End of Spring 2024 Message

Posted on April 30, 2024

Dear Spartan students, faculty, and staff, 

As 2023-24 winds to its close, it’s worth a moment to reflect on the year’s remarkable achievements — and to preview what awaits in the Fall.

Together we’ve made this a year of milestones, each a testament to the traditions and culture of excellence, collaboration, and forward thinking that define the UNC Greensboro community. 

This Thursday and Friday, we’ll celebrate another turning point with the conferral of nearly 2,900 degrees. At the Graduate ceremony, the University will award 610 master’s and 104 doctoral degrees. At the University Commencement, we’ll award 2,145 undergraduate degrees. The class of 2024 is as exceptional as ever and illustrative of the remarkable individuals who have found their way here. New graduates will include a 79-year-old, a 19-year-old, a husband and wife, and a mother and daughter. Each student has a unique path to this monumental moment in life, and we know they all will uphold the University’s motto of service in the workplace and in communities near and far.

Here on campus, a new $5 million grant from the Mellon Foundation is putting that service commitment in motion. The grant will allow 650 UNCG students to join 130 local nonprofits over the next five years for paid internships. UNCG is one of only five universities in the country to receive this grant. This extension of our community engagement marks a new chapter in our undergraduate humanities experience, will better prepare students for life after graduation, and speaks to years of hard work to center student success, public service, and the future of the communities that depend on us. 

Our collective work and vision also underpin our 10-year accreditation renewal process, which is ongoing. A visiting committee from our accrediting body — the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges — commented on our excellence. In accreditation language, we received “zero recommendations” for improvement — the best possible outcome at this stage. Hundreds of faculty and staff were involved in this effort, led expertly by Jodi Pettazzoni. I can’t thank them enough.

Such markers are instrumental in broadcasting what we all know about the University: there’s no better place to innovate and make a lasting difference in the world. Take the example of Marcos Tapia, among just 438 scholars nationally who won the prestigious Barry Goldwater Scholarship this year. A first-generation UNCG student from Winston-Salem and a third-year student in chemistry, he has already published and presented research.  

Marcos’ standout work in sustainable energy reminds us what’s possible when we unite potential with opportunity. Likewise the accomplishments of our incredible faculty, who have made profound impressions on their students through lectures, mentorships, and the application of classwork in the real world. 

UNCG puts students at the heart of all we do. And while we don’t do it for praise, it’s heartening that independent observers recognize our efforts. Recent rankings have solidified UNCG’s position in top slots for the student experience, affordability, and social mobility. We all should take pride in these achievements — they speak not only to what we do, but to who we are and what we value most. 

That identity and those values will be top of mind as our Strategic Plan Advisory Committee will meet over the summer to prepare a refresh of Giant Steps, our long-term institutional blueprint. The overall University community will have opportunities to weigh in during the Fall semester — and I trust that you will. Comprehensive community input is a must for a sustainable, well-thought-out plan. We’ll share the updated plan in January.

While this summer will be a busy one as we ready campus for fall, please be sure to take a respite. You’ve earned it. Take time to celebrate all that you’ve accomplished. We’re defining a historic chapter in the University’s long legacy — and you should take pride in your contributions.

Thank you for an incredible year. 

Franklin D. Gilliam, Jr.