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Welcoming the New Academic Year

Dear Faculty Colleagues,

Lisa Zapata
Lisa Zapata, Interim Vice Chancellor, Division of Academic and Student Affairs

Welcome back to campus for the 2019-20 academic year! This is one of the most exciting times of the year as we welcome new and returning students, as well as a large number of new faculty, to NC State. Wolfpack Welcome Week is well underway, and we hope you’ve had some time to get involved in the activities taking place around campus. Our new first-year students began arriving last week, and with your hard work and dedication, they will become successful graduates of the class of 2023.

The new academic year is already off to a great start! NC State has enrolled a record number of first-time, first-year students this fall, with over 4,810 arriving this week. The cohort is academically well-prepared, with an average SAT score of 1337, a weighted high school GPA of 4.29, and 77 percent in the top 20 percent of their high school class. In addition, the class is 50.2 percent female, the first time that we have enrolled more females than males.

Bret Smith
Bret Smith, Interim Dean, University College

New Student Convocation was held on Monday, Aug. 19 and was a great success. As the bookend to Commencement, Convocation brings together our new students, faculty and staff to kick-off the new academic year and the path to graduation for the Class of 2023. NC State faculty member Dr. Blair Kelley spoke around themes from the 2019 Common Reading selection, Born a Crime: Stories from a South African Childhood, by Trevor Noah. 

Events continue throughout Wolfpack Welcome Week, with the most important being the start of your classes. We do encourage you to enjoy some of the activities throughout the week, and in particular Packapalooza on Saturday, Aug. 24, from 2-10 p.m. on Hillsborough Street.

As you prepare for the new academic year, we encourage you to consider a few items. One of our primary goals at NC State is enhancing student success. With that in mind, we want to again remind you of that which you already know: you, the faculty, have the primary impact on our students and their progress. We urge you to discuss the following topics with your students during the first week of class, especially with new freshmen who may not yet understand what it takes to be successful in a college environment.


  • Regular class attendance provides a strong indicator of student academic success. Students who are missing classes are less successful. Remind your students that classroom activities remain equally important to outside assignments, and often cover material that students can’t get elsewhere.
  • Excused absences – please review the Attendance Regulation – REG 02.20.03
    • Instructors must take attendance in 100 and 200 level courses.
    • The policy covers excused absences, including student representation of the university (e.g., Athletics), military commitments, religious observances, and personal reasons, such as death or illness in the family. This was also discussed in a previous communication.
    • You must provide a fair and equitable arrangement for students to make up work for excused absences. Simply dropping an exam score can put a student at a disadvantage compared to other students in the class.

Classroom Engagement

While moving through the semester, consider discussing with your students:

  • How they can engage in and out of class with you, fellow classmates and the material covered. Discuss your expectations with your students.
  • How to prepare for class in order to make their classroom learning more productive.
  • The importance of office hours as a means to engage with you.

Also consider your pedagogy and how best to design activities that promote continual engagement. Consider participating in our TH!NK program, which develops pedagogy around critical and creative thinking in your classes. Also, consider contacting the Office of Faculty Development. Of course, please remember to emphasize that meaningful interaction between students and faculty outside the classroom will greatly enhance classroom learning.

Academic Integrity

Integrity – in the pursuit, creation, application, and dissemination of knowledge, is a key value at NC State. Please consider using the Pack Pledge on your syllabi, assignments, exams, and any other academic evaluations. The Pack Pledge states, “I have neither given nor received any unauthorized aid on this test or assignment.”

If a student chooses to violate that pledge, or participates in any form of academic misconduct, it is your responsibility to hold the student accountable. If a student engages in this behavior in your class, there is a strong chance it will or has occurred in another. Please talk to your students about the importance of being a contributing, ethical member of this community of scholars. For assistance in promoting academic integrity and addressing violations, please contact the Office of Student Conduct.

Academic Support

Your students may need extra academic support outside of class. Resources available to them for academic support that you or others can offer, include:

Student Wellness

Please remember that while students strive for success, they may encounter mental and physical health situations that may detract from their ability to thrive in an academic atmosphere. This is a continuing problem on this and other campuses nationally. If you have a struggling student in your class, especially during the beginning of the semester, please consider submitting an Academic Progress Report through the Student Success GPS platform.

If you have a student exhibiting concerning behavior, please take one or more of the following steps:

  • Refer the student to a CARES Case Manager through our NC State CARES Team. We can assist students who may be having difficulties, and you will also find a number of resources that may be useful to you as you work with your students.
  • If a student is in serious emotional distress, please refer the student to the Counseling Center, and if your concerns warrant, escort the student to the center.

If you become aware of a student who is experiencing food, housing or financial insecurity, please encourage them to check out the Pack Essentials website for a listing of basic needs support. If they want to discuss their situation and review available resources, they may do so in a confidential meeting with the Student Ombuds.

Finally, I encourage you to include emergency information in your syllabus. The Department of Emergency Management and Mission Continuity developed examples for review that are located on the Faculty Resource page of Emergency Management and Mission Continuity’s website, with new information posted regularly.  Below is a recommended paragraph for quick reference:

  • Emergency Preparedness: Familiarize yourself with the building(s) that you frequent. Know the layout, including exit locations, stairwells and the Emergency Assembly Point (EAP). Review the “Quick Guide for Emergencies” that is found near the door in many classrooms for specific emergency information and instructions. If the quick guide is not available in your classroom or for additional information, visit or To receive emergency notifications, make sure your information and cell phone number is updated in MyPack Portal. 
  • To report an emergency: call 911 from a campus landline or 919-515-3000 from a cell phone while on campus.

Thank you for being an integral part of the success of NC State students. We look forward to an engaging and productive 2019-2020 academic year. Please contact us or our offices if you would like to learn more about ways to achieve student success and the Division of Academic and Student Affairs.

We wish you all the best for the academic year!

Lisa Zapata
Interim Vice Chancellor
Division of Academic and Student Affairs

Bret Smith
Interim Dean, University College
Division of Academic and Student Affairs

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