Christopher Finelli

August 27, 2019

Christopher Finelli truly believes that knowledge is power.

“Higher education is the key to creating a sustainable and just society and is among the highest callings in public service,” he said.

UNCW’s reputation in the marine sciences is part of what brought him to the institution 13 years ago. He taught and served as chair of the Department of Biology and Marine Biology and served as interim chair of the Department of Mathematics and Statistics.

As he begins his first semester as dean of the UNCW Graduate School and interim executive director of marine sciences, he is focused on developing new programs that benefit students and the community. 

He aims to initiate conversations about what it means to live, work and play in the coastal zone – all areas he’s vested in. When not at UNCW, he’s usually on Masonboro Island, at area soccer fields or tending to his collection of bonsai trees.

“In the wake of Hurricane Florence, I think a lot about coastal resiliency and community resiliency and what it means to be North Carolina’s coastal university. Coastal living is beautiful and fun, but it presents unique challenges for people and infrastructure, especially given the realities of population growth and climate change,” he said.  

Recruiting new students for and supporting existing students in UNCW’s rapidly growing graduate programs is a challenge Finelli is prepared to meet.

“The university really is a public good,” he said. “We have so many interfaces with the people and institutions of the region in business, science, education, arts and health, and there is potential for much more.”

-- Caroline Cropp