The Reporter: Congratulations on your appointment as chancellor at UNC Pembroke. What are your thoughts about leaving the place where you’ve been since 2004?
Carter: It certainly is going to be hard to leave the university. Over the past six years, I have put a lot of my heart and soul into the place. There are a lot of great people here, and I will miss them. But UNC-Pembroke offers a real opportunity for Sarah and me to make a difference to that university and to that community.
The Reporter: What was it about the job that made it appealing to you?
Carter: The interesting thing is that Pembroke has a number of issues and opportunities that mirror issues and opportunities at Western Carolina. They are very similar institutions in several respects. Because of that, a lot of the work I have been doing at WCU as provost will help me in my role as chancellor at UNC-Pembroke.
Those issues include enrollment management, in terms of increasing enrollment numbers and wrestling with admission standards. There also are retention issues that have to be addressed at UNC-Pembroke that we have been working on at Western Carolina. Everyone in the system is being accountable for meeting retention targets and improving graduating rates, so I will be going into the job very familiar with those issues.
The Reporter: Was the fact that UNC Pembroke is a ‘sister institution’ in the system a factor in your decision?
Carter: The fact that I’ve been involved in planning for UNC-Tomorrow and now am involved in helping implement those initiatives here at Western Carolina will certainly provide me with the context to carry on the UNC-Tomorrow initiatives that are in place at UNC-Pembroke.
I am truly glad to being staying in the UNC system because, to be honest, I don’t have to learn a new one. I am familiar with how business is done in the system, I know the strategic initiatives. Those system-wide processes will remain the same for UNC-Pembroke as they are at WCU.
The Reporter: Do you feel like you accomplished what you set out to do as provost?
Carter: Of course, there are some things that I will be leaving undone at WCU that I would like to have accomplished, but that is an inevitable part of any job change. If you leave a job where everything is all neat and tidy, then you probably haven’t been doing enough. We made some significant progress in the areas of strategic planning and budgeting, but the work on those fronts still is not finished. It will be up to the next generation to complete those tasks.
The Reporter: Is there anything in particular that you are looking forward to in your new job?
Carter: One characteristic that makes UNC-Pembroke so special and so unique is its diversity and the diverse community it serves, a community of Native-Americans, African-Americans, Caucasians and other ethnic groups. That diversity provides students opportunities to deal with different cultures and races on a daily basis, and allows people from different backgrounds to learn from one another. That is a real plus for us.
The Reporter: Your colleagues at Western Carolina and neighbors in the community will miss you.
Carter: We will be keeping our home in Jackson County. It will serve as a retreat for us on long weekends, and our friends and colleagues should not be surprised to see us at City Lights, Spring Street Café or Lulu’s on occasion. We’ve been infected by the Western North Carolina bug, and we’re not going to seek any cure for that. And when the ultimate ‘r’ word comes around, as in retirement, we’ll be spending a lot of time on our deck, looking to the west, enjoying the views of the sun setting over the mountains.
Interview by Bill Studenc and published in edited and condensed form