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A Davidson Friend Leads UNC Asheville

by | May 12, 2019 | News

Judge Calvin Hill administers the oath as Nancy J. Cable is installed as UNC Asheville’s eighth chancellor on April 26, 2019. Standing, left to right: UNCA Interim President William Roper; The Honorable Calvin Hill, Chief District Judge, 28th Judicial District of NC; Davis Cable; Gretchen Wells; Chancellor Nancy Cable. (Photo: UNCA Communications)

On April 26, 2019, Nancy J. Cable, PhD, was formally installed as the eighth chancellor of UNC Asheville, the only dedicated liberal arts institution in the University of North Carolina system.

This same Nancy Cable came to Davidson in the early 1990s to make an indelible mark professionally and develop many lasting friendships. As Davidson College’s new vice president and dean of admission and financial aid, she was the first woman to sit on the college president’s senior staff.

During her 14-year tenure, the college saw increased geographic and socioeconomic diversity among students, adopted new ways to manage need and merit-based scholarship programs, and became increasingly selective and nationally recognized for academic excellence.

Before taking the helm at UNC Asheville in August 2018, Nancy had taken on leadership roles at University of Virginia, Bates College, and the Arthur Vining Davis Foundations, where she served as president from 2013 to 2018.

The UNCA installation ceremony marked the end of a week of celebrations commemorating her appointment, including roundtable

Davidson College President Emeritus John W. Kuykendall blesses the installation with the benediction, as Chancellor Nancy Cable, her daughter, Gretchen Wells, and brother Davis Cable (seated behind her) listen to the”good words.”

discussions on topics from health equity to interfaith leadership and a lecture from Bryan Stevenson, author of “Just Mercy” and founder and director of the Equal Justice Initiative.

As is customary on such occasions, the newly installed Chancellor received greetings from both University and public officials, including The Honorable Richard Sneed, principal chief of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians. One of Nancy’s two daughters, Gretchen Wells, held the Bible as her mother took the oath of office. Davis Cable, a Davidson resident, held his sister’s official Chancellor’s Medallion, an impressive, gleaming disc that she will wear whenever regalia is the dress code.

The greeters blended their official remarks with warmth and gratitude for the University’s new leader, many noting the grace and collaborative leadership she had already demonstrated in a year marked by some unexpected challenges, such as the need to take in scores of UNC Wilmington and Pembroke students who had been displaced by Hurricane Florence.

Davidson friends and colleagues in attendance included Missy Kuykendall, representing her alma mater Agnes Scott, as one of many delegates from the academy, and Davidson College President Emeritus John Kuykendall, who delivered the benediction. Former college faculty and staff included Polly Griffin, Ed Kania (with spouse Donna), Don Kimmel, Meg Kimmel, Leonard Satterwhite, and Kristi Kessler Walters.

Closing the Installation ceremonies, Chancellor Cable delivered an address centered on the metaphor of a lighthouse, a common landmark along the North Carolina coast. Just as the lighthouse beacon leads seafarers toward safety, she suggested that education — a word with Latin roots that means “to educate” and “to lead out” — gives students the power to lead brightly in a world filled with challenge and jeopardy.

Now fully installed, Nancy Cable celebrated with her family, friends, and former colleagues – surrounded by scores of new friends and colleagues, grateful to have her leadership for UNC Asheville.

Meg Kimmel

A professional communicator with a long career in higher education, Meg now consults and volunteers in areas where words and images work together to tell a story. She's a proud member of Davidson's Class of 1977 and lives nearby with her husband, Don, Davidson professor emeritus of biology, with whom she shares a family grown by kinship and choice.

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