The Triangle area of North Carolina has the distinction of being home to a number of highly-rated colleges and universities. For the first time ever, three of these institutions of higher education are headed by women, one in each of the three corners of “the Triangle”: North Carolina Central University in Durham, Meredith College in Raleigh, and the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill. Recently, on separate occasions, all three women spoke at Carolina Meadows as part of the University Speakers program.
Many of our students are first generation college students, the grandchildren of sharecroppers and domestics. They come from homes that are poor, but where academic excellence is a priority.
With these words, Debra Saunders-White, Chancellor of North Carolina Central University, began a presentation which highlighted the challenges and achievements of this historically black university. Saunders-White said that NCCU’s motto is “Truth and Service.” Students must compile a “service portfolio,” in which they record how they have given back to the community. Last year, 200,000 hours of service were provided to the local community.
Dr. Jo Allen is President of Meredith College, which was founded in 1891 under Baptist auspices but now is independent. Dr. Allen spoke of the merits of maintaining an all-women college at a time when most institutions are co-ed. With 1,700 undergraduates, Meredith takes pride in its brand: Going Strong. Although 85% of the students are from North Carolina, forty-two countries are represented in the student body.
The third college leader, Carol Folt, recently appointed Chancellor of UNC-Chapel Hill, was introduced by Carolina Meadows resident Paul Hardin, one of her predecessors as chancellor. Also recognized was William Aycock, yet another former UNC-Chapel Hill chancellor, who also resides at Carolina Meadows.
Folt framed her remarks around three words: warmth, tough, love. She has found a warm relationship between the Chancellor and the community. But people ask tough questions because they have high expectations. Finally, there is love: there are high expectations because everyone cares. She sees herself building on the legacy of the past, a past made strong by such Chancellors as Paul Hardin and William Aycock.