As 2021 comes to a close, it’s the perfect time to reflect on all that UNC Greensboro has accomplished.
It’s been another year to remember for the University. Spartans were finally back on campus for a more traditional semester after a year of virtual learning, research, and community engagement. In addition, our campus saw new construction, Spartans completed groundbreaking research and showcased their talents on the national stage, and the University received increased recognition for our excellence and dedication to student success.
In no particular order, here’s a list of our top highlights from 2021.
Spartans remained resilient and served during the pandemic.
Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, Spartans have remained resilient during this unprecedented time in the University’s history, while also serving the campus community and beyond.
In March, UNCG opened a vaccine clinic on campus for faculty, staff, and student employees eligible to receive the vaccine who work at a college or university in Guilford County. Volunteers from the School of Nursing, including students, faculty, and alumni, administered vaccines, and Student Health Services and the Office of Emergency Management served as the medical and operational leads for the clinic. Around 75 clinical and nonclinical volunteers from across campus assisted with the clinic on the first day. Around 1,750 doses were given out during the first week of the clinic.
Students and faculty in the Public Health Education Department served the local refugee communities through health outreach and vaccination efforts. UNC Greensboro’s Center of New North Carolinians (CNNC), was recently awarded a new grant from the CDC Foundation to provide flu and COVID-19 vaccine education and access among immigrants and refugees in the Greensboro area, in collaboration with the New Arrivals Institute.
Food insecurity among college students has been exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic, and Spartan Open Pantry, a campus-wide food security initiative, has been helping students through the pandemic and subsequent economic crisis. In 2021, over 32,000 pounds of food have been distributed to students in need. Read more at news.uncg.edu/uncg-fights-food-insecurity.
UNCG has continuously had one of the lowest per capita positivity rates in the UNC System. In addition, the University has seen an over 80% vaccination rate in all of our surveyed populations. Learn more about the University’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic in this short documentary:
The Nursing and Instructional Building (NIB) opened.
Located on the former site of the McIver Building, the NIB opened its doors in January, offering 180,000 square feet of classroom and lab space for the School of Nursing, School of Health and Human Sciences, Department of Biology, and Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry. The facility includes 39 labs, 14 classrooms, nine research suites, and a community engagement center. Read more at uc.uncg.edu/magazine/community-outreach/rise-to-the-challenge.
The ribbon was officially cut and six spaces inside the building were named on Aug. 12, celebrating some highly impactful generosity.
See inside UNCG’s newest addition to campus:
Men’s basketball competed in the Big Dance.
For the fourth time in program history, the men’s basketball team punched their ticket to compete in the NCAA Tournament after clinching the title of The Southern Conference regular-season and tournament champions.
Other Spartan Athletics teams also saw great success this year. The softball team won the Southern Conference Championship title in May with a record-setting home run show, securing their spot in the NCAA Tournament. The six home runs were a SoCon tournament single-game record. With 89 home runs, the Spartans also established a SoCon single-season record for most homers. The women’s volleyball team had the best start to a season in program history and soared to victories in 13 of its first 15 matches in 2021. Men’s soccer won the Southern Conference championship and the accompanying No. 1 seed in the conference tournament following a memorable 13-win campaign and went on to compete in the NCAA Tournament.
Spartans were welcomed back to campus.
Many have enjoyed the renewed sense of community at UNCG this semester, after living in a virtual-only world last year. Events may host fewer people, with social distancing, masks, and other COVID-19 precautions, but Spartans are on campus, connecting with and learning from each other, working hard to progress in their academic careers, to gain in their understanding of the world and its issues, and to build our rich, diverse campus environment.
In August, students were excited to be back on campus, and their professors and student support staff were excited to welcome them, with around 65% of classes face-to-face, around 10% hybrid, and around 25% remote. And best of all, we got to bring back some of our most cherished traditions, including NAV1GATE and Fall Kickoff.
Also in the fall, the University took a bold step in advancing the personal and academic development of our students through the implementation of a new General Education program, called Minerva’s Academic Curriculum. The main goal of the new curriculum is to provide students with foundations and alternative perspectives for the more specialized knowledge gained in their majors, while ensuring that learning in the major builds upon and extends the work done in General Education courses.
Throughout the semester, University Communications visited with several faculty members, students, and staff members to get their perspectives on being back on campus. Check out Spartans’ first-week reflections and mid-semester reflections.
Plus, four new leaders were welcomed to campus in 2021, including Provost Debbie Storrs, School of Nursing Dean Debra Barksdale, Men’s Basketball Head Coach Mike Jones, and Vice Chancellor for Strategic Communications Richard Campbell.
New developments to UNCG’s Millennial Campus initiative
Architectural firm EVOKE Studio Architecture of Durham was selected to design the new Tate + Gate facility, the first building to be erected as part of the Millennial Campus initiative to develop the Gate City Boulevard and Tate Street corridors.
The new 20,000 square-foot Tate + Gate facility will be a multi-purpose cultural arts venue that includes a flexible performance space, gallery, maker space, instructional and practice rooms, and a potential cafe space – all with revenue-generating potential. The facility will integrate technology such as immersive projection and green screen to inspire innovative performance, research, and learning. Tate + Gate will offer a beautiful, functional building that meets the University’s programmatic, operational, economic, and sustainability goals.
Spartans showcased their talents on the national stage and beyond.
After meeting by chance at a lunch table on campus and posting a viral video singing together, College of Visual and Performing Arts students Christoff Hairston, Julian Kennedy, and Tavis Cunningham formed 1aChord and flew to Los Angeles to audition for America’s Got Talent. Their performance of Coldplay’s “Fix You” was met with an enthusiastic “yes” from all four judges, who were blown away that the vocalists had met just months before. Four standing ovation-worthy performances later, garnering millions of views online, the trio made it to the quarterfinals of the competition.
The trio weren’t the only Spartans to showcase their talents on the national stage and beyond. Paul Chelimo ’14 competed in the Olympics in Tokyo over the summer. With a head-first lean and a dive at the finish line, Chelimo secured a bronze medal in the 5,000-meter championship race.
Janora Brown ’20 found her way to NBC’s The Voice this year. Her vocals landed her on “Team Legend.” Two-time brain cancer survivor Molly Oldham, a junior musical theatre student, was interviewed on The View in May and received the surprise of a lifetime from Chancellor Gilliam and Professor Dominick Amendum. Grab a tissue and watch the video here.
And you can learn more about 1aChord, their time at UNCG, and their journey to the America’s Got Talent stage in the video below:
UNCG’s Light The Way Campaign launched.
In October, UNCG announced the public launch of Light the Way: The Campaign for Earned Achievement. With a goal of $200 million, the campaign will transform this University, strengthening student access, academic excellence, and the tremendous impact of our programs.
Light the Way will raise $100 million to address one of the biggest challenges facing those who wish to pursue higher education: student and family debt. This campaign will fund more scholarships to provide gifted students with access to high-quality, low-cost education. In addition to growing need-based support, the campaign places a strategic focus on merit scholarships and scholarships for students from middle-income families. To date, 120 endowed scholarship funds have already been created.
The campaign will raise $40 million for endowed professorships, more than doubling the current number. Endowments have been established to fund four professorships during the initial phase of the campaign.
Finally, Light the Way will generate $60 million to create powerful new academic programs, invest in research and development, support athletics and the arts, engage the community, and strengthen UNCG’s presence regionally and beyond. Contributions have already been made to establish 176 new program funds.
Spartans engaged in groundbreaking research.
Faculty, staff, and students were awarded $48.3 million in external grant funding this fiscal year, exceeding the previous year’s research funding total by $6.0 million. The 14% increase in funding occurred across a wide range of disciplines, reflecting the University’s broad strengths as a community-engaged, public research institution.
Major funding went to health research, including bench science projects related to liver and artery disease, health interventions related to Alzheimer’s disease, drug discovery efforts, and programs to diversify our integrated behavioral health and primary care workforces and to address health disparities. Other awards reflect the University’s deep collaborations with municipalities, including work to design, implement, and evaluate strategies to address the eviction and opioid crisis. Meanwhile, funding for humanities projects supported scholarship including the Afro-Brazilian martial art capoeira.
This year, UNCG announced that scientists from the Department of Nanoscience of the Joint School of Nanoscience and Nanoengineering (JSNN) are part of a new national effort to evolve the tools and methods for innovations in phosphorus sustainability. The $25M Science and Technology Center for Phosphorus Sustainability (STEPS), funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF), includes nine organizations that will use a convergence research approach to facilitate a 255 reduction inhuman dependence on mined phosphates and a 255 reduction in losses of phosphorous to soils and water resources within 25 years.
Check out more Spartan research in the latest issue of the UNCG Research Magazine.
UNCG ranked No. 1 in North Carolina for social mobility.
For the third consecutive year, U.S. News & World Report recognized UNCG for its success in enrolling and graduating students who come from disadvantaged backgrounds. Additionally, for the fourth consecutive year, UNCG received the Higher Education Excellence in Diversity (HEED) Award from INSIGHT Into Diversity magazine for our outstanding commitment to diversity and inclusion. UNCG has also been recognized by a variety of other ranking lists for excellence in education and affordability, from Forbes to The Princeton Review. Read the full story at news.uncg.edu.
Check out more of our national and statewide rankings:
Story by Alexandra McQueen, University Communications
Photography by Martin W. Kane and Jiyoung Park, University Communications
Videography by Grant Evan Gilliard and Alexandra McQueen, University Communications