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Board of Governors Extends Woodson’s Term as Chancellor

Randy Woodson’s results-oriented leadership earns him a two-year contract extension that will keep him at the helm of NC State until June 2025.

Randy Woodson delivers the annual fall address during Red and White week in 2019 in the Talley Student Union.
Randy Woodson delivers his annual fall address during Red and White Week in 2019 in Talley Student Union.

In recognition of Chancellor Randy Woodson’s transformative impact on NC State, the UNC System Board of Governors has voted to extend Woodson’s term as chancellor for two more years.

“Under Chancellor Woodson’s outstanding leadership, NC State has emerged as one of the nation’s top public research universities,” said Stan Kelly, chair of the NC State Board of Trustees. “With Chancellor Woodson at the helm, NC State has achieved unsurpassed levels of accomplishment in academic excellence, student success, research, industry partnerships, fundraising and much more. We’re fortunate to have such a strong leader at NC State, and thankful he will continue his tenure here for a few more years.”

Woodson joined NC State in 2010 and immediately began making his mark on the university. That year he oversaw the creation of Pathway to the Future: NC State’s 2011-2020 Strategic Plan, which guided the university’s growth and advancement over the next decade. A plan for the coming decade, Wolfpack 2030: Powering the Extraordinary, was approved by the Board of Trustees in May.

In 2011 he set in motion the Chancellor’s Faculty Excellence Program, a cutting-edge initiative that addresses the grand challenges facing society by hiring world-leading faculty members to work in 20 interdisciplinary clusters, ranging from bioinformatics to geospatial analytics.

As a result of these and other achievements, in November 2018 the Board of Governors agreed to a four-year extension of Woodson’s contract, with a term expiring in 2023. The most recent agreement, announced this week, extends his term to June 2025.

Woodson, one of NC State’s longest-serving chancellors, said he welcomes the opportunity to continue leading the university.

“I am grateful to President Hans, the Board of Governors and the Board of Trustees for their support and their confidence in extending my time leading NC State University,” Woodson said. “I am so very proud to be part of this outstanding NC State community.”

Here are just a few highlights of NC State’s achievements under Woodson’s leadership:

  • Freshman applications for enrollment have increased by more than 65%.
  • The university’s first-year retention rate has increased from 89.5% to 94.4%, and the five-year graduation rate has increased from 67% to 82%.
  • Hundreds of NC State students have earned national honors, including Churchill, Fulbright, Gates, Goldwater, Truman, Marshall, Udall and Astronaut scholarships.
  • Faculty have claimed major research awards, including the Warren Alpert Foundation Prize, the Canada Gairdner International Award and the Wolf Prize in Agriculture.
  • Donor giving has broken records and helped triple the size of NC State’s endowment, an important source of funding for scholarships and fellowships for talented students, professorships and chairs for distinguished faculty members and programs advancing research and academic endeavors across campus.
  • Research expenditures have increased 45%, and the most recent annual research expenditures total — $549 million — is the highest in university history.
  • NC State’s federal research expenditures saw a 65% increase in the past decade, outpacing all but one of its peers.
  • The number of startups launched annually based on NC State research increased from six to 21, and the number of commercializations annually based on NC State research increased from 90 to 141.
  • The National Security Agency sponsored the Laboratory for Analytic Sciences for $71 million across five years, to help the intelligence community address the growing complexity of big data challenges. The lab has since been renewed for another $70 million.
  • NC State was awarded — and still houses — two National Science Foundation Engineering Research Centers, FREEDM and ASSIST, developing smart-grid technology and self-powered wearable health monitors, respectively.
  • NC State was the first university in North America selected to host an IBM Quantum Hub, joining a global community of Fortune 500 companies, startups and research labs working to advance quantum computing.
  • In late July 2021, the National Science Foundation announced that NC State will lead a new research initiative, the NSF AI Institute for Engaged Learning, aimed at creating artificial intelligence tools to advance education. The institute is supported by a five-year, $20 million grant from the NSF.
  • Last week the NSF announced that the Science and Technologies for Phosphorus Sustainability Center will be headquartered on NC State’s Centennial Campus. This joint effort between NC State and eight partner institutions is funded by an initial five-year, $25 million grant that is renewable for an additional five years.
  • Numerous improvements to NC State’s campus have been made in the past decade, including new facilities such as the Hunt Library, Fitts-Woolard Hall and the Plant Sciences Building, as well as renovations of Talley Student Union, Reynolds Coliseum, the Wellness and Recreation Center and the Memorial Belltower at Henry Square.

During his tenure, Woodson has led the university through a number of challenges, including the Great Recession in the early 2010s and the recent COVID-19 pandemic. Throughout these difficulties, Woodson maintained a focus on student success and employee satisfaction. NC State was recently ranked as the state’s fourth best place to work in a survey conducted by Forbes.

Woodson is an internationally renowned plant molecular biologist, specializing in reproductive processes in agricultural crops. He earned his undergraduate degree in horticulture from the University of Arkansas and his M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in plant physiology from Cornell University. Prior to joining NC State, he was executive vice president for academic affairs and provost at Purdue University in Indiana.