I am proud to be chancellor of The University of North Carolina at Greensboro during this exceptional year – our 125th anniversary – because I believe we are poised to enter an incredibly productive and successful era in the history of our institution. This year presents an opportunity to celebrate our unique history and to set the stage for what comes next.
Ours is a somewhat fragmented history, defined in my view by three different eras or, like a play, divided into three acts. Act I is our foundation, from our first class in 1892, through the WC era, to 1963 when we became the coeducational University of North Carolina at Greensboro.
Act II was a period of expansion. Over the next 40-50 years, we grew in significant ways. We surpassed 10,000 students, added many new buildings and launched a number of graduate programs. We evolved into a modern research university with a significant residential presence and a major academic, economic and cultural impact on our region.
And so now, as we arrive at our 125th anniversary, we are at the beginning of Act III, the act I like to call “Giant Steps.” This idea is inspired by the revolutionary John Coltrane album of the same name. Over the last year, I have talked about this many times, and the idea has taken root as a metaphor for our aspirations and as a collective call to action.
In the past year, we have taken many Giant Steps together – from national program recognition for student success, to the completion of world-class new facilities like Spartan Village II, to significant increases in research awards, enrollment and alumni giving, to competing for championships in athletics.
But that is just the start of Act III. How do we build on these Giant Steps? Coltrane wrote another masterful album a few years later – “Ascension.” And this is what we plan to do at UNCG. Ascend. Rise.