Ross takes UNC helm

Tom Ross

admits that harsh economic times have caused challenges within the

17 UNC-system campuses, however as president he says he plans to

take on these challenges head-on.

Tom Ross admits that harsh economic times have caused challenges within the 17 UNC-system campuses, however as president he says he plans to take on these challenges head-on.

Ross shared this commitment shortly after taking the oath as the 17th UNC-system president Oct 6 in Corbett Sports Center.

“I accepted the honor, the challenge, and the opportunity to lead the university of the people because I love this state,” he said. “I know there is no institution more important to North Carolina and her future than this university.”

This is the first time that N.C. A&T has hosted the inauguration for an UNC-system president. Five years ago at former president Erskine Bowles’ inauguration also in Greensboro, A&T helped UNCG plan for the event and hosted the reception.

“I’m very excited about it [the inauguration] being on our campus,” said Chancellor Harold Martin. “This is a historical moment and it’s the first time we ever had such an installation on our campus.”

The Blue and Gold Marching Machine led the procession into Corbett followed by a host of robed state and university dignitaries including Gov. Bev Perdue.

“North Carolina’s history and progressive commitment to education will always stand at the heart of our state’s greatest achievement,” said Perdue. “We are certain that we have found the right leader [Ross] in these very auspicious times.”

Selected to lead more than nine months ago, Ross has seen his share of tough economic times.  Since replacing Bowles, he has seen the N.C. General Assembly cut $414 million from the UNC-system budget resulting in the loss of essential jobs to the university and academic programs.

A&T alone had to combat at 15 percent budget cut which resulted in multiple losses including the foreign language department.

Despite the loss, Ross has maintained a commitment in leading the nation’s oldest public university that serves 220,000 students. In his inaugural address, he stressed that in order to continue the legacy of the UNC-system, he cannot do this job alone.

“We are in an economic and social malaise and fear we may never come out of it. We have heard the word “the new normal’ so often we sometimes believe that where we are right now is where we will stay,” said Ross. “Well, I don’t buy it. It doesn’t have to be that way. This is our time, and what we do with it is up to us.”

Throughout his address he made mention of his predecessors from which he draws inspiration. Sitting alongside him on stage was President Emeritus Bill Friday and former presidents C.D. Spangler and Molly Broad.

“To be mentioned in the same breath as Presidents Bill Friday, Dick Spangler, Molly Broad, and Erskine Bowles is emotionally and intellectually overwhelming, to say the least,” said Ross. “To follow in their crater-sized footsteps is daunting, and even a bit scary.”

Ross comes to the system as a graduate of Davidson College and UNC-Chapel Hill School of Law. He served as president of Davidson from 2007 until his current promotion. He also has served as a N.C. Superior Court judge.

“I am proud of the university of North Carolina and the state that built and sustains it,” said Ross. “Our university is a treasure to be preserved, and it need and deserves our citizens’ strong support on continued investment.”

-Cheri Farrior contributed to the report

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  • Kelcie McCrae, Editor in Chief