Chancellor’s musings: Our “Inflection Point”

Posted on November 02, 2018

Welcome students, faculty and staff to a new year, to a reinvigorated campus, to the latest edition of my “Musings.”

For those of you who are new to the Spartan family, I write these “Musings” to share the thoughts, ideas, feelings that come to me from time to time during the course of the year. They may be inspired by a news story, an event on campus, a game, a song or, in this case, when I saw a news article with the term “inflection point” in its headline.

It is how I have come to think of this critical moment in UNC Greensboro’s history. We are at an “inflection point.” For those of you who can still remember high school math (I can’t, so I consulted a Merriam-Webster dictionary), an inflection point is “a point on a curve that separates an arc concave upward from one concave downward and vice versa.”

More simply put, an inflection point is a turning point after which a dramatic change is expected. It is among “the critical phases of transitions along an [organization’s] journey from an abstract idea to maturity.” Inflection points transcend small, incremental day-to-day progress, and their effect is often felt as a well-known, widespread “sea change.”

For the theater buffs among us, the term “sea change” comes from William Shakespeare’s “The Tempest,” Act 2, Scene 1:

Full fathom five thy father lies / Of his bones are coral made / Those are pearls that were his eyes / Nothing of him that doth fade / But doth suffer a sea-change / Into something rich and strange.

Just thought I’d throw that in there just to impress the English faculty!

Now back to my main point – OUR inflection point. We are poised to become a national model for how a university can blend opportunity, excellence and impact to transform the lives of individual students while at the same time making a major contribution to the prosperity of the state.

How are we going to do this? Well the road map is clear:

  • We will continue to tenaciously commit ourselves to student success. This includes a menu of support services that are designed to aid all students and designed to meet students where they are;
  • We will continue to hire and support the best faculty who are, on balance, committed to both innovative instruction and impactful research;
  • We will not only be an engaged partner with the broader Greensboro community but will be a regional leader through our Millennial Campus focused on health and wellness, and arts and culture;
  • We will advance our impact through our scholarship, research and community engagement;
  • We will work to maintain a campus where each member of our vast array of students, staff and faculty members that compose our community finds a place to fit in;
  • We will continue to support championship quality athletic teams that also excel in the classroom;
  • We will energize our alumni base by elevating their pride in having a degree from UNCG and creating more opportunities to be involved with today’s Spartans and those yet to come;
  • We will build critical relationships with influencers and policymakers in the community, state and region; and
  • We will develop an innovative and robust capital campaign that will create ways for potential donors to support the University.

To do this we need all of you to bring your “A game” – your best effort; your freshest ideas; your collaborative spirit; and your commitment to excellence. And it will take all of us. Everyone pulling together, in the same direction.

I found my way here three years ago – how time flies when you are having fun! And since then, I have found so much to be proud of, excited about and engaged in. And each of you found your way here as well – as a student or staff or faculty member. Like me, I hope you have also found (or will find) your place, your inspiration, your passion, your opportunity here.

Now, as a university, it is time to find out what we are made of. It’s time to find out if we are ready – here and now – to embrace this inflection point. I believe we are, and I am confident that together we will transform what it means to be part of the Spartan family for generations to come.

Franklin D. Gilliam, Jr.