UNCG Magazine

Celebrating UNCG's 125th Anniversary

Taking Giant Steps, rising higher

As Chancellor Gilliam says, this year presents an opportunity to celebrate our unique history. It also present a wonderful opportunity to set the stage for what comes next. The Millennial Campus initiative is one exciting example of boldly moving forward.

Taking Giant Steps

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.

photo of Chancellor Gilliam

“I believe we are poised to enter an incredibly productive, 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.”

– Chancellor Franklin D. Gilliam, Jr.

Rising higher

When people talk about the top public institutions in the region, we want to be included in the conversation. We want to be recognized for what we are at our core: a student-centered university that serves an exceptionally diverse student body; a university with a robust, impactful research agenda; a university that helps shape the fate of the city, the state and beyond; a university that transforms students, transforms knowledge and transforms the region.


How will we do this?


We will continue to solidify the strength of our academic programs and boost our research impact by increasing our number of grant submissions, grants awarded and research dollars. We will continue to improve graduation rates and strategically grow our student body. We will increase our fundraising efforts. We will start developing the UNCG Millennial Campus districts, bringing exciting, robust new resources and services around health and wellness and the creative arts to our students and our region.


As we take these steps together, UNCG will step into the spotlight. We will be a strong voice in the conversation. I am confident in our faculty and staff, our students and their families, our friends and our alumni – 75 percent of whom live in North Carolina – and confident that we will come together and realize a bold vision for UNCG. We’ve come a long way, but we have further to go. And I believe very strongly that we are poised now, more than ever, to take Giant Steps and to Rise.


– Chancellor Franklin D. Gilliam, Jr.

millennial map graphic

Making a Millennial Campus

An example of Chancellor Gilliam’s vision of “Giant Steps”? The establishment of two millennial campus districts – Health and Wellness and Visual and Performing Arts – on UNCG’s campus. The new designation allows UNCG to enter into arrangements with private-sector entities, resulting in more opportunities for growth, academic innovation and unique public-private partnerships.