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From the youngest undergrad to members of the university’s Board of Trustees, members of the NC State family gathered Tuesday afternoon for a standing-room-only celebration to officially welcome former professor Jim Woodward back to the university as chancellor.

“The turnout was more than I could have even expected,” NC State student body president Jim Ceresnak said. “This community is ready to rally behind Chancellor Woodward, and today’s event is a great showing of the NC State pride that is so prevalent here at this university.”

It was only fitting that under a ceiling festooned with flags from around the world, Chancellor Woodward proclaimed that NC State would continue to be a place where students, faculty and staff work tirelessly to make an impact on a statewide, national and global scale.

“This institution has an extraordinarily rich history,” Woodward said, “a history made by the alums – the men and women who have graduated from this institution and have gone on to serve North Carolina, this country and indeed, the world.

“I do believe this is the most important institution in this state,” he said. “As a student, this is the place to come to be truly educated, so you when you graduate, you can lead a productive professional life, but you can also lead a productive life as a citizen in whatever community you reside in.”

It was just nine days ago when Woodward, who began his public teaching career as an assistant professor in NC State’s College of Engineering, agreed to return to NC State as chancellor at the request of UNC system president Erskine Bowles.

“I would not have taken this position in any other university in the country,” he said. “My wife would not have supported me doing that at any other university – she knows the special place that NC State has in my heart, and in her heart as well.”

Woodward’s main reason for returning, he said, was NC State’s importance to the future well-being of North Carolina.

“The array of programs here are exactly the array of programs this state needs in the years ahead,” he said. “We know that. We do those programs well, and the state will do well.

“This is a great university,” Woodward said. “It’s a great university because of the men and women who have committed their professional lives serving on the faculty and staff here.

“The quality of the university is defined by people who do the work of the university,” he said. “The people who do the work here today are the same ones who were here a week ago, two weeks ago and three weeks ago, and are those responsible for the well-deserved, growing national reputation of this institution.”

As NC State looks to its future, faculty and staff have rallied in equal support of the university’s new chancellor.

“There have been some wonderful things that have been happening at the university in recent months, and we know that we must maintain that momentum going forward,” said Louis A. Martin-Vega, dean of NC State’s College of Engineering. “At the same time, we have some real issues that we are going to have to deal with related to the budget, but our student base is growing, and we are confident that we have a very strong set of faculty and staff.

“We look forward to Chancellor Woodward’s leadership and working with him to keep ourselves moving in the direction we want to go as a university.