PEMBROKE — Now more than ever, effective leadership is playing a pivotal role at college campuses across the country. This fall, long-time board member Patrick Corso of Southern Pines takes the helm as the new Chairman of the Board of Trustees at the university, filling a critical leadership role.
Joining Corso as newly elected officers of the Board of Trustees are Allen Jamerson as vice chair and Allison Harrington as secretary. New SGA President Cotrayia Hardison will assume the student seat on the trustees.
“This is a challenging time for our university, and I’m grateful for the dedicated leadership of our board over the past year,” said Chancellor Robin Gary Cummings.
“Equally, I’m excited about our new leadership and the strategic vision they each will bring. Chair Corso’s expertise in economic development and history of successful leadership combined with his unwavering support for UNCP are valuable assets for our university.
“As alumni who have distinguished themselves in the military and private industry, Vice Chair Gen. Jamerson and Secretary Harrington bring individual skill sets that will benefit our university perfectly as we navigate this point in history and plan for our future. Likewise, the student body will certainly be represented as Cotrayia has already shown the pride and dedication she takes in her role to and her commitment to serve her peers.”
During an unprecedented time for UNCP, Chair Corso and the executive committee remain committed to ensuring UNCP delivers a high-quality, affordable education, while meeting the ever-changing student needs–an important task at an institution experiencing a boom in overall enrollment. Since 2017, the student body has increased 32%, reaching a record 8,262 students in August.
“I’m excited about the opportunity in front of us to continue to grow the university, particularly, when you look at the new business school,” said Corso, an economic development executive who was appointed as chairman in July.
“The new ($38 million) building which will house our AACSB-accredited School of Business is a landmark statement in terms of size, scope and proximity. It will serve as a substantive attraction for undergraduate and post-graduate students seeking opportunities in business. It’s quite a step up for the university.”
According to Corso, UNCP’s infrastructure and the delivery of exceptional instruction has continued to advance in recent years meeting distinct needs of our students and the region. He pointed to the future James A. Thomas Hall which will house the Thomas School of Business beginning fall 2021 and the recently established College of Health Sciences as the university’s role in filling the needs of the region’s workforce. Progress toward expansion of College of Health Sciences programs was left in limbo with a vetoed state budget that included $91 million in funding for a proposed new College of Health Sciences and STEM building. .
“If we could get the funds from the (state) budget to build the facility for the College of Health Sciences, this will significantly impact Robeson and surrounding counties relative to the delivery of health care and the skill sets we are providing our students.
“The College of Health Sciences and new School of Business building are differentiators for the university. It causes us to stand out in comparison with other universities,” said Corso.
Corso, a resident of Moore County, currently serves as executive director of Moore County Partners in Progress, a position he has held since 2011. He formerly served for 17 years as president and CEO of Pinehurst Resort where he is credited with leading a reinvigoration of the world-class golf resort.
New to the board this academic year is 2020-2021 SGA President Cotrayia Hardison, a senior political science major with three years of student government leadership experience at UNCP and the UNC System. As student body president, she’s an advocate for all students, especially for those voices who she says are underrepresented.
“I’m grateful for the opportunity to lead the student body and share students’ concerns with the administration. It’s a challenging, yet rewarding, experience and comes with a lot of pressure.”
She says COVID-19 has challenged her to lead and communicate with her peers in new ways–one the Greensboro native welcomes. Since her induction, she’s been busy recording messages through social media encouraging students to abide by the safety guidelines, keeping them abreast of available resources and sharing the university’s response and steps being taken to keep campus safe.
Her immediate priorities are helping maintain a balance between student safety, health and assisting her fellow students navigate the new ways of instruction.
“I’ve gotten lots of mixed reviews with face-to-face instruction versus online classes. Some students are more successful with in-person instruction, so it’s been a challenge for the administration who must decide how we balance this and provide accommodations to help prevent the spread.
“But we must do our part to slow the spread by wearing our masks and practicing social distancing. We must remember we are all navigating this together.”
Hardison says it is important to her to be a bridge and collaborate with the administration and strengthen the relationships students share with SGA, the community and various organizations across campus.
“I’m currently working with Chancellor Cummings in building those relationships with students who may not always be represented. We are looking into ways to make campus more engaging. We want these four years to be the best experience of their lives.”