New UNCW chancellor excited to take the helm
May 3, 2011By Alison Lee Satake and JP Finlay
The University of North Carolina Wilmington has a new chancellor. Gary L. Miller addressed a crowd at UNCW, saying he’s excited at taking the school’s top seat.
“I wanted to come here because this is a world-class university,” Miller said. "What captured my imagination was that this is a university with a soul.”
Miller previously served as provost and vice president of academic affairs and research at Wichita State University since 2006. Today, the University of North Carolina System Board of Governors named Miller UNCW Chancellor by unanimous vote.
“We found Dr. Miller to be the right person at this time,” said Thomas Ross, president of the University of North Carolina system. Miller worked on forming four different business and technology partnerships at Wichita State and said he plans to become a fully-engaged partner with the Wilmington community.
“I have my ideas,” Miller said regarding budget shortcomings at UNCW. “I will share them in discussions working with the leadership team, students and the administration. Part of that is mining the community for ideas.”
Miller also comes to the university as the largest-ever class begins graduation ceremonies next week.
“The enrollment pattern of the university is strategic,” Miller said. “We are very excited about the additional applicants, but we will look closely at the right number for enrollment.”
Miller said that in his first year he hopes to begin a conversation with faculty, staff, students and the community and then set goals from those conversations.
When Miller and his wife visited Wilmington to consider the position at UNCW, both enjoyed the area. Miller has a love of azaleas, and plans to grow the flowery bush when he arrives in town.
Miller’s wife had simple instructions for her husband regarding the UNCW position.
“She said, ‘Gary, don’t blow this,’” Miller said.
Miller received his doctorate degree in biological sciences from Mississippi State University in 1982, and began his academic career as assistant professor of entomology at Mississippi State University. In 1985, he joined the faculty of Weber State University in Ogden, Utah. In 1989, he became an assistant professor of biology at the University of Mississippi (Ole Miss) in Oxford, Miss., where he worked for 14 years and served as biology department chairman for seven years.
In 2002, he became Dean of the College of the Pacific in arts and sciences and professor of biology at the University of the Pacific in northern California. His official start date at UNCW is July 1, but he will be in Wilmington for a two-month transition period.
Chancellor Rosemary DePaolo is retiring June 30 after leading UNCW for eight years. She has played a critical role in the growth of the university by inspiring the university to formulate and focus on strategic goals, giving the university a strong, clear vision for the future, according to a university press release sent last week.
Some of these goals include improving the graduation rate, controlling student-teacher ratios, diversifying the campus and creating a closer community by bringing 40 percent more students to campus housing, according to the press release.
Last week, the school’s board of trustees announced the renaming of Westside Hall to DePaolo Hall to honor her contributions to the university.