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Argus Q&A with Chancellor Reaves

By Natalie Davis
On October 11, 2011

Chancellor Donald Reaves has been at Winston-Salem State since 2007.  

On his installation website, Reaves' ambitions include responding to and implementing some of the findings contained in the report of the Chancellor's Commission on Crime and Security, and developing and supporting economic development initiatives that will contribute to the economy of the region and in the state.

In 2009, Reaves presented his student retention plan, which includes creating a retention and graduation task force, developing a comprehensive program for student advising, establishing a language arts center, and expanding a peer tutorial program.

Reaves has finalized a new strategic plan that will guide WSSU through 2015.

The 2011-2012 academic year has brought some changes and fulfillment of several goals. These changes include deterring all-night traffic to two locations on campus, implementing a new curriculum and a new admissions policy.

The News Argus interviewed Reaves Oct. 3.


What makes your leadership unique?


I am willing to do things differently. My motto is "Be bold." If you keep on doing the same thing, you are going to keep getting the same results. I think my leadership is unique because I am willing to try things that haven't been tried before, do things that are difficult, take risks and take on challenges.


There is a rumor that you will be leaving Winston-Salem State at the end of the academic year before your contract is fulfilled.


I don't have a contract. Chancellors in the UNC System do not have contracts. What they are saying is that, I'm coming up on my fifth year, and they think that I'm going to leave after five years. I say something along the lines of Mark Twain: ‘Everybody should understand that the report of my imminent departure is greatly exaggerated.' [Reaves laughs].


The new admissions policy resulted in the highest freshmen grade point average this year. Did you accomplish everything you wanted?


We are ahead of pace with regards to admission standards, and we thought it would take a couple more years to attract the type of class that we were able to enroll this year. This is evidence that people are beginning to look at Winston-Salem State differently, and they are seeing that they can get the best of both worlds. They can get a HBCU education that is of the highest quality.


You were responsible for bringing WSSU back into the CIAA Conference. I know that you are pleased with the results, as far as us winning games. In the long-term, how much money will we be saving?


Every year that we are in the CIAA versus the MEAC, we save $2 to 2.5 million.


WSSU is going green throughout the campus, and as one of the leaders of the UNC System, what advice would you give to other chancellors about going green on their campuses?


I think that going green is something that they should give serious consideration to. It's good, cost effective, helps save the planet, helps save the world, but those initiatives need to be balanced with the reality of the situation.


Recently, there has been a rash of counterfeit tickets for various campus activities. What measures are being taken?


There are thieves everywhere and thieves come in all dimensions and all flavors. There is nothing that I hate more than a thief, and that is what I consider someone who counterfeits a ticket. We try to devise tickets that have watermarks on them that cannot be duplicated and is very difficult. If we catch students with counterfeit tickets, we are going to put them into the judicial system, and they will be subject to the harshest discipline. Essentially, that is stealing from their fellow students.


Because of the North Carolina budget crunch, do you foresee any more cuts you will have to make like positions, programs or other funding?


I see more budget cuts coming. I do not have a crystal ball. We have cut people to the point to where it will be difficult to cut any more. There may be a few more, but not like we have had in the past. If this fiscal crisis continues the way it has, we will then need to begin to look at cutting programs.


Have you received reports from Campus Police that the new gates have been effective?


Absolutely. I ask Pat [Patricia Norris, chief of Campus Police] at least twice a week about the new gates. She said that they are great. They have the effect of deterring people with outstanding warrants from coming on campus. When you come to this campus, you will be stopped and questioned. We will turn your name in and arrest you. It [gate] has cut down on the traffic. We think it is helping. Norris said that the students are ecstatic about this, and she thinks they feel safer.


Earlier this year, The News Argus made a serious mistake. Do you see any improvements in the newspaper since then?


  I think that was a tremendous, monumental mistake, but you learn from those things. I had good conversations with the leadership of The News Argus, and I think that as a result of that, the organization will be more careful with its reporting. Everybody makes mistakes. I make mistakes. That was a hard lesson for everyone involved. I think they learned from it.


What would you like to read more of in The News Argus?


I would like The News Argus to do a story on the new curriculum and to really come to learn about it, and talk to some students who are going to be able to take advantage of it. I would really like to get some student feedback on that. I would like to see you all do something about crime on campus because it's important.

See the new curriculum story in the Sept. 13 issue of The News Argus.


What do you think about RAM-TV becoming a student organization, and no longer being affiliated with the Mass Comm. Department?


Not knowing exactly what is going on there, I do believe that organizations like RAM-TV, SU Radio, The News Argus, all of them need to be an academic learning experience.

Therefore, I think that some affiliation needs to remain.


By the end of the academic year, what are the top three items on your wish list to be accomplished?


We are ahead of ourselves, so I need to come up with more. We have a new curriculum in place, which usually takes five to 10 years to put in place, an admissions process that brought us the absolute best students that we could find in North Carolina. We have winning athletic teams. I have six CIAA rings. That is just from the first championship year. Our football team is winning. Everything is going great, but I will come up with some new goals.

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