Well, it's official. The 2017-18 academic year is off and running!
For those among us who are new to Niner Nation, a couple of times each month I provide a bird's-eye view of what's happening in my corner of the University. I like to call it "Phil's Fast Five," and here's my first installment of the new year.
- In case you're wondering how we managed to coordinate our New Student Convocation with a once-in-a-lifetime solar eclipse ... well, we're just that good! I haven't heard any reports of 49ers being blinded by the solar spectacle, so I guess we all came through "Apoc-eclipse 2017" unscathed. Even though we weren't directly in the Path of Totality, Lisa and I enjoyed this experience from the comfort of our porch with protective glasses in place and cold beverages in hand.
- While many of you were taking well-earned vacations over the summer, work here on campus continued. Construction has begun on our new Health and Wellness Center, which will be located next to the (Popp Martin) Student Union. Expect students to cast ballots sometime this fall to give this important new facility a snappier name than “Health and Wellness.” Renovations continue in several of our core academic buildings and in our older residence halls. Design continues on the new Science Building, with groundbreaking expected next fall. In the meantime, we have begun the process of relocating many of the offices and facilities that occupy the future site of the Science Building (across Craver Road from the McMillan Greenhouse) to the perimeter of campus near the North Parking Deck.
- In addition to the many new faces on campus within our student body, we've also added several new faces among our faculty and staff. A number of senior administrators have been hired over the past couple of months. To name just a few ... Kevin Bailey (who goes by "Bailey") was brought on as our new vice chancellor for student affairs, replacing Dr. Art Jackson who retired this summer; Fatma Mili is the new dean of our College of Computing and Informatics; and Mike Mazzola is the new executive director of the Energy Production and Infrastructure Center (EPIC). These and other noteworthy items were among those detailed in my annual fall University Convocation address, which you can either watch or read in the Chancellor's Outbox.
- The Charlotte Engineering Early College (CEEC) high school on our campus has just entered its fourth year and is going remarkably well. A new high school, the Charlotte Teachers Early College (CTEC), now takes its place on our campus with the goal of educating high school students who want to become teachers. Eventually we hope to build a permanent facility to house both programs. Until then, the CTEC classes will meet in the Cato College of Education building and CEEC students will continue to attend classes in their facility on the CRI campus.
- When you combine what we think will be a record number of students (in excess of 29,000) and numerous construction projects, what do you get? You get transportation headaches and congestion! To address some of the growing pains we're experiencing these days, we have launched a new "Niner Transit" shuttle system to help move folks around campus more efficiently. And the new "Charlotte Wheels" bike-share program is a great way to get from place to place without worrying about traffic and parking. Plus, it's great exercise! Just be sure to wear a helmet. And of course, no transportation update would be complete without mentioning that we are still eagerly awaiting the arrival of light rail, which we expect will be open to all of us either in late fall or early spring.
There's much more to come, so stay tuned ... and Go Niners!
Phil Dubois, Chancellor