University of North Carolina Asheville

Five-year Goals and Associated Interim Benchmarks

In January 2017, the Board of Governors of the University of North Carolina unanimously approved Higher Expectations, a five-year Strategic Plan for the UNC System. The Plan calls on the UNC System to achieve ambitious goals in access, student success, affordability and efficiency, economic impact and community engagement, and institutional excellence and diversity.

Progress on these goals and metrics will be achieved through the hard work and commitment of institutional leaders, faculty, and staff. In that spirit, University of North Carolina at Asheville has identified these contributions that University of North Carolina at Asheville aspires to make to the UNC Strategic Plan over the next five years.



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Rural Enrollments

By fall 2021, UNCA will enroll 861 rural students, a 10.4% increase over 2016 levels (81 additional rural students over a base of 780).

From UNC Asheville: UNC Asheville’s SOAR program, short for Summer Opportunity for Academic Readiness, supports this goal by helping a select group of high school graduates make the transition from high school to college during an intense two-week program in the summer that provides students with an opportunity to experience on-campus living and earn college credit. Jump Start extends these opportunities through the fall semester, coupled with specialized guidance, to support the students throughout their baccalaureate academic career.


Rural Completions

By 2021-22, UNCA will produce 187 rural graduates, an increase of 19.9% (31 additional rural completions over a base of 156).

From UNC Asheville: In addition to the SOAR and Jump Start programs that help new students transition to college, UNC Asheville also offers support through AVID for Higher Education, a national program geared toward incoming first-year students with high financial need and first-generation students. AVID scholars at UNC Asheville have returned for their second-year at higher rates than a peer comparison group. In addition, upper division students who fall behind can apply for summer school programs, funded through a UNC System grant, to get back on track to graduation by completing required courses.


Undergraduate Degree Efficiency

By 2021-22, UNCA will improve its undergraduate degree efficiency to 23.4 over a base of 22.2.

From UNC Asheville: UNC Asheville’s strategic plan focuses on organizational capacity and academic rigor as two strategic directions supporting this goal, and all academic programs, with the exception of the joint engineering degree with NC State, meet the 120-hour credit hour UNC System limit. This rate of exception is the lowest in the system.


Achievement Gaps in Undergraduate Degree Efficiency

By 2021-22, UNCA will reduce by 50% the achievement gaps in undergraduate degree efficiency between underrepresented minority and non-underrepresented minority students and between rural and non-rural students.

From UNC Asheville: While rural students and students from under-represented minorities at UNC Asheville have historically enjoyed less success in efficient credit accumulation and timely degree completion than the undergraduate student body as a whole, the university is already on track to reduce this discrepancy by half or more in the next five years—the goal set forth in, as established in the UNC System Strategic Plan.

The undergraduate degree efficiency of under-represented minority students at UNC Asheville remains on track to achieve the goal of 20.8 by 2022.


Critical Workforces

By 2021-22, UNCA will produce 370 critical workforce credentials, an increase of 22.5% (68 additional critical workforce credentials over a base of 302).

From UNC Asheville: In support of the UNC System Strategic Plan, UNC Asheville is expected to increase significantly the number of credentials it awards in the health sciences, STEM disciplines, and K-12 teacher education programs over the next five years. In recent years, about 40 percent of all credentials awarded by the university have fallen in these fields; these areas also account for 40 percent of all declared majors at present. The university also excels in placing its students into graduate and professional programs in these areas.



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Low-income Enrollments

By fall 2021, UNCA will enroll 1,328 low-income students, a 6.8% increase over 2015 levels (85 additional low-income students over a base of 1,243).

From UNC Asheville: Approximately 35 percent of UNC Asheville students receive a federal Pell Grant because of their low-income status. By matriculating 400 or more new such students each fall, the university seeks to increase this percentage over the next five years and meet the 2021 enrollment target of 1,328 low-income students set for it in the UNC System Strategic Plan.

Incoming first-year students who have high financial need may be selected for AVID, Jump Start, or the Summer Opportunity for Readiness programs described above.


Low-income Completions

By 2021-22, UNCA will produce 406 low-income graduates, an increase of 15.0% (53 additional low-income completions over a base of 353).

From UNC Asheville: The university experienced declining low-income student enrollments in 2015 and 2016. Consequently, in order to meet the 2021 target of 406 low-income graduates set for it in the UNC System Strategic Plan, it will need to significantly exceed the 2021 enrollment target of 1,328 low-income students.

Two UNC System-funded programs also support this goal by providing tuition-free summer classes in the core curriculum at UNC Asheville to students who need to get back on track to graduation. The 2017 program helped 19 students, from a cohort of 23, successfully graduate on time in 2018. The 2018-20 summer program, called First to Finish, aims to help 100 students a year accelerate their path to graduation.


Five-year Graduation Rates

By 2022, UNCA will improve its five-year graduation rate from any accredited institution to 71.7%. This is an improvement over a base of 69.1% for UNCA’s 2010 cohort.

From UNC Asheville: The university expects to maintain this graduation rate over the next two years, thereby meeting the 2021 target of a 71.7 percent graduation rate set for it in the UNC System strategic plan.



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Research Productivity

By 2021-22, UNCA will receive $2,721,060 in in research and development sponsored program awards and licensing income, an increase of 5.0% ($129,574 additional over a base of $2,591,486).

From UNC Asheville: UNC Asheville’s robust undergraduate research program, founded as a national model over 30 years ago, emphasizes the state’s designated liberal arts and sciences university’s approach to teaching and research. In recent years, faculty have secured multi-million national grants that support chemistry scholars as well as atmospheric and computer science scholars (National Science Foundation), chemistry and biology scholars (N.C. GlaxoSmithKline Foundation), public humanities and the arts (Mellon Foundation), and creative entrepreneurship and STEAM education (Windgate Foundation).

Supporting the vitality of research is a statewide effort for UNC Asheville, which as part of the UNC System, has a goal of $2.7 million in research funding by 2022. UNC Asheville expects to meet this goal, and Research and Sponsored Programs also tracks external funding for all sponsored programs and cooperative endeavors, in addition to research funding.



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