The 125th year of UNCG commenced with the annual State of the Campus Address given by Chancellor Franklin Gilliam on August 8 at 10 a.m. in the UNCG Auditorium.
Chancellor Gilliam joined UNCG in 2015 after working as the Dean of the Luskin School of Public Affairs at UCLA for seven years following his long stent as a professor of Public Policy and Political Science.
“As I enter my third year here, we continue to develop a story of the university,” said Gilliam. “Now unlike many universities that have a single consistent unified history, UNCG is a story of three very distinct eras.”
Gilliam described the university’s history in three sequential acts: foundation, expansion and giant steps. UNCG has a rich foundation that stems from the original Women’s College of the University of North Carolina. When the name changed to the University of North Carolina at Greensboro in the spring of 1963, expansion exponentially increased– coeducational schooling, new buildings such as the Bryan School and new graduate programs were all implemented.
Giant steps are now expected to take place, with anticipated enrollment for the fall set to increase by 3.5 percent. This rise will bring the university to over 20,000 students, but Gilliam isn’t satisfied with just growth in numbers.
In his address, Gilliam urged for UNCG to take leaps in strengthening academics, increasing research grants and especially growing the university to be able to better compete against other regional schools.
“When people talk about the top public institutions in this region, we need to be in that conversation,” said Gilliam. “We haven’t been. We deserve to be front and center.”
The school is looking to snowball on last year’s achievements. Highlighted achievements include conference championships for several UNCG sports teams and UNCG alum Paul Chelimo securing a silver medal in the Olympics, national recognition for the boost in graduation numbers of low-income and minority students, and continued growth on the edge of campus with two millennial districts with private-sectors involving arts and entertainment and health and wellness districts.
A more recent feat Gilliam vocalized is UNCG launching two new co-admission agreements with Greensboro Technical Community College as well as Alamance Community College in order to expand educational opportunities.
Gilliam alluded to a John Coltrane metaphor he used during the 2016 campus address on ‘Giant Steps’ and continued with the Coltrane album theme to give a word for the 2017-2018 school year: ‘Ascension.’
“After Coltrane wrote ‘Giant Steps’, he wrote an album called ‘Ascension.’ To rise– and indeed this is what giant steps add up to. This is where we are continuing to head, to rise, to ascend,” said Gilliam.
The State of the Campus Address concluded with Gilliam pushing his vision for not just him, the university or the students, but for everyone.
“This third act is not completely written yet, but the story is starting to unfold in significant ways,” said Gilliam.