J. Bradley Creed
Franklin Gilliam Jr.
Tamika Walker Kelly
Harold Martin Sr. Vincent Price
Randall ‘Randy’ Ramsey
chancellor | N.C. State University
It ain’t bragging if you can do it, and N.C. State University Chancellor Randy Woodson has demonstrated he can lead a big university.
Since moving from Purdue University in 2010, the plant molecular biologist has spearheaded N.C. State’s growth to 37,000 students, raised $2.1 billion in scholarships, boosted its $2 billion endowment, and helped gain national recognition in engineering, agricultural and manufacturing research.
The university’s board rewarded him with the nation’s highest compensation among the U.S. doctoral-granting public universities in 2021. His total pay of $2.3 million included a $1.7 million bonus tied to his successes. (Many private college presidents, including some in North Carolina, receive more annual compensation than Woodson.)
Notably, he has pledged about $1.5 million to support scholarships and other worthy causes at the state’s largest university, which has a $1.6 billion annual budget.
Some of those students, Woodson noted, are in food crisis, so part of his donation will help fill dorm refrigerators.
Favorite family tradition: Sunday night dinner with the kids and grandkids.
Favorite N.C. place to visit: Ashe County on the New River
What do you listen to on your commute: Back to Bluegrass
Major inspiration: My father. His work ethic and compassion for others continues to set a high bar for me.
Career highlight: Serving the people of North Carolina as chancellor of N.C. State University.
Favorite hobby after work: Garden or play guitar, depending on the weather.
Best advice to industry newcomer: Listen and learn: listen to your stakeholders and learn the culture of the organization.
Key industry change in next five years: Move to more flexible educational outcomes. The B.S., M.S. and Ph.D. will continue, but increasingly people are looking for industry-specific certificates.
chancellor | Fayetteville State University
The Kannapolis native took his post at the historically Black university in March 2021, after serving on the UNC Board of Governors and leading a K-12 school-choice nonprofit in Raleigh. The graduate of N.C. Central University and UNC Chapel Hill School of Law champions community engagement, student retention and increased scholarship opportunities.
chair | UNC Chapel Hill board of trustees
Boliek, elected in 2019, is a partner at a Fayetteville law firm focused on litigation and health care issues. He previously worked in journalism, public relations, government contracting and as a Cumberland County prosecutor. He has a bachelor’s degree from UNC Chapel Hill and law and MBA degrees from Campbell University.
president | Elon University
Book became Elon’s first female president in 2018 after serving as provost of The Citadel. She previously spent 16 years at Elon as a professor and provost. She has degrees from Louisiana State and Northwestern State universities and a Ph.D. in mass communications from the University of Georgia.
chancellor | Western Carolina University
The Southern Illinois University graduate came to Western Carolina in 2019 after serving as provost at Georgia College & State University. Her initiatives include promoting the state’s only public engineering college west of Interstate 77. Campus enrollment declined marginally to about 11,640 students in the fall of 2022.
Favorite family tradition: Getting the horses ready on a Thursday or Friday night and heading out for a weekend at a quarter horse show. We had a tradition of attending horse shows almost every weekend.
Favorite N.C. place to visit: I love all the beautiful creeks and waterfalls in western N.C. You can be driving along and suddenly tucked away will be a beautiful waterfall and when you roll down your window, you can hear the sounds it makes. Nothing better than this!
What do you listen to on your commute: Local Blue Ridge NPR and anything country western, from Patsy Cline and Loretta Lynn to Brooks & Dunn and Garth Brooks.
Major inspiration: My mom taught me so much despite the fact she was not college educated. I learned from her that hard work pays off, to never give up on your dream, to follow your passion, and to always do the right thing no matter how hard it may seem at the time. She was beautiful, graceful, and cared for others. To this day she inspires me to follow my dream, be true to myself and to be mindful of my everyday actions.
Career highlight: When Western Carolina University students, faculty, staff, retired employees, alumni and community members rallied to stand up for a COVID vaccine center in rural western North Carolina that served more than 17,000 people at the height of the pandemic. I could not have been prouder and humbled by the actions of WCU during a time of uncertainty, yet their actions revealed the humanity in us all.
Favorite hobby after work: After a long day, I must admit there is nothing like a nice hot bath with fragrance salts.
Best advice to industry newcomer: Be true to yourself, follow your passion and do what makes you happy.
Key industry change in next five years:
More shared services across the higher education sector.
J. BRADLEY CREED
president | Campbell University
Texas-born Creed, 66, began as Campbell University’s fifth president in 2015, after serving as religion professor and provost at Samford University as well as the dean of Baylor University’s seminary. He received his master’s of divinity and doctor of philosophy from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary.
chair | State Board of Education
Davis, a graduate of the U.S. Military Academy and an engineer, joined the board in 2015 and became its chair in 2018. It helps set education policies for K-12 public schools. He previously served on the Charlotte-Mecklenburg school board and on the U.S. Green Building Advisory Council’s Charlotte chapter board.
president | Central Piedmont Community College
Deitemeyer worked at College of the Albemarle in Elizabeth City for six years before joining the state’s second-largest community college in 2016. The University of South Florida graduate serves on the Charlotte Executive Leadership Council and Novant Health’s Charlotte board. The college raised a record $66 million in a fundraising campaign completed last year.
Favorite family tradition: Friday nights: dinner, dialogue and TV
Favorite N.C. place to visit: Mountains, including Blowing Rock
What do you listen to on your commute:
K-Love or news
Major inspiration: My daughter Zoe. She is incredibly talented, thoughtful and humble. Seeing life through her experiences and perspective recalibrates my thinking, gives me hope for a greater future, and inspires me to be a better person, wife, mother and leader.
Career highlight: Leading Central Piedmont. I am very proud of the work we do each day to impact lives. This past year finalizing a transformative comprehensive campaign allows the college to impact even more lives, deliver innovative programming and meet emerging needs. It has been a highlight in my career to work alongside many fantastic campaign volunteers, staff, and donors to power a stronger future for the college.
Favorite hobby after work: I enjoy the drive home after a long day of work. It gives me time to reflect on the day and change my focus to family time for when I walk through the door at home. My favorite hobby is spending too much time on real estate apps. Just looking! A better one is hiking.
Best advice to industry newcomer: Be willing to be a servant leader. I promise you will get back more than you give to this work. Every aspect of what we do at the community college is serving others. You will absolutely be blessed by the impact you see happening through the lives of our students.
Key industry change in next five years: More flexibility in time to credential or degree with accountability toward the value proposition of higher education and job placement.
chancellor | Appalachian State University
Everts received a master’s and doctorate at the University of Nebraska in her native state. The former vice president and provost for Illinois State University became ASU’s eighth leader in 2014. She has facilitated rapid growth for the university, including a new Hickory campus set to welcome students this fall.
Major inspiration: I am a first-generation college graduate and my major inspiration has been my mother, who had an eighth grade formal education. Providing access to higher education has always been a driving force for me. I came to App State in 2014 because I was inspired by App’s founding mission of providing access to higher education to the people of the region. This mission has led us to focus our recent efforts on increasing the number of rural and first-generation students who attend and graduate from App State. Approximately one-third of our undergraduate students are first-generation college students and about one-third come from rural areas.
Career highlight: In my view, our Hickory campus, opening this August, could be the most significant advancement in App State history since the university became a UNC System institution in 1967. I’m tremendously proud of the work being done by our faculty and staff to carry forward App State’s founding mission to expand educational access in the western region of our state. Our work to open a new campus in Hickory has been met with tremendous support from the Hickory community, and we are excited to expand our services into the Hickory metro area and beyond.
Best advice to industry newcomers: Believe in yourself, but know your own strengths and weaknesses. Hire to your weaknesses.
Key industry change in next five years: The higher education landscape has seen significant changes in recent years, and it will continue to change. The core mission of teaching, research, and service remain the same. Institutions of higher education serve their communities and their regions. If we serve well, listening to the needs of our communities, we’ll expand student and community opportunities. In so doing, our communities, our state, our nation and our world will be the beneficiaries of our service.
member | State Board of Education
The education consultant was appointed by Gov. Roy Cooper in 2018 to the board and has been an outspoken advocate for greater spending on public schools. He was the state’s 2014-2015 Teacher of the Year and has chaired the Governor’s Teacher Advisory Committee. He is pursuing a Ph.D. at UNC Charlotte in urban education.
chancellor | UNC Charlotte
The Southern California native came to Charlotte in 2020 after leading the University of Toledo for five years. She’s pushing for more research at the campus of nearly 30,000 students. This year, the university added Ohio State University administrator Alicia Bertone as provost, succeeding Joan Lorden, who had the post for nearly 20 years.
Favorite family tradition: Whenever we are all together we try to have a family game night – trivia, Jenga, cards.
Favorite N.C. place to visit: UNC Charlotte’s Richardson Stadium on game day, and a beautiful Mecklenburg County park any other day!
What do you listen to on your commute: Since I live on campus, I have a very short commute. I can usually get in one or two good “pump-up” songs.
Major inspiration: My mom. She was a hard-working, single parent who encouraged and believed in me.
Career highlight: Being appointed the chancellor
of UNC Charlotte
Favorite hobby after work: Depending on the day, I enjoy getting together for a social activity or just going out and walking my dog! Favorite hobbies include travel, spending time with family, and enjoying the outdoors.
Best advice to industry newcomer:
Listen, pay attention, work hard and understand that everyone comes to the table from a different place.
Key industry change in next five years: We have to be able to clearly articulate the value of higher education, and we must be nimble to meet the needs of students and the state.
FRANKLIN GILLIAM JR.
chancellor | UNC Greensboro
Gilliam has focused on improving students’ social mobility since moving from a deanship at UCLA to his N.C. post in 2015. The Millennial Campus designation has enabled growth in the university’s health, wellness, and performing arts programs. He has master’s and doctoral degrees from the University of Iowa.
chancellor | UNC Chapel Hill
The neuroscientist and concussion researcher became
the university’s 12th chancellor after serving on faculty since 1995. He is a Kenan Distinguished Professor of Exercise and Sport Science, and co-director of the Matthew Gfeller Sport-Related Traumatic Brain Injury Research Center. Guskiewicz earned his Ph.D. from the University of Virginia.
president | UNC System
The UNC Chapel Hill graduate, who grew up in Southport and Hendersonville, has kept a low public profile since taking the leadership post of the 17-campus system in 2020. The system kept in-state tuition flat for the seventh consecutive year as enrollment ebbed at 12 universities. Hans is stepping up UNC’s online learning options through the $97 million Project Kitty Hawk program. He previously led the 58-campus community college system
senior vice president for finance, CFO | UNC System
Haygood joined the $10 billion system in 2020 after 12 years as a top financial executive at the N.C. Community College System. She has a bachelor’s from Rice University and a master’s in public policy from Duke University. She is a directorof the $50 billion State Employees’
TAMIKA WALKER KELLY
president | North Carolina Association of Educators
A music teacher in Cumberland County for 15 years, Kelly has led the National Education Association affiliate since July 2020. Holding bachelor’s and master’s degrees from East Carolina University, Kelly is passionate about representing public school workers and inspiring successful educators.
HAROLD MARTIN SR.
chancellor | N.C. Agricultural and Technical State University
Through expanded research and grant funding, increased student performance and enrollment, Martin’s alma mater has become the nation’s largest historically Black university since he took the job in 2009. His previous 30 years of experience had included 16 as an A&T professor and administrator and a stint as chancellor of Winston-Salem State University.
president | Duke University
Leader of the university since 2017, political scientist
Price has expanded Duke’s local and global presence, including a campus in Kunshan, China. He was previously provost at the University of Pennsylvania. He’s seeking a provost to succeed Sally Kornbluth, who is now president at MIT. He has master’s and doctoral degrees from Stanford University.
president | High Point University
The Lebanese native came to the United States as a teenager with $50, then built a successful entrepreneurial career. He has led his alma mater for almost 20 years as enrollment skyrocketed by 250%, seven academic schools were added and more than 100 buildings erected. Qubein, 73, is a Truist director and a member of the Horatio Alger Association for Distinguished Americans.
Career highlight: Investing a significant portion of
my time and energy in being a servant leader. At High Point University. In my city. And boards I serve across our nation.
Favorite hobby after work: Be with my family and friends. Thanking God for a productive day.
Best advice to industry newcomer: Leaders need to be armed with faithful courage, focused on rendering value for their clients, setting high standards for their organization, and doing it all with authenticity. Authenticity over charisma, every day.
Key industry change in next five years: In business and in education, disruption is the new norm. Leaders must be prepared to execute on meaningful visions and solid strategies to create innovative transformation in a globally changing world.
Wake Technical Community College
The leader of North Carolina’s largest community college and former president of the statewide system returned to the Triangle in 2019 after two years at a Washington, D.C., area college. He’s focused on delivering trained workers in industries suffering labor shortages, while also meeting the needs of emerging employers such as VinFast and Wolfspeed.
Favorite family tradition: Family Thanksgivings — favorite family foods, being with family and friends who are like family. Long naps during boring Detroit Lions football games.
Favorite N.C. place to visit: Lake Junaluska. Spent most of my summers there growing up. It’s my happy place.
What do you listen to on your commute: Music and podcasts.
Major inspiration: Community college students. I am continuously inspired by their drive to succeed and grit in overcoming obstacles.
Career highlight: Joining the North Carolina Community College System as director of economic and workforce development in October 1999. I never would have had my career across multiple colleges and as president of the North Carolina Community College System without that first opportunity.
Favorite hobby after work:
Unwind with a book.
Best advice to industry newcomer:
Know your why and always put the mission
first. When the job gets you down, walk
the hallways and find inspiration from
Key industry change in next five years: Higher education institutions that are not relevant and meeting the goals of students will fall by the wayside.
RANDALL ‘RANDY’ RAMSEY
chair | UNC System Board of Governors
Ramsey’s entrepreneurial skills led to
co-founding a boat construction and repair company, Jarrett Bay Boatworks, and serving as partner of Bluewater Yacht Sales. The graduate of Carteret Community College’s marine diesel mechanics programs has been chair of the 24-member board since 2019. He’s focused on keeping UNC campuses affordable and promoting expanded research.
president | James G. Martin Center for Academic Renewal
With a bachelor’s from N.C. State University and a doctorate from UNC Chapel Hill, Robinson joined the higher education research group in 2007, four years after it was started with the Pope family’s support. She directs a team that produces a steady stream of conservative, free market-oriented stories and studies about the
chancellor | East Carolina University
Rogers has come full circle at ECU as a former policy analyst and chief of staff who left for a higher education trade association job in Washington, D.C., then returned to Greenville in 2021 as chancellor. He’s grappling with declining enrollment and a closer partnership between ECU’s medical school and the not-for-profit ECU
president | Barton College
Searcy’s Barton Bold strategic plan has led to the college’s largest enrollment in three decades, more than a dozen building renovations, an athletic complex and a fiber optic ring around campus. The doctoral graduate from the University of Nebraska came to Barton in 2016.
Favorite family tradition: When your children are adults building their own lives, any time together is treasured. So, traditions shift. Yes, it’s still the fried turkey at Thanksgiving and treasure hunts for gifts on Christmas morning, but now, it’s also the unexpected phone calls for advice about locking in an interest rate or pursuing an internship opportunity. Knowing our family relies on one another and makes time to connect is both the culmination of traditions and the new tradition itself.
Favorite N.C. place to visit: I have lived in or have ties to Hendersonville, Mars Hill, Boone, Davidson, Shelby, Elon, Monroe, Wilson, Emerald Isle, Currituck, Chapel Hill and Winston-Salem, so there’s not an inch of this state I don’t appreciate. Picking a favorite place would be like picking a favorite child. It’s hard to beat the first glimpse of the mountains of my childhood in their fall splendor, the peace of crossing the bridge to a respite in Emerald Isle, or a new housing development in Raleigh where my son just bought his first home. My favorite place is wherever my people are and I can live out my purpose.
What do you listen to on your commute: My commute is a brisk walk by the bell tower which might involve a quick wave to a faculty member heading into the bistro for coffee, a consultation with a physical-plant team member about a renovation in progress, or a greeting to a group of students on their way to an early class. When I do commute, I use time in the car to return phone calls or listen to NPR, podcasts, or audio reruns of “West Wing.”
Major inspiration: Clearly, my wife. She’s smart and accomplished on her own yet consistently pays attention to the goings-on in my world, particularly noting subtleties and relationships that matter. I rely on her insight and candor to be my best. Also, I’m motivated by the friends of the college who believe in and support what we do and the students who are the core of our mission. Our students come to us with so many different experiences and challenges, and I am inspired by their drive, their curiosity, their work ethic, and their boldness.
Career highlight: I’ve had a fair share of “pinch me” moments in my career, and when a bad day comes along, I enjoy the highlight reel of the good ones that I can play in my mind, such as fundraising successes, new buildings, new programs and new partnerships. But nothing compares to standing on the graduation stage in full academic regalia greeting students who have earned their diploma. Every single handshake — or fist bump or hug — is a promise fulfilled, a life changed, and for me, a confirmation of a calling.