The University of North Carolina at Greensboro

Newsfront Section Title
Moving forward: Search for a successor Photo
Erskine Bowles, UNC system president
Search for a successor

The search for the new chancellor is under way.

Within a month of Chancellor Sullivan's retirement announcement, a search committee was pulled together to begin the process of finding her successor.

Erskine Bowles, president of the 16-campus University of North Carolina, gave the committee its charge at its first organizational meeting.

“This is by far the most important job you will do for this institution, bar none. It will be important not only for UNCG, but for the Triad.”

The committee is conducting a national search with the assistance of executive search firm Baker and Associates LLC. Public forums have been held and a university web site,, contains all the latest updates on the chancellor search process and allows comments and nominations to be emailed to the committee.

“Being involved in the selection process, this committee has the opportunity to find a great leader for a great institution,” said Stephen Hassenfelt, chair of the committee and chair of the UNCG Board of Trustees. “Our job now is to listen to our constituencies, determine the leadership qualities that everyone desires in a new chancellor, find the best candidates possible and match them up with the needs of our university going forward. It is not an easy job.”

The search committee will recommend finalists to the full Board of Trustees, who vote on recommending three finalists to Bowles, Hassenfelt said. Then Bowles will recommend one candidate to the UNC Board of Governors, which elects the new chancellor. The new chancellor is expected to be named in June.

Critical criteria
During his charge, UNC President Erskine Bowles gave the search committee his criteria for a new chancellor:

  • A leader who is as driven as Pat Sullivan to take UNCG to the next level
  • A good administrator and manager
  • Someone who cares and cares deeply about this university
  • Enormous people skills
  • Strong commitment to undergraduate education and research
  • Someone who would buy into the UNC Tomorrow report
  • A good partner for Chancellor Stanley Battle at NC A&T in a cooperative relationship, not just with the Gateway University Research Park, but other academic and research endeavors
  • Someone who will work with the UNC system and with the other universities
  • A community activist
  • A proven fund-raiser


  • April
    • Interview candidates.
    • Narrow candidate list to three semifinalists.
    • Committee recommends finalists to UNCG Board of Trustees.
    • Board of Trustees recommends finalists, unranked, to UNC system President Erskine Bowles.
  • May
    • Bowles interviews finalists.
  • June
    • Bowles recommends candidate to UNC Board of Governors at their June 13 meeting.
  • July
    • Chancellor Patricia Sullivan retires July 31.
  • August
    • New chancellor begins.
Go to top of page
Shooter Exercise Photo
A simulated shooter exercise tested UNCG's emergency systems.
Only a test

When the shooting started on a Monday morning at UNCG, the scene turned scary and chaotic, even though it was only simulated.

Police and emergency personnel were running across campus to confront a fake gunman who had broken into Mendenhall Residence Hall. The “shots” set off a chain of events that left multiple actors “dead” or “wounded” in a scenario that was designed to test the response capabilities of the UNCG Police, and law enforcement and emergency personnel from Greensboro and Guilford County, as well as UNCG communication systems.

The simulation was good training for police and university officials who hope they never face a day like that. Media covered the event, which featured 120 law enforcement personnel and 85 volunteer role players including staff, students and members of the campus community.

More than 150 observers came from as far away as Texas and Arkansas to observe. These university administrators, public safety officials, school superintendents and their staffs were on hand to observe so that they could learn how to handle these types of incidents.

Go to top of page
Uncommon grounds
Kaplan Commons rendering

The west lawn in front of Elliott University Center is getting an extreme makeover thanks to a gift by Randall Kaplan, a member of the UNCG Board of Trustees, and his wife, Kathy Manning, an attorney.

Kaplan Commons, as the area will be called, will feature new trees, flowering plants, ornamental shrubs, benches, walkways and a new irrigation system.

“I feel that a campus and the aesthetics of a campus lay the foundation for how people feel about the community they are living in,” Kaplan said. “The public spaces of a university should be inviting for students to hang out together and for faculty and students to talk.”

The Kaplan Commons dedication will coincide with FallFest 2008, which will take place on the commons.

Go to top of page
Photo of 459 year-old longleaf pine specimen in Weymouth Woods Sand Hills Nature Preserve
Photo of 459 year-old longleaf pine specimen in Weymouth Woods Sand Hills Nature Preserve. Photo by Joseph Rodriguez/News & Record
Ring in the old

To the untrained eye, the tree isn't very impressive. Standing in a grove of longleaf pines in Weymouth Woods Sand Hills Nature Preserve near Southern Pines, this specimen seems just like any other.

But a look inside this Pinus palustris, North Carolina's state tree, revealed a secret that could give the tree a place in history.

“I could tell right away that the tree was old,” says Jason Ortegren '05 MA, a doctoral student in the geography department who conducts research in dendrochronology, a method of scientific dating based on the analysis of tree-ring growth patterns. What Jason found amazed him: According to analysis of the tree's rings, the seemingly ordinary longleaf pine was estimated to be more than 459 years old, making it the oldest living sampled tree of its kind in the world.

“The rings were relatively narrow and tightly packed together,” says Jason, who removed a 2 millimeter core sample using a Swedish Increment Borer. He later analyzed it in the geography department's Carolina Tree-Ring Science Laboratory.

During times of environmental stress such as drought, tree rings show narrower growth.

Finding a living tree dating back to 1548 helps scientists understand cycles of drought and other climatic episodes, says Jason, whose dissertation reconstructs drought during the last 500 years in the Piedmont region. “The idea is to have a thorough overview of drought beyond the last 200 years,” he says. “When we think of ‘average’ climate, we really don't know how average it is. We need much longer records on which to base our idea of normal conditions. Then we might be better prepared to handle ‘abnormal’ conditions, such as this year.”

While finding an older longleaf pine isn't out of the question, Jason says that now his top priority is finishing his dissertation. After that he may return to Weymouth Woods with his trusty Swedish Increment Borer in hand. “Given that we found one,” he says, “there must be others.”

Go to top of page
photo of freshmen students Team QUESt Team Expedition Course at Piney Lake
Some international students learn what it's like to test their boundaries.
Higher learning

Sometimes, it's a matter of perspective.

Things look different to a student fresh from a foreign land halfway around the world. Additionally, things look different from 40 feet above the earth, supported only by a few strong cables — and your friends. Trust, concentration, teamwork, confidence — and perhaps additional strengths you never knew you had — will get you through.

Some UNCG freshmen from overseas had a chance to continue to bond and open themselves to new experiences last fall at UNCG's Team QUESt Team Expedition Course at Piney Lake.

The course was built last summer. Staff and faculty groups, corporate and community groups, as well as student groups are able to use it. Up to four teams of participants can be up on the course at one time, for a total of 32 participants. The challenge? Find ways on each portion of the course to overcome challenges so you can get to the next section. You're rewarded at the end (if you want) with an exhilarating jump down a zip line.

The students put on their safety harnesses and gear, and in pairs they learn and practice the safety skills, as facilitators assist. No one is ever on their own — they always have support.

A quick crawl 30 feet up the cargo net and they’re safely clipped in and ready to find a way to the other side.

Tshèring Tobgay, UNCG's first student from Bhutan, near Tibet, calls out to Mansur Aloleany, from Saudi Arabia. “Go Mansur, go! Whoa!”

Hussain Alawani, also from Saudi Arabia, joins them. They have to find a way to propel the platform. They collectively rock it forward. “Whatever you're doing, keep doing it!” someone shouts.

A facilitator observes, “People will surprise you. They'll surpass all their expectations” once they're up on the course.

Saerom Han ventures forward. She is from South Korea and shares a platform with Megan Stallworth, a senior who assists with the class. Pam Harrod, the class instructor and director of International Admissions, offers encouragement from below.

Harrod explains that this UNS class composed of international students offers not only a safe place to learn skills all freshmen learn — but a “safe place” to practice test-taking and speaking in front of others in English, talk and learn about local cultures and foods, and learn how to cope and where to ask for help.

She looks up. “Saerom is very relaxed up there,” Harrod marvels. They are now crossing the upper level. Saerom is the first to reach a perch at 40 feet, and stands tall, hands on hips.

“She does not seem fazed at all. She just goes and goes. Awesome.”

Harrod calls up to her, “Are you ready to take on the world?” Saerom beams. It's evident that she is.

Go to top of page
Wish lists becoming to-do lists

Our state is changing. Demographics, commerce, technology — all are evolving. How should the university system change to meet the people's need? What should it look like decades down the road?

The UNC Tomorrow Commission went on a listening tour last year — and they heard lots of suggestions. From Sylva to Elizabeth City, they learned that citizens value the UNC system, and want more from it.

In January, the commission delivered its report to the system's Board of Governors. Of the many suggestions, which are undergoing review, perhaps the most controversial is to consider allowing immigrants to pay in-state tuition rates, in order to raise the educational levels of the state's growing Hispanic population. More universally supported may be the expansion of online programs, greater focus on meeting the state's economic needs and more attention to non-traditional students, such as adults returning for additional skills.

Dr. Keith Debbage, professor of geography, served on the UNC Tomorrow Scholars Council.

He emphasized that the system must spur economic transformation. “It can play a much more substantive role — such as instituting rewards for research that can help create jobs and new economies.” In the Triad, this would mean targeting transport logistics, biotechnology, advanced health sciences and nanotechnology.

“This is close to my heart,” Debbage said. He heard citizens throughout the state talk of job losses and economic needs. “We [in the UNC system] are more responsible to taxpayers than we've ever been. We must do more than just educate them.”

Go to top of page
The power of a great teacher

Although it's been a decade since he was president of The University of North Carolina system, C.D. Spangler Jr. is still the system's biggest supporter. And even though he's decades removed from grade school, he fondly remembers his fourth grade teacher.

Spangler, one of the state's most successful businessmen, is endowing a distinguished professorship at UNCG in honor of his fourth grade teacher, Helena Gabriel Houston, who graduated from the North Carolina College for Women (now UNCG) in 1927.

The Helena G. Houston Professorship in Science Education is being created through a pair of matching fund initiatives started this year by the C.D. Spangler Foundation. The programs will allow UNCG and each of the other 15 UNC campuses to create distinguished professorships each year over the next five years, for a total of 96 new distinguished professorships.

Spangler has said that Houston, who died in 2002, was one of the best teachers he ever had, and he wanted the first professorship at UNCG to carry her name.

“This is an amazing gift to the university system, and UNCG will benefit tremendously from it,” said Chancellor Sullivan. “President Spangler has said that Mrs. Houston was an excellent teacher who inspired him as a student. This new professorship and the opportunity to create five others will allow us to recruit and retain top faculty in critical needs areas in the state.”

The first professorships are free system-wide this year. The five additional professorships for UNCG and the other campuses will require that the institutions raise matching funds. All of the new professorships must be in the high-need fields of teacher education, engineering, nursing, and the traditional arts and sciences.

To endow the additional distinguished professorships, UNCG's challenge will be to raise $417,000 for each — or $2.1 million. That goal can be met through the Students First Campaign, which has raised more than $91 million toward its $100 million goal.

“One of the Students First Campaign's priorities is the creation of endowed professorships so that our students can learn from the brightest faculty,” said Dr. Patricia W. Stewart, vice chancellor for advancement. “This is a wonderful opportunity for UNCG's friends and supporters who have considered creating a distinguished professorship as a gift to the university.”

A successful Charlotte businessman and passionate advocate for public education, C. D. Spangler Jr. served as UNC system president from 1986 to 1997. Previously, he and his family foundation have made donations to endow or complete 37 distinguished professorships across the university system.

Go to top of page
No elbows on the table

Where are your manners?

At November's UNCG Career Services Etiquette Dinner, they were flashing, one tip after the other, on the PowerPoint screen, extolled by the speakers — and practiced by all who attended.

Many students are keenly aware that the hard skills they learn in class need to be complemented by the important “soft skills” that will help them land that first job — and that will help them throughout their careers.

“Obviously, my parents taught me great table manners,” said Ashley Jacobsen, a senior, “but the small things can make a huge difference.”

The 120 students at the dinner — seated eight to a table — enjoyed a five course meal with each course accompanied by tips and fun pop quizzes, along with chances for questions and answers.

They learned that when passing an item such as a bread basket, offer it to the person on your left, take a piece, then pass it to the right. About how to follow the lead of the host at the table. That the waitstaff can be very helpful — and when you treat them courteously, it reflects well on you. And ultimately, to always keep in mind that eating is secondary. The point of any business meal is to interact.

A few of the tips — in bite size portions

  • Introductions: The “lesser person” should always be introduced to the senior — and it's helpful to explain who the people are in the group.
  • Bread: Break it into moderately sized pieces — do not bite the bread.
  • Soup: Remove the spoon from the soup by going away from your body, not toward it.
  • Salad: Use the salad fork (usually the smaller one), and if there's a tomato, you might prick it with your fork, so air can escape before you cut it.
  • Entrée: When finished, lay your knife and fork across the plate in the 10:20 position (as if they are pointed between 10 and 11 o'clock), with the fork closest to you.
  • Dessert: Dessert utensils are found above your dinner plate — but order dessert only if you have been invited to do so by your host.
  • Ultimate goal: The main point is to interact — eating is secondary. Take small bites. Keep pace with others. Don't order messy items. Keep it easy for you to converse with those at the table.
Go to top of page
Who wants to be an entrepreneur?

Being an entrepreneur means saying yes to your ideas and dreams when everyone else is saying no.

To make the transition from daydreams to reality, the university has launched BELL (Building Entrepreneurial Learning for Life), an initiative aimed at weaving entrepreneurship throughout the curriculum. BELL exposes students to the world of starting and operating businesses in fields from the arts to technology.

“I didn't figure out what I wanted to do until I was 44,” said Marirose Steigerwald '84.

Speaking as part of a panel of alumni entrepreneurs at the BELL forums held last fall, Marirose said that after years in the corporate world, she started getting “itchy” to start her own company, one that would combine her two passions — “business and humans.” Today, as president and founder of The Human Element, Inc., Marirose is happier than she's ever been.

“We want students to have the chance to take their dreams and turn them into reality,” said Joseph Erba of the Bryan School, one of the coordinators of the BELL forums. This spring students enrolled in Campus CEO, a new course that will enable them to start and operate their own businesses on campus, a crucial first step for new entrepreneurs.

The message for young entrepreneurs is do what you like and success will follow, provided you've got the proper education and skills, Erba said. Just ask Chris Lester '94, co-owner of Caneca, Inc., which owns and operates Natty Greene's Pub & Brewing Company in Greensboro. After college Chris took a job unloading beer trucks because “he really liked beer.” Today Chris owns two brewing facilities and distributes Natty Greene's signature beer throughout the Triad.

Go to top of page
Reaching out to those speaking out

It's all too easy to forget that the rights Americans enjoy — including rights to free speech and academic freedom — don't always exist in other nations.

UNCG is supporting academic freedom worldwide by joining Scholars at Risk, an international network that provides a safe haven for intellectuals fleeing oppression in their homelands.

“I see academic freedom as a basic human right,” said Dr. Jerry Pubantz, a professor of political science who suggested the university join SAR. “If you can't exercise it, that's a real loss and a real violation of rights.”

SAR, based at New York University, arranges speaking engagements and visiting professorships for scholars at risk, which helps to inform students, faculty and the public about academic rights violations.

UNCG and Duke University are the only North Carolina universities to join SAR so far. Pubantz is working with university administrators and fellow faculty to build an organizational framework for the program. He foresees starting with a speaker series featuring SAR scholars that would eventually grow into visiting professorships.

Pubantz expects to encounter scholars primarily from sub-Saharan Africa, the Middle East and Asia. “Not since the 1940s and '50s have academic scholars in such numbers had to flee their countries, or not been able to do their work or enjoy academic freedom,” he said. “It would be great for our students to learn from these scholars. We are really serving the whole academic community that way.”

Go to top of page
Here's the plan
An update of the Campus Master Plan

It's hard to believe that UNCG's student body could grow to between 23,000 and 24,000. But looking ahead to 2025, such growth is almost inevitable, with the state's growing population. The logistics of adding another 6,000 to 7,000 students will call for enormous new resources in classroom and research facilities, library space, faculty offices and student housing.

It poses a daunting task, but the university has finished an update of its Campus Master Plan that identifies new building needs and possible locations. The plan also acknowledges UNCG's need to expand outside its traditional boundaries — Aycock, Tate and West Market streets, and Oakland Avenue — which have remained constant for more than 20 years.

Ten structures make up UNCG's list of primary capital needs: a library addition, two classroom and office buildings, an expansion for the School of Nursing, a performing arts academic wing, a child development center, an administration/student services building, a data center, a public safety building and a chiller plant to serve the west side of the campus. Other key capital needs include an expansion of the recreation center, 18 acres of new recreation fields, a residence hall for 400 students, athletics offices, a training complex and a baseball clubhouse.

Friends of Peabody Park can breathe easy. Green spaces, and the need to protect them, were incorporated into the plan. Expect taller buildings in order to address the growth of the campus population.

To see the complete Master Plan, visit

Go to top of page
Revved up

A team of five students from the Bryan School won first place in the 2007 Chevrolet College Marketing Challenge.

Their task? Develop an integrated marketing communications plan about Chevrolet's fuel-efficient vehicles and advanced technologies targeted at adults 18-30.

Bryan students built their marketing communication plan around saving money, rather than touting environment concerns. During their research, which included combing through more than 800 interviews, students found that cutting a car's sticker price trumped cutting fuel emissions for their demographic group.

As the winning team, UNCG will have their creative materials become part of an integrated Chevrolet campaign and will have the opportunity to intern with Chevrolet or their agency partners. In recognition of the team's success, Chevrolet will make a scholarship donation to the university.

“This is not the first time UNCG has placed first in this competition,” said Dr. James K. Weeks, dean of the Bryan School. “It's extremely gratifying to see our students continually finishing in first place while the competition has increased every year.”

Submissions were evaluated on market research, market strategy, promotional sales tactics, media plan and creative development of ideas in the integrated marketing communications plans.

The team was led by Dr. Norwood McMillian of the Department of Business Administration.

Go to top of page
Putting their heads together

It's 4:30 in the afternoon and several Introduction to Poetry students perch on overstuffed armchairs in the lobby of Jackson Library staring at a plasma screen and chatting. But these students aren't watching soap operas or goofing off when they should be prepping for class. They are prepping for class. By hooking up to one of UNCG's five new collaboratories — computer stations equipped with large screens — groups of up to six can share ideas, team up on projects, edit files and view video in real time, all hooked into the same system.

In a culture where instant messaging is the norm, collaboratories allow students to work together in real time and work more efficiently by allowing everyone to literally be on the same page. They are also a great place for students to study and work on digital projects together, said Ray Purdom, director of the Teaching and Learning Center.

“I like the collaboratory because everyone can see what they're doing,” said senior Erin DePalo. Besides, she added, “it's too frustrating to email.”

Go to top of page
The evolution of a biologist

And she had planned to be a biologist.

On Oct. 2, 1995, Pat Sullivan took the oath of office that installed her as UNCG's first female chancellor. The ceremony took place inside Aycock Auditorium on Founders Day. She delivered a 30-minute speech in which she repeatedly said, “UNCG is the right place to be, right now.” And she went on to lead us, the Spartans, for the next 13 years.

Sullivan actually began her job months earlier, in January. A reporter from the Carolinian sat down to chat with Sullivan for an interview, which appeared in the Feb. 3, 1995, edition.

Chancellor Sullivan outlines her philosophy for the university
When the search for UNCG's new chancellor began last spring, there were suspicions that the next chancellor might be a woman. Chancellor Sullivan said that it has become apparent to her that her appointment means a lot to the UNCG community.

“It's clear to me that it means a great deal to many of our students, and especially to many of our alumnae, that this has happened. From my own perspective, I have spent my whole academic career trying to increase the opportunities for women, and if I can do that in this role, then that's a privilege to do. The other thing is that since women are now earning more than half of the bachelor's degrees and master's degrees in this country, it seems absolutely appropriate that women see people like themselves at all levels in the university. I would hope that some of our women students would aspire to be a chancellor or a president because they've seen that it can be done,” Sullivan said.

Although Chancellor Sullivan began her professional career in the field of biology, she turned toward administration in the early 1980s. Since that time, Chancellor Sullivan has served as Dean of Salem College and Interim President at Texas Woman's University.

“You need to understand that I went into the academic world for very intellectual reasons. I loved my field. I really loved biology, and it was only in the process of becoming a faculty member and getting involved in things outside the classroom that I began to get interested in administration. I now see administration as another form of teaching. … It really demands all the things you get in a liberal arts education, because you have to be such a generalist,” Sullivan said.

Sullivan grew up in Staten Island, N.Y., which she says was “a small town” at the time. Although Sullivan has been married for almost 29 years and has an extended family of nieces and nephews, she has no children of her own. Sullivan and her husband, who specializes in software development, are responsible for the care of his mother.

“We were in that parenting parents generation,” Sullivan said.

In Sullivan's spare time, she reads and says she particularly enjoys biographies.

“One of my favorites is Eleanor Roosevelt. … I am interested in biographies of women who made a difference and how it is they made a difference. She's a real role model,“ Sullivan said.

Recently, Sullivan has attended several UNCG basketball games. Sullivan says she appreciates the value that athletics can bring to a university.

“One of the facts of modern life that I've learned is that the average person learns more about universities from the sports pages than they do from all of the other things we do. … A strong, high-quality athletic program which puts primary emphasis on students as students enhances the recognition, the status of the university. … I think the real challenge is to keep it absolutely clean and above board, and for us to always remember that the reason the basketball players are here is, first, to be students and, second, to be basketball players,… Sullivan said.

Chancellor Sullivan emphasizes that there is a lot students and student leaders can do to aid the progress of the university.

Sullivan advises students to “look around; listen very carefully. Try to get lots of perspectives and viewpoints … to see how we can come up with solutions to problems or new ideas, and then once you do it, stick to it. Be willing to really work hard for it.”

Go to top of page
The University of North Carolina at Greensboro
Location: 1000 Spring Garden Street, Greensboro, NC 27403
Mailing Address: PO Box 26170, Greensboro, NC 27402-6170
Telephone: 336.334.5000
Driving directions
Last updated: Tuesday, 04 October 2011
Accessibility policy