Chancellor creates and fills new position to expand university partnerships
Published: Wednesday, October 5, 2011
Updated: Wednesday, October 5, 2011 21:10
Chancellor Gary Miller has brought in Wilmington local and UNCW alumna Jenni Harris to fill a recently created position: Assistant to the Chancellor for Community Partnerships.
Chancellor Miller has been planning for this position from the beginning of his term because although students, faculty and staff interact regularly with community groups and businesses, there was not a central office to coordinate and strengthen these partnerships.
"My job is to reach out and create a network of people who will support the university," said Harris.
The Community Partnerships position will, according to an official statement, provide "university-wide leadership to support, develop and expand the university's various partnerships with community groups, businesses and agencies at the local, regional, state and national levels."
The concern of campus members is that this new position has been created and filled while others—147 others—have had to be cut for lack of funding.
Chancellor Miller responded, "I feel strongly that UNCW must invest in some priority areas, even while facing difficult budget cuts. This new role will seek out, develop and establish new business and community partnerships, strengthen existing partnerships across the university and identify new, innovative ways to find resources to meet university and community needs."
He added that the monies used to fund Harris' position are from non-state-appropriated funds.
Harris' job is to get the word out to the community about UNCW and the numerous programs and activities that it houses and to seek support from community members. "This position is going to create the funding to get back on track," said Harris. Even if there is no money involved, the partnership itself is valuable and does not cost the university anything, said Harris.
For example, Harris plans to reach out to the downtown Wilmington community. "We want shop owners to have Seahawk flags in their windows," she said.
"Community," however, does not only refer to Wilmington. Chancellor Miller is interested in expanding partnerships to the region, state and beyond. Harris named cities across the state and the nation with which she hopes to forge a connection including Washington, D.C., Charlotte and Chicago.
Since her installment in mid-September, Harris said she has been meeting people both on campus and in the community and learning about different programs such as the School of Nursing and the Center for Marine Science. She has been expanding the network by "doing what I do best, which is talk," she said.
"One of the most fun things is meeting students," said Harris. She plans on working frequently with Student Ambassadors, she said.
Harris most recently served as corporate sales and service manager for SMG Management Corp., which manages the Wilmington Convention Center, and prior to that worked as the events manager for "Wilma" and "Greater Wilmington Business Journal."
"Every job I've ever had up to now has prepared me for this," said Harris.
Harris is a lifelong resident of Wilmington. She is a UNCW graduate and holds a B.A. in English and a certificate in business administration from the Cameron School of Business, with a concentration in business development, marketing relationships and project management.