President Feinstein Celebrates UNC Being Well Positioned for the Future in State of the University Address
September 16, 2022
During the annual State of the University Address on Sept. 14, 2022, UNC President Andy Feinstein, along with several other university leaders, reflected on the accomplishments achieved during the first two-year phase of UNC’s strategic plan Rowing, Not Drifting 2030, while also looking forward to the next chapter.
“I am very excited about UNC’s future,” Feinstein said. “We have accomplished a great deal in recent years by focusing on our vision for the future and relying on our resilience, determination and character. That must continue.”
Of note, Feinstein touched on several highlights over the past two years in service to the university’s Students First commitment. Key initiatives included the creation of a more collaborative and streamlined orientation process to help foster connections and create a sense of belonging for students; the partnership with food services and facilities management company Sodexo that will expand and enhance on-campus dining options; and the investment in the university’s data architecture to better track graduation and retention metrics, providing faculty and staff with the tools necessary to design data-informed strategies to support students.
The impact of these and many other key initiatives was evident as Feinstein reported that the university had its highest fall-to-fall retention rate on record – 75% of UNC’s first-year, full-time undergraduate students returned this fall. UNC also saw gains for the first time in five years in their new undergraduate yield rate and in the number of first-time undergraduate students enrolling from Weld County.
While there is much to celebrate, Feinstein acknowledged the university saw a 5% decline in the enrollment of new undergraduate students compared to last fall and anticipates it may face some challenges ahead adjusting to new enrollment realities. Not unique to UNC, enrollment challenges are being felt by many institutions across the country, fueled by national trends that include a decline in birth rates that began during the 2008 Great Recession. Feinstein also referenced the increasing percentage of students choosing not to pursue postsecondary education, something he referred to as a more immediate threat, citing that postsecondary institutions have lost nearly 1.3 million students since 2020.
“To help close the widening gap between high school graduation and college degree attainment, we must continue our work to help students envision a path to college and share the story about the value of a UNC degree. And while they are here, we must ensure students have the support they need to be successful,” Feinstein said.
Phase 2, the second of five two-year phases, of Rowing, Not Drifting 2030 will play a big role in this effort. With the landscape for higher education changing, Feinstein emphasized the need to evolve and adapt. In this, one of the priorities will be to continue strengthening the curriculum and program review process.
“The work to align our academic portfolio with the needs of our students and the marketplace is a necessary step to secure our future success,” Feinstein said.
Other areas of focus will be to develop and implement a strategic enrollment management plan to help UNC achieve and maintain optimum recruitment, retention and graduation rates. And UNC will continue to make progress in establishing a College of Osteopathic Medicine (UNC-COM), which will meet a critical need for physicians in the community and beyond.
Finally, UNC will continue to develop and implement faculty and staff recruitment, engagement and retention plans and complete the next stage of the work toward receiving a Hispanic Serving Institution (HSI) designation.
Work already completed in the pursuit of the proposed UNC-COM:
- Hired Dr. Beth Longenecker as the founding dean.
- Started the process of creating a program plan for a building to house the college .
- Developed a hiring plan and operational budget.
- Established a college advisory board with representatives from the university, clinical partners, the city and county.
For the first time this fall, enrollment of Hispanic and Latinx undergraduate students is above 25%, meeting the timeline goal to apply for federal HSI designation by 2025.
“The university is well positioned for the future, thanks to our exceptional students, talented and dedicated faculty and staff and our champions and friends,” Feinstein said.
Professor of Economics and Chair of Faculty Senate Dawit Senbet, Ph.D., Janis Hooper, a member of the Classified Staff Council, Cheyenne Hassebrock, the Professional Administrative Staff Council chair and Student Body President Chaya Jensen also spoke during the 2022 State of the University Address.
Additional accomplishments achieved in Phase 1 of Rowing, Not Drifting 2030:
- Realigned Enrollment Management under Student Affairs, creating a new Division of Student Affairs and Enrollment Services led by Dr. Cedric Howard.
- Engaged external and internal experts to deliver training and education on a number of diversity equity and inclusion topics to university leadership.
- Added and adapted a variety of majors, including adding a Bachelor of Science degree in Health Sciences with an emphasis in Healthcare Administration; created two new areas of concentration in our traditional MBA program: Accounting Analytics and Marketing; and recalibrated several programs in the College of Performing and Visual Arts from Bachelor of Arts to Bachelor of Fine Arts, to ensure students have credentials that better reflect their learning outcomes and career goals.
- Committed to a modified summer work week with half-day Fridays for staff.
- Funded compensation increases to be more competitive and address inequities.
Watch the entire 2022 State of the University Address below:
– written by Sydney Kern