The Oct. 26 installation of Dr. W. Randolph “Randy” Woodson as 14th chancellor of N.C. State University was celebrated over a week of special events at the university. These ranged from the solemnity of the installation ceremony, when Woodson was sworn in by former state Supreme Court Chief Justice Burley Mitchell, to the frivolity of a Brickyard ice cream party featuring the Chancellor’s Choice flavor of N.C. State’s Howling Cow ice cream, to the Halloween afternoon wrap-up of the chancellor’s week of appearances, at the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences’ Donor Recognition reception.
The commemorative events also included an entrepreneurs lecture series and N.C. State start-up companies showcase; a campus town-hall meeting and reception; and a celebration of faculty research and scholarship, with featured speaker Dr. Trudy MacKay, CALS geneticist and member of the National Academy of Sciences.
In his inaugural address, Woodson acknowledged the prominent guests and academic leaders in attendance – including N.C. Gov. Beverly Perdue, Rep. Bob Etheridge, UNC system President Erskine Bowles, three former N.C. State chancellors and representatives of higher education institutions from throughout the state, along with members of the N.C. General Assembly, the UNC Board of Governors and N.C. State Board of Trustees — and said, “I’ve joined a group of visionary leaders.”
In defining his vision, Woodson prominently mentioned CALS faculty member Dr. Mike Walden, William Neal Reynolds Distinguished Professor of economics. “At the [UNC system] Board of Governors meeting earlier this month, our own Michael Walden was honored as a recipient of the Award for Excellence in Public Service,” said Woodson. “In introducing Michael, Charles Hayes, president and CEO of the RTP Regional Partnership, complimented him not just as an expert on the North Carolina economy, but as someone with an ability to communicate his knowledge and ideas to the general public and to students in the classroom. Charles added, ‘That’s N.C. State.’”
Said Woodson, “That statement speaks volumes. If there’s any one thing that stands out from all I have learned about N.C. State, it’s that this university has a strong outward focus. We are good at moving knowledge out to the people who need it but equally good at listening to people about the knowledge they need. Engagement is a two-way street, and N.C. State travels both directions. That’s the core of our land-grant mission and the basis for the idea that brought this university into existence.”
Noting that the “land grants have a special place in American higher education,” Woodson said, “We helped to create the world’s most productive agriculture industry, produced breakthrough research that cured some of humanity’s most deadly diseases, designed and built much of the infrastructure that fuels our nation’s economy and empowered our citizens through access to education.”
With these words and many other historical references, he reinforced the university slogan and installation week’s theme, “Locally Responsive. Globally Engaged.” But Woodson concluded his remarks with attention turned resolutely toward the future.
“As we consider how we move N.C. State forward, there are three areas that need our focus and attention: the success of our students and faculty, engagement and economic development, and organizational effectiveness,” he said.
“We have created institutional policies, processes, templates, contracts. We have done the heavy lifting,” Woodson said. “We have a lot of exceptional people at N.C. State. My goal is that we have a shared vision for this university that clearly defines our future goals and the strategies we will engage to achieve them.
“Our vision,” he said, “is to be the most innovative public institution in the country.”