Chancellor Randy Woodson delivers his annual address to a crowd of faculty, staff, alumni and students.

2016 Chancellor’s Fall Address Speech

"In times of opportunity, the Wolfpack comes together."

Complete Remarks

Oct. 28, 2016

Thank you Chairman Owens, and welcome everyone to the 2016 Fall Address.

This is our time each year to celebrate the tremendous achievements of students, faculty and staff; address some of our challenges; and look forward to the incredible opportunities before us.

You all work so hard throughout the year, and your efforts are making tremendous impacts in our community, across our state and around the world. I hope you know how much I appreciate your dedication, your passion and your hard work every day.

To begin, I’d like us to talk about a challenge.

Over the last several months many troubling incidents and issues across our country have time and again brought the media spotlight on a struggle that our underrepresented communities experience far too often.

And over the last few weeks on campus we’ve faced the reality of the prevalence and personal impacts of racism and bigotry in our own community.

Throughout this challenging time, I have been very proud our students who have peacefully, passionately and thoughtfully participated in events such as the NC State Blackout, Die-In, Town Hall, discussions and other meetings to address this crucial issue.

I appreciate how our students have represented themselves and this university, and I appreciate their partnership in working alongside the administration, faculty and staff to create solutions and move our community forward.

Together, we are taking action — you can review updates on the new diversity landing page at the address on the screen.

Equality and diversity are the responsibility of us all. You have my commitment that I and university leadership are dedicated to the priority of working to ensure a truly diverse, inclusive and supportive campus culture.

I hope — and expect — you all will join us in this critical endeavor.

In challenging times and in times of opportunity, the Wolfpack comes together. This week, we’ve come together for Red and White Week — a weeklong celebration of Homecoming and Campaign Kickoff activities.

Tonight, we will officially launch the public phase of the largest fundraising campaign in NC State history, one that will shape our university for generations to come.

This campaign will offer our 34,000-plus students more high-impact educational opportunities.

It will significantly increase the number of scholarships and fellowships for students.

It will drive growth in our faculty, providing support through endowed professorships.

It will update and improve our classrooms and facilities.

It will help ensure that NC State remains accessible and affordable so we can enroll the brightest students — regardless of their economic status.

And the campaign will provide us a much more robust endowment to better support NC State for generations.

I am thrilled today to have with us many members from our university volunteer leadership — including the Board of Trustees, the Board of Visitors and the Alumni Association Board — as well as advisory boards from many of our colleges and programs. Welcome.

I’m pleased to also welcome our Campaign Co-Chairs, Campaign Leadership Committee and all of our Campaign volunteers. Welcome.

I’d like to recognize two of NC State’s excellent student leaders, Student Body President Paul Nolan, and Student Body Vice President Brayndon Stafford.

And of course to all of our outstanding students, faculty and staff — thank you for joining us today. We are here, after all, to applaud your many achievements. So let’s get started.

The first highlight today comes not from a classroom but from a pool — and was witnessed around the world. Wolfpack swimmer Ryan Held embodies the NC State “don’t ever give up” spirit.

As a member of the 400-meter freestyle relay team in Rio, he not only won the gold medal — he captured the hearts of millions as he stood on the podium, overcome by emotion during the playing of our national anthem.

I meet amazing young people like Ryan on campus every day. They might not all medal in the Olympics, but they each embody NC State’s “Think and Do” spirit.

Indulge me for a few minutes while I share a handful of stories about other amazing students.

NC State had its first ever Churchill Scholar last year in Mia de los Reyes, a recent College of Sciences graduate who majored in physics and mathematics.

College of Design students Kevin Lee, Emily Wise, Chandler Williams, and Simon Park placed in the top three of Disney’s extremely competitive Imaginations Design Competition.

Students in professor Gary Blank’s Natural Resources 100 class received the Fred Fletcher Award for Outstanding Community Service for their work to improve communities through gardens and public parks.

Recent Humanities and Social Sciences graduate Micah Khater received the N.C. Literary and Historical Association’s Hugh T. Lefler Award for her senior thesis on civil rights struggles during the Jim Crow era, which was named the best undergraduate history paper in the state.

Accounting majors Krizia Fajarito, Edward Hwang, and Kornravee (Pat) Sintavanon from the Poole College of Management brought home the top award from this year’s Association of Government Accountants Government Finance Case Challenge.

College of Agriculture and Life Sciences senior Cara Pace was named one of 50 New Century Farmers by the Future Farmers of America. 

Whitney McCoy, a College of Education doctoral student, was selected to participate in the prestigious Southern Regional Education Board (SREB) Doctoral Scholars Program. The goal of the program is to increase the number of people of color in academia, particularly in STEM fields.

Amie Pflaum, a former Blackhawk helicopter pilot in the Army Aviation Corps, was named a Tillman Scholar for 2016. Amie is pursuing her Doctor of Veterinary Medicine degree at NC State.

And, of course, Ryan wasn’t the only NC State student competing in the Olympics. Joining him were swimmers Anton Ipsen, Soren Dahl and Simonas Bilis, as well as Lucas Kozeniesky, the first NC State shooter to win a USA Shooting national championship.

Christopher Cooper, majoring in chemical engineering and economics, and Vishwas Rao, majoring in chemistry and biochemistry, are among the prestigious Goldwater Scholars selected this year.

NC State students earned a record 32 renowned Graduate Research Fellowships from the National Science Foundation.

Another five students were named Fulbright Scholars in April, earning grants to study, teach and conduct research around the world.

Closer to home, I was honored to attend the groundbreaking ceremony for the largest Habitat for Humanity project ever associated with a U.S. college chapter. Led by Textiles graduate student Sarah Paluskiewicz, NC State students are leading this effort, coordinating more than 10,000 volunteers to build 11 townhomes in Raleigh.

And Kaitlin Perkins, a junior in biological engineering, was recently named chair of pre-college programs for Region II of the National Society of Black Engineers where, she oversees K-12 outreach in seven states. Kaitlin also helps organize an outreach program for rural North Carolina students through the Caldwell Fellows.

The Campaign we launch tonight will provide NC State the opportunity to continue to attract extraordinary students like Kaitlin who are making a huge difference in our community and who will surely go on to make a tremendously positive impact in the world.

These are just a few of hundreds of examples that speak to the excellence and breadth of NC State’s students. I couldn’t be more proud of them.

It’s no wonder NC State is the school of choice for high-performing students who want to “Think and Do.”

The competition for a spot in this year’s freshman class was the most intense ever. Freshman applications increased by almost 25 percent over last year to more than 26,000 applications. The 4,300 incoming freshmen have an average weighted GPA of 4.49 and an average two-part SAT score of 1,255.

Outstanding students mature into outstanding alumni, and our alumni are just plain impressive. For example:

Two NC State alumni are among the four winners of the 2016 World Food Prize, one of the most important and coveted international awards given in agriculture. Maria Andrade and Robert Mwanga, who received Ph.D.s in horticultural science from NC State, breed orange-fleshed sweet potato varieties resistant to pests, drought and heat to help feed sub-Saharan Africa.

Dani Lechner, a 2013 sociology graduate, is working with the national College Advising Corps in rural Martin County, North Carolina. In a community where only one-in-five adults has a college degree, Dani helps high school seniors navigate the complex process of getting accepted to college.

And of course, architect Phil Freelon, a 1975 graduate of the College of Design, led the team that designed the National Museum of African American History and Culture, the Smithsonian’s newest museum. It is spectacular.

Former Wolfpack football players Jamelle Eugene and DaJuan Morgan teamed up with students in the College of Textiles to develop an innovative glove for football players called Gryppers. Their startup received a $50,000 grant from the NC Idea Foundation to take the product to market.

This isn’t surprising. Entrepreneurship is in our DNA. In my opinion, no institution is better at moving technology from the lab to the marketplace.

In fact, NC State is ranked No. 1 for the commercialization of technology among schools without a medical center. Last year alone we completed 164 new option and license agreements with industry partners, filed 229 new patent applications and launched 12 startup companies.

We can sustain this high level of commercialization because our research enterprise is among the most active and innovative in the world.

NC State was recently named a 2016 Nature Index “Rising Star,” joining a list of international institutions dramatically increasing their rate of publishing in leading research journals. We were ranked the top American public university on the list, and third in North America.

Of course, NC State earned many other top rankings and accolades over the last year. says NC State ranks the No. 1 best value among all North Carolina public universities.

U.S. News & World Report ranks our veterinary medicine program No. 3 in the nation.

The Jenkins Master of Accounting Program in the Poole College of Management ranked No. 12 in the Top 50 Best Masters in Accounting Degrees by College Choice — the only North Carolina program ranked in the top 15.

NC State University’s Jenkins Professional Online MBA program recently jumped up 11 places to No. 9 on the Princeton Review’s new list of top online MBA programs.

The College of Education was ranked No. 4 out of the top 50 best value of national online graduate education programs of 2016.

Kiplinger’s Personal Finance ranked NC State University 12th and U.S. News & World Report ranked the university among the top 10 best values in public higher education.

And NC State was recognized as “One of the 26 Healthiest Colleges” in the United States by

A common theme to all of these successes, and many more, is NC State’s excellent faculty and staff.

The list of awards our faculty and staff earned this year is far too long for me to recognize in this address. But I will mention a representative few.

Biomedical engineer Zhen Gu was named a 2016 Alfred P. Sloan Research Fellow in chemistry. This award goes to early-career scientists and scholars whose distinguished performance and unique potential identify them as rising stars.

Food scientist Rodolphe Barrangou earned two prestigious awards this year: The Warren Alpert Foundation Prize and the Canada Gairdner Award. Rodolphe is a pioneer in CRISPR, a revolutionary genome-editing system.

Statistics professor Alyson Wilson was elected a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the world’s largest scientific society.

English professor James Mulholland was awarded a Burkhardt Fellowship to continue his research into the emergence of Anglo-Indian literature during eighteenth century at the National Humanities Center.

Roland Kays in forestry and environmental resources received an EAGER award from the National Science Foundation which will provide up to $300,000 for a collaborative ecology project on the effects of global warming.

Frances Ligler in biomedical engineering and Michael Daniele in electrical and computer engineering received a 2015 Edison Patent Award from the Naval Research Laboratory for their work in developing a new technique for creating blood vessels.

Philip Bradford is the first researcher in the College of Textiles to receive funding through the Young Investigator Research Program sponsored by the Air Force Office of Scientific Research.

Kate Meurs, associate dean in the College of Veterinary Medicine, was selected as the first recipient of the Mark L. Morris Jr. Investigator Award from the Morris Animal Foundation. The award focuses on efforts to better treat and help prevent canine heart disease.

Susan Nutter was named the 2016 Academic Research Librarian of the Year by the American Library Association.

Then, Susan and film studies professor Marsha Gordon were invited to the White House in June to receive the 2016 National Medal for Museum and Library Service.

Lewis Sheats, senior lecturer in the Poole College of Management and director of the NC State Entrepreneurship Clinic, was named the Dr. John S. Risley Entrepreneur of the Year.

Heidi Hobbs, Director of the Master of International Studies Program in the School of Public and International Affairs, was named a Fulbright Specialist.

Six NC State professors were named Fulbright U.S. Scholars. (Names on screen: Michelle Schroeder-Moreno, Patricia Marshall, Darrell Britt, Robert Kochersberger, Lucian Lucia Michael Bustle.)

As you may have guessed, NC State is one of the nation’s leading Fulbright producers. 

Six of NC State’s bright young researchers were awarded NSF CAREER Awards. (Names on screen: Alper Bozkurt, Chih-Hao Chang, Hsiao-Ying Huang, Brina Montoya, Brendan O’Conor and Srikanth Patala.)

Five NC State faculty members received NSF Early Career Awards, a prestigious honor that recognizes upcoming talent and innovation. (Names on screen: Xipeng Shen, Daryoosh Vashaee, Kristy Boyer, Rosangela Sozzani and Ana-Maria Staicu.)

Chemist and biomolecular engineer Joe DeSimone received the National Medal of Technology and Innovation from President Obama at the White House in May.

And William Neal Reynolds Distinguished University Professor of Genetics Trudy Mackay’s work earned her the Wolf Prize, one of the world’s most prestigious awards for academic achievement.

A successful Campaign will continue to attract and retain other world-leading faculty like Trudy Mackay who not only elevate the reputation of NC State, they more importantly drive advances that improve the world.

Finally, I’d like to show you one more recognition of a special staff member’s heroic gift. Please enjoy this video.

For her selflessness, Lindsay Recchie was honored with the 2016 Governor’s Award for Excellence in the safety and heroism category.

I love to see NC State faculty, staff, students and alumni earn recognition for your leadership, selflessness, hard work and innovation. Great job.

One recognition I didn’t yet mention is that Forbes magazine named athletics director Debbie Yow one of the 25 most powerful women in sports. That is a tribute to all Debbie and her team have accomplished.

NC State finished 32nd in the most recent Learfield Directors’ Cup standings, the second-highest finish in school history. Five of the Top 10 finishes in program history have come in the last five years, including the two highest finishes over the last two years.

Five NC State programs finished in the Top 11 of their respective final national polls, while nine teams finished ranked in the Top 25 in 2015-16.

Our student-athletes continue to excel in the classroom as well. NC State posted the highest Graduation Success Rate in school history in the most recent rankings, and over the last three years posted both the three highest Graduation Success Rates and Federal Graduation Rates ever.

And just last month, following a 16-month, $35 million renovation funded by both the university and the athletics department, Reynolds Coliseum reopened as the home of Wolfpack women’s basketball, gymnastics, volleyball, wrestling and rifle, and our ROTC programs.

Reynolds is a great example of what we can Think and Do with donor support. The Campaign will allow us to build and update more remarkable facilities.

The two most obvious examples are the Engineering Oval and the Plant Sciences Initiative. North Carolina voters passed the Connect NC Bond in March giving us about half the funding needed, and donations to the Campaign are making these incredible facilities a reality.

In athletics, academics and across the board, I am fortunate to have the support of an outstanding group of university leadership. This past year we welcomed a number of new leaders who bring even more scholarship, experience and innovation to campus.

Mary Ann Danowitz, our new dean in the College of Education, has a passion for engaging students. She brings extensive experience in leadership, policy, teaching and research.

David Hinks, our new dean in the College of Textiles, has great experience as a teacher, researcher and leader. He has been on faculty at NC State for 17 years and is the perfect fit for this important position.

Mark Hoversten, our new dean in the College of Design, is a dynamic, collaborative and mission-oriented leader with wide-ranging experience in higher education, fine arts and the private sector as a landscape architect.

Annette Ranft, our new dean in the Poole College of Management, has a strong focus on management in a technology driven global marketplace. She’s a great fit for NC State and for PCOM.

Scott Douglass is our new vice chancellor for finance and administration. Scott has great experience in both higher education and state government.

Alan Rebar joined NC State as vice chancellor for research, innovation and economic development. Alan comes from Purdue, where he directed the tremendous growth of Discovery Park, Purdue’s hub for translational and interdisciplinary research. 

Linda McCabe Smith is our new vice provost for institutional equity and diversity. Linda has a long track record of success in cultivating institutional excellence. I have included Dr. Smith on the Chancellor’s Cabinet to ensure matters of diversity and equity are embedded in all university decision making.

Marie Williams is our new Associate Vice Chancellor for Human Resources. Marie has a wealth of experience and success in higher education human resources leadership. I have also included Marie on the Cabinet due to the critical importance of her position.

Please join me in congratulating everyone we recognized today.

The university is at a critical inflection point in its history.
I sincerely believe the world – and the challenges it faces — are uniquely suited for where NC State excels. We are poised like never before to drive tremendous positive change at the very moment this world needs us most.

A successful Campaign will boost everything we do and provide us the platform — the ability — to achieve our remarkable potential. As you’ve heard me say today — completion of the Campaign is extremely important, and we all need to play a role to ensure its and NC State’s success.

But alone, a Campaign is not enough.

To maintain our momentum and achieve our potential we must also embrace a sense of urgency for change, and be a university unwaveringly dedicated to constant organizational improvement.

I will be talking more about the urgency of change and importance of continually enhancing organizational excellence to the executive officers, deans and other university leadership over the next few weeks.

You’ll also be seeing more about it in the next three-year implementation plan of our university Strategic Plan.

In the meantime, I challenge you — us all — to be agents of positive change — in how we unfailingly accept and support all in our campus community; in how we hire and manage; in how we invest in best practices; in how we make decisions and investments that best enable NC State to thrive and grow; in how we Think and Do.

If this past year is any indication, we will all meet this challenge boldly, proudly and confidently together.

Every year I stand up and tell you how proud I am to be your Chancellor — because I feel that way every day.

I am thrilled to continue working alongside all of you, over the next year and far beyond, to make NC State extraordinary!

Thank you.