Leadership in Place for the Future of Arts & Sciences, Grad Studies


Dr. Kathleen Hilton and Dr. Thomas Leach have been named permanent deans of the School of Graduate Studies and the College of Arts and Sciences respectively. Both served on an interim basis for 18 months.

 Kathleen Hilton    Thomas Leach
Kathleen Hilton   Thomas Leach

Dean Hilton comes from the History Department, where she also served as coordinator of the Social Studies Education Program. She has been a professor of history at UNCP for 13 years.

Dean Leach was chair of the university's largest department - English, Theatre and Languages - for 22 years. He came to UNCP in 1975 to teach English.

As interims, both deans established themselves as outstanding administrators during a time of growth and change at the university, said Provost and Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs Roger Brown. Dr. Brown praised the pair for their performance and leadership ability.

"Dean Leach and Dean Hilton bring continuity and institutional memory to our top-level administrative staff," Dr. Brown said. "They have made remarkable contributions in a very short time frame."

The School of Graduate Studies has grown 30 percent in enrollment since fall 2000 to a record 481 students. UNCP has added two new graduate programs with an additional program set to be launched in fall 2003.

The College of Arts and Sciences has absorbed a large share of the university's rapid enrollment growth. In the past year, Dean Leach's faculty has increased by 35 new full-time professors and 15 full-time replacements of retiring professors.

"As a graduate program coordinator, Dean Hilton knew the ground level operations of our graduate programs," Dr. Brown said. "I am impressed by her hard work and ability to establish and maintain high standards for our graduate programs."

"During his first year leading the College, I saw how well Dean Leach is suited to his new position," Dr. Brown said. "We are fortunate to have an individual who was already highly regarded by faculty across this campus."

"The deans of all four of our academic divisions have accommodated enrollment growth even before new faculty resources were available," Dr. Brown said. "They have established a good trusting relationship among department chairs and the general faculty."

Dr. Leach said he is "pleased and honored" with his new status.

"As I worked myself into the interim period and worked with the department chairs and the provost on the long-range strategic plan, I began to get a sense of what the college is about," Dr. Leach said. "At this stage in my career, I found this to be an interesting and stimulating challenge."

"I am proud of the teaching and learning environment that our faculty have created here, and my first goal is to safeguard the quality of instruction at UNC Pembroke," he said. "I am continuing to teach because it keeps me in touch with the basis reason that we are in this profession."

During the interim, Dr. Hilton taught two classes and continued in her role as coordinator of the Social Studies Education Program. She said her mission remains unchanged.

"The further into this I get, the more I find this is not inconsistent with what I have always done, helping people to be better teachers and to achieve their personal and professional goals," Dr. Hilton said. "This would be a more difficult job if we did not have such strong programs and faculty in place."

"My challenge is to retain the student-centered approach this university is known for," Dr. Hilton said. "Providing support for program coordinators for new programs as they develop and to the existing programs as they get stronger is critical."

Both the College of Arts and Sciences and the School of Graduate Studies along with their new deans have challenges looming in the future, the Provost noted.

"Our graduate programs are an important priority with Chancellor Meadors, and he believes there is an opportunity for continued growth in enrollment and in new programs," Dr. Brown said. "Competition is growing in this area, and we are challenged to look at our region and our heavily part-time graduate school audience and discover how we can reach them in persuasive ways."

As a first step, the university hired a national consulting firm to study graduate programs. One new program, the Master of Arts in Music Education, is set to launch in the fall and others are on the drawing board, including a concentration in Exercise and Fitness in the Physical Education Department. There are also plans for an interdisciplinary concentration in Sports Administration.

Several departments are planning to add non-licensure concentrations to their existing Master of Arts degrees to programs that are already offer a Master of Arts in Education. This is another important step in broadening the appeal of UNCP's graduate programs.

"In the 18 months that Dr. Hilton has directed graduate program, there was significant growth, and there will be more attention to recruiting in the future," Dr. Brown said. "Our goal is to have graduate enrollment that represents 10 percent our total enrollment. It's a realistic goal."

Changes are in store for the College of Arts and Science also, Dr. Brown said.

"The College is the cornerstone of our academic enterprise, and, as such, they bear the burden of our greatest challenges as an institution," Dr. Brown said. "our challenge is to grow and to retain the things that made this a great teaching and learning institution."

New programs - Spanish, English as a second language and environmental science - are in preparation for launch, Dr. Brown said. Internationalism is high on the list of priorities also.

"I believe we have the right people in place to achieve that delicate balance of growth with continuity," Dr. Brown said. "Sound leadership, coupled with good planning, is indispensable to this process."

For more information, contact Dean Hilton at kathleen.hilton@uncp.edu or 910.521.6271, and Dr. Leach at thomas.leach@uncp.edu or 910.521.6198.