Dare to Soar
As Gary L. Miller was officially installed April 20 as the fourth chancellor of the University of North Carolina Wilmington, his remarks set a course for the future direction of the university.
In addressing the crowd of students, faculty, staff and distinguished guests on historic Hoggard Lawn, Miller introduced a new theme for UNCW, Dare to Soar, and noted what he has learned about the university since taking over as chancellor July 1, 2011.
"I have come to believe that our strength lies in three enduring values," he said. "One, a commitment to the journey of learning; two, a love of place; and three, an unshakable conviction in the power of ideas and innovation." In his address, he further discussed each of these values and the goals that UNCW will have in these areas moving forward.
Commitment to the Journey
Miller noted that higher education in America has always been about the journey to inquire and discover and, through those processes, better one's self and one's community.
"Our students tell me how these experiences changed their thinking, revealed a path or kindled some hidden passion," Miller said. "UNCW's deepest and most sustaining value is our fundamental commitment to this journey."
Love of Place
Speaking of UNCW's geographic location, Miller noted that the university was born of the local community and has enjoyed strong community support throughout its history. The institution's place between the Atlantic Ocean and the Cape Fear River is unique in North Carolina, he said, and that location has shaped UNCW as North Carolina's coastal university.
"To be a national and global leader in demonstrating how universities can serve their regions, we must come to understand and embrace the importance of our coastal location as a powerful metaphor for many of the most significant questions of commerce, human health, nutrition, the environment and social and cultural dynamics," he said. "In this way, we must serve the world even as we serve our region."
The Power of Ideas and Innovation
A key element of Dare to Soar, Miller explained, is to embrace a culture of innovation, moving the university forward into the future by building on its strengths and the foundation of its current success. UNCW's educational philosophy, he said, is rooted firmly in the liberal arts and sciences, whose ideals of inquiry, comparison, critical thinking and creativity are a perfect garden of invention.
Embracing a culture of innovation is "perhaps the scariest part of Dare to Soar," Miller told the audience. "To support innovation we will have to examine traditions, take risks and, most importantly, accept and learn from failure. We will have to make difficult choices. UNCW has always embraced innovation and, in the recent difficult (economic) times, it is this spirit of innovation that has sustained us."
Challenges for the Future
In discussing these three unique values for UNCW and how Dare to Soar will help the university move to the next level, Miller noted that there will be many challenges and opportunities along the way. Some of these challenges include:
• Increase UNCW's emphasis on marine and coastal science in graduate education, research and the development of biotechnology from the sea to continue leadership in these areas
• Continue to build partnerships with businesses and to nurture entrepreneurship in the region to create new businesses and jobs, and to grow the economy
• Promote research in health and wellness through programs and partnerships in the College of Health and Human Services such as the Coastal Health initiative
• Commit to growth in innovative research and graduate programs in the sciences, social sciences and humanities that advance our mission as North Carolina's coastal university.
• Be a leader in partnering with other University of North Carolina system campuses to meet the challenges of our time.