We at UNC have the opportunity to be the quintessence of what is great about American higher education.

President Norton speaking at the State of the UniversityThroughout the history of our nation, we have recognized the role of higher education in building both economic and social value. American higher education is a distinctively creative, messy, far-reaching, transformative, sometimes uncomfortable realm of questioning, discovering and inventing. It is about education in the fundamental Latin sense of the word—of leading out potential.

At UNC, we are distinguished not only by the transformative effect of the education that happens here, but also by the students we serve. We are an entry point for them to rewrite their own future—an opportunity for a changed life.

Even as the world around us changes, we must find ways to continue serving students who are the first in their families to earn a college degree, those who belong to groups that are historically underrepresented in higher education, and those who cannot imagine they can afford to attend a university or that they will succeed when they do. This is not simply a matter of fulfilling our public mission; it is our moral obligation