PrintASHEVILLE – There’s a reason The Princeton Review ranked UNC Asheville as the No. 1 school in the country last year for “Making an Impact.”

“Students here take it seriously,” Chancellor Mary K. Grant says in the accompanying video.  “I see that as the translation of when we’re working in the classroom and bring it out into the community.”

The university’s interaction with the surrounding community takes, many, many forms:

  • A Farm-to-Table meal that began two years ago now hosts 300 people, including students, community members, local farmers and Cherokee neighbors.
  • The Astronomy Club of Asheville partners with the university’s Lookout Observatory – and also supports scholarships for students.
  • A student-led community gardening program.
  • A Bee Hotel and grant-funded pollinator gardens.
  • Class projects and partnerships with the YWCA and YMCA.
  • Graduates joining the Peace Corps.
  • Programs for adolescents, including one that teaches local boys to build boats.

“Our students are deeply invested in wanting to make this a better world.  They are hopeful.  They are bright.  They inspire me every day,” Grant says.

When students come to the Chancellor’s Office, she says, they bring “not just problems, but ideas for how to fix a problem.”


UNC Asheville is also home to an Osher Lifelong Learning Institute (OLLI) – a program aimed at retirees that offers a stunning range of lectures and courses.

It can include courses and talks on economics, native plant life or world affairs from UNC Asheville faculty, faculty from other universities who have retired to Asheville, authors, poets….

“It can be everything from learning calculus to photography to economics to global engagement to world health – you name it, they’re teaching it at OLLI,” Chancellor Grant says.

The exchange goes both ways – OLLI members are also involved in mentoring both student-athletes and first-generation college students, she says.

“So OLLI is a powerful part of UNC Asheville, and another way in which we’re making an impact.”


  1. Deborah Barringer says

    AND, let’s give a great big shout out to all of those UNC Asheville graduates who go on to serve as officers in the military. Huge contributions to communities all over the world as most service branches perform service projects like the ones at recent fleet week and other ports of call.

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