PEMBROKE — More than 100 years after its humble beginnings, The University of North Carolina at Pembroke installed its fifth chancellor, Kyle R. Carter, on Friday.
“Those founders had an incredible vision, but never in their wildest dreams would they have imagined what UNC Pembroke would look like today,” said Hannah Gage, the chair of the University of North Carolina Governors.
Carter took the oath of office Friday as the new chancellor at UNCP, a ceremonial debut that comes nine and a half months after he first took charge of the university.
“The ceremonial installation is not really connected to the actual assumption of leadership,” said Scott Bigelow, the associate director of public relations for the university. “It is usually done within the first year. … It celebrates our new leader, and, equally important, the institution itself.”
The two-hour long ceremony closed a week of events to celebrate Chancellor Carter and the university, with the theme of Honoring our Traditions, Securing our Future.
“There is no doubt in my mind that Chancellor Carter is the right person to lead this university today and in the years ahead,” said the University of North Carolina President Thomas Ross, who performed the installation.
“This entire installation week has been a celebration of this institution’s history and the contributions of the faculty, staff and students,” Carter said.
A native of Atlanta, Carter is a 35-year veteran of higher education. He has worked at Valdosta State College as faculty, and was the associate vice president for Research and Graduate Studies at Northern Colorado University, where he worked for 22 years. He was Western Carolina’s first provost and served as the vice president for Academic Affairs there.
During Carter’s first weeks at UNCP, a state budget shortfall required him to make the first difficult decision of his tenure, approving an increase in tuition of 6.5 percent for the 2011-2012 school year. The hikes were among the most modest in the UNC system.
“During this time of the state’s worst ever budgetary picture, Dr. Carter has already begun to encounter the unpleasant parts of leading an organization, balancing faculty, staff, programs and resources,” said Freda Porter, the chair of the board of trustees. “He appears to have passed his first difficult trial, with utmost resolve and concern for the organization.”
Carter emphasized his major goals for the university, including to adapt to the ‘new normal’ in terms of the financial climate, graduating more students, becoming a regional university and a university of choice.
He said that with the university’s spike in enrollment and expanding in areas of research and housing, changes will be necessary to adapt.
“UNC Pembroke is like a young adult who is experiencing rapid physical growth, developing new skills and abilities, developing social networks and assuming new responsibilities,” Carter said.
Following remarks by supporters, Carter’s family, including his wife Sarah, son Travis, daughter Heather Hamner and her husband Daks, and their son Ryland, joined him on stage. Sarah held the Bible while Carter took his oath.
Carolina Choi, a senior at UNCP, was one of the more than 500 people who attended the event.
“I think it’s a historic moment to be a student and to be able to witness such an event,” she said. “… It really gives new insight on the university. He seems already engaged and aware of the community and the history of this university.”
Carter was proud that all funds for the ceremony were raised privately.
“When Sarah and I moved here in June, I wrote a message to incoming students that started with the phrase, ‘UNCP’s heritage marks its character.’ Today, I would add an amendment. UNCP’s heritage marks its character and shapes its future.”