It's a legacy seven years in the making. In a news conference Thursday, UNCW Chancellor Rosemary DePaolo announced she'll retire at the end of this academic year.
DePaolo has a lot to be proud of. She is leaving UNCW as one of the top five public masters universities in the south and one of the top 20 best values in the nation.
"My husband and I just decided we wanted to spend a lot more time together and have a lot more fun while we could," said DePaolo. You can't blame her for that.
DePaolo has really helped put UNCW on the map during her seven years. During an interview when she first accepted the job in 2003, she said, "Whenever I ask any of them what they love most about this university, they all say that it's the people here. And that's so much to work with. I'm really excited about that."
But she says her work here is done and now it's time for someone else to take the helm. "I'm announcing this morning that I plan to retire as Chancellor of UNCW, effective at the end of this academic year," she said during the news conference Thursday morning. "My work will be done."
Under her leadership, graduation rates have increased by nearly 10%. Student athletes have the best graduation rates of any student athletes in the UNC system. The Princeton review included UNCW in its "best in the Southeast" for all seven years of DePaolo's tenure. And the university has constructed or renovated more than two dozen buildings.
But there have also been some serious problems while DePaolo has been in charge. Two UNCW students were murdered in 2004. DePaolo has also gotten a lot criticism for her handling of the athletics department.
Timing seemed abrupt to some but DePaolo says she feels it's the perfect time to step down. Colleagues pride her for her charisma, passion, and leadership. Although she will move on, her legacy will remain a significant part of the Seahawk Nation.
DePaolo came to UNCW from Georgia College & State University where she served as president for six years. Before she left, the Georgia General Assembly recognized her as one of the best education leaders in the state.