Education

‘It’s been a fantastic ride.’ UNC Charlotte’s Phil Dubois reveals retirement plans.

When Phil Dubois’ son and daughter-in-law had twins in March, the UNC Charlotte chancellor knew now was the time to leave the school he has helmed since 2005.

Dubois and his wife, Lisa, had discussed their retirement plans for nearly two years. They already had bought property on Lake Oconee in central Georgia, not too far from where his son lives in Atlanta.

Dubois announced Tuesday that he will retire in June 2020 and spoke a news conference Wednesday on campus. He shared with reporters his proudest accomplishments as chancellor from the past 14 years — before then he was the school’s provost and Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs — and what’s ahead for the couple.

Dubois, the school’s fourth chancellor, has helped guide the campus through unprecedented growth: More than $1.2 billion in construction and renovation since 2005, as the student population mushroomed by 43 percent, to just under 30,000 students.

“The team we assembled, it’s just a first-rate team,” Dubois said.

As for projects of which he is proudest, Dubois cited:

UNC Charlotte’s Center City building, the first building of his tenure.

The extension of Charlotte Area Transit System light rail to the campus.

The start of 49ers’ football.

He said the April 30 campus shooting, in which two students died and four were hurt, didn’t play a role in his decision to retire.

In his previous role as president of the University of Wyoming, Dubois also experienced tragedy, when a gay student named Matthew Shepard was beaten and tortured near Laramie in 1998. Shepard died with his beating and death drawing national outrage.

Dubois said the best thing he can do for his eventual replacement “is to get out of the way.” He said he could do some higher-education consulting in retirement.

“I feel very blessed to have been chancellor this long,” Dubois told reporters, while noting how four or five years is the average tenure of a university chancellor in the United States.

Of his final months as chancellor, Dubois said: “This will be a nice lap around the track to thank everyone” who has helped make a difference at UNC Charlotte.

“No regrets,” Dubois said when the Observer asked if he had any. “It’s been a fantastic ride.”

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