‘What Makes a Great University’ is a continuing series that will look at what makes North Carolina’s public universities great and what it will take to make them greater.  In coming months, the series will visit each of our public universities and explore them in depth. If you’d like to stay informed about higher education in North Carolina, please subscribe to our mailing list by completing the form on this page.


What makes Carolina great – and greater?

unc-ch-great2-2016-09-21-1400x564CHAPEL HILL – What makes the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill great? “It’s just a joyful place,” Chancellor Carol Folt says in the accompanying video.  “When the students are here, the energy and buzz on this campus is just amazing. “The research here is phenomenal.  It is a biomedical juggernaut for the nation…. READ MORE

UNC-CH financial aid “the heart of who we are”

uncch-aid-2016-09-07-1400x564CHAPEL HILL – Access and affordability are hallmarks at UNC Chapel Hill – so much so that Chancellor Carol Folt refers to them as “part of our DNA.”1 “We do make financial aid a priority here,” Stephen Farmer, the University’s Vice Chancellor for Enrollment and Undergraduate Admissions, says in the accompanying video. “… Financial aid… READ MORE

A Covenant with low-income students

uncch-covenant-2016-09-07-1400x564CHAPEL HILL – More than a decade ago, UNC-Chapel Hill was the first public university in America to guarantee low-income students they could graduate with no debt. “The Carolina Covenant is our promise to low-income students that if they work hard, they play by the rules … we’ll make it possible for them to come… READ MORE

Lindsay’s gift

0960editedRALEIGH (Sept. 28, 2016) – Last October 30, Kevin Howell knew something wasn’t right.  He’d had several bouts of nausea.  He’d noticed an annoying metallic taste in his mouth. “I felt lousy,” he says.  “I just had no energy.” Howell, who’d spent 10 years as NC State University’s… READ MORE

VIDEO:  What does Carolina look for in students?

carolina-2016-10-05-1400x564CHAPEL HILL – As college application season arrives, thousands of students and their parents wonder what UNC Chapel Hill looks for in applicants. So the Higher Education Works Foundation asked the man whose office reviewed 35,875 applications for 4,254 positions in Carolina’s freshman class this year.1 “We’re not looking for a particular number or a… READ MORE

TOO much AP?

ap-2016-10-05-1400x564CHAPEL HILL – The pressure on young people to gain admission to a highly selective university is enormous – some take as many as 22 Advanced Placement courses to improve their chances. But Stephen Farmer, UNC Chapel Hill’s Vice Provost for Enrollment and Undergraduate Admissions, says there’s a limit to how much AP courses benefit… READ MORE

UNC Research: “We’ve seen powerful results”

unc-2016-10-12-1400x564CHAPEL HILL – Chancellor Carol Folt calls them “zingers” – imaginative ideas that, when coupled with years of fundamental research, produce enormous breakthroughs in science. And in just the past three years, Folt says in the accompanying video, UNC Chapel Hill has made extraordinary research advances in fields such as biomedical engineering, cancer and Big… READ MORE

At NC State, solutions to real-world problems

ncsu-2016-10-26-1400x564RALEIGH (October 26, 2016) – Whether it’s creating flame-retardant fabrics or drug-detecting nail polish, protecting the power grid or introducing sweet potatoes in sub-Saharan Africa, Randy Woodson calls it a “think and do” mentality at NC State University. “This is a place that wants to do things, that wants to build things, make things work… READ MORE

NC State Textiles: ‘Resurgent and increasingly innovative’

ncsu-textiles-2016-11-02-1400x564RALEIGH – The modern textile industry is much more than T-shirts:  It’s fireproof tents.  Stents for human arteries.  Wound-healing fabric with “scaffolding” for new skin. “In North Carolina, we’re all familiar with the state’s strong tradition in textiles,” NC State Chancellor Randy Woodson says in the accompanying video.  “… I think people would be surprised… READ MORE

NCSU: “To feed 9 billion people…”

ncsu-feeding-2016-11-16-1400x564RALEIGH – World demand for food is epic – and rapidly growing. “By 2050 … our populations is going to grow to 9 billion people,” says NC State University Randy Woodson. “To feed 9 billion people, even at the current rate of food distribution, requires a 70% increase in food productivity worldwide – and this… READ MORE

Growing rural jobs at NC State

ncsu-rural-2016-11-16-1400x564RALEIGH – NC State University’s Plant Sciences Initiative isn’t just about feeding hungry mouths in the developing world.  It’s also about jobs in rural North Carolina. “It not only helps urban North Carolina, but it greatly helps rural North Carolina,” Dean Richard Linton of NC State’s College of Agriculture and Life Sciences says in the… READ MORE

Self-powered self-monitoring

ncsu-wearable-2016-11-23-1400x564RALEIGH – If James Bond had asthma, he’d have one of these. At one of two National Science Foundation Engineering Research Centers at NC State University, engineers create wearable devices that harness body heat or motion to power themselves and monitor health conditions such as asthma or diabetes. Chancellor Randy Woodson – an asthmatic himself… READ MORE

Demand for NC State engineers “has never been greater”

ncsu-demand2-2016-11-23-1400x564RALEIGH – No one says North Carolina has too many engineers. “From my perspective, the demand has never been greater,” Dean Louis Martin-Vega of NC State University’s College of Engineering says in the accompanying video. Martin-Vega describes how 400 companies now come to the College’s Career Fair twice a year – some of them represented… READ MORE

NC the prime example of state support

ncsu-support-2016-11-30-1400x564RALEIGH – For the Dean of NC State University’s College of Engineering, state support for higher education is both a tradition and an ongoing obligation. “For many, many years, this state was probably the prime example of what it meant to support higher education,” Dean Louis Martin-Vega says in the accompanying video. Martin-Vega came to… READ MORE

The challenge of keeping great professors

ncsu-retention-2016-11-30-1400x564RALEIGH – When it comes to competing for some of the nation’s best engineering professors, Louis Martin-Vega uses a sports analogy. “We’re there in a major league division – not with the highest payroll,” Martin-Vega, Dean of NC State University’s College of Engineering, says in the accompanying video. The College of Engineering has been successful… READ MORE

The open world of design at NC State

ncsu-design-2016-12-08-1400x564RALEIGH – It’s a field that touches us dozens of times a day – yet we seldom notice. “Design touches us in ways we might not even realize,” Dean Mark Hoversten of NC State University’s College of Design says in the accompanying video.  “Design is not just what it looks like – design is how… READ MORE

The creativity of engineering

ncsu-creativity-2016-12-08-1400x564RALEIGH – Engineering isn’t all mathematics and formulas – it also takes creative juices. Things we take for granted these days – smartphones, public water systems and even light sockets – all started with an idea, Dean Louis Martin-Vega of NC State’s College of Engineering says in the accompanying video. “The level of creativity associated… READ MORE

UNCW: Great students, great faculty, great programs

uncw-great-2016-12-15-1400x564WILMINGTON – Great students, great faculty, great programs – that’s what UNC Wilmington Chancellor Jose “Zito” Sartarelli says attracted him to Wilmington a year and a half ago. “We had great students – we had quality students coming in,” Sartarelli says in the accompanying video.  “We had great faculty from all over the country, from… READ MORE

… And what will make UNCW greater?

uncw-greater-2016-12-15-1400x564WILMINGTON – The formula doesn’t change to make UNC Wilmington even greater. The university must continue to recruit quality students and professors and build innovative programs, Chancellor Jose “Zito” Sartarelli says in the accompanying video. Sartarelli, himself a native of Brazil, wants to double the 1,000 UNCW students who currently study overseas – by next… READ MORE

UNC 2050:  An educated populace critical to succeed

uncw2-2050-2016-12-21-1400x564WILMINGTON – By 2050, rapidly growing Southeastern North Carolina could have 600,000 people – and the state as a whole could have 15 million, Chancellor Jose “Zito” Sartarelli says. As demands for a college degree increase, how will we educate those people? “We are now educating 16,000 students here – I think the expectation is… READ MORE

UNCW Faculty: Adequate salaries important

uncw-faculty-2016-12-21-1400x564WILMINGTON – Great professors are the heart of an institution.  But until this year, faculty at North Carolina’s public universities had received just one raise from the state legislature in seven years. “To attract and retain great faculty, it’s a challenge,” UNC Wilmington Chancellor Jose “Zito” Sartarelli says in the accompanying video. Sartarelli notes that… READ MORE

UNCW Marine Sciences: Making an economic difference

uncw-marine-2017-01-04-1400x564WILMINGTON – One of the things that attracted Chancellor Jose “Zito” Sartarelli to UNC Wilmington two years ago was the strength of its Marine Sciences and Marine Biology programs. The nationally recognized programs involve what Sartarelli calls “multi-disciplinarity” in the accompanying video – overlap with such diverse fields as geo-science, ocean physics, oceanography and economics…. READ MORE

An “interconnected world” in UNCW Marine Sciences

uncw-inter-2017-01-04-1400x564WILMINGTON – UNC Wilmington’s Marine Sciences program isn’t just nationally recognized – increasingly, it’s internationally known. “We are living in a very interconnected world,” UNCW Chancellor Jose “Zito” Sartarelli says in the accompanying video. Sartarelli outlines relationships the Marine Sciences program has with major universities in Canada, the UK, France, China and South Africa.  He… READ MORE

Translating thought to words at UNCW

uncw-writing-2017-01-04-1400x564WILMINGTON – We overflow with fascination about STEM fields these days.  But UNC Wilmington hasn’t lost sight of an enduringly important skill: How to write a sentence. In the accompanying video, Chancellor Jose “Zito” Sartarelli credits previous chancellors with developing a strong Creative Writing program at UNCW. “They felt that that was an area that… READ MORE

UNCW a source of expertise for Cape Fear region

uncw-community-2017-01-12-1400x564WILMINGTON – “We are a source of expertise,” says UNC Wilmington Chancellor Jose “Zito” Sartarelli. “I see community engagement as give and take – we give to the community our expertise,” Sartarelli says in the accompanying video.  “… And also we benefit from it – we learn from it.” Together, UNCW and Cape Fear Community… READ MORE

UNCW military outreach: We owe it to our heroes

uncw-military-2017-01-12-1400x564WILMINGTON – UNC Wilmington Chancellor Jose “Zito” Sartarelli knows military veterans have the self-discipline it takes to be successful students. “Military students or military-associated students – either active-duty or veterans or family – are very important to us,” Sartarelli says in the accompanying video. “First of all, I think we owe to our heroes the… READ MORE

UNCG: Opportunity – and excellence

uncg-great-2017-02-08-1400x564GREENSBORO – Chancellor Frank Gilliam boils what makes UNC Greensboro  great down to two words:  Opportunity and excellence. “Historically, we’ve always provided opportunity, even when it was a woman’s college,” Gilliam says in the accompanying video.  “Today, we provide opportunity to a lot of first-generation students and other students who may not (otherwise) go to college… READ MORE

‘That’s what makes college so exciting’

uncg-greater-2017-02-08-1400x564GREENSBORO – As UNC Greensboro develops a new strategic plan, Chancellor Frank Gilliam says he wants the university to focus on a few very important things to make itself better: Support for students:  “Whatever it is, we have to lower the cost for students,” Gilliam says in the accompanying video, citing increased fellowships, grants or scholarships… READ MORE

Leadership Profile: UNCG Chancellor Franklin Gilliam, Jr.

uncg-gilliam-2017-02-15-1400x564GREENSBORO – Oddly, Frank Gilliam Jr.’s path into academia started on a football field. As a senior running back for the Drake University Bulldogs, Gilliam was having the game of his life against Colorado until a fateful hit sent him over the bench with a set of broken ribs. “I sat up and said, ‘I can’t… READ MORE

Most diverse campus in the UNC system?

uncg-diversity-2017-02-15-1400x564GREENSBORO – At UNC Greensboro, it’s a challenge to define the “typical” student. “We have perhaps the most diverse student body in the system,” Chancellor Frank Gilliam, Jr. says in the accompanying video. “It’s a fascinating campus in that way,” Gilliam says, listing non-traditional and working adults, African-Americans, LGBTQ and veterans among the student populations on… READ MORE

NCSSM: “Best high-school education in the country”

ncssm-great-2017-02-23-1400x564DURHAM – Imagine a public high school where students take multivariable calculus, organic chemistry and mechanical engineering – and all of them go on to college. It’s not imaginary. The NC School of Science and Mathematics was the nation’s first public residential high school focused on science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) education.  Eleven states have… READ MORE

Keep the talent here

ncssm-talent-2017-02-23-1400x564DURHAM – The expression ‘best and brightest’ is overused – but at the NC School of Science and Mathematics, it really does apply. From NCSSM’s class of 2016 alone, six graduates went to MIT, five to Yale, four to Stanford, six to Cornell. From one graduating class. In the accompanying video, NCSSM Chancellor Todd Roberts says… READ MORE

Hospital turned high school

ncssm-hospital-2017-02-23-1400x564DURHAM – A high school is one creative way to reuse a 1908 hospital.  The former Watts Hospital that became the NC School of Science and Mathematics breathes character – architectural and otherwise. The skylights in a former operating room now illuminate an art studio.  The nursery with its round windows for viewing newborns now… READ MORE

NCSSM meets high-achieving students where they are

ncssm-online-2017-03-15-1400x564DURHAM – If a smart student on Ocracoke wants to take Honors Physics, odds are her high school won’t have enough students to offer it. But the North Carolina School of Science and Mathematics in Durham can make it happen. The School of Science and Math was the first residential school of its kind in the… READ MORE

“Music is math”

ncssm-arts-2017-03-15-1400x564DURHAM – ‘The Arts’ aren’t part of the name at the North Carolina School of Science and Mathematics.  But the arts are an integral part of the school. “People, when they hear ‘North Carolina School of Science and Math,’ they think that’s all we do,” Chancellor Todd Roberts says in the accompanying video.  “We are a… READ MORE

Invest in innovation – or leave it to chance?

uncg-future-2017-03-22-1400x564GREENSBORO – One thing that makes a great university is strong state support. In the accompanying video, UNC Greensboro Chancellor Franklin D. Gilliam, Jr. says North Carolina has a history of doing just that. “We’re at a watershed in American public higher education,” Gilliam says.  “For so long, the states subsidized state universities at high… READ MORE