Holding court at a pep rally in Reynolds Coliseum last night, Chancellor-elect Randy Woodson told a welcoming crush of faculty, staff, students and alumni that he’s no stranger to the historic arena. As a high school student in southern Arkansas, he spent hours in front of the television, watching basketball great David Thompson swoop in for alley oops back in 1974, the year NC State won its first national championship.
On Wednesday, standing on the court where Thompson played, Woodson and his wife Susan enjoyed the cheers, signs, marquee and 40-foot inflatable wolf celebrating their visit to campus. The new chancellor officially takes over the first week of April.
Woodson told his new team that NC State combines a “glorious past with a bright future.”
He pledged to take the lead in recruiting and retaining star faculty who are key to the university’s ability to achieve its goals.
He urged faculty and staff to work together as one university, taking an interdisciplinary approach to solving problems, rather than operating as “silos” of separate colleges.
“University people need to work together to solve the great challenges,” he said.
He praised students’ work ethic. “They overachieve because faculty push them to do that,” he said.
As “the people’s university” and the institution with the most graduates in North Carolina, NC State has a responsibility to more than 170,000 alumni, Woodson said.
“Our job is to make sure the diploma they have on the wall continues to grow in value.”
He noted that Erskine Bowles, UNC system president, has called NC State, the most important university in the state.
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Woodson said that Centennial Campus, which existed only in the minds of visionaries 25 years ago, serves as an “outstanding example of what a dream can do at a university.”
As a land-grant university serving all 100 North Carolina counties, “our relationship with the people of North Carolina is paramount,” Woodson said. He promised to undertake a learning and listening tour to get better acquainted with the people and culture of the state.
As one of the premier land-grant universities, NC State has the power to shape the future of North Carolina, the region, the nation and world, Woodson said.
Back in high school, he also studied Latin, which enabled him to translate the state’s motto, esse quam videri: “to be rather than to seem to be.”
The motto also applies to the university, which will be considered great, “not because people say so but because we are,” he said.
Following the chancellor-elect’s remarks, the Woodsons greeted hundreds of well-wishers who stood in line to shake their hands and welcome them to NC State.
“I thought it was great,” said Steve Carlton, Staff Senate chair, as he waited in the line that snaked through the coliseum. “Having been on the chancellor search committee, I’ve listened to the chancellor before and some of his comments and they seemed right on point. He’s everything we expected.”
Jim Flowers, head of the Department of Agricultural and Extension Education, agreed.
“He’s right on, he was wonderful,” he said. “He recognized NC State’s heritage and looked toward the future as a land-grant institution. I think he has a great vision for NC State and the experience to make it happen.”