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Apr 3, 2023

Reflections on UNCW Chancellor Aswani Volety’s Installation March 31, 2023

Sponsored Content provided by Robert Burrus - Dean , Cameron School of Business - UNC-Wilmington

This piece was contributed by Bob Pious, Director of Swain Center for Executive Education & Economic Development within CSB.
Earlier today I had the privilege of participating in the Installation Ceremony for UNCW’s 7th Chancellor, Dr. Aswani Volety.  I didn’t fully understand what a Chancellor Installation was, but now I do – and why!

On average, a new Chancellor is installed and celebrated at UNCW about once every ten years; so not an everyday occurrence. More importantly, the Ceremony highlights the history of UNCW, the future promise, and underscores the importance of the leadership role the Chancellor position plays in this panorama.  

It is exciting and humbling to think of the progress UNCW has made in its 75 years.  From its beginnings in 1947 as Wilmington College, primarily to serve the veteran community coming home from World War II, to today’s Coastal University in the University of North Carolina System.  From a start of a little over 200 students to today’s student body of almost 18,000.  From fledgling programs to globally recognized and respected programs in such fields as marine science, coastal engineering, business, creative writing, healthcare, and education.  And while located in southeast North Carolina, UNCW – it sends many students to different countries for a variety of international experiences, while at the same time, hosting a thousand international students annually who choose to come to UNCW for their own academic and personal experience in our corner of this world.

The Address given by Chancellor Volety, after his formal installation, to those attending in person and on livestream was moving and inspiring.  It was moving to learn of his humble beginnings on the southern coast of India – progressing through his formative education years there at breakneck speed, then coming to the United States at age 23 to pursue his advanced education with a focus in Marine Science.  Then hearing of his academic progress in a variety of positions at Florida Gulf Coast University, UNCW, Elon, and again returning to UNCW as Chancellor on July 1, 2022.  

Chancellor Volety spoke of his leadership path and how the values he learned from his mentors and experiences has created a foundation of leadership principles he wants to continue within his current role at UNCW.  He spoke of “Grit and Grace” and “Resiliency and Resolve”, among other qualities.

An avowed optimist, he looks at problems and challenges as opportunities.  Also, as a talented collaborator, he aims to include all stakeholders in the analysis and decision-making process.  Though, as a true leader, he will not be afraid to make tough decisions with thoughtfulness, compassion, and grace.

As the executive education and economic development center for UNCW, we at the Swain Center applaud the installation of Chancellor Volety today and celebrate his leadership principles!

We look forward to working under his leadership and in parallel reflecting the leadership principles and values he emulates both professionally and personally.  In today’s world of challenges, helping develop leaders in a variety of organizations and roles who exhibit grit and grace, resiliency and resolve, is a worthy endeavor.

On behalf of the Swain Center team and partners, Congratulations Chancellor Volety!

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