Get to Know the First-Year President in This Q&A
By Nate Haas '04
Andy Feinstein was halfway through his favorite UNC day yet when he spotted the School of Music percussionists and a group of students dancing in front of Garden Theater on central campus.
He could have joined the crowd that was taking in the performance, which was part of UNC’s annual Day of Music. Or paused for a moment to appreciate the scene before hurrying to the next stop on his jam-packed Homecoming Friday itinerary. Or just waved as he went past.
Instead, Andy flung off his suit jacket and joined the circle of dancers. There he was, UNC’s bespectacled first-year president, in dress attire, learning the dance on the fly as the rhythms of African Gahu music pulsed from UNC’s Percussion ensemble.
Since arriving on campus in July, UNC’s new president, who introduces himself with a simple, “I’m Andy,” has made it a priority to be engaged. His passion for students and their success is evident in his interactions with them.
Earlier that Homecoming Friday, after breakfast with a group of new freshmen, he’d delivered a speech to over 500 prospective students and their families. He then stayed around to visit and take selfies with student orientation leaders. Back at his office, he posed for photos with the sousaphone players who stopped by to serenade him before he headed to lunch with 30 alumni from the Class of 1968 who were on campus for their 50-year-reunion.
After an afternoon budget meeting, he joined his family to celebrate his father-in-law’s 80th birthday at Roma Restaurant, where owner Jon Shaw had recently debuted the Fightin’ Feinstein pizza that he’d asked Andy to help design not long after he arrived in Greeley. From there, Andy and his daughter, Rachel, joined students at the Homecoming bonfire, delighting them by blasting Billy Joel’s “We Didn’t Start the Fire” over the event’s loudspeakers. As the crowd grew to some 200 students, they settled in for the annual Homecoming fireworks show.
His workday started at 7:30 a.m. and ended 14 hours later.
“When I got home, I was fully energized,” he says. “It was a magical day for me.
“There was so much happiness on campus, so much engagement and involvement with people, and so many different facets of our university. I literally went from talking to students who were thinking about attending UNC to students who graduated 50 years ago, and everything in between. I thought to myself, ‘this is a great university, and I am so fortunate to be part of it.’”
Since his arrival, Andy has traveled more than 8,000 miles, meeting with hundreds of alumni, faculty, staff, students and community members. Introducing him at the State of the University address in September, Faculty Senate Chair Stan Luger noted, “My bet is that President Feinstein has already met just about each and every one of you.
“With seemingly boundless energy, he has already reached out to the campus community by attending scores of events and countless meetings with every possible group on and off campus,” Luger told the audience.
Despite that pace, as Andy neared the end of his first semester at UNC, he fielded questions from UNC Magazine about his foray into the presidency, university planning, his personal life, and the mantra, “rowing not drifting,” that he is challenging campus to embrace.
Andrew “Andy” Hale Feinstein
Title: President (13th in UNC’s 129-Year History)
Previously: Provost and senior vice president for academic affairs at San José State University (SJSU), one of the largest public universities in the Western United States, ranking in the top 200 universities in the nation for total research spending and a national leader in graduating students of color. Before arriving at SJSU in 2013, he was dean of the Collins College of Hospitality Management and the James A. Collins Distinguished Chair and professor at the California State Polytechnic University, Pomona. While dean, he also served as the chancellor-appointed director of Hospitality Management Education for the California State University system.
Credentials: Began his academic career as a professor at University of Nevada, Las Vegas, where he earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees in Hotel Administration. Also served at UNLV as chair of the Department of Food and Beverage Management, associate dean for Strategic Initiatives at the Harrah College of Hospitality, and senior advisor to the president.
His Ph.D. is in Man-Environment Relations from Pennsylvania State University, where he was also an academic computing fellow.
Personal: Born in Cleveland, Ohio; grew up in Point Loma in San Diego, California.
Family: Kerry, wife; Nicholas, son, 18; Rachel, daughter, 14; two cats, Clara and Bella.
Save the Date:
Friday, April 12, 2019
A traditional campus ceremony during a president’s first year, called an investiture, will formally introduce Feinstein as UNC president. An open house of the Campus Commons will also be held following the investiture.