A&T preps for Ross inauguration

For the first time in history, the University of North

Carolina’s president has chosen N.C. A&T to host the

inauguration.

For the first time in history, the University of North Carolina’s president has chosen N.C. A&T to host the inauguration.

Tom Ross will officially be sworn in as the 17th president of the UNC system in his hometown of Greensboro on Thursday.

The ceremony will take place at Corbett Sports Center.

“This is a first for us,” said Deborah Callaway, chair of the university planning committee for the inauguration.  “He could have chosen any school in the 17 campuses, and he selected A&T.”

In January, Ross began his duties as president after taking over for former UNC system president Erskine Bowles. Like Ross, Bowles is also from Greensboro and held his inauguration in the Gate City five years ago.

Already nine months on the job, Ross has been kept busy trying to operate the country’s oldest public institution under harsh economic times.

This summer alone he had to combat lawmakers when they cut state funding by $414 million for the system’s campuses.

A&T alone had to manage a 15 percent budget cut which resulted in a reduction in faculty and staff positions, and the elimination of low-performing academic programs.

Despite tough times, Ross has remained optimistic and has continued to stress the importance of the UNC system.

“I think every one of our campuses has a very important role to play in the community in which they are located,” said Ross during a visit to A&T in the spring.

“This university [A&T] employs 700 faculty and that’s a lot of jobs. If you break down a place like this it’s going to have a huge impact on the community.”

Over 2,000 people are expected to flood A&T’s streets for this inaugural event.

Starting at 9:30 a.m., guests will be met by sounds of the Blue & Gold Marching Machine which will lead a parade from the New Academic Building down to Corbett Sports Center.

 “This is going to be a very beautiful event for us,” said Callaway. “It’s an honor for us to have this opportunity to do this for the president and not only that, but to showcase A&T.”

Ross will take his oath following the parade at 10 a.m. where he will also give a speech that will highlight his goals for the system. 

There are 17 campuses and 220,000 students within the campuses.

Callaway and her committee of about 40 individuals have been rigorously planning this event for over two months. She stresses that her committee has done an outstanding job and hopes that not only the professors come out, but also the students.

“This is history,” she said. “We have this president, who is from Greensboro, that is being inaugurated at A&T. Students need to see it, and be apart of history.”

Over 300 distinguished guests are scheduled to attend as well including Governor Bev Perdue.

Following the program will be a reception in the University Alumni-Foundation Event Center. It is free and open to the public.

“We’ve seen Corbett set up in so many different ways, so many different activities,” said Callaway. “But on Thursday there is a different feeling. We want our students to come out and feel what we’re feeling. It’s a proud day for us.”

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  • Kelcie C. McCrae, Editor-in-Chief