McCrory at UNC University Day: Focus on Job Skills

In his keynote speech Sunday for UNC’s 221st birthday celebration, North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory said that universities must prepare more students for technology and research jobs that need to be filled right now.

If that doesn’t happen, he said, thriving industries could leave the state:

“To ensure we get a return on our investment – more importantly, to ensure that no more students at any of our universities graduate with a huge debt, and no job comparable to their investment – universities must continue to help decrease the job gap by honing in on skills and subjects employers need while also stimulating a student’s passion and interest.”

Former Gov. Jim Hunt was also onstage at Memorial Hall on Sunday. He received a rousing standing ovation as he was honored by the school with a Distinguished Alumnus Award, after an introduction by Secretary of the Faculty Joseph. S. Ferrell.

Hunt was praised for his contributions to education in the state, including his support for the creation of the N.C. School of Science and Mathematics.

“Today he continues his lifelong advocacy of education through the James B. Hunt Institute for Educational Leadership and Policy,” said Ferrell.

Hunt, who earned UNC degrees in 1964 and 1978, was the longest-serving governor in North Carolina, with 16 years in office.

McCrory listed some of his own recent accomplishments during his speech, in which he compared himself to UNC Chancellor Carol Folt.

He said that both of them had to deal with problems left behind by previous administrations.

Folt became chancellor one year earlier, to the day.

“I inherited the fifth-highest unemployment rate in the country,” said McCrory, “a debt of more than $2.5 billion owed to the federal government for unemployment insurance; a $530 million misforecast for Medicaid.

“And I also had to deal with teachers who, sadly, had not had a decent pay raise for over five years; and also, an empty rainy day reserve account that needed desperate replenishment.

“Due to some very tough decisions that my administration and others had to take during the past year-and-a-half, these problems are now being resolved.”

McCrory said that he’d like to see North Carolina become the “third vertex” of an “innovation triangle” of research that includes Silicon Valley and the Boston-New York area.

Perhaps due to dreary, drizzly weather outside, Memorial Hall was less than packed for the governor’s visit.

That didn’t seem to dampen the spirit of the chancellor, who received praise for her first-year performance from McCrory and members of the Boards of Trustees and Governors in attendance.

In her closing remarks, Folt referred to recent “challenges” faced by the university.

“Today, as we reflect on the past, and we look to the future, we must also acknowledge that the present isn’t perfect,” said Folt. “It never is. We have, and we always will, continue to face challenges.”

Earlier, McCrory praised Folt for working with faculty members “to end grade inflation.”

Besides Hunt, other recipients of the Distinguished Alumnus Award included Lt. General Patricia Horoho, the first female Surgeon General of the U.S. Army; Andrew McNally, geographer and former CEO of Rand McNally; Attorney Wade Smith, for whom the Wade M. Smith Award of the North Carolina Bar Association is named; and Attorney James Patton Jr., co-founder of the Patton Boggs law firm.

Professor of Public Policy Krista Perriera received the Edward Kidder Graham Faculty Service Award for her work studying disparities in health, education and economic well-being, particularly as they affect Hispanic families.

You’re Invited: Carol Folt To Be Installed Saturday

CHAPEL HILL – You can join Carol Folt on University Day this Saturday for her installation as the 11th Chancellor of UNC. She is the first woman to lead Carolina.

Festivities kick-off at 1:30 p.m. with performances by the Carolina Choir and the UNC Wind Ensemble. The Installation Ceremony is set to begin at 2 p.m. in Polk Place, on the steps of South Building. A public reception will follow in front of Wilson Library. If it rains, the event will move to the Dean E. Smith Center.

Folt will give an address about the University’s future, and five alumni will be honored with special awards.

University Day, which is free and open to the public, marks the laying of the cornerstone of Old East, the nation’s first state university building, in 1793. The day has become the traditional inauguration day for new chancellors since 1957.

UNC President Tom Ross will preside at the ceremony, and Sarah Parker, chief justice of the N.C. Supreme Court, will administer the oath of office. Speakers include representatives from the UNC Board of Governors, the University’s Board of Trustees, faculty, students, staff and the UNC General Alumni Association.

The celebration will turn over to the students on Sunday for Folt Fest. It starts in the Pit at 4 p.m. and will be a carnival-like party with food and entertainment.

The Board of Governors unanimously elected Folt as chancellor in April, and she started work on July 1. An internationally recognized environmental scientist and award-winning teacher, Folt served as interim president of Dartmouth College from 2012-2013 and was also a Professor of Biological Sciences.

For information on parking for University Day, click here.

For a complete schedule, click here.