UNCW installs chancellor
April 20, 2012By Alison Lee Satake
The University of North Carolina at Wilmington unfurled its academic regalia on Thursday for the installation of its fourth chancellor and seventh leader, Gary Leon Miller. Miller has been serving as chancellor of the youngest UNC university for the past nine months. He accepted the position in May 2011 and took the post on July 1 amidst deep budget cuts.
“Chancellor Miller believes in the promise of education…he is ready to take this university to the next level,” said Hannah Gage, chairwoman of the UNC Board of Governors in the installation ceremony. “But, to be successful, he will need the support of the entire community, in these tough times.”
UNC president Thomas Ross echoed this sentiment and retold the history of the College of Wilmington, which was founded in 1947 after citizens and business leaders levied a tax for higher education. In 1961, citizens supported the purchase of 64 acres of land for the current campus on S. College Road, he said. The college joined the University of North Carolina system in 1969.
“Our past is inexorably linked to southeastern North Carolina, as well as our future,” said Chancellor Gary Miller in his address. He introduced a new moniker for UNCW as “North Carolina’s coastal university” when talking about the unique natural resources of the region.
“To be a national and global leader in demonstrating how universities can serve their regions, we must come to understand and embrace the importance of our coastal location as a powerful metaphor for many of the most significant questions of commerce, human health, nutrition, the environment and social and cultural dynamics,” he said.
He identified strengthening the partnerships with sister institutions in the UNC system, as the coastal university. He emphasized three of UNCW’s core values to build upon: a commitment to the journey of learning, love and stewardship of place and the power of ideas and innovation.
“To support innovation we will have to examine traditions, take risks and, most importantly, accept and learn from failure. We will have to make difficult choices. UNCW has always embraced innovation and, in the recent difficult [economic] times, it is this spirit of innovation that has sustained us,” he said. “The world is changing.”
He noted how globalization and the rapid expansion of technology will test every academic assumption. Pointing out that a billion Google searches will be made and thousands of YouTube videos will be posted in one day, he said: “I imagine some of you are engaged in some of these at this very moment.”
The crowd seated on Hoggard Lawn laughed.
“I just want to make sure President Ross didn’t have his phone out,” he said.