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.
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.