Faculty and community members weighed in on UNCG’s vision for its Millennial Campus Initiative at open meetings last fall.
HR&A Advisors, Inc., presented the planning process of the two “innovation districts” – a new spin on the 20th-century research campus meant to strengthen connections between campus and community.
Attendees were asked to provide input on all aspects of the project, from potential names to partnerships and activities that would benefit UNCG’s academics, research, and public engagement.
UNCG is one of North Carolina’s most diverse educational institutions, with activities that bring economic benefits to Greensboro and the greater Triad region, said Bob Geolas, partner at HR&A Advisors. Millennial Campus designation provides an opportunity to grow UNCG’s research capacity, forge new partnerships with private partners, and build a dynamic innovation ecosystem.
In 2017, the UNC System Board of Governors approved a proposal from UNCG for the establishment of a Millennial Campus designation. The approval designated two areas of the campus as new districts for future development: One along Gate City Boulevard, with a focus on health and wellness, and the other along Tate Street, with a focus on visual and performing arts. Collectively, the Millennial districts will encompass approximately 73 acres of existing campus property.
For an innovation district to be successful, Geolas said, it must encompass some key elements: collaboration, authenticity, inspiration, accessibility, and affordability.
A university conference center, a low-cost performing arts space and a collaborative work space are just a few of the ideas suggested during the forums – one during the day for faculty and staff and one in the evening for the two neighborhoods closest to the innovation districts: College Hill and Glenwood.
HR&A Advisors have drafted a guiding plan and are assisting UNCG in identifying strategic partners and opportunities for some initial projects in each district.
UNCG will then solicit further input on those projects, which will be intended to kick-start development of the Millennial Campus. The initial plan is expected to be drafted this year and will continue to evolve based on new information, ideas, and opportunities.
In January, UNCG Athletics launched the Campaign for Champions, a fundraising campaign to transform student-athlete academic and support facilities, and to recruit and retain top coaches.
The campaign’s first initiative – 5 for 5 – aims to raise $5 million by June of 2020 in recognition of the five Southern Conference championships won by UNCG athletic teams during the 2017-18 academic year.
The Campaign for Champions, led by co-chairs Vanessa Carroll ’83, George Hoyle ’90, and Kathleen Kelly, is a vital part of the overall, comprehensive University Campaign that is currently being planned.
To learn more and to make a gift, visit
It’s been five years since Catherine Johnson ’09 MS/EdS stepped into the role that would change her life and have a far-reaching impact on Guilford County.
The 35-year-old graduate of UNCG’s Department of Counseling and Educational Development has helped serve more than 20,000 people at the Guilford County Family Justice Center-Greensboro, the “one-stop shop” in Greensboro for victims of domestic violence, sexual assault, child abuse, and elder abuse.
The center has received national recognition for its unified services model. In 2015, Guilford County led the state in domestic-violence related homicides. Catherine said North Carolina has since seen a 77 percent reduction, despite a rise in the overall homicide rate.
Catherine and her team of providers aren’t slowing down anytime soon. Last fall, she spearheaded the opening of Guilford County’s second Family Justice Center, in High Point.
“Our community believes through collaboration we can do better.” Catherine Johnson '09 MS/EdS
“If we get people the help they need in an efficient way, we can save lives,” Catherine said.
Data collected on the intersections of violence and abuse from UNCG’s Counseling and Educational Development program helped Catherine and her team prove the significant impact the Family Justice Center has made on the county and the need for continuation of services in High Point.
“UNCG has really been a stakeholder and staple throughout the process, helping us look at the community impact from a macro-level,” Catherine said.
When Catherine and colleagues found that only 10 percent of victims were traveling from High Point to seek help, they assumed it was a transportation issue. But data collected by UNCG found that wasn’t the case. If a victim’s partner was arrested within the High Point courthouse district, those families were required to attend any court proceedings or solicit services at the High Point courthouse.
“We weren’t engaged in the systems in the High Point community, so an expansion made sense,” Catherine said.
The Guilford County Family Justice Center is based on an integrated care model for people in crisis – what Catherine said operates like a triage, similar to patients walking into an emergency department. Victims have access to police officers and deputies; social workers; advocates; courtrooms that allow them to video conference with a judge about their case; and playrooms for children. Children who need to have forensic interviews can do so in the same building.
For someone in crisis, what would have taken weeks – if they had the emotional and financial resources to go from place to place – is consolidated into one place and into a much smaller amount of time.
“We bear that burden of managing guidelines and rules and partner agencies,” Catherine explained. “When you’re in crisis, you shouldn’t bear the burden of the systems there to help you.”
When Catherine noticed one of the biggest unmet needs in Greensboro was access to legal consultation and legal services, she sought out a new partnership between the Family Justice Center and Elon Law School.
It’s this type of solution-based, systematic approach that she credits to her training in marriage and family counseling and mediation at UNCG.
“You don’t look at the identified patient, but everyone who is involved with that individual,” Catherine said. “I use that family-systems approach on a community-system level. It’s not about the one, it’s about everyone in the room connecting.”
UNCG’s program also gave her skills in negotiating and the ability to think through strategies.
“It’s about leaning into the conflict versus stepping out of the room,” she said. “The other great thing was the opportunity for self-reflection and self-awareness. That’s so valuable when working with a lot of systems and large-impact change.”
This type of big-picture work, taking on government systems, pushing for change – it’s tough. Catherine remembers driving home one day, early in her position as the new Family Justice Center-Greensboro director, and thinking of the thousands of lives that were about to be changed.
“One of my hobbies is running marathons, and I realized this work parallels marathons: What does it mean to be patient and disciplined when it’s difficult?” Catherine asked herself.
Her answer to that question, she said, came from UNCG.
It’s been less than six months since the new Justice Center opened its doors, but Catherine said she’s already seeing progress. Of the homicides in the High Point community, not one has been associated with someone seeking help from the Family Justice Center.
“What’s exciting about this work is that I’m 35 and running a collaboration like this, and most of my peers are at least 25 years older,” she said. “That’s the power of momentum. I think that’s that sense of, there was fertile ground to see the needle move. They believed things could be better and wanted someone with enough fire to say, ’OK, let’s do it.’”
UNC Greensboro is part of a massive, national effort in which 130 public universities and systems will work together to increase college access, close the national achievement gap, and award hundreds of thousands of more degrees by 2025. The Association of Public and Land-Grant Universities chose UNCG to be a part of this initiative. UNCG, with its emphasis on student success, opportunity and educational access, has a national reputation as a leader in this realm, Provost Dana Dunn notes. UNCG will join a small group to focus on transfer students and share best practices.
As a child, Mike Rikard ’94 was obsessed with baseball cards, spending countless hours assessing players and debating with friends.
Much has changed over the years for Mike, now VP of Amateur Scouting for the Boston Red Sox. But his love for the game and his fascination with ranking and prioritizing players remain constant.
“I’ve always enjoyed making player comparisons, and that’s a great deal of the job,” he says. “One day, you’re seeing a college player in California, and the next day you’re scouting a high schooler in Atlanta. In the end, you rank them.”
His baseball career started at UNCG in 1991 – the very first year of the University’s baseball program. By his senior year, the Spartans were Big South Conference champions and capped off the historic season with two big wins in the NCAA Tournament.
From there, the exercise and sports science major and former shortstop coached at Wake Forest, and in 2000 he was offered his first scouting job with the San Diego Padres.
Mike has won three World Series since joining the Red Sox in 2004. This year was special because so many key players on the field were guys that Mike himself scouted – such as 2018 American League MVP Mookie Betts.
Finding elite players is a 24/7 job. Mike manages a staff of more than 20 people, and he is constantly on the road. It’s a challenging career that requires the discipline he honed as a student-athlete at UNCG.
“Scouting is like a game. We’re competing – we’re getting up every day and we’re trying to beat the competition. It’s something I’m really passionate about and enjoy.”
As UNC Greensboro continues to grow, so does its faculty. The University welcomed 107 new full-time faculty members across seven colleges and schools during the 2018-19 academic year, as well as Dr. Sherine O. Obare, new dean of the Joint School of Nanoscience and Nanoengineering. This summer, UNCG will welcome Dr. Carl Mattacola, new dean of the School of Health and Human Sciences, and Dr. Karen Bull, new dean of UNCG Online.
Helping those recently overdosed on opioids – that’s his passion.
Chase Holleman ’16 is the Rapid Response director for Guilford County Solution to the Opioid Problem (GCSTOP), in the UNCG Department of Social Work.
Holleman’s mission comes from his own life experience.
He was a heroin user. But people did not give up on him. He went into substance use recovery. “I haven’t had to use drugs or alcohol since May 2013.”
Chase enrolled at UNCG, where instructor Jack Register inspired him to be a social work major. He graduated summa cum laude, and was a founding member of both the Spartan Recovery Program and the UNCG Student Recovery Alliance.
He founded the Guilford County Naloxone Task Force in December 2016. In addition to its educational mission, it distributed naloxone kits, which can be lifesaving in the event of overdoses.
He has several awards, including the Community Gamechanger Award from the Community Foundation of Greater Greensboro and the North Carolina Dogwood Award.
As the team navigator, he and an off-duty sheriff visit anyone who overdosed from opioids the week before. Since March 2018, more than 200 people’s lives have been saved with the Naloxone they have distributed, he explains. He has made contact with 419 people.
“With the help of others, I was able to change my life around.
I want others to have that opportunity.”
Some tips for a "sense of play" at every point in life:
Take a new language course.
Cook a new dish.
Listen to new genres of music.
Read a book by a new author.
Make a new friend.
After a near landslide victory in 2018, Wanda Kay Brown ’98 MLIS was named president-elect of the American Library Association, receiving 6,066 votes. In June, Wanda’s yearlong appointment as president-elect will end, and her appointment as ALA president will begin.
At the heart of Wanda’s campaign for ALA president was her dedication to professional development, the collaboration of libraries of varying types, and the recruitment and retention of African American librarians to the profession.
“I am thankful for the opportunity to lead,” she said. “I look forward to working closely with the membership in advocating for libraries, fostering diversity and inclusion, and demonstrating our profession’s value.”
As an ALA member of more than 30 years, Wanda has proven herself time and time again to be a prominent leader in the profession. She has served as both president of the North Carolina Library Association and president of the Black Caucus of the Library Association (BCALA).
Wanda is the Director of Library Services for the C.G. O’Kelly Library at Winston-Salem State University. She is also the 2015 recipient of the DEMCO/ALA Black Caucus Award for Excellence, the 2013 BCALA Leadership Award, and the 2012 BCALA Distinguished Service Award.
In 2009, she received the UNC Greensboro Kovacs Award for Outstanding Alumni Achievement, and in 2013, UNCG awarded Wanda with the School of Education Outstanding Alumni Achievement Award.
Spartan student-athletes shine in the classroom and on the field. But they also stand out in another way – by upholding the University’s motto of “Service.” And sometimes while making global connections.
Last June, UNCG softball players Rachel Johnson, Makenna Matthijs, Kylie Bouplon, and Hannah Stiltner traveled with nonprofit Love Abounds for a 12-day trip to the second smallest country in Central America. While staying in the capital city of Belmopan, they held softball camps for kids and adult softball players. At night, they played games against the local recreation leagues, including the National Sports Association. They also traveled to Belize City to play the national women’s all-star team.
“Our mission wasn’t to compete, but to play softball for a different purpose – to connect with the community,” said Rachel. “After the game we always met with the other teams that we played.”
Unlike typical trips abroad, however – where the traveler collects souvenirs – the players left some things of theirs behind. They gave unneeded jerseys, hats, and gloves to the softball players they met, both adults and children.
“If you can travel and help people in a different country and play a sport, it’s a great experience,” said Makenna.
Makenna Matthijs, Rachel Johnson, and the Belize National Team, after their last game against each other in Belize City.
UNCG catcher Rachel Johnson with two fans after Team USA’s last game in Belize City.
Rachel Johnson with one of the Roaring Creek players after a game.
This summer will mark the 50th anniversary of Woodstock. Kinesiology professor Allan Goldfarb was there. “I remember seeing people coming in for weeks ahead of time.” He recalls the stage being put up and the big towers – and the lines of cars backing up for miles. He visited the festival late Saturday night, arriving after his evening shift as a waiter in a nearby hotel. He was immersed in a mass of people as The Who and Jefferson Airplane played.
Were you at Woodstock, or other great music festivals such as Monterey, Newport, Live Aid, or Lollapalooza? Email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Sharif Bey ’00 MFA is one of four emerging artists chosen to be featured in the Renwick Gallery of the Smithsonian American Art Museum’s “Disrupting Craft: Renwick Invitational 2018” exhibition, on display through May 5.
The artists were chosen based on a shared dedication to social justice and interrogating cultural identities and established historical narratives through their handmade works.
Twenty-five pieces by Bey are exhibited, including one he made as a graduate student in studio art at UNCG. “Assimilation? Destruction?” is a site-specific installation created for the Weatherspoon Art Museum courtyard.
“As someone now on the other end of the fence, I realize what a great education I had at UNCG,” said Sharif, a dual associate professor in art education and teaching and leadership at Syracuse University.
Karla Davis Johnson ’08 may have spent the past 10 years in Nashville, Tennessee, but her sound is undeniably North Carolina.
The former Spartan soccer star turned Americana singer-songwriter is a captivating storyteller, with just the right amount of church choir soul and Southern twang.
Karla has had quite the ride since graduating from UNCG with a degree in business administration and media management. She won the 2009 Colgate Country Showdown, appeared on “The Voice” and “American Idol,” and quickly established herself as a household name in Nashville thanks to performances at the Grand Ole Opry and The Bluebird Cafe.
When she’s not performing, she co-writes with other singer-songwriters. Karla also works as a financial planner – not the typical “side job” for a musician, but one that allows her to be more analytical.
This spring, she’ll release her third full-length album, which reflects how she’s evolved as an artist. Yet even in the process of self-discovery, she never forgets those Carolina roots, and the way that UNCG and the community helped set the stage for success.
“If it weren’t for UNCG, I wouldn’t have met my husband, who first encouraged me to do music. I wouldn’t have met my first manager. My first gig was at the Blind Tiger, just right down the street,” she said. “I couldn’t imagine it any other way. Now I’m just wondering what’s going to happen next.”
In February, the Alumni Association hosted the kickoff luncheon for the Faculty and Staff Alumni Network. 107 were in attendance, receiving not only a catered lunch but swag bags and T-shirts.
Former director of the Alumni Association and two-time alumnus Jeff Colbert, who has taught at UNCG for 32 years, gave welcoming remarks.
The network will host more events in the future, directed by the interests of those who join. A survey was available during the lunch, but any faculty/staff alumni may contact Dorian Thompson at email@example.com to join the network or to offer suggestions.
Kim Sousa-Peoples ’01 PhD and Jeff Colbert ’84, '86 MA
Visionary. Strategic. Developer of talent.
Joan Evans ’94 MBA embodies the qualities one would expect from a high-level executive of a major health care delivery system. What may surprise you is her proclivity for provocative thinking.
“If anyone will ask the unasked question, it’s me,” says Joan, chief of staff at Cone Health.
That may just be her nature; but the other qualities? At least in part, she credits UNCG’s Bryan School of Business and Economics.
Joan held a director-level position at Cone Health when she entered the MBA program, and she knew the next step would require an advanced degree. She’d attended UNCG as an undergraduate, and she knew of the academic rigor of UNCG’s programs.
Now, she’s adamant that it was the right choice, and it’s a choice that keeps giving.
“To those of us who hire MBA grads, it is so evident the quality of education and program that UNCG is producing,” says Joan, a Bryan School MBA advisory board member.
She recalls her favorite class: strategic management with Dr. Jim Weeks, dean from 1990 to 2011.
“It was the strategy and human-resources classes that really sparked my interest in thinking how I could apply them to my current role, and how I could think about shaping my future career based on what I was really interested in,” Joan says. “The Bryan School broadened my perspective on what leadership was about and the difference I could make in an organization.”
Joan’s advice to future business leaders
• Find an advocate, find a mentor, find someone who can help connect you and develop your network.
• Get really clear about your unique gifts and strengths.
• Think about how you can make your organization better because of your gifts, talents, and strengths.
• Know the unique things you bring to the table. Know your brand. Find an organization that fits with that.
First-generation students (l-r): Jacob Hayes, Albert Bittle, Akecicia Steward, and Brian Garcia.
Freshman year is all about firsts: first time living away from home, first midterm exam, first roommate. For some students, it’s the first time anyone in their family has attended college.
First-generation students face the typical hurdles of a freshman student, but they also have their unique set of challenges. Last fall, UNCG kicked off the inaugural “First G at the G,” a series of events to identify first-generation students, faculty, staff, and allies – and help them connect with each other and introduce them to campus resources.
Kelli Thomas, coordinator for Residence Life in Ragsdale/Mendenhall Residence Hall, said organizing the series was a collaborative cross-campus effort.
First-generation students are independent, persistent, highly motivated, and resilient, Thomas said.
These students are more likely to live off-campus, attend college close to home, attend school part-time, and work full-time while in college. Many first-generation students are nontraditional and therefore have a peripheral identity on campus due to responsibilities outside of school. Some students, particularly from immigrant backgrounds, may serve as cultural brokers or translators. Many have high expectations placed on them as the first to attend college.
Thomas was the second in her family to attend a four-year institution and has a passion for helping students who share her experiences. While her parents were very supportive, she had to learn to navigate the typical challenges of freshman year by
herself: buying books, finding classes, and becoming familiar with a new environment.
Contact the Office of Alumni Engagement at 336-334-5696 for more information about how to get involved with this initiative.
Last fall, director and agency representative for the Actor’s Equity Association Calandra Hackney ’00 came back to UNCG from New York City to direct the School of Theatre’s production of Jackie Sibblies Drury’s play “We are Proud to Present…”
An ardent believer that art is both politics and activism, Calandra was drawn to the play’s subject matter, but working with UNCG students is what sticks out most in her memory.
“Working with the students on this particular play was unequivocally my most favorite part,” Calandra said. “Seeing this very difficult work come to life for them and watching them create what would be an amazing theatrical experience was priceless.”
Ashlei Sharpe Chestnut ’15 has landed what could be the role of a lifetime – a lead part in the Amazon Studios young adult series pilot, “Panic.”
It’s her favorite role so far, and her first as a series regular despite an already impressive resume: Broadway’s “The Crucible” and guest spots on the Showtime thriller “Homeland” – roles she landed soon after graduating from UNCG with a bachelor of fine arts in acting.
Ashlei appeared alongside alumnus Chris Chalk ’01 in the Fox crime drama “Gotham,” and the two recently wrapped filming “Farewell.” His support has helped Ashlei navigate the industry.
UNCG faculty taught her techniques she carries with her – from vocal warm-ups and Shakespearean diction to movement techniques and mindfulness.
If “Panic” gets the green light, it could be the “next big thing.” The plot is reminiscent of the wildly popular “Hunger Games” books and films.
Chestnut plans to keep her hands in film and theater, and add writing to her repertoire. She has her sights set on an Emmy, but she knows how to stay grounded.
“My mother taught me that I’m no better than anyone else, and no one’s better than me,” Ashlei said. “I always take every job, every opportunity as a blessing.”
“To dream the impossible dream.” The exhilarating musical “Man of La Mancha,” which won multiple Tony Awards when it first was staged on Broadway, will be jointly produced by UNCG Theatre and Triad Stage this spring. The show runs April 28-May 26 at Triad Stage in downtown Greensboro. Buy tickets at (336) 272-0160 or triadstage.org.
On any given day at Cone Residence Hall, you’ll find students practicing choreography, working on monologues, transforming blank canvases into abstract art, or jamming with fellow musicians.
It’s all part of Studio 91, UNCG’s new arts-based living community housed in the renovated Cone, which re-opened last fall. The residence hall now includes a wing of practice rooms for music and theatre students, a computer lab with arts-related software, a drawing lounge, and a small dance practice room with a sprung floor and mirrors. Additionally, the community provides co-curricular activities and programs for students.
The arts spaces and sense of community have been transformative for students.
“From day one, students have been able to build a great network of peers,” said Sidney Stretz, undergraduate academic advisor for the College of Visual and Performing Arts. Stretz’s office is located in Cone, allowing her to work closely with arts students. “All of the spaces are in use 24/7. It’s been really exciting to be a part of this community.”