On a perfect spring day from a location regarded as the academic heart of UNC Charlotte, and in the presence of more than 600 special guests, Sharon L. Gaber was officially welcomed on April 19, 2022, as UNC Charlotte’s fifth — and first woman — chancellor. The celebratory event, titled “Shaping What’s Next” to reflect the theme of the University’s strategic plan, exemplified the adage, “good things come to those who wait.”
Since arriving in July 2020 just as the COVID-19 pandemic made large gatherings unsafe, including a traditional installation ceremony, Gaber has earned a reputation on campus, in the city of Charlotte and around the UNC System for having a leadership style that is compassionate, measured and decisive. This is apparent not only in her approach to the safety of the campus community throughout the pandemic — the topic that has dominated her tenure so far — but all things affecting the well-being and success of students, faculty and staff.
In her remarks from the plaza connecting the Cato College of Education and the College of Health and Human Services, Gaber acknowledged the accomplishments of the past 21 months and thanked students, faculty and staff for helping her to have “the best job in North Carolina and the U.S.”
The day’s highlights:
Board of Trustees Chair Susan D. DeVore ’81 welcomed 600-plus special guests to campus for “Shaping What’s Next,” a celebration of Chancellor Sharon L. Gaber’s arrival as UNC Charlotte’s fifth chancellor.
Mike Uduebor, vice president of the Graduate and Professional Student Government, and Dick Beekman, president of the Student Government Association, surprised Gaber on behalf of the student body with a painting by Jennifer Minnis ’21.
Frenchie Wilson Brown ’91, president, UNC Charlotte Alumni Board of Directors, presented the chancellor with a 49er ring. Designed by students and alumni, the alumni ring “captures the essence of Niner Nation.” Other gifts presented to Gaber on behalf of the Staff and Faculty councils, respectively, were a bench to be installed outside J. Murrey Atkins Library and a collection of books on the topic of urban planning, Gaber’s area of expertise, which have been donated to the library.
Peter Hans, president of the UNC System, presented Gaber with the chancellor’s medallion to be worn for official ceremonies. Bearing the University seal on its front and the names of former chancellors on its back, the medallion represents the institution’s past and future. In his remarks, Hans noted that Chancellor Gaber will “write the next chapter” to UNC Charlotte’s “stunning success story.”
Addressing an audience that included representatives from the N.C. state legislature, UNC System Board of Governors, the University’s Board of Trustees, a chancellor emeritus and leaders from higher education, corporate and community partners, and the campus, Gaber acknowledged the ways their support leads to the University’s success. Announced during the ceremony was a needs-based scholarship that bears the chancellor’s name.
Bill Rogers, chairman and CEO, Truist Financial Corporation, announced a $5.3 million investment in UNC Charlotte to launch the Truist Institute for Student Success, for student success and workforce development for the Charlotte region and beyond. Truist’s gift will support scholarships, experiential learning, leadership and development, research and discovery, and Charlotte athletics and student-athletes.
Gaber joined student, faculty and staff volunteers at the Barnhardt Student Activity Center in assembling care packages for local organizations, including Niner University Elementary School, Classroom Central, Crisis Assistance Ministry and Hope Vibes.
Gaber celebrated the day with her daughter, Jennifer, who was on hand for the campus festivities. Gaber is the proud mom of three children, including Allison and Peter.
The oath of office was administered by Anna Clark, who serves in the Office of the Chancellor and is a notary, as Jennifer Gaber, the chancellor’s daughter, holds the Bible.