The University of North Carolina at Greensboro (UNCG) has been named a ‘College of Distinction,’ an honor that recognizes and profiles higher education institutions for providing engaging student experiences.
“Any time that UNCG can be highlighted and given a distinction is awesome. Those of us who are here all know how awesome of a place it is but it’s a regional institution, and maybe on a broader scale across the country some people aren’t as familiar with UNCG as we would be,” said Dr. Kimberly Sousa-Peoples, Director of New Student Transitions and First Year Experience, which oversees activities such as SOAR and Rawkin’ Welcome Week. “It’s great to get distinction that puts us on a map and puts us on a list…any time we can be included amongst other great universities, that’s a good thing.”
The ‘Colleges of Distinction’ program bases their decisions off of four distinctions or pillars: engaged students, great teaching, vibrant community and successful outcomes. In order to be considered for recognition, universities must apply and be evaluated based on submitted information and conference calls with various departments in the university.
“We know that the best colleges provide innovative, engaged experiences that prepare students for successful careers, active citizenship, and lifelong learning,” said the ‘Colleges of Distinction’ website. “‘Colleges of Distinction’ connects individual students to information that empowers them to make confident choices from among the best colleges in our nation.”
The program’s research is meant to help students by providing comprehensive resources that explore various institutions. The service is supported by the Association of American Colleges & Universities, the Pew Charitable Trust and the Council for the Advancement of Standards in Higher Education.
“It is certainly wonderful to be recognized by national publications like this, but I think it is what went into us making the list that really matters: demonstrated excellence in teaching, a highly engaged student body, a vibrant campus community and the successful outcomes of our graduates.” said Christopher Keller, the Director of Undergraduate Admissions and Recruitment.
Keller oversees marketing, recruitment, processing, and admission of undergraduate freshmen and transfer students. UNCG’s accomplishments have always been something that the admissions department have placed emphasis on.
“We certainly feature these accolades in our recruitment materials and throughout our website, and particularly highlight those characteristics mentioned earlier that allowed us to be selected for these honors,” said Keller. “I think those are all characteristics that students and parents want to see as they begin the college search process.“
Part of what Keller believes makes the UNCG student experience so unique is the various opportunities. This includes the Lloyd International Honors College, which provides honors students with opportunities to study abroad during their time at UNCG, the Kaplan Wellness Center and other new facilities, Residential Colleges and Learning Communities and career-oriented experiences such as the Nursing Simulation Labs and the Career Services Center.
“Something that I think makes UNCG so unique would be the people who work here. I know it may sound like a cliché, but it really does hold true on this campus: the passion and commitment to student success is patently evident among our faculty and staff, both in and out of the classroom,” said Keller. “It is obvious to our students and our visitors that the people who come to work here everyday genuinely enjoy what they do, and are wholly focused on student success. All of these factors underscore what we consistently hear from our admissions tour visitors: ‘I knew when I visited the campus that this was where I wanted to be.’”
Currently, only 13 other North Carolina university are included on the 2017-2018 list. 3 of them, which will soon include UNCG, are public institutions. The inclusion of UNCG on the list validates the choices of the university, especially when it comes to implementing high impact programs and practices that are meant to better student experience. It also reaffirms student choices while drawing more potential students to the school.
“It’s a really good time to be at UNCG,” said Sousa-Peoples. “We’re doing a lot of pretty cool things and there’s definitely a feeling or a movement afoot that we’re doing some bigger things and getting that recognition, which is great for everybody involved in that process. I just think it’s one more thing that we seem to be doing right.”