University welcomes interim chancellor with ceremony

By Callie Jennings – cjenning@unca.edu – Staff Writer | Sept. 3, 2014 |

UNC Asheville welcomed Doug Orr as interim chancellor for the fall semester, on Monday.

“Human Resources was already thinking about having a book swap and watermelon reception for Labor Day and the Chancellor’s office was talking about having a welcome session for chancellor Orr, so we just combined events,” said Nicole Norian, director of Human Resources.

Labor Day at UNCA meant another day of classes, but this Sept. 1, it also meant the first day of work for Interim Chancellor Orr. While Chancellor Mary K. Grant will take over full time starting January 5, Orr fills in for four months during the fall semester.

“I’m very excited about it. I’ve served on the Board of Trustees for the past six years, I know a lot of folks on campus, and I’m a great admirer of UNC Asheville,” Orr said.

No stranger to the UNC system, Orr first worked at UNC Charlotte, but he also took role as president of Warren Wilson College for the past 15 years before his retirement.

“I’m a great admirer of the mission here, the emphasis of undergraduate students and the close knit community. There is a spirit of public service here, service learning, undergraduate research, and I really identify with that,” Orr said.

Orr, who was also on the search committee, is trying to make as smooth of a transition as possible for Mary K. Grant starting in the spring semester.

“My responsibilities will be two fold — one is to work with the campus community and senior staff in terms of the operation of the institution. The other main goal is for the smooth transition of the new chancellor in January. I got to know her and was very impressed by her and will stick in close communication with her on a regular basis,” Orr said.

Orr is an avid hiker in these mountains, a loving grandparent and music lover as well as a musician He plays guitar while his wife, Darcy Orr, plays the Appalachian dulcimer. His love for music sparks some plans in mind for the students at UNCA. He has already been in contact with officials in the music department.

“My wife, Darcy, and I are in a band with another couple in Black Mountain. We also had a band in Charlotte and we had a CD come out as well as did some touring. We go to festivals and we just completed a book about the connection of music in Scotland and Ireland in the Appalachians, in the book stores on Oct.1.”

“I’m thinking about starting weekly jam sessions on campus, which I did at Warren Wilson, come one come all, students, faculty and staff. Music is very much so a part of who we are. In Charlotte we were known as Maggie’s Fancy, but the current band is known as The Southern Highlanders,” Orr said.

“We’ll see if that’s appropriate. We have a good time, the four of us. We’ve all played music for many years. For him to be coming out of retirement for four months, to do this, he still never wants to leave the music behind,” said Darcy Orr.

The Labor Day event welcomed the public with free watermelon, cookies and books. Staff workers from all areas around campus came to welcome Orr as well as some students.

“I think he is perfect for the job. This is my first official time meeting him,” said James Whalen, student body president. “Like Chancellor Grant said, this is an intentional transition and he will help the semester move right along.”

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