On Tuesday, April 30, Chancellor Franklin D. Gilliam, Jr. sent a “Chancellor Musings” message to the campus community. The full message is below.
As the School Year Ends…Reminders, Humblebrags, New Directions, and Celebrations
I can hardly believe it! This is the end of my fourth year as Chancellor of UNC Greensboro. As they say, time flies when you are having a good time. Given that the academic year is ending, it seems appropriate to offer some timely – and hopefully relevant – musings.
The end of the year is always a stressful time for staff, students, and faculty. Finals to prepare for and take, budgets to balance, projects to finish, relocation plans to finalize. It can feel overwhelming at times. So I’m here to remind you to: relax, reflect, and refresh.
Relax! “The world is not coming to an end.” “The sun will come out tomorrow (bet your bottom dollar!).” “Never confuse a single defeat with a final defeat.” “When things go wrong, don’t go with them.” I could cite quote after quote about persistence, patience, and perseverance. (Hey, I’m in an alliterative mood. Give me a break.) But they all point to the same thing: Life is a journey. Relax and enjoy it along the way. Take a deep breath and exhale. Go see a movie or a play. Enjoy nature. Lie in a hammock. Have coffee with a friend. Get some exercise. Listen to some music.
Reflect! Calm your mind by being thankful for the things you have in your life – family, friends, and opportunities. Understand that you are in a position and place that many people envy. If you are a student, no matter the struggle, you have the opportunity of a lifetime. If you are faculty or staff, you are employed and work in a beautiful environment. Center yourself by remembering why you are here, be it following your vision, passion, or mission. Unplug from technology for a bit. Don’t look at your phone every few minutes. Don’t check social media. Don’t take calls or answer emails. Be in the moment.
Refresh! Get some sleep. Drink plenty of water. Pay attention to what you eat. I know what you are thinking, “Doctor heal thyself.” In other words, I should and will heed my own words. You can’t make that final mile without gas in the tank.
2018-19 has been quite a remarkable school year at UNC Greensboro. Now seems an appropriate time to list some of our achievements:
- We reached a record number of students, over 20,000 strong.
- We met or exceeded the benchmarks for all five of our agreed-upon UNC System goals. We are one of only a few campuses to do so.
- We already received national recognition for our commitment to student success from The Chronicle of Higher Education and The Education Trust, and this led to $1.45M in awards from the Armfield and Cemala Foundations to support our work.
- We hired almost 100 new faculty in fields with high student demand.
- We hired four new deans (CVPA, HHS, JSNN, UNCG Online).
- We developed and/or launched five new degree programs (MS in Analytics and Informatics; BS in Information Studies; an online PhD in Business Administration; a joint PhD in Social Work with NC A&T; an online BS in Integrated Professional Studies).
- We are on track to beat last year’s record-breaking 13% increase in sponsored research awards.
- We increased fundraising from the previous year – fueled by a record-setting Believe in the G campaign – and are on track to exceed this year’s goals.
- We significantly increased our visibility both locally and statewide (e.g., North Carolina Folk Festival; LeBauer Park Spartan Cinema; downtown pop-up space; billboards in Raleigh, Charlotte, and Greensboro; UNCG Research Magazine showcased in the state’s three largest business journals; more than 12,500 followers added to our social media accounts).
- Women’s soccer made the NCAA tournament; Men’s golf won the Southern Conference championship again and will be in the NCAA tournament; Men’s basketball had a program-record 29 wins and a #1 NIT seed; baseball and softball are in the hunt for conference championships.
- We made significant improvements to our facilities (e.g., Spartan Village II – opening of Bestway; Cone Hall renovations; Nursing and Instructional Building under construction; North Chiller Plant under construction).
For the past few years, we have talked about taking Giant Steps together. And we have made some huge strides. This year, all those steps led us to a crucial place in our history – to what we have been calling an “inflection point.” In other words, we are at a critical juncture in the school’s history. The choices we make now will open up the possibility for transformation, incremental progress, or stagnation. Years ago we faced a similar opportunity. While we were already a strong and well-respected college for women, we chose to be bold and to transform – becoming co-ed first, then growing significantly as a commuter school. Those steps set the stage for our emergence as a large, respected research university. Today I truly believe we have the opportunity to ignite a similar wave of transformation and set up UNC Greensboro for decades of growth and success on the state, regional, and national stage.
We are already taking action and are activating areas that will offer a glide path to transformation. For example, the combination of new degrees in data science and significant changes to our technology infrastructure position us to be a regional leader in cutting-edge fields such as health and business informatics, computer science, and statistics. We are accelerating our effort to become a true force in the area of community health. By taking advantage of our campus strengths and by collaborating with major partners, we can respond to workforce needs, health disparities, and clinical access. With our Millennial Campus designation, we are exploring bold new ways to grow the university, create new opportunities for students, and bring a wave of tremendous new resources to our community in terms of health and wellness and the arts. We will not limit our thinking … we will explore, try new things, and quickly assess what we do. Where ideas prove successful we will recommit resources. If we find that things don’t work as planned we will decommit resources. To do this we must be flexible, transparent, and courageous. We are prepared to do just that.
For our faculty and staff this matters, because you will play a major role in what happens next. For our students, all of these efforts will add value to your degree, and when people see UNCG on your resume, it resonates and means something specific. For alumni, it means that you can be even more proud of the place you helped create. And for our community, I hope it means that you have even more reason to brag a little about your hometown University.
I’d like to end this post on a celebratory note.
First, I want to offer my congratulations to the faculty and staff who are retiring this year. We appreciate your service and your commitment to making this a great university. Enjoy wherever your new journey takes you because you have earned the right to this freedom. I must say, I’m a little bit jealous.
Second, thank you to our remaining faculty and staff for not simply making it through another school year, but for making this year matter in so many ways. I’m always impressed by your dedication to excellence. Our success is in large part the result of your hard work and deeply held belief in the mission of UNCG. I hope you take some time this summer for yourself and your family.
Finally, to our students. For those who will come back next year, please heed my advice for the summer – relax, reflect, refresh. You have taken huge steps this year, but there are many more to come – so get ready!
And to the UNCG class of 2019, congratulations! You’ve done it. You deserve to be recognized for this accomplishment. Remember, you will always be a Spartan. You are now a member of a family more than 120,000 strong. You are part of a national and even international network that you can draw on for years to come. But don’t forget where you came from. Be proud of the road you traveled and be grateful to the people who supported you. I wish you good luck as you embark upon the next chapter of your life’s story.
Thank you, and good luck to all!
Franklin D. Gilliam, Jr.