UNCG Campus Weekly

Campus Weekly is published each Wednesday when classes are in session. In the summer, it is published biweekly.

Positioning UNCG for the ‘New Normal’

081810Headline_ConvocationOur university faces an even tougher budget situation for 2011-13, while we remain committed to academic quality and student success. It’s all part of the “new normal,” a term used more than once by Chancellor Linda P. Brady in her State of the Campus Address Wednesday morning in Aycock Auditorium.

“We must embark upon a course that will position us for an even more competitive future,” she said.

This course will require efforts in three areas:

First, UNCG will take steps to enhance its undergraduate student profile. During the past decade, the quality of entering undergraduate classes has declined, Brady said. Nine UNC system campuses had higher SAT scores in 2009. We must take steps now in order to reverse the trend, she said. The Deans Council considered the impact of several proposals to raise the minimum SATs required for admission to UNCG in fall 2011, she explained. Following extensive review, the decision was made to raise significantly the minimum SATs required for admission.

Second, UNCG will implement an ambitious program of learning communities in conjunction with the development of a new neighborhood and renovation of existing residence halls. Research shows that students who live on campus are more likely to return and graduate at higher rates than students who reside off campus. This initiative includes a strategic direction for housing that is designed to nearly double the number of UNCG students living in university-managed housing over the next decade; the new LEED 400-bed suite-style residence hall on Spring Garden Street that will be ready for students in fall 2011; the renovation and expansion of the seven historic Quad residence halls; an expanded campus that will include additional student housing, a new indoor recreation center, and a central campus police station along the Lee Street Corridor; developing models of learning communities and designing learning community spaces for the new residence hall on Spring Garden Street and a renovated and expanded Quad.

Third, UNCG will embark on a conversation regarding an academic realignment that will build on our historic strengths in areas related to health and human development and that will position our academic programs and the Graduate School for greater visibility, enhanced fund-raising opportunities and future success. UNCG’s Strategic Plan 2009-14 provides an opportunity to explore health and human development, broadly defined, as a major area of focus, she said. With respect to the Graduate School, she said, UNCG’s Strategic Plan 2009-14 also commits UNCG to grow graduate enrollment significantly during the next several years. The university has opportunities to leverage its resources to expand sponsored research and other sources of funding, and to reinforce our commitment to serve the needs of this community, the state and the nation, she said. While faculty, staff and students in the Schools of Human Environmental Sciences and Health and Human Performance have a special interest in this discussion, so do faculty, staff and students in Nursing and other disciplines and programs, she noted. “These conversations must, and will, engage any and all groups on the campus who want to contribute to building a more visible and successful academic unit focused on health and human development.”

The chancellor cited a great number of milestones and successes for our university. Examples included:

  • UNCG Guarantee, a need-based financial aid and student success program which welcomes its first class of scholars this fall.
  • UNCG in 3, an accelerated degree program that allows well-prepared undergraduates to compete their degrees in three years.
  • UNCG’s commitment to student success reinforced through the integration of academic affairs and student affairs under the leadership of Provost David H. Perrin.
  • Significant progress in improving and ensuring intentionality and coherence in the General Education curriculum.
  • The approval or launch of several new programs. Last week, the UNC Board of Governors approved UNCG’s request to plan a joint doctoral program in social work with NC A&T University.
  • Approximately $48 million in total funds were awarded for research, an increase of 34% over the previous year.
  • The launch of UNCG’s new School of Music, Theatre and Dance. It includes nearly 1,200 majors and more than 100 faculty and staff.
  • A recent report by The Education Trust praised UNCG’s success in graduating African-American students at a comparable rate to white students. In contrast, there is a disparity in graduation rates on the national level.
  • UNCG has launched a national search for the position of chief diversity officer and associate vice chancellor for equity, diversity and inclusion. The university has already received 60 applications or nominations for the position, she noted.
  • All Spartan athletic teams met or exceeded their Academic Progress Report (APR) goals, while a space assessment is identifying immediate and long-term needs for Athletics.
  • UNCG has appointed a full-time sustainability coordinator.
  • An Integrated Marketing and Strategic Communications Taskforce has focused on how to enhance the image of UNCG through a variety of communications.

The successes of last year and the coming year were tempered by a look at the state’s budget projections. Universities in the state and across the country are looking closely at how to best position themselves for the future.

Our university needs to begin planning now for the ”new normal,” she stressed. “As we plan for how to deal with an even tougher situation in 2011-13 than we have faced in 2009-11, we must consider how to position UNCG for the ‘new normal’ that will emerge in 2012, 2013 and beyond. We must take steps now to ensure we remain a strong, vibrant university, committed to serving our students and the community in which we live. Academic quality and student success are, and will remain, the keys to positioning UNCG for the future.”

The Chancellor’s 2010 State of the Campus (fall convocation) address, as well as the PowerPoint presentation displayed during the address, can be viewed at http://www.uncg.edu/cha/speeches/.

By Mike Harris
Photography by Chris English