Provost's Messages

June 30, 2020  |  Provost’s Update to Faculty and Academic Affairs Staff

Sent to faculty and Academic Affairs staff on behalf of Provost Winebrake

 Dear Colleagues,

             Hello! I have been looking forward to writing to you formally as provost (and not “incoming provost”) for some time. As I take on my official duties this week, I want to take a moment to share some thoughts about my transition to this new position.

             First, I want to thank everyone for their kindness, support, and warm-hearted welcomes. The past few months have been a stressful time for everyone for many different reasons. I don’t think my family and I could have made such a big move at such a turbulent time without your support. So, thank you!

             Second, I want to share with you my continued concerns regarding racism on campus, in our community, and nationally, particularly in the aftermath of the senseless killings of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Rayshard Brooks, Stephon Clark, and numerous other Black Americans by members of law enforcement. Knowing the suffering by many members of our community due to intolerance, systemic racism, and violence should make us all question our own values and challenge us to take action. Social injustice and racism are poisonous; and their manifestations in structural and institutional power destroy our ability to work together, innovate, and solve problems. They create walls, not pathways. 

             Of all social institutions, I believe institutes of higher education have a particular responsibility to build communities that are firmly rooted in principles of equity, diversity, and inclusion. A more diverse and inclusive campus will enhance student learning, prepare students to be more responsible citizens, and help students succeed as leaders in the global workplace they will face when they graduate. Diverse and inclusive communities also help us become better teachers, scholars, administrators, and employees — able to see and solve problems more creatively, collaboratively, and efficiently than we would otherwise. I pledge to you that I will work my hardest to help build a more diverse and inclusive environment at UNCW, and I am looking forward to listening and learning from you all on the best ways to make this happen.

             Third, I want to express the high level of optimism I have for UNCW moving forward. Together, I know we can do great things. Of course, it won’t be easy. I see on the horizon a number of areas that will need our attention in Academic Affairs, including: 

  •  Focusing our efforts on building a more diverse and inclusive community, as mentioned above — one that dismantles racialized institutional practices and that removes the injustices and inequities caused by racism and intolerance. 
  • Preparing for one of the most daunting challenges in higher education today — the opening of a campus that protects the health and safety of our faculty, staff, and students, while also providing an enriching educational environment for our students.
  • Maintaining a strong commitment to undergraduate teaching and learning, while thoughtfully and strategically expanding our research activities (consistent with our recent categorization as an R2 school).
  • Engaging and fostering partnerships with community leaders and organizations working on important issues within our community.
  • Strengthening existing programs, appropriately supporting recently launched programs, and working together to identify new programs that align with UNCW’s sustainable growth trajectories and prepare our students to solve the world’s most challenging problems. This requires creative, integrative, and interdisciplinary thinking, for which UNCW is well-known.
  • Building our policies and practices on principles of shared governance, working collectively with Faculty Senate, Staff Senate, and the Student Government Association.
  • Embracing the opportunity to work together to craft a new Strategic Plan (the current plan expires in 2021) that captures our collective vision for the future at UNCW.

 For us to move forward as a division, we must work together to tackle these and other important matters this year and beyond. And in doing so, we should continue to remind ourselves every day that ours is a noble mission. No matter what role you play at this university, you are part of a great cause: to educate the next generation of leaders, parents, neighbors, and community members — the very future of society.

             Finally, given my desire to learn from you, with this email I extend an open invitation for you to contact me with any questions, concerns, or ideas you may have on how to move Academic Affairs at UNCW forward. Your comments and suggestions will not go unheard. I also look forward to future meetings and other opportunities to learn from you. My goal is not to impose a vision I have for Academic Affairs at UNCW, but to do what I can to help us build a collective vision of the future that we can all get behind.

             Thank you again for the opportunity to lead Academic Affairs at UNCW. I ask for your good graces and your patience as I get settled. 

 Best regards and please stay well,


 James J. Winebrake, Ph.D.

Provost and Vice Chancellor of Academic Affairs