On the Quad, approximately 1,085 new students had their picture taken on Monday, August 12, and embarked on the traditional Brave Walk across the bridge to First Year Convocation in GPAC.
The Spirit of the Carolinas Marching Band played, and faculty greeted them at the door with applause. Speakers exhorted UNC Pembroke’s newest students to make the most of their college experience.
“Higher education has many seasons,” said Chancellor Kyle R. Carter. “This is my favorite.”
Chancellor Carter noted that the class of 2017 is the largest in five years and follows the largest graduating class in school history. He praised and challenged the class.
“You are the best prepared class in school history,” he said. “We expect big things of you.”
Addressing the student gathering, SGA President Emily Ashley assured the students: “Here, you will meet the professor who will change your life. The freshman year is the foundation for your college career,” she said. “The traits you develop will follow you the rest of your college career.”
Dr. Martinez, a member of the History Department and winner of a 2013 Outstanding Teaching Award, encouraged UNCP’s newest students to seek answers to the really hard questions. “Confusion,” she said, “can be a good thing.”
“I’m talking about the good productive kind of confusion,” Dr. Martinez said. “When every thing you learn leads to another question, that’s health confusion.
“Welcome to UNCP, class of 2017,” Dr. Martinez concluded.
The class genuinely seemed welcome from the start. On Tuesday, they turned out in large numbers for a block party in the D.F. Lowry Building parking lot. They danced and ate ignoring the heat.
In his fourth annual University Address, Chancellor Carter exhorted the university community to be “one team for student success.” The chancellor’s mantra won’t be forgotten quickly. Buttons inscribed with it were passed out following the address.
“Know this,” he said, “the greatest factor for student success continues to be the personal influence you have on individual students. I want to invite you to join the UNCP teams, the team that is committed to student success.
There is good news on the student success front, as Chancellor Carter announced that estimated freshmen retention, a standard for calculating retention, topped 70 percent for the class that entered UNCP in 2012. It is a significant improvement over last year and higher than the goal set by UNC General Administration for the university.
“But most significantly, our most recent freshman classes are performing significantly better,” Chancellor Carter continued. “Increased admissions standards and higher expectations are having a positive effect on our students’ academic performance. Over time this will translate into not only improved retention rates, but also improved graduation rates, and academic improvement will continue to be incremental.”
Chancellor Carter introduced new members his leadership team, which is now fully assembled. They include: Dr. Richard Consentino, vice chancellor for Finance and Administration, Dr. John R. Jones, vice chancellor for Student Affairs, Dick Christy, athletics director; Dr. Rebecca Bullard-Dillard, dean of the School of Graduate Studies, Dean Mark Milewicz, dean of the Esther G. Maynor Honors College, Dr. Ramin Maysami, dean of the School of Business and Sandy Briscar, executive director of University Communications and Marketing.
Chancellor and Sarah Carter hosted a back-to-school reception following the University Address. Classes began on Wednesday and school is now in session.
Many offices and UNCP employees who work directly with students did not attend the address or the reception on Tuesday. They were working for student success.
“I am driven to help our students,” said Janetta Obeda, a veteran employee in the School of Graduate Studies. It was already after 5 p.m. on Tuesday, and Obeda was on the phone with a prospective student trying to solve a problem that involved financial aid.
“I wonder if there is anyone in Financial Aid? Obeda said as she dialed the number. Another veteran employee, Janice Goolsby, answered the phone.
Surrounded by balloons that celebrated her birthday on Tuesday, Obeda had solved another problem. They were “one team for student success.”