Elizabeth City, N.C. – One of Elizabeth City State University’s (ECSU) own will add more world-class research to her resume and join a cohort of 30 high-level leaders for the Executive Leadership Institute (ELI) at the University of North Carolina (UNC).

Sharon D. Raynor, interim associate vice chancellor of academic affairs, has been accepted into Cohort Five of the ELI in September 2024 after nominations from Chancellor Karrie G. Dixon and Provost Farrah Ward.

"I am looking forward to gaining valuable knowledge about how to enhance my leadership skills and meeting other colleagues from other institutions," Raynor expressed.

The ELI stands as a beacon of leadership development, aiming to prepare and nurture upcoming leaders within the UNC System to take on more challenging roles and enhance the pool of executives within each institution.

Raynor's cohort will engage in a 10-month program delivered in three modules—executive leadership, leading teams,and leading the institution. Each module promises to add value to every participant by deepening their expertise in the areas in which they serve, which Raynor eagerly anticipates.

Raynor is no stranger to pursuing knowledge through various educational avenues, and her hunger for learning is never satisfied. Her contributions to ECSU and other institutions have been highly impactful. Raynor’s platform of eccentric interests includes extensive work with veterans through her contribution as co-producer in documentary short films, eBooks and scholarly journals.

"I was raised by my parents on the philosophy that the work I do should always be in service to others. I like to think of myself as a servant leader, so I find creative ways to serve."

Last July, Raynor attended the 2023 Army ROTC Cadet Summer Training Leadership Symposium (CST) hosted by the Army Centers of Influence (COI) at Fort Knox in Louisville, Ky. She was among the few chosen to skydive with the U.S. Golden Knights, the U.S. Army parachute team.

"I was a bit nervous, but I am also a bit of a thrill-seeker, so the nervousness turned into excitement once we got into the airplane. Hands down, it tops my list for one of my best adventures ever," she shared.

Raynor’s upcoming participation with the ELI may be closer to the ground, but her expectations hold the same sentiment.

"I am most excited about representing ECSU and learning about what is required to advance in upper administration within the UNC system," she shared.

The three modules will take place through in-person sessions at University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, North Carolina A&T State University, and University of North Carolina at Charlotte.

"Given the talent we have among faculty and staff across the UNC System, it makes sense that we put our time and resources into building new leaders for the University," UNC System President Peter Hans said in a press release

"The Executive Leadership Institute is an investment in our collective future," Hans added.

Raynor has served higher education for nearly 30 years in community colleges, as well as small and large universities – both private and public.

"I plan to be an educator until I can retire."