‘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

WCU Chancellor: “Intentional relationships” with students

CULLOWHEE –  While people in other parts of the state wring their hands over the rural-urban divide, the folks at Western Carolina University live it every day. The university is intensely focused on its students, Western Carolina Chancellor David Belcher says in the accompanying video. “This is what Western lives every single day,” he says…. READ MORE

WCU: Jobs, economic mobility for WNC

CULLOWHEE – Western Carolina University’s commitment to its region is nearly as strong as its commitment to its students – it seems most of Chancellor David Belcher’s sentences end with “Western North Carolina” or “this region.” So what will it take to make Western greater? Students from Western North Carolina, which tends to lag the rest… READ MORE

WCU Pride of the Mountains Marching Band: “A phenomenon”

CULLOWHEE – How many universities can say 15-20 percent of each freshman class plays in their marching band? “The Pride of the Mountains Marching Band is a phenomenon,” Western Carolina University Chancellor David Belcher declares in the accompanying video. “It’s become a tradition here,” Belcher says.  “But I tell you, it’s part of the learning experience… READ MORE

Western Carolina Lab School: Make a huge difference

CULLOWHEE – Western Carolina Chancellor David Belcher isn’t bashful about Western’s origin as a teacher’s college. “Western Carolina University really began to produce teachers to educate the children of the mountains.  And from that moment ‘til now, education has been a focus, and we have been really good at it,” Belcher says in the accompanying video…. READ MORE

WCU/Community Colleges: Nursing degrees under $20K

CULLOWHEE – North Carolina faces a nursing shortage, but the need is particularly pronounced in Western North Carolina. So Western Carolina University’s School of Nursing came up with what Chancellor David Belcher describes in the accompanying video as an “ingenious” effort to educate nurses quickly – and affordably. Under RIBN, which stands for Regionally Increasing Baccalaureate… READ MORE

UNC Asheville: Matching theory with high-impact experience

ASHEVILLE – For Chancellor Mary Grant, what sets UNC Asheville apart is simple. “UNC Asheville’s a great university because of the people – and that’s the faculty, the staff and the students.  That’s something that struck me the moment I stepped on this campus,” Grant says in the accompanying video. Grant cites world-class faculty who… READ MORE

45 Fulbright Scholars from UNC Asheville

ASHEVILLE – Forty-five Fulbright Scholars in 10 years from one university with just 3,800 students? UNC Asheville has sent scholars – both students and instructors – to Germany, Norway, Ghana and other countries to pursue research and instruction in their fields through the Fulbright Program, which sponsors student and scholar exchanges with more than 155… READ MORE

Making this a better world at UNC Asheville

ASHEVILLE – 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… READ MORE

“Creative collision” in Mechatronics, STEAM Studio

ASHEVILLE – UNC Asheville is the only institution in the University of North Carolina System that offers Mechatronics Engineering, which combines the disciplines of engineering and computer science with  design, art and sculpture. “It’s a creative collision,” Chancellor Mary Grant says in the accompanying video.  “It’s asking the question, ‘What’s the problem we’re trying to… READ MORE

Fayetteville State: Thinking way beyond traditional mission

FAYETTEVILLE – Fayetteville State University is stepping it up. “We’ve been able to wed our great historical legacy and our tradition and our founding values with what we know we need to do for the 21st century to be competitive, to have high-quality programs,” Chancellor James A. Anderson says in the accompanying video. Five years ago,… READ MORE

Signature online programs at FSU

FAYETTEVILLE – Chancellor James Anderson is intent on building Fayetteville State University’s academic reputation. And perhaps because it has a significant number of military students seeking new ways to access an education, it has found success with online programs.  Anderson says in the accompanying video that FSU has the strongest array of online offerings in the… READ MORE

FSU and the military:  A growing relationship

FAYETTEVILLE – When the world’s biggest military base is just a mile away, it’s bound to play a role at a local university. And Fayetteville State University continues to build its relationship with Fort Bragg and the military, Chancellor James Anderson says in the accompanying video. Almost 25 percent of FSU’s students are veterans, active-duty military… READ MORE

Fayetteville State: New definition of an HBCU

FAYETTEVILLE – Yes, Fayetteville State University considers itself a Historically Black College and University. But the definition of an HBCU is expanding, Chancellor James Anderson says in the accompanying video. “We like to say FSU is an institution that has a great historical foundation that primarily was African-American,” Anderson says.  “However, we recognize that in order… READ MORE

FSU: “Necessary in their life”

FAYETTEVILLE – Chancellor James Anderson readily acknowledges an interdependence between Fayetteville State University and the surrounding community. The university is certainly a local economic driver – one study found it produces an annual economic output of $154 million and 2,210 jobs.1  “Every building we’ve built, we’ve hired people from the city to work on that building,”… READ MORE

Graduate from FSU in one year – at 18?

FAYETTEVILLE – Chancellor James Anderson wants more students like Mikayla Raines and more faculty members like Dr. Carole Weatherford. Anderson likes to highlight exceptional students and faculty at Fayetteville State University.  In the accompanying video, he discusses Raines, who spent three years taking college courses at an Early College High School on FSU’s campus – then… READ MORE

A burgeoning university for a burgeoning city

CHARLOTTE – A burgeoning city demands a burgeoning university – and North Carolina’s largest city has one. “From the beginning, going all the way back to our founding in 1946 … this place has been all about opportunity,” UNC Charlotte Chancellor Philip Dubois says in the accompanying video. “We offer opportunity, as in the view… READ MORE

Fastest-growing UNC campus

CHARLOTTE – The fastest-growing campus in the UNC System has energy.  But with that growth come challenges. “We have gained about 4,600 students since 2009,” UNC Charlotte Chancellor Philip Dubois says in the accompanying video.  In fact, UNC Charlotte alone accounts for 35% of the growth in enrollment in the entire 17-campus UNC System since… READ MORE

49er Finish: 93% completion

CHARLOTTE – Not everyone takes a straight-line path to a college degree. At the ‘Aim Higher, Achieve More’ forum hosted recently by the Higher Education Works Foundation, UNC System President Margaret Spellings singled out the 49er Finish program at UNC Charlotte, which re-enrolls students who leave school with 90 hours of credit and helps them… READ MORE

Cultivating young teachers early

CHARLOTTE – In August, UNC Charlotte launched the first of its kind in the nation – a high school and early college for 9th graders who want to become teachers. As North Carolina and other states confront a shrinking pipeline of future teachers, the Charlotte Teacher Early College is an attempt to find a solution…. READ MORE

‘Anybody who can touch the life of a kid’

CHARLOTTE – North Carolina is now the 9th largest state in America – yet it saw a 30% decline in enrollment in the state’s colleges of education from 2010-2015.1 “There’s a teacher pipeline problem pretty much nationally.  It’s pretty acute in North Carolina,” Dean Ellen McIntyre of the Cato College of Education at UNC Charlotte… READ MORE

‘She saw something in me’

CHARLOTTE – Most of us had a favorite teacher – one who made a difference in our lives. Dean Ellen McIntyre of the Cato College of Education at UNC Charlotte talks about her favorites in the accompanying video, starting with her third-grade teacher. “She was so fair.  I had had a previous teacher who was… READ MORE

What motivates someone to teach?

CHARLOTTE – The pay isn’t much.  The working conditions can be rough.  Yet some feel driven to teach. “Teaching is one of the most important professions right now,” Dean Ellen McIntyre of UNC Charlotte’s Cato College of Education says in the accompanying video. “There’s really hardly a profession as important and as honorable.” State officials… READ MORE