Perspectives Online

Woodson to become chancellor by May 1, receives campus welcomes


Dr. Randy Woodson

The business day Friday January 8 began with the nomination and acceptance by the UNC Board of Governors of Dr. William “Randy” Woodson as N.C. State University’s 14th chancellor and ended with a campus welcome reception for the chancellor-elect at the Park Alumni Center on N.C. State’s Centennial Campus. The new chancellor and his wife also will be welcomed to the campus at a celebration event at Reynolds Coliseum on Feb. 17.

N.C. State is North Carolina’s largest university, with approximately 34,000 students.

Woodson will take the helm as N.C. State’s chancellor no later than May 1, when he succeeds Dr. Jim Woodward, who has served as interim chancellor since the resignation of Dr. James Oblinger last summer. In the meantime, Woodson will be winding down his work as executive vice president for Academic Affairs and provost at Purdue University and making frequent visits to the Raleigh campus in anticipation of his move there.

In remarks before the Board of Governors, Woodson called N.C. State “a great university” and said, “I am proud to be part of the Wolfpack nation.”

Later, at the Alumni Center reception, Woodson, an Arkansas native, said he and his wife were looking forward to returning to the South and putting away the snow shovel (Raleigh’s latest cold-snap notwithstanding). “We both have an affinity with the South, so when you drive around Raleigh and see all the pine trees, you feel like you’re back where I grew up,” he told a crowd of more than 200 campus personnel, students, alumni and others who had gathered to greet their new leader.

He noted that Purdue and N.C. State are quite similar land-grant universities with strong statewide connections through extension activities. “I describe it as ‘discovery with delivery,’” he said. “You’re not successful in your research efforts as a university until that research is having an impact in the world.”

Woodward, the outgoing interim chancellor, said that Woodson “brings an understanding of the importance of land-grant universities and their role in our world. His extensive leadership experience as an executive officer, administrator and faculty member at Purdue afford him the appreciation for N.C. State’s own land-grant mission and its vital importance to the people of North Carolina. We are excited to have Dr. Woodson and his family joining N.C. State and look forward to his leadership.”

Woodson became Purdue’s provost on May 1, 2008. Before that appointment, he served as the Glenn W. Sample Dean of Agriculture for nearly four years. As dean, Woodson led the college’s effort to hire more than 100 new faculty; partnered with the College of Science to launch the Climate Change Research Center; developed or enhanced a number of student-success programs such as leadership development and study abroad; increased sponsored research from $41.6 million in 2003-04 to $67 million; hired more than 100 new county educators; and created the college’s Office of Multicultural Programs.

In 1998 he was named associate dean of agriculture and director of agricultural research programs with responsibility for overseeing Purdue’s research programs in agriculture, including fiscal management. Other responsibilities included program development and direction, budgeting, pursuit of outside funding for research, and advocacy for agricultural and natural resources research.

From 1996 to 1998, Woodson served as the head of Purdue’s Department of Horticulture and Landscape Architecture. He directed the plant biology program from 1995 to 1997. Woodson became a full professor in the Department of Horticulture and Landscape Architecture in 1993; he joined the Purdue faculty in 1985.

Woodson has received a number of professional honors during his career, including the Purdue University Agriculture Research Award, the American Society for Horticultural Science Outstanding Researcher Career Award, and the B.Y. Morrison Medal from the USDA-Agricultural Research Service. He is a fellow of the American Society for Horticultural Science.

Woodson was raised in Fordyce, Ark., where his parents were public school teachers. He received a bachelor’s degree in horticulture and chemistry from the University of Arkansas and a master’s degree in horticulture and doctorate in horticulture/plant physiology from Cornell University. He began his academic career as an assistant professor of horticulture at Louisiana State University.

Woodson is married to Susan Wynne Woodson, a graphic designer and co-founder of HELEN magazine. They have three children: Samantha, a research librarian with the American Institute of Economic Research in Massachusetts; Patrick, a graduate student at Purdue pursuing a master’s degree in environmental engineering; and Chloe, a sophomore at Purdue majoring in photography and visual arts.