He’s been N.C. State University’s chancellor for barely five months, but Randy Woodson is already impressing those ready to forget his more secretive predecessor.
After former Chancellor James Oblinger resigned amid accusations of hiring political allies and working behind closed doors, Woodson’s more transparent and visible style has breathed a new excitement into the Raleigh campus.
“He’s very articulate and seems to care about students,” said N.C. State Student Body President Kelly Hook. “I’ve seen his willingness to get information out to students as soon as he knows it.”
Woodson came to NCSU in April from Purdue University, where he rose through the ranks from assistant professor in the horticulture department to executive vice president.
He was hired in January after an 18-person committee conducted a six-month search. UNC-system President Erskine Bowles described him as “a perfect fit” at the time.
At NCSU, Woodson inherited a student body and faculty frustrated with the controversy that led to Oblinger’s eventual resignation in June 2009. Oblinger was accused of giving preferential treatment in the hiring of Mary Easley, wife of former Gov. Mike Easley, to an administrative position at the school.
Since Woodson was hired, there has been a dramatic change in the overall transparency of the administration on campus, said Amanda Wilkins, editor-in-chief of The Technician, the school’s student newspaper.
“He’s definitely made the initiative to get out there,” she said. “I don’t think we’ve ever been denied an interview.”
The biggest shake-up Woodson has made so far has been the hiring of Debbie Yow as new athletic director in hopes of turning around what some see as the school’s disappointing past few years in sports.
However, not everyone has been happy with his changes.
Woodson was criticized for moving Vice Chancellor of Student Affairs Thomas Stafford’s position below the athletic director’s in the administration’s hierarchy.
That prompted claims he valued sports more than students, but Stafford himself dismissed these claims.
“We’re not thinking about that,” Stafford said. “The new leadership we’ve got is going to move NCSU well past all that negative activity.”
Regardless of what he’s done so far, much of the student body hasn’t had a chance to form an opinion about him, Hook said.
“It’s easy when you’re new to be well-liked,” she said. “I hope that he walks the walk, and I think he will.”
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