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The Daily Tar Heel

New Vision, New Man at N.C. Central

Since arriving in June as N.C. Central University's newest chancellor, Ammons has worked to further a new sense of pride in the university and make it more accessible for students and global partnerships.

On Thursday, Ammons led the first monthly meeting for the campus's strategic planning campaign. He said the campaign will take a holistic look at the university and its relationship with corporations in the Research Triangle Park.

Ammons said the campaign will result in N.C. Central projecting a better image in the community and possibly attract new funds to the university, another major goal for the year.

"In order for us to achieve the types of goals we have for this university, it's imperative to have a diverse revenue stream for the university," he said.

Ammons also said he wants to encourage students to look at opportunities beyond N.C. Central's campus. "We have to develop international relations and get to the point where we are accepting of all races," he said during his first State of the University address Sept. 6. "We have to think internationally and globally. Nothing is local anymore."

Ammons said he wants to invite major corporations to form partnerships with the university and possibly provide scholarships and internships for students. He plans to kick off the program during N.C. Central's Homecoming, when 73 companies will hold a three-day summit for the campus community.

But while Ammons is bringing forth a set of fresh ideas for N.C. Central, he said he hopes to continue the visions outlined by his predecessor, civil rights attorney turned university chancellor Julius Chambers.

During his eight years at N.C. Central, Chambers saw many successes, including raising admission standards at the university and recruiting a racially diverse student body.

Chambers also spearheaded the construction of the Biomedical and Biotechnology Research Institute that now bears his name.

"I think the presence we have in biomedical sciences and biotechnology sciences is largely due to his work," Ammons said. "He has laid a foundation upon which I am going to build."

But the job has not always been easy.

N.C. Central had been plagued with declining enrollment rates for most of the past decade. University leaders said earlier this year that the school could lose about $800,000 if enrollment declined for another year.

But UNC-system officials announced this month that N.C. Central's enrollment for this year has increased by 5.1 percent, raising enrollment from 5,476 to 5,753 students.

Ammons said he wants to increase student enrollment even further. He also said he wants N.C. Central to improve its recruitment of top students including National Merit, National Achievement and National Hispanic Scholars.

Ammons hopes to attract a diverse student body to the campus through a newly established master's of education administration program. The program received funding through the recently approved state budget and is set to begin offering classes next semester. "There is a need for us to provide greater diversity not only in the classroom but at the administrative level," he said.

Another challenge for the university has been improving its campus facilities. Ammons said that much of the $121 million given to N.C. Central from last fall's higher education bond referendum will be devoted towards academic building renovations and campus housing.

The university plans to construct a new science complex, build a new residence hall and renovate existing residence halls.

The combination of improving academic services and facilities and turning N.C. Central into a global university is one of several ways leaders are hoping to improve the campus' image to the university community, especially its students, Ammons said. "I think it's imperative for the students to have pride in their university and to show spirit on the campus," he said.

Although he has only been in office for four months, Ammons said he is hopeful for the future of N.C. Central. "I am really honored to be the chancellor of this university," he said. "I'm going to do my best to move it to the next level."

Columnist April Bethea can be reached at

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