Chancellor Allen C. Meadors welcomed the largest freshman class and the largest student body in the history of The University of North Carolina at Pembroke during Convocation ceremonies Wednesday, Aug. 28.
"Welcome to the fastest growing university in the UNC system," Chancellor Meadors said. "When this year's seniors arrived on campus we had about 2,900 students, and they will graduate from a university with more than 4,300. That's an increase of 48 percent in just three years."
UNCP has record numbers of transfer students (420), graduate students (430) and freshmen (720), the chancellor said. This year's freshman scored 10 points higher on their SATs also.
"We have hired 30 new faculty members with 24 in new positions that were created to handle our enrollment growth," Chancellor Meadors said. "Over 80 percent our your classes are taught by full-time professors, which is highest in the UNC system and higher than the national average of 60-65 percent."
Convocation speaker Robert F. Orr, an associate justice of the North Carolina Supreme Court, gave an audience of about 800 in the Givens Performing Arts Center a civics lesson on the state constitution.
"While the importance of the state constitution has lessened in the eyes of the people and the legal community, there is a resurgence of its significance," Judge Orr said.
He cited a string of recent decisions of the state Supreme Court that will affect the citizens of North Carolina for decades to come. One of those cases - the Leandro Case concerning school funding equity - "is the single-most important legal case in 100 years," Judge Orr said.
"This case is about whether there is a constitutional right to a sound, basic education," Judge Orr said. "The court was unanimous that there is a constitutional right. You young people will be dealing with this issue for 10, 20 and 50 years."
This and other recent cases regarding the state constitution make its study all the more important, he said. A Hendersonville native who attended UNC-Chapel Hill, Judge Orr is seeking his second eight-year term on the state Supreme Court in November.
Provost and Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs Roger Brown introduced the speaker and officially signaled the start of a new academic year, that, he promised, will be full of "new opportunities and new challenges."
Other welcoming remarks were made by Trustee, Dr. Cheryl Locklear, Student Government President Brandon Davis and Faculty Senate Chair, Dr. Thomas Dooling. Grand Marshal was Dr. Paul Flowers, recipient of the UNC Teaching Excellence Award for 2002.