Dear NC State Faculty, Staff and Students:
Welcome back to campus. I hope you all had an enjoyable holiday break, and are ready for a great semester.
The New Year always brings a fresh sense of hope and excitement to NC State. The academic year is half over, spring is around the corner, and in a few short months about 5,000 new graduates will begin the next chapter in their lives, applying what they’ve learned at our great university to tackle society’s grand challenges.
The last year has been one of the best ever for NC State. Among many highlights, our freshman class is the academically strongest in university history and our graduation rates have never been higher. NC State set new records for sponsored research and we’re witnessing record levels in fundraising. We’ve again won national acclaim as one of the best values in higher education, we’re recognized as a leader in promoting diversity and inclusion, and received top honors for efforts in both community service and economic opportunity. We were a 2014 Simon Award winner, recognizing our innovative achievements in campus internationalization. We’re climbing the U.S. News & World Report rankings, too.
Heading into 2015, our momentum at NC State has never been stronger, and I believe this is the most exciting time to be at NC State.
Along with all of this good news, we also have societal challenges to address. In particular, NC State is not immune to the serious, sometimes divisive issues facing our nation. One of those issues centers on recent events in Ferguson and New York City. These and other incidents in the news have led to discussions, debates and protests across the country and also here at NC State.
As members of the university community, we are fortunate to have a campus climate that encourages and supports the expression of differing thoughts and opinions between individuals and groups. At NC State, we support and encourage these discussions in a respectful and safe environment. As a university dedicated to educating our future leaders, we have a responsibility to foster dialogue and lead change that will help ensure a just and civil society.
As this year kicks off and we focus on our future, it seems especially fitting that in less than two weeks we will honor the impact of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., and prepare for celebrating Black History Month in February. I encourage you to attend the campus and community events. It’s also an appropriate time to reflect and acknowledge how far our nation, community and campus have come and our ongoing effort to ensure a world in which everyone is treated equally.
We must continue to make progress in these areas by collectively embracing and enhancing diversity on our campus. We need to remain centered around the importance of diversity and the role it plays in the betterment of our community, including educational benefits. We must always stay committed to acceptance of both individuals and ideas that may be different than our own, for these will continue to move this outstanding institution, and our society, forward.
At NC State, we take seriously our commitment to welcome all people regardless of age, color, disability, gender identity, genetic information, national origin, race, religion, sex, sexual orientation, or veteran status. As reflected in the key goals set forth in our Strategic Plan, NC State will continue striving to be more diverse and to continually enhance a culture that values empathy, respect, tolerance and equality for all.
This is an exciting time in the history of our university, and an important time in the history of our country. Our faculty, students and staff have the ability to bring about positive, meaningful change both on campus and in our larger community. It is a critical time for all of us in higher education to engage thoughtfully in the issues and challenges before us to fulfill our commitment to enhance the world in which we live.
May you all have a great year, and may we all strive to make NC State a national leader in creating, embracing and celebrating a community where everyone feels safe, respected and valued.
As always, I am privileged to be the Chancellor of NC State and a member of the Wolfpack community.