In UNC-system President Margaret Spellings’ point of view, the future is bright for the state’s public universities.
Spellings launched her State of the University Address Tour earlier in March and plans to visit eight campuses across the state in the upcoming weeks.
“This tour will reach every region in the state, from Wilmington’s coastal dunes to Cullowhee’s mountain hollows, giving the UNC-system multiple opportunities to reach every community and communicate the road ahead for a strong and essential pillar of our state’s economy and society,” Spellings’ media representatives said in a press release.
Spellings’ media relations office did not respond when asked to comment on the tour.
The tour is meant to reflect on the recent initiatives taking place within UNC-system schools and to highlight the system's current successes. Along with the tour, Spellings also released a self-evaluation report that details how different universities in the system are performing.
The self-evaluation described how UNC-system schools are committed to affordability, access and graduate success. According to the report, the average in-state tuition of all UNC-system schools will decrease, and undergraduate tuition will not increase at any school for the third time since 2000. The evaluation also mentioned how the system has worked with North Carolina community colleges to make transferring to a four-year university a more viable option for students.
Spellings gave her first speech at UNC-Charlotte March 19. Her talk mainly addressed a few key points from the system evaluation as well as those made in the recent op-ed she co-wrote with UNC-C Chancellor Philip Dubois. Spellings shared UNC-C had created an action plan to graduate 30 percent more low-income students and to increase the five-year graduation rate by 6 percent by 2022.
“The president’s visit was extremely well received by the university community,” said Betty Doster, special assistant to the chancellor for constituent relations at UNC-C.
Doster said the UNC-C community appreciated Spellings’ visit to the Charlotte Teacher Early College High School, which opened in 2017 on UNC-C’s campus in collaboration with Charlotte-Mecklenburg schools. Another key point of the self-evaluation was that the UNC system is striving to produce more graduates in what it considers to be “critical workforces” such as education, technology and health care.
Spellings also visited UNC-Wilmington March 22. During her speech, she stressed the importance of accountability in order to achieve the UNC system’s goals. In addition to the plan at UNC-C, she has created a school-specific course of action for each of the 17 schools in the UNC system.
“By focusing on our shared values; by deploying our public institutions to create opportunity and improve lives; by holding ourselves accountable to our highest ideals and aspirations — we can restore public trust,” Spellings said during her speech at UNC-W.
Spellings will visit Fayetteville State University on Monday.
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