Local News

Purdue provost choice for N.C. State chancellor

Posted January 7, 2010 9:38 a.m. EST
Updated January 7, 2010 7:02 p.m. EST

— University of North Carolina President Erskine Bowles said Thursday he will nominate the provost of Purdue University to become the next chancellor of North Carolina State University.

Bowles made a presentation Thursday about the next chancellor to the personnel committee of the UNC Board of Governors. He was expected to recommend his choice to the full board on Friday.

The Board of Governors must approve the selection before it is official.

William “Randy” Woodson has served as executive vice president for academic affairs and provost at Purdue University, in West Lafayette, Ind., since May 2008. Like N.C. State, Purdue is a public, land-grant university known for its engineering and agricultural sciences schools.

According to Woodson's profile on the Purdue Web site, his duties as provost include "oversight of all Purdue colleges and schools and related academic activities."

He has held several positions at Purdue since 1985, starting as a respected researcher and teacher in the Department of Horticulture and Landscape Architecture. He served as director of agricultural research from 1998 to 2004, when he was named dean of Purdue Agriculture.

"(Woodson is) the kind of person that has the people skills, the scientific background (and) the academic background," said George Wilson, a professor of horticulture science at N.C. State who has known Woodson for many years. "(He's a) big-picture kind of guy."

Purdue professor Michael Dana said his longtime colleague's success is based on science but propelled by people skills.

"He was so talented. He got along with people. He was able to work with the kind of people you find in academia, which are often strong-willed people who think they know the answer," Dana said in a telephone interview.

Chancellor James Oblinger resigned from N.C. State in June amid questions over his role in hiring then-first lady Mary Easley in 2005 and questions about a lucrative payout he arranged for N.C. State's former provost, who also resigned over the Easley flap.

James Woodward, the retired chancellor of UNC-Charlotte, has served as N.C. State's chancellor in recent months.

Last month, N.C. State's Board of Trustees submitted the names of three finalists a search committee recommended for the chancellor post to Bowles. The names of the three finalists haven't been released.

"I think Dr. Woodson is the kind of person that would be a chancellor to engage all of those diverse individuals (and) groups and represent us well," Wilson said. "I think we need a steady hand. ... Somebody that has the breadth and depth and capacity to be able to make N.C. State everything that it can be."