University Convocation Marks Start of Academic Year

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Aug. 20, 2013 -- The impact of enrollment growth at UNC Charlotte and the need to collaborate to address budgetary challenges were among the topics Chancellor Philip L. Dubois discussed today, Tuesday, Aug. 20,  in his State of the University address during Convocation.

“Enrollment at the University continues to grow,” Dubois told faculty, staff and students in his  address at McKnight Auditorium.  “Last fall’s enrollment of 26,232 was an all-time high, and our enrollment of undergraduates moved us to third place in the UNC system in that category of students. This fall’s enrollment may very well top last year’s, and we continue to see large increases in applications from prospective freshmen and transfer students.”

Among freshmen, he said, completed applications have increased 64 percent since 2005. Applications from students who want to transfer into the University have increased about 60 percent during the same period.

“As we have weathered through the economic recession, we have had to address the painful reality of teaching more students with fewer resources,” Dubois said. “And there is no question that this reality has made us more efficient, spending 8.2 percent less per degree produced in 2011-12 than we did just five years earlier. During the same time, we increased our production of degrees by 18 percent and by 24 percent if we include the 2012-13 graduating class.”

“No one needs to lecture the faculty and staff at UNC Charlotte about doing more with less,” he added. “We’ve been there; we’ve done that. Indeed, combining our enrollment growth, improved retention, and increased degree production, it is likely that we will be adding a third commencement ceremony next May.”

The University’s annual Convocation traditionally marks the start of the academic year. Along with Dubois, Provost Joan Lorden also addressed faculty, staff and students. Jim Kay, president of the Staff Council, and Brady Nails, president of the Student Government Association, delivered remarks.  Eddy Souffrant, president of the Faculty Council, presented the faculty agenda for the 2013-14 academic year.

During the event, new members of the faculty and professional staff are welcomed to campus, and faculty members granted permanent tenure and those beginning their 25th year of service are recognized. 

Kent Brintnall, an associate professor in the Department of Religious Studies, was named as the recipient of the Bonnie E. Cone Early-Career Professor in Teaching.

Among other topics Dubois discussed were:

  • Developing a master plan for information technology on campus
  • Making enhancements to high-performance computer server rooms and research labs in older buildings
  • Faculty registering 16 patents and 19 licensing agreements that take new products into the marketplace
  • Completing two new residence halls and nearing completion of South Village, including a new dining facility
  • Continuing progress of University communications efforts, including unifying and enforcing brand standards

As part of Convocation, 14 faculty members who were promoted to full professor were recognized. They were:

  • Maria Pilar Blitvich, English
  • Shen-en Chen, civil and environmental engineering
  • James Conrad, electrical and computer engineering
  • Gloria Elliott, mechanical engineering and engineering science
  • Cynthia Gibas, bioinformatics and genomics
  • James Grymes, music
  • Tina Heafner, middle, secondary and K-12 education
  • Eric Heberlig, political science and public administration
  • Suzanne Leland, political science and public administration
  • Shawn Long, communication studies
  • Maryann Mraz, reading and elementary education
  • John Piel,  reading and elementary education
  • Alan Rauch, English
  • Ronald Sass, electrical and computer engineering


Media Contact: Paul Nowell, 704-687-5828,