It has been said that Chris Gonyar, a two-time alumnus, bleeds green. As the University’s director of emergency management, he oversees emergency preparations and plans, operational emergency response protocols, manages campus-wide emergency response trainings and guides operational and strategic functions of the NinerAlerts system.
Gonyar enjoys the campus culture and the talent that University employees exude.
“I love UNC Charlotte, because it is always growing,” Gonyar said. “There are always opportunities to build new programs, initiatives and projects. It is a place where you can put your stamp on the work being done.”
Gonyar moved to Charlotte from Vermont in 2000. Unsure of exactly what made him decide to move so far, he said UNC Charlotte became a special place.
“I just loved the campus and closeness of the city,” Gonyar said. “Anything you needed could be found at any time of day or night.”
Gonyar’s love of the University and surrounding Charlotte area apparently was contagious. His siblings and his girlfriend (now wife) and her siblings also decided to attend UNC Charlotte.
During his time as an undergraduate, Gonyar was very active in student government. He served as chief of student counsel for two consecutive years and as attorney general of the North Carolina Student Legislature. He graduated with dual bachelor’s degrees in history and political science in 2005.
He continued on to earn a Master of Public Administration in 2007.
“Probably my proudest moment as a student was being the honorary bell ringer for the 2007 spring commencement,” recalled Gonyar. If shoppers in Barnes & Noble at UNC Charlotte look closely, they can find this moment captured in a photo collage adorning the walls.
After graduation, Gonyar worked in the private sector as an emergency management consultant for about eight years. In 2013, he came to UNC Charlotte to teach a disaster recovery course in the MPA program. It was then that he decided he wanted to work at his alma mater.
“When I saw the job opportunity, I knew it was time to become a 49er again,” Gonyar said.
Though Gonyar spends his days dressed up for work, his true personality shows when he wears his sneakers. This passion has led to a collection so large, he has a room in his house dedicated to them.
Gonyar is drawn toward the bold, bright colors. He usually buys shoes branded to Roger Federer, Kobe Bryant, Stephen Curry or Kevin Durant.
“It’s no secret, I enjoy telling everyone about my collection,” said Gonyar. “I probably have over 200 pairs. I usually buy two pairs of every shoe, one to wear and one to display. I’ll even buy my daughters matching ones when that’s an option.”
Gonyar and his wife, Kellie, have been married for almost 10 years, though they have been together for 17. They have two beautiful daughters, 5-year-old Aayla and 2-year-old Fiona, and they reside in Concord along with their dog and cat.
Photo: Gonyar poses with two of his entries in the UNC Charlotte Alumni Association’s inaugural alumni and student art exhibit “Spotlight 2018.”