September 13, 2012
UNC Asheville honored former chancellor David G. Brown, renaming the former University Hall as Brown Hall in a ceremony attended by some 250 people on the university campus today. Brown and his wife, Lin, who live in Asheville, took part in the ceremony, surrounded by family and friends.
Brown described the ceremony as an "overwhelming honor... This is really a celebration of Team UNCA, 1980s. It's about the students, faculty, administrators, and legislators that enabled us to take some incredible risks, and frankly, to win most of them," Brown said.
Brown, who served as UNC Asheville's second chancellor, from 1984-1990, "has been a transformative leader in American higher education," said UNC Asheville Chancellor Anne Ponder. "Under his leadership, the university created some of our most beloved and nationally respected programs ... including the National Conference on Undergraduate Research and the N.C. Center for Creative Retirement (NCCCR, now called the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at UNC Asheville), both national exemplars." Chancellor Ponder also honored Brown's wife, Lin, also an educator, who was awarded the Chancellor's Medallion for her role as founding director of the College for Seniors at NCCCR.
Pat Smith, a member of UNC Asheville's Board of Trustees, credited Brown with helping "redefine the modern college presidency," with leadership in "strengthening undergraduate education throughout the country."
Brown was instrumental in establishing recognition of public liberal arts universities as a distinct and important sector of higher education, and in gaining UNC Asheville's designation as North Carolina's public liberal arts university. UNC Asheville also launched its Masters of Liberal Arts graduate program during Brown's tenure; the university's first MLA recipient, Leah Karpen, attended today's ceremony.
Among those who offered tributes to Brown was Jack Cecil, president of Biltmore Farms. Cecil became chair of the university's Board of Trustees during Brown's tenure, and described Brown as "a community builder, a civic leader, and a visionary." Cecil recalled an incident at the opening of Mills Hall, a new residence hall, which helped the university move from a largely commuter college to one with a vibrant on-campus life: "At the dedication of the dorm, everyone was gathered much like today, and a stereo blared out just as I began my remarks. I turned to Dave and said, 'you wanted to build community – now you have it.'"
Said Brown, "The initiatives of the 80's would have been insignificant without follow up by the student, faculty, administrative and community leaders of the 90s and today.... Thank you for associating us with this building – for the student community and for the larger Asheville community. Lin and I are proud and grateful."
Brown Hall houses the Admissions and Registrar's offices as well as the dining hall. The building was constructed during Brown's tenure as chancellor.
All photos by Perry Hebard.