DePaolo to Retire

Amber Hughes | News Editor

Chancellor Rosemary DePaolo announced last week that she will retire at the end of the academic year. Depaolo has worked in higher education for 35 years, and she has served as a chancellor for over 13 years, seven of which have been at UNCW.

“I love my job, but there are only so many hours in a day,” DePaolo said. “Leading a university takes up a lot of that time, and I’m ready to do the other things that I love, like spending time with my family, traveling and reading.”

DePaolo said that she began thinking about retiring about a year ago, when the university’s renewal phase was almost complete.

“When an institution has not only redefined itself but grown into that definition, then it’s time for the chancellor who led that renewal to ask whether the time has come for new leadership, for a new vision-to take the university to its next level of potential,” DePaolo said.

However, she didn’t feel comfortable leaving the university last year for a couple of reasons. She was concerned with the budget crisis, and she wanted to give the university one more big push. This year, UNCW has weathered the budget crisis, and the renewal phase, which was projected to take about 10 years, only took seven.

“The university is in terrific shape,” DePaolo said. “My job here is done.”

The chancellor announced her decision to retire eight months before her actual retirement date in order to give UNC President Erskine Bowles, his successor Thomas Ross and the UNCW Board of Trustees enough time to form a search committee and find her replacement.

DePaolo said she won’t be a part of the search and that she is leaving that duty to the Board of Trustees. She did add that the next UNCW chancellor should, of course, love UNCW and bleed teal.

“The Board of Trustees will have a challenge in finding the next leader who will keep us soaring, but we are up to that challenge. And I have no doubt that UNCW will continue to soar,” said Wendy Murphy, the Board of Trustees chair.

Bowles was also present at the press conference when DePaolo announced her retirement.

“Rosemary DePaolo has been an absolutely extraordinary chancellor for UNCW,” Bowles said. “She will leave UNCW stronger than she found it. In the process, she has raised the bar for how we define real leadership within the University of North Carolina.”

During her tenure at UNCW, DePaolo helped UNCW grow and became a leader statewide as well as nationwide. The graduation rates now exceed the national average by more than 12 percentage points and the UNC system average by almost 10 percentage points.

SAT averages for incoming freshmen have increased from 1104 in the fall of 2003 to 1170 this fall, making UNCW the third highest in the UNC system.

Millions of dollars of growth in research expenditures has occurred, and there has been a significant increase in private support, especially for scholarships and professorships.

More than two dozen buildings have been either constructed or renovated. On-campus housing has doubled. Undergraduates living on campus have also majorly increased. Less than 25 percent were living on campus in 2003 and 38 percent are living on campus this year.

UNCW has also received recognition in national higher education rankings, including being in the top five of the public master’s universities in the South, according to U.S. News and World Report. For the past 12 years, it had been ranked in the top 10. For the seventh year in a row, The Princeton Review placed UNCW on its “Best in the Southeast” list. Forbes Magazine put UNCW in the number 17 spot for overall quality and affordability on the “America’s Best College Buys” list.

“The highlight of my entire career at UNCW has been increasing the quality of education,” DePaolo said. “I wanted to show that you can get the same quality of education at public school as you could a private.”

After her final day on June 30, 2011, DePaolo plans to travel to places she’s not been able to so far. She also said that she wants to attend events in Wilmington, and that she’s excited to finally be able to attend student productions and recitals. Although she will use Wilmington as a home base, she plans to be away next fall traveling, because she wants to give the new chancellor his or her space.

“The part about UNCW that I will miss the most will be the students,” DePaolo said. “They have been an absolute joy to me.”