In a resounding vote of confidence from the campus community, the interim leaders of UNC Charlotte’s Academic Affairs and Research divisions have been officially appointed to permanent positions. This momentous decision was reached following the recommendation of Chancellor Sharon L. Gaber and a unanimous vote by the UNC Charlotte Board of Trustees. Jennifer Troyer will now serve as the Provost and Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs, and John Daniels assumes the role of Vice Chancellor for Research. In addition, Deborah “Deb” Thomas ’95 M.A. has been designated by Daniels as the permanent Associate Vice Chancellor for Research.
Chancellor Gaber expressed the widespread support for these appointments, acknowledging the stability and vision that Jennifer and John have brought to their respective divisions. Their collaborative leadership styles have garnered appreciation from faculty, staff, and community partners, cementing their positions as leaders who are deeply connected to the University community and poised to drive UNC Charlotte toward its goal of global recognition as a top-tier research institution.
Deborah “Deb” Thomas, who was originally appointed as an associate vice chancellor for research alongside Daniels in October 2022, has, over the past year, gained the respect of colleagues across the campus. Her role in reimagining business practices, collecting feedback, and providing support to researchers has been instrumental. John Daniels lauds her for her creativity and dedication, which are set to guide Charlotte’s research endeavors to new heights.
The permanent appointments of Jennifer Troyer, John Daniels, and Deborah Thomas will take effect on November 1.
About Jennifer Troyer: Jennifer Troyer’s journey at UNC Charlotte began in 1999 when she joined as an assistant professor of economics. Over the years, she ascended to become the Dean of the Belk College of Business in July 2020. During her tenure as dean, she played a pivotal role in crafting a strategic plan for the Belk College, securing AACSB accreditation renewal, and launching innovative initiatives such as the Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation, an online MBA program with tech-focused concentrations, and an interdisciplinary certificate in entrepreneurship. With a strong commitment to student success, research excellence, community engagement, and diversity and inclusion, she has left an indelible mark on the college. Jennifer Troyer is a health economist whose research has earned numerous accolades and funding from the National Institutes of Health. Her educational background includes a master’s degree and Ph.D. in economics from Florida State University and a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration from the University of Memphis.
About John Daniels: John Daniels, a faculty member at UNC Charlotte for 23 years, previously chaired the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering from 2012 to 2022. He also served as a program director at the National Science Foundation, where he oversaw research in geotechnical and geoenvironmental engineering, engineering education, and interdisciplinary programs. Daniels’ research at UNC Charlotte, which garnered over $8 million in funding, has included numerical, laboratory, and field-based projects. He is also the co-author of the book “Introductory Geotechnical Engineering: An Environmental Perspective.” Holding a Bachelor of Science in Civil Engineering from Lehigh University, and a master’s and a doctorate in civil engineering from the University of Massachusetts Lowell, Daniels is a licensed professional engineer in North Carolina, focusing on ground improvement in his research.
About Deborah “Deb” Thomas: Deborah “Deb” Thomas, who assumed the role of Chair of the Department of Geography and Earth Sciences at UNC Charlotte in 2018, brings a wealth of experience to her position. With 18 years as a faculty member in geography and environmental sciences at the University of Colorado Denver and as a founding faculty member of the Colorado School of Public Health, she has specialized in hazards and health geography. Thomas’ research, which emphasizes vulnerability, resilience, and equity concerning natural and human-induced hazards and global environmental health, has secured over $2.3 million in funding. She is a widely respected academic with more than 80 peer-reviewed publications to her name, including the co-edited book “Social Vulnerability to Disasters.” Thomas is a Fulbright Scholar and maintains an enduring partnership with the Catholic University of Health and Allied Sciences in Tanzania. Her educational journey encompasses a bachelor’s degree from the University of Kansas, a master’s degree from UNC Charlotte, and a Ph.D. from the University of South Carolina, all in geography.