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Governor Pat McCrory delivers keynote address at University Day

McCro ry was working as a basketball referee for an ACC All-Star game featuring a very prominent Tar Heel. McCrory said he saw Michael Jordan travel with the ball and decided, instead of swallowing his whistle, to call the infraction against Jordan.

During his keynote address for University Day in Memorial Hall, McCrory said leaders like himself and Chancellor Carol Folt must make the tough call sometimes.

“I made the tough call then,” he said. “All leaders and future leaders in this auditorium must continue to make the tough calls.”

Every year, University Day is celebrated on Oct. 12 — the day that the first brick was laid down for the University’s first building and the oldest state university building in the country, Old East.

“Today is the 221st birthday of American public higher education,” Folt said.

Alumni who were honored included former Gov. Jim Hunt and Lt. Gen. Patricia Horoho, the first woman to rise to the rank of surgeon general of the U.S. Army.

This University Day also marked the one-year anniversary of Folt’s installation as Chancellor.

“The more I’ve learned, the prouder I become of Carolina,” Folt said.

McCrory said Folt has proven to be a great leader throughout her first year.

“She has done an excellent job of listening, taking charge and leading by example,” he said.

UNC-system President Tom Ross echoed the governor’s sentiments.

“It’s hard to believe that an entire year has passed since Chancellor Folt has been installed,” he said. “The first time I met with Chancellor Folt, I could see in her eyes her passion for students and dedication to public higher education.”

McCrory’s keynote focused on an issue he says many businesses in North Carolina are concerned about: the skills gap, or an employers inability to fill a position because of the lack of available talent in the applicant pool. In 2013, about 39 percent of U.S. employers said they had difficulty filling positions because of a lack of talent, according to a study by the human resources consultant group Manpower.

“The University must continue to decrease the job gap by honing in and focusing on skills employers need,” he said.

McCrory said he wants North Carolina to be a leader in the innovation and technology, and UNC, among others, is where it starts.

“Innovation is the fuel of the modern American economy,” he said. “We have the ingredients to grow North Carolina’s economy, particularly in the high tech sector.”

The University brought in over $792 million in research funding this year, the most since 2010, according to a press release earlier this year. Money from the North Carolina state government made up 3.87 percent of that amount.

Despite the national skills gap, McCrory said the state is proud that UNC is still one of the top universities in the country.

“It is where the best of the best come to fulfill their potential.”

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