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Friday, January 22, 2010

2009 in Review at UNCP

Changing  the guard. Chancellor Allen C. Meadors retired on June 30, 2009, making it 10 years of growth. Enrollment more than doubled, construction re-constructed the campus, football returned, records for giving were shattered and the Town of Pembroke blossomed. UNC President Erskine Bowles tapped UNCP veteran administrator Dr. Charles Jenkins as interim and a search committee is hard at work led by Board of Trustee Chairwoman Dr. Freda Porter. A new leader is expected to be named in April.

Chairs for scholars. Scholarship at UNCP received a large boost with four new endowed distinguished professorships. The C.D. Spangler Foundation funded two endowments in education (filled in 2009) and one in mathematics (established in 2009). Irwin Belk established a professorship in nursing in 2009 to honor his late daughter-in-law and Lumberton native Anne Reynolds Belk. And in 2009, Thomas Family Distinguished Professorship in Entrepreneurship was filled, and funds continued to accumulate in the BB&T Endowed Professorship in the Philosophical Foundations of Free Enterprise in the School of Business. Meanwhile, UNCP’s first endowed chair, the William Friday Distinguished Professorship in Molecular Biology, landed an internationally recognized researcher in 2009.

Toasting football. In just its third year on the gridiron, UNCP’s football team became the fastest program ever to receive an NCAA tournament bid. The Braves completed their second straight 9-1 regular season and has not lost at home over that period. UNCP punter Justin Hinson became the very first, first-team Associated Press All-American. The Braves finished the season ranked 20th in the nation.

Fermenting success. Years of work with grants and research paid off in 2009 in several ways for biotechnology. The new Biotechnology Research and Training Center at COMtech was opened with help from a combination of public and private funding. UNCP successfully wooed a world-class scientist to the new center with help from a grant from the N.C. Biotechnology Center. Research scientist Dr. Ben Bahr came to UNCP with a history of attracting grants, patents and student research. More good news came in the form of a $750,000 federal grant for UNCP’s biofuels program.

Faculty scholarship. Scholarly endeavors bore fruit in 2009 with a number of excellent books published.  Here are a few:

  • “Chasing Moonlight” was co-authored by Dr. Robert Reising, a retired member of the English Department. The book reveals the life of Doc ‘Moonlight’ Graham, who was featured in the movie “Field of Dreams.” It was listed as one of the top summer reads of 2009.
  • The 2nd edition of “The Encyclopedia of Terrorism,” co-authored by Dr. Martin Slann, dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, was published. A burning hot issue, the second edition was printed just two years after the original.
  • “Radical Embodiment,” Dr. David Nikkel’s latest book, would heal an ancient divide in Western thought.  Dr. Nikkel, who is chair of the Department of Philosophy and Religion, would close the divide in the dual nature of the mind and body, reason and emotion.
  • “The Principals of Economics” is a popular and readable textbook for introducing students to the complexities of macro and microeconomics. UNCP economist Dr. Lydia Gan co-authored the Asian edition. Another co-author is Dr. Ben Bernanke, chair of the Federal Reserve Bank.
  • “Governmental and Nonprofit Accounting” is a textbook by Dr. Craig Shoulders, chair of the School of Business’ Accounting Department.
  • “Crisis Management in the New Strategic Landscape,” authored by Drs. William “Rick” Crandall, John A. Parnell and John E. Spillan of the School of Business, was published. The book outlines the importance of planning for crises as part of every organization’s strategic management plan. 
  • “The First White House Library” is Dr. Catherine Parisian’s look into the card catalog of this famous collection. Dr. Parisian is a member of the English Department faculty.
  • “Jewish Fundamentalism and the Temple on the Mount: Who will Build the Third Temple?” by Dr. Mordechai Inbari. Dr. Inbari is a member of the Department of Philosophy and Religion faculty.
  • “A Study of the ‘Present Perfect’ and ‘Preterit’ Usage in Present-day Spanish” was written by Dr. Antonio Valle de Antón of the Foreign Languages Department.

Enrollment still growing. Fall enrollment surged again 5.7 percent to 6,661. Records were broken for freshmen, transfer and out-of state students. The GPAs and SATs of freshmen showed improvement as did freshman retention.

Read all about it. The resurgent school newspaper made some noise in 2009 winning top honors from the American Scholastic Press Association. The Pine Needle was rated one of the top newspapers in the nation among 2,000 entries nationwide. The newspaper has added pages, color photography and a sports section in recent years. The level of journalism is high as the honor demonstrates.

Lights and cameras. UNC Public Television launched a series of town hall meetings on North Carolina’s troubled rural economy and broadcast the first from Pembroke. Hosted by Shannon Vickery, panelists included Chancellor Charles Jenkins and Board of Trustees Chairwoman Dr. Freda Porter.

Bragging rights. It is commonplace for UNCP to be cited in national publications for its outstanding achievements, but it is worth noting that the University’s praises were sung in 2009 by U.S. News & World Report, the Princeton Review, Diverse magazine and two magazines for the military. Again, UNCP was the most diverse campus in the South and ranked as a leader for the number of international students among similar North Carolina institutions. The University was listed as a “Best Southeastern University” and “military friendly.” UNCP ranked number one for American Indian graduates east of the Mississippi and ranked at the top nationally for American Indian graduates with science and health care majors.

Commencements. The May 2009 Commencement set a record with more than 600 graduates. When combined with 537 graduates in December, it was a record for one year, reminding the University that graduation is what higher education is about and that commencements are new beginnings.

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