Thoughts on the Achievements and Future of UNC Asheville

Chancellor Anne PonderEach spring, UNC Asheville’s campus community gathers on the Quad to celebrate our newest class of graduates. It’s from this central spot on campus, where ideas intersect and paths cross, that we can look toward Mount Pisgah, a reminder of the unique place from which the university has grown. It was here that I first met with the campus community when I became chancellor, and it’s from the steps of the library on this same Quad that I will share my final commencement address in 2014. 

The landscape of higher education has changed dramatically during these past nine years. We have learned together as a campus to develop new models that will help us better meet the future needs of our students, our state and the world of higher education. 

In this issue of UNC Asheville Magazine, we explore beyond the ever-expanding campus boundaries, going into the community on service-learning projects and following our alumni on their career journeys around the world. And we learn about Lookout Observatory, which has expanded our capacity to see beyond the Earth through new technology. We drill down to the surface-level too, meeting the landscape architect and the faculty founder of the campus rock garden, one of the newest features of the Quad.

We also take a closer look at the best-known Rocky on campus—our mascot—who comes to life thanks to the students who take on the challenge and costume. They personify the Bulldog determination that has positioned UNC Asheville to continue as a regional resource, a statewide success and a top 10 national public liberal arts university, with an undergraduate research program unparalleled by any institution of this size.  

These stories, which stem from our collective achievements, signal the bright future alluded to in the literary promise of Pisgah and bring home to Asheville and Western North Carolina what the rest of the world already knows about us. This bright future also is what will attract the very best talent in higher education to be UNC Asheville’s next chancellor—a leader ready to collaborate with your great work and to blaze the next trail from the mountains. 

It has been an honor to join you on this journey to excellence, and though this will be my last official “Ponderings” as your chancellor, UNC Asheville will never be far from my thoughts.