After 15 years bringing UNCC and Charlotte closer, the chancellor of UNC Charlotte steps away after guiding the university through the worst of times. This article is part of Charlotte magazine’s annual Charlotteans of the Year issue.
Photo by Peter Taylor
TWENTY-FOUR HOURS and 38 minutes after a gunman killed two UNC Charlotte students and injured four others, Chancellor Philip Dubois stood behind a microphone on a stage in the center of Dale F. Halton Arena and cried.
“As parents ourselves…” He sniffled and braced himself, hands resting on each side of the lectern. “Lisa and I grieve this senseless loss of young life and share in the anguish of their parents, their families, and you, their friends.”
Dubois looked around the auditorium—a room with more people than seats, rows and rows of students, faculty, and alumni wearing green. “We can’t bring them back,” he said. “But with your help, we will find a way to remember their presence as 49ers.”
The day before—on April 30, the last day of class—he was on a flight to Indianapolis for a meeting of the NCAA Division I Board of Directors. The quarterly gathering pulls university heads and board members from across the country, including Dubois, the longest-serving chancellor in the University of North Carolina system and an administrator responsible for a student population of 29,710—the second-largest total enrollment in North Carolina, behind only N.C. State.
This is a longform piece I wrote about a new (and, as you’ll see, old) Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools initiative called school pairing.
SUSAN KING THOUGHT about retiring a couple of years ago. She’s in her 60s and has spent the last 40 years teaching first and second grade in the same school district, on the same side of town, in schools two miles apart and just off the same road. She’d built up more than enough time to retire with full benefits.
But she decided to stay. On a Friday in March, King stands in the doorway of her second-grade classroom at Billingsville Elementary and beams as she talks about the 18 six- and seven-year-olds behind her, typing on Chromebooks at their desks. A couple of gray curls hang just above her wire-rimmed glasses. She turns back to face the students and gently says, “You guys are doing great, OK?”
When I visit with King, Billingsville is about eight months into the 2018-19 school year, the first in Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools’ most aggressive attempt in two decades to reverse the effective resegregation of its schools. It’s a big reason King chose not to retire: “We really wanted to make this work.”
A profile on three teenage girls who skip school every Friday to protest climate change.
LUCIA PAULSEN, MARY ELLIS STEVENS, and KATE HARRISON, girls who haven’t yet celebrated their 15th birthdays, stand in front of the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Government Center uptown on a Friday in early May. Around them, a group of about 20 others, mostly teenagers, support the North Carolina Youth Climate Strike, which the three girls have led since early this year. They’re holding signs that say, “System change not climate change” and, “The oceans are rising and so are we,” as Paulsen, Stevens, and Harrison pass around a microphone and call on city leaders to act against climate change—fast.
At 11 a.m., they put down their posters and microphones, cover their mouths with surgical masks, close their eyes, and lie on the concrete. Eleven minutes later, a timer rings, and the protestors stand to address the group again.
The elevens aren’t random numbers. In October 2018, the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change released a report that stated policymakers have until 2030, only 11 years—hence the 11 minutes of the Youth Climate Strike’s “die-in” protest—to enact changes to prevent the worst effects of climate change.