents to campus,” he continued. “The result that emmerges will be a shared vision and strategic plan that fits our university and this region.”
There were numerous references to tradition, history and the American Indian community that founded and nurtured the University.
“UNCP’s history marks its heritage much more than most other institutions,” he said. “One major challenge we face it to create a vision that recognizes the importance UNCP’s Native American institutional heritage as a niche for a regional comprehensive University.”
To that end, Dr. Carter said the University would hold a special series of meetings with the Lumbee Tribe.
He noted many challenges to realizing the University’s vision, including budgetary. Across the nation, states are shifting costs to students, and UNCP has cut its budget for three consecutive years.
“On my second day on the job, I had to compose the largest tuition increase in the history of this institution,” Dr. Carter said. “This increase was essential.
“So, clearly the paradigm has shifted,” he continued. “To quote UNC President Erskine Bowles, ‘low tuition without quality benefits no one,’
Challenges require old assumptions to be caste aside. Creativity and innovation are the answers, he said
“I am working on plan ‘C,’” Dr. Carter said. “I will preserve what is most important to this institution - academic quality and its people.”
Enrollment and its growth drive UNCP’s budget, and Chancellor Carter gave a nod to former Chancellor Allen Meadors for “carting a course of enrollment growth.”
“He has enabled us to accomplish things as a larger University to do things a smaller university cannot,” he said.
Enrollment will see a “modest” boost this fall despite rising academic standards for incoming freshmen, he said. And the University will continue to grow as it becomes the “institution of choice” in its region and beyond, he said.
“Students between Pembroke and Whiteville should pick us as their institution of choice over UNC Wilmington,” he said. “We should be the school of choice in Charlotte when we compete head-to-head with Western Carolina University.”
Having come to Pembroke from Western Carolina, that statement got laughs. Dr. Carter said the University must “advance our stature by marketing our strengths far and wide.”
“Our strategy must be to change public perception of UNCP throughout the state and beyond,” he said. “We must become even more aggressive in reporting our accomplishments.
“Modesty is no longer a virtue at UNCP; let people know about our successes,” Dr. Carter urged.
Improving student success and service to the region are also priorities for the new leader. Dr. Carter said fostering students succeed does not mean that standards must be lowered, just the opposite.
“We should never admit students who are not prepared succeed,” he said. “One of the biggest tragedies is when admit a student who we know will fail.
“We will never close the door on their education,” Dr. Carter continued. “We will work ever more closely with our community college partners to place these students in their programs where they can attain the educational foundation to succeed at UNCP.”
Dr. Charles Chrestman, Robeson Community College’s president, was in the audience.
“Service is important to our mission,” Dr. Carter said. “I will hold a series of meeting to see how UNCP can better serve our region.
“We will have a clearer sense of how our academic programs benefit our region,” he said.
With the 300-day plan on the table, Dr. Carter concluded by saying: “We must aim high .. to reach new heights of academic excellence.”
Before the address, Dr. Charles Jenkins was honored with a resolution from the University’s Board of Trustees. Dr. Jenkins has served the University in many capacities since 1971 including his most recent post as interim chancellor for one year as the search for a new leader was ongoing.
“This citation is well deserved,” Dr. Carter said. “You are truly one of the most dedicated and loyal individuals I have met.
“Your service to UNC Pembroke is exemplary, and I shall strive to live up to your example,” he said.
In the audience where several key community leaders: state Rep. Ronnie Sutton, Rep-elect Charles Graham; Rose Marie Lowry-Townsend, Lumbee Tribe administrator, Joanne Anderson, CEO of Southeastern Regional Medical Center, Pembroke Town Manager McDuffie Cummings and University Trustees Dr. Breeden Blackwell, Dick Taylor, Donna Lowry and Arjay Quizon, who is also Student Government president.