Chancellor’s Fall Forum 2012

State of the University Address

Chancellor Randy Woodson

October 23, 2012

North Carolina State University

Thank you Andy. Students, you are fortunate to have such a dedicated leader and strong advocate in Andy Walsh.

And, thank you all for your attendance this morning.

Today we come together to reflect on the last year, look to the challenges ahead, and most importantly, celebrate the successes of our university, our people and our work.

And today, we have much to celebrate – including our university’s 125-year history of tradition and transformation.

To help set the tone, I’d like to show a video you may have seen over the last few months that highlights our 125-years of impact while capturing the spirit of this great university.

(play the 125 video)

As we have for 125 years, NC State continues to transform lives on campus, in North Carolina, across our nation and throughout the world, every day.

Before we spend some time recognizing our recent accomplishments, I think it is only appropriate to look back to the historic event that led to the creation of our university.

This year our nation commemorates the 150th anniversary of the Morrill Act, the federal legislation that gave rise to NC State and more than 100 other institutions across the country.

Signed by President Abraham Lincoln on July 2, 1862 and named for Rep. Justin Morrill, the Morrill Act was transformational. Unique from anything previously attempted anywhere in the world – the Morrill Act put into action the idea that regardless of economic status, a college education was available to anyone with the ability and motivation to attain that degree.

In the midst of a teetering economy and in the echoes of the Civil War, our leaders chose to invest in education as a key means of driving the future success of our nation.

This investment worked beyond anyone's wildest expectations. So well in fact that we now see nations such as China and India making unparalleled investments in their own education systems designed to model ours.

This Act gave birth to land-grant universities like NC State, focused on discovering new knowledge, educating the next generation for the use of that knowledge and applying that knowledge for the benefit of society.

Because of this act, 125 years ago NC State was founded to benefit the people of North Carolina and the nation. In that time, we’ve grown from our first class of 72 to more than more than 34,000 students – and into one of America’s premier research universities, as reflected by a wide variety of rankings.

One measure that continues to set us apart is the value attributed to an NC State education. We are consistently recognized as a best value for our combination of outstanding academic quality and affordability.

In the past few months alone U.S. News and World Report named NC State in the top five best values among public universities, and Fox Business announced that NC State was among only a handful of U.S. Colleges – the only one in North Carolina – named a Top Value.

Because of our value, NC State students graduate with lower-than-average debt. U.S. News recently ranked us among the top national universities with the lowest debt load for its students upon graduation.

And, our graduates are leaving ready to succeed in the workforce – the Wall Street Journal names NC State graduates in the top 20 most desired by recruiters.

Think about that: we’re among the top in quality, best in value – and our graduates are among the most desired by job recruiters. That’s a powerful combination.

Another recent ranking from U.S. News was NC State’s designation as a top-20 “up-and-comer” that has recently made the “most promising and innovative changes…”

It’s hard to believe that a university 125 years old can be an up and comer, but that designation recognizes the positive momentum, success and increased national recognition of our university.

As you know, in 2010 we launched The Pathway to the Future: NC State’s Strategic Plan. Over the last year, we designated implementation teams to help achieve the plan’s five critical goals, and I’m proud to report, thanks to your hard work, we are making great progress.

Focusing our work on a consistent strategic vision, we – all of us together – are reinventing a university that is leaner, smarter, and stronger than ever before -- elevating NC State to new levels of effectiveness, efficiency and impact.

We are making improvements to transform – through improved operations, services, student experiences and significant investments in faculty. A few highlights from the past year include:

  • The launch of the Chancellor’s Faculty Excellence Program: We’re investing $5 million to hire 39 faculty in 12 strategically important, multidisciplinary areas, including forensic sciences and personalized medicine.
  • The expansion of the Chancellor’s Innovation Fund: We selected our second group of awardees this summer. Seven projects – ranging from robotic limbs and computer security to shape-shifting antennas and lighter body armor for soldiers – received funding designed to help drive these technologies to the marketplace.
  • Introduction of the University Faculty Scholars Program: This program will identify up to 20 outstanding young faculty each year who will, for a five-year period, carry the title University Faculty Scholar and receive a $10,000 annual supplement.
  • The successful merger of Student Affairs and Undergraduate Academic Programs: Through the strategic merger we created the Division of Academic and Student Affairs, or DASA, improving services to students while creating efficiencies.
  • Implementation of a new Enrollment Plan: Aimed at improving academic quality while maintaining access for North Carolinians, the plan calls for enrollment to grow to 37,000 by the year 2020, with the majority of growth in graduate students. A critical part of the plan is investing in more faculty to teach students.
  • Progress on the Business Operations Centers: Consolidating 36 business offices into about seven shared service centers over the next two years, with the first center opening targeted for early next year.
  • Announcement of the College of Sciences: Some of the most pressing scientific issues of today lie at the intersection of the mathematical, computational, physical and biological sciences. The new College of Sciences, which will replace the College of Physical and Mathematical Sciences, will go live July 1, 2013.
  • And, the completion of our transition to Google, major improvements to the internal transfer process and Change of Degree Application for our students, and the launch of our new Student Advising Dashboard and new Enrollment Wizard. Led by Marc Hoit and the department of OIT, these updates open new pathways for academic exploration and enhanced student success.

As these examples demonstrate, we are building positive momentum by leveraging our resources and investing in NC State’s most valuable assets – our people.

And our people have led the institution to many prestigious accolades and achievements over the last year, reflecting the excellence of NC State. There are many successes that deserve recognition – too many, in fact, to fit in the time we have here today.

But, I’d like to point out a few that highlight the upward trajectory of our university community.

First, we’ve attracted some of the nation’s top talent for leadership positions.

  • Dr. Mike Mullen who recently joined us as Vice Chancellor for DASA.
  • Dr. Paul Lunn, Dean of the College Veterinary Medicine, joined us in February.
  • Last month, Dr. Rich Linton became our new Dean of the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences.
  • And just a few days ago, Dr. Mary Watzin joined us as Dean of the College of Natural Resources.

We’ve also been successful in continuing to attract outstanding students to NC State.

  • More than 20,000 students applied to be part of our freshman class, the largest applicant pool in history.
  • This year’s incoming freshman class is the most academically strong in our 125-year history, with average SAT scores over 1,200 and weighted GPAs over 4.3.
  • More than half of the freshmen were in the top 10 percent of their high school graduating class – including 82 valedictorians and 82 salutatorians.

Our success also extends into research.

  • Last year NC State expended a very impressive $380 million on its research activities, despite a shrinking pool of competitive research grants, making ours among the most productive research universities in the nation.

    Just last month we announced a new Engineering Research Center called ASSIST. Funded with $18 million from the NSF, the center will make self- powered health monitoring devices.

    NC State is the only university in the nation leading two NSF ERCs, and one of only two to ever have had three centers.

  • There’s no doubt that NC State research broadly impacts our communities. For example, Sociologist Sarah Bowen is directing a five-year, $3 million grant from the USDA to study the root causes behind childhood obesity in low-income families.

    The project’s goal is to track urban and rural families to better understand the factors – economic, social, cultural and environmental – that contribute to the nation’s obesity epidemic.

  • NC State’s high level of research support attracts top faculty and creates unsurpassed learning opportunities for students. It also attracts industry partners and results in tremendous economic benefit for North Carolina.

    A case in point: NC State recently entered into a six-year, $10 million agreement with Eastman Chemical Company to conduct cutting-edge research in chemistry, materials science and other scientific disciplines.

  • Our colleges and departments, alongside Vice Chancellor Terri Lomax and her team, have created a wonderful research environment at NC State.

Another hallmark of NC State is our service to society. We were honored earlier this year to receive the highest federal award for community service, the Presidential Award, as part of the 2012 President’s Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll.

A highlight we don’t want to overlook: in the midst of significant budget challenges, under the leadership of Warwick Arden and Charlie Leffler, we’ve managed the fiscal resources of this university in an exceptional manner, never losing our focus on the importance of our mission or our need to be fine stewards of the public trust.

And in this era of budget challenges, with an increased need for alternative funding methods, Nevin Kessler has led the campus to its best fundraising year in history.

  • NC State received gifts and pledges totaling more than $111 million last year.
  • NC State’s annual giving program alone witnessed the addition of 3,000 new donors – making NC State the nation’s leader in attracting new donors, according to a survey of the nation’s 60 best public and private universities.
  • And, as we all heard the week before last, with the announcement of a $10 million gift to establish the Prestage Family Department of Poultry Science, fundraising this year is off to a great start.

Eileen Goldgeier and the Office of General Counsel led a review and reduction of NC State policies and regulations to remove bureaucracy and enhance organizational excellence.

Finally, any recognition of NC State highlights from the last year would be seriously lacking without recognizing some of the tremendous achievements in Athletics.

  • Of course, we’re all excited about the transformation of our men’s basketball program.
  • And, we’re certainly proud that our football team pulled off its second consecutive bowl victory.
  • Our baseball team had an amazing season and competed in the Super Regional.
  • We had five teams finish last season ranked in the national Top 25: men’s cross country, baseball, gymnastics, men’s basketball and women’s cross country.
  • And, most impressive, our athletics program now ranks 37th in the national Director’s Cup competitive standings -- up 52 spots from in 2010.
  • But what makes me most proud is that we’re winning the right way. We are improving in competition and in the classroom. Over the last year:
    • A record 381 student-athletes were named NC State scholar athletes (3.0 GPA or higher).
    • A record 186 student-athletes were NC State Dean’s List honorees.
    • A record 10 student-athletes were named Academic All-Americans.
    • A record 69 student-athletes were named to conference all-academic teams.
    • Three NC State student-athletes were awarded ACC post-graduate scholarships – the highest number of honorees among all ACC schools.
  • Congratulations to Debbie Yow and her team.

In addition to these university-wide successes, we have a number of transformational faculty, staff and students who have been recognized for significant achievements. Again, time limits us from recognizing each of them, but all of their contributions broaden the reach and extend the proud reputation of NC State.

  • Dr. Jay Baliga received the National Medal of Technology and Innovation, the highest U.S. honor for technical achievement, from President Barack Obama.
    • Dr. Baliga has also been selected to receive the 2012 North Carolina Award for Science, the state’s highest civilian honor.
  • Dr. Michael Escuti was awarded the Presidential Early Career Award, the U.S. government’s top award for early-career scientists and engineers.
  • Dr. Joe DeSimone was named a member of the prestigious National Academy of Sciences.
  • Chih-Hao Chang was one of only 10 faculty members nationally to receive an Early Career Faculty Award from NASA.
  • Lori Foster Thompson is leading a new field of psychology called Humanitarian Work Psychology, and was recently selected as one of five representatives from the Society for Industrial and Organizational Psychology to the United Nations.
  • Seven faculty members received National Science Foundation Career Awards, the most prestigious NSF awards new faculty members.
  • Lisa Eberhart, our registered dietician, received the Governor’s Award for Excellence, the highest honor a state employee can receive.
  • President Obama recognized NC State student Sina Bahram as one of 14 “Champions of Change” at a White House ceremony honoring those who have made significant efforts to make science, technology, engineering and mathematics more accessible to people with disabilities.
  • Four students received prestigious Goldwater Scholarships awarded to outstanding students preparing for careers as scientists, mathematicians and engineers. NC State was only one of four universities to have all four of their nominees selected. The students are:
    • Richard Deans
    • Ian Thomas
    • Heidi Klumpe
    • Brinda Monian
  • Two NC State students received Udall Scholarships based on leadership potential, academic achievement and commitment to careers in the environment, health care or tribal policy. They are:
    • Brian Schuster
    • Gretchen Stokes
  • In addition, 20 NC State students were awarded the prominent National Science Foundation graduate research fellowships.
  • NC State Engineering Students Brian Gaudio, Michael Habersetzer, Andy Park and Kyle Thompson won the Walt Disney Imagineering 2012 ImagiNations Design Contest.
  • NC State students Nicholas Sailer, Josh Bielick and Tim Reavis, won best picture and best director awards at the Campus MovieFest International Grand Finale for their short film, The Strong One. The film was also featured at the Cannes Film Festival.
    • The four-minute film will be shown immediately following this address.
  • And finally, three students representing CHASS and the Poole College of Management recently won top prize out of 31 teams from all 17 UNC campuses at the first annual UNC Social Business Plan Competition.
    • Ryan O’Donnell, Brandon Narybouth and Kevin Miller created Pennies 4 Progress, a non-profit that will enable businesses to add a one-cent donation from each customer transaction in their store which will go directly to support social needs such as local food drives, community gardens and hospitals.

All of these examples – these are just a handful of many – demonstrate that NC State is an outstanding university, a transformational university, with amazing students, faculty and staff.

Of course these great accomplishments have not come without challenges, and we know the path ahead will certainly bring more.

I know we’ll tackle those challenges like we always have, in true Wolfpack fashion, by rolling up our sleeves and working harder to ensure our university is well positioned to provide an excellent education to our students, strong service to our state and discovery that makes a difference in our world.

It’s no secret the biggest obstacles we face continue to revolve around funding.

In response to challenging economic times, decisions are being made across the U.S. to cut public higher education.

These cuts lie in direct opposition to the tremendous strides our nation took in 1862 with the Morrill Act and in 1944 with the G.I. Bill, and contrary to 150 years of proof that our nation’s commitment to public higher education is one of the primary reasons our country has excelled.

I believe too many people in our state and across our nation either do not understand or simply take for granted the value of public research universities and the vital roles institutions like ours play in driving economic success and improving quality of life.

In this critical moment, we need leaders in higher education to take responsibility and address this issue.

I’ve already started this conversation. This year, I’ll continue traveling the state telling our story to anyone who will listen – legislators, media, business leaders, alumni, and every Rotary, Kiwanis and service club across North Carolina who will let me in the door.

I hope you will join me in communicating directly, clearly and often about the substantial impact and absolute importance of public research universities like ours to the future prosperity of our state and our nation.

Here at NC State, we have a great story to tell.

We teach and train a career-ready workforce. We discover and transfer new knowledge to the marketplace. We attract partners in government and industry, and drive economic development. We produce graduates who don’t just take jobs, they create them.

In our economic climate, it is important to talk about how seriously we take our mission to build on our land-grant legacy to create innovative, economic progress and as a result, NC State has tremendous impact on the economy.

As I visit with elected officials, business leaders and individuals across the state, I’m educating them about how NC State research has led to:

  • More than 760 U.S. Patents, and more than 1,500 worldwide
  • More than 800 License Agreements with Industry Partners, which puts us in the top 15 universities in the nation
  • More than 240 products that are in the marketplace
  • 90 spin-off companies – 10 in the last year alone
  • Venture capital topping $1.5 billion
  • And thousands of new jobs in North Carolina and across the nation

I’m talking to constituents about programs like our New Venture Services and the NC State Fast 15 that are focused on targeting the best opportunities, attracting angel funding, and pushing discovery to market -- spurring statewide entrepreneurship.

I’m also touting our unique ability to create industry clusters and attract outside partners to the area. NC State’s Technology Incubator and our world-renowned Centennial Campus are examples of university resources that attract industry and partnerships to NC State and North Carolina – such as IBM, SAS, Cisco, Siemens redhat and more.

I’m reminding people that NC State is a big part of the state’s effort to attract national and global industries to develop in or relocate to North Carolina, including Semprius, IEM, Deutsche Bank, Greenspring Energy and HCL America.

And finally, I’m even bragging a bit about how NC State’s Collaborative Research Centers -- including the Center for Advanced Forestry Systems, Institute for Next Generation IT Systems, Silicon Solar Consortium, and Nonwovens Cooperative Research Center -- draw more than 190 partners, including some of the top names in industry: Du Pont, Samsung, Toyota, P&G, Johnson & Johnson, Whirlpool.

As I said before, we have a great story to tell. I’m excited to share it, and I hope you are too.

We have great momentum, and we have a history of service and achievement second to none. Because of all of you, our students, faculty and staff, NC State is an amazing place, a transformational university, one in which we should all be proud.

As I conclude, I want to give a sincere thank you to all of you for your continual commitment, dedication and hard work. Working together, I am confident that our campus community will thrive – and that we will continue to improve this great university for the benefit of students, North Carolina citizens, and people throughout the world.

I believe NC State’s best days are yet to come.

It remains my very great honor to serve as your Chancellor.

Thank you.