Born in Sanford, Florida, Jim Woodward grew up in a close-knit family in Columbus, Georgia. A typical boy who grew up playing ball with the YMCA and a boy scout, his paternal grandparents were tobacco and sugar cane farmers living in the Florida panhandle and his maternal grandparents were farmers in the mountains of east Tennessee.
After marrying his childhood sweetheart at the age of 16, Dr. Woodward completed high school and went on to enter college at Auburn University. In 1959, when the space program was at its height, he decided that Aeronautical Engineering was the career path that he wanted to take, with the goal of working for an aerospace company. Moving to Atlanta, he entered the School of Aeronautics at Georgia Tech where he did very well, graduating first in his class in December of 1961. After receiving his BSAE, he was offered a fellowship to stay in graduate school to earn his Masters Degree, which he received in December of 1962. Through another fellowship he earned is Ph.D. in engineering mechanics in 1967.
From 1965 to 1968, Dr. Woodward taught as an Assistant Professor and later as an Associate Professor of Engineering Mechanics at the USAF Academy in Colorado. He was promoted to Captain in 1968.
In 1968 he decided to move his family back to the South to be closer to his parents and grandparents taking the faculty position of Assistant Professor of Engineering Mechanics at North Carolina State University.
In 1969 he accepted a tenured position of Associate Professor of Engineering at The University of Alabama at Birmingham. In 1970 he left the university and took a position with the engineering firm of Rust International. It was during this time that he pursued and received his M.B.A..
From 1969-1989 Dr. Woodward held ever-increasingly significant roles at The University of Alabama at Birmingham, serving as Dean of the School of Engineering and ultimately as Senior Vice President.
It was in July of 1989 that Dr. Woodward moved to Charlotte, North Carolina where he served as Chancellor of the University of North Carolina at Charlotte until his retirement in July of 2005.
Known for his integrity and leadership skills, UNC President, Erskine Bowles selected Dr. Woodward in June 2009 to be Interim Chancellor of NC State University, bringing the institution much needed stability.
Called “a quiet giant,” an articulate visionary who reached out to the community and region, Dr. Woodward wants to be remembered as “someone who was honest, who believed in the core principles that undergird higher education, who cared about people here.” He is remembered for being what many conclude as the right man at the right time to build a university for the future.
His interests include working with non-profit organizations that focus on disadvantaged youth and children, hiking, travelling and spending time with his three children, six grandchildren and his long-time sweetheart, Martha.