UNCG Magazine

A global pandemic and UNCG’s mission

A message from our chancellor:

Our world has been forever changed. The outbreak of the coronavirus that initially seemed so distant has touched all of our lives in profound and personal ways. The first cases were reported in North Carolina in early March, and the steady spread has reached our community and nearly every part of our state. And through it all, UNCG perseveres, and maintains its focus on our mission: educating our students and preparing them to contribute to our society in meaningful ways.

With guidance from the UNC System and Governor Cooper, UNCG canceled face-to-face classes and professors converted their classes to an online environment. Nearly all events, including Alumni Reunion, concerts, games, and commencement, were canceled or postponed. Employees were told to telecommute and stay at home.

The goal: Save lives. Keep our people healthy. Prevent a spike in infections.

Our top priority is and will always be delivering a first rate education for our students and preparing them to face the world and lead the way forward. At a time when so much has changed, that mission remains unflinchingly true.

– Franklin D. Gilliam, Jr., Chancellor

UNCG had seen typhoid and Spanish Flu in its first decades. Tuberculosis and polio were threats later. Now this new virus strain has brought historic new challenges to our University – and to the world around us.

We are in uncertain times and, in many ways, uncharted territory with the realities and required responses associated with the COVID-19 pandemic. The impacts at UNCG have been swift and significant, and we’ve had to make decisions based on fast-changing and unpredictable circumstances.

To our alumni – you are part of our extended family, more than 70,000 strong in North Carolina, and more than 121,000 around the world. We know that for you, what happens here at UNCG is personal, important, and meaningful. You helped build this University into the 20,000-student research university it has become. We are here for you – we know many of you are dealing with job losses and other repercussions of the pandemic. We care about you. You’re an essential part of the UNCG community.

As of press time for this publication, we are still navigating an evolving situation, even as we make plans for “what’s next” in a post-COVID-19 world for UNCG. We are doing our best to preserve the health of our students, our employees, and the people of the state – particularly the most vulnerable. And it’s clear that, with the impact to our economy and increased need in our region, there’ll be much work to do. Our motto is “Service.” The impact we make – as an institution and as individuals – will be needed by our state and nation like never before.

Our top priority is and will always be delivering a first-rate education for our students and preparing them to face the world and lead the way forward – just as you have done. At a time when so much has changed, that mission remains unflinchingly true. And if we do that, we will invariably continue to earn your support and to make you proud of your relationship with UNCG.

 We will persist through this and emerge from this unique situation with bolder plans and a brighter future. Thank you for all that you are doing to support us and to keep the UNCG spirit alive and well.

Franklin D. Gilliam, Jr.
Chancellor

Note: This was written mid-March, 2020.
Photography by Martin W. Kane

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