UNCP Provost, Dr. Zoe Locklear, Announces Retirement in 2017

Dr. Zoe Locklear

Dr. Zoe Locklear

After 35 years of outstanding leadership in education

Published August 24, 2016

PEMBROKE, NORTH CAROLINA—Dr. Zoe Woodell Locklear, provost and vice chancellor for Academic Affairs at The University of North Carolina at Pembroke, announced on Monday, August 22, 2016, her retirement from the university effective June 30, 2017.

Locklear assumed her current role in September 2015 after serving as interim provost for five months.

“Without question, Dr. Locklear’s tenure as provost has been a resounding success,” Chancellor Robin Gary Cummings remarked. “In a short time she has successfully established an academic leadership team marked by incredible talent.”

Dr. Locklear had considered retirement as early as 2012, yet continued to serve her alma mater when called upon by both Chancellor Kyle Carter and Chancellor Cummings.

“It has been a true honor and privilege to serve UNCP over these many years as a professor and administrator,” said Dr. Locklear. “It is because I have worked with wonderful colleagues and outstanding students that I postponed retirement — it’s been a real joy coming to work every day knowing that I had such a great work environment.”

Dr. Locklear is credited with the reorganization of multiple campus departments to better align operations with the university’s mission, vision and values. In recent months, the Center for Student Success was launched, establishing a collective effort centered on maximizing success of students, academic performance and retention.

Prior to taking the helm of academic affairs at UNC Pembroke, Dr. Locklear was founding dean of the School of Education, a post she held three times since 1999. Throughout her three appointments in 1999, 2005 and 2012, Dr. Locklear provided oversight and leadership to the university-wide teacher education program and to the offices for Licensure, Teaching Fellows, University-School Programs, Instructional Technology, First Americans’ Teacher Education Program, and the academic departments of: Educational Leadership and Counseling, Educational Specialties, Elementary Education, Professional Studies, Health, Physical Education and Recreation, and Military Science.

Dr. Locklear was appointed to the N.C. State Board of Education in 1999 by Governor James B. Hunt.  She is the third American Indian and first female American Indian to be appointed to this board. 

Dr. Locklear returned to the dean’s position for the third time in 2012 at the request of then Provost Ken Kitts and the School of Education faculty primarily to lead the Teacher Education Program through its national re-accreditation process with The National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE) that was slated for fall 2015.

Recalling her collective service to UNC Pembroke, Cummings added, “We are fortunate she chose to serve the institution where her journey of higher education began. Her impact on our campus will continue for years to come through the academic leadership team she cultivated, faculty she led, and students she inspired.”

Before becoming dean, Dr. Locklear was the associate superintendent for Leadership Development and Special Services with the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction. She served as a member of the North Carolina State Board of Education from 1999 to 2002.

Dr. Locklear holds state licensure as a superintendent and as a principal (grades K-12). She also holds state licensure as a teacher of Birth-Kindergarten Education, Mentally Handicapped (grades K-12) and Learning Disabled (grades K-12).

A native of Pembroke, Dr. Locklear graduated magna cum laude from then Pembroke State University in 1977 at the age of 19. She is one of eight children born to Braddy and Myrtle Woodell. She went on to earn her master’s degree (1979) and doctorate (1989) in special education from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Dr. Locklear retires after 35 years of state service, including 25 years at UNC Pembroke.

For 33 years, Dr. Locklear has been married to Thomas J. Locklear, a graduate of NC State with a degree in Textile Chemistry. Together, they raised two children, Matthew, a 2012 graduate of N.C. State with a degree in Chemical Engineering, and Elizabeth, a 2014 graduate of UNCP with an undergraduate degree in Mass Communication and a 2015 graduate of East Carolina University with a master’s degree in Health Communication.

“I could not have had such a successful career without the strong support of family, beginning with my parents who taught me the importance of getting an education so that I would have good opportunities in life,” she said. “Of course, this support continued with my husband and children who have always known how important my work was to me and who could see firsthand the joy and satisfaction I experienced by going to work every day.”

In 2003, Dr. Locklear was named as an Outstanding Alumnus by the UNC Pembroke Alumni Association.

On October 29, the UNC Chapel Hill School of Education will present Dr. Locklear with the 2016 Distinguished Leadership Award recognizing exceptional service in furthering the mission and programs of the School of Education.

The role of provost and vice chancellor for Academic Affairs is the senior leader over Enrollment, Financial Aid, the College of Arts and Sciences, Institutional Research, the School of Education, the School of Business, the Graduate School, the School of Education, Mary Livermore Library, the Office of Sponsored Research and Programs, and the Esther G. Maynor Honors College.

Chancellor Cummings will announce the process by which a nationwide search for highly qualified candidates will be established by late September after gathering input from campus and community leaders.





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