WILMINGTON -- After two weeks on the job, UNC Wilmington's new chancellor is hard at work filling the shoes of former chancellor Rosemary DePaolo. Chancellor Gary Miller faces a tight budget, which is forcing employee layoffs and program cuts, but he is staying positive.
Miller is taking time out to meet the students and even stopped in the bookstore to stock up on UNCW gear. The Chancellor says he feels at home but isn't getting to relaxed. He said he has a list of goals he plans to accomplish.
"We will be one of the very best universities in the world. We will focus on student-faculty interaction, that research will be a hallmark of our operations, in particular research involving students," said Miller.
Those goals won't come without a few obstacles. Recently, the North Carolina General Assembly approved a state budget that calls for a major reduction in funding for higher education.
UNCW is facing a management flexibility reduction for the fiscal year 2011-2012 of 15.8 percent, or $16,571,939. This amount closely matches the maximum budget reduction scenario considered by the senior leadership over the past year.
"We are going to have to lay off a few people, transfer some people, make some changes in our operation. It's a complicated, important operation but I feel pretty confident that we've left the institution in good shape," said Miller.
One big push for the chancellor is making students aware of the global knowledge-based economy. He said in order for the students to thrive they need to think critically and creatively.
"One of our biggest responsibilities in our education system is to make sure our students are aware of how they can interact in that global economy," said Miller.
But despite the buzz around campus, Miller said talk of a future football team is not his
focus right now but could be in the future.
"This is a place of dreams and we will always consider dreams but I think my focus is on strengthen the program we have now," he said.
Miller said he is honored to be a Seahawk and is open to student suggestions.