That was Chancellor Franklin D. Gilliam Jr.’s message to faculty and staff Aug. 17 in his State of the Campus address.
Gilliam celebrated the university’s accomplishments during his first year as chancellor. He praised the university’s enrollment growth, the passage of the Connect NC bond referendum, the grand openings of the the Leonard J. Kaplan Center for Wellness and the Union Square Campus and numerous accolades for departments across campus, including Counseling and Educational Development’s No. 2 national ranking.
“Where we stand now – and what we’ve accomplished over the last year – provides a solid foundation for our future,” he said.
The bulk of his speech, however, focused on what’s next for UNCG.
“It’s time for us now to take some giant steps toward making our great university the best it can possibly be,” Gilliam said.
His message was inspired by John Coltrane’s song, “Giant Steps.” Not only did the piece introduce revolutionary harmonic progressions, but it changed the fabric of jazz composition.
“I like the aspirational metaphor of ‘Giant Steps,’” Gilliam said.
As the world around us continues to evolve, UNCG – like most universities – also faces considerable challenges.
“I understand that taking big steps involves risks,” Gilliam said, but added that safe, incremental changes are not enough.
Giant steps toward success require a change in culture, clear expectations for growth and big ideas. A continued focus on talent management, diversity and inclusion, as well as higher standards for technology are critical as well.
According to Gilliam, there is much work to be done, but there is a solid foundation in place for it to be laid upon.
“We are poised to take giant steps. We are chasing excellence.”
By Jeanie McDowell
Photography by Martin W. Kane