University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill

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 Chapel Hill has identified these contributions that University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill aspires to make to the UNC Strategic Plan over the next five years.



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Rural Enrollments

By fall 2021, UNC-CH will enroll 4,140 rural students, a 5.0% increase over 2016 levels (198 additional rural students over a base of 3,942).

From UNC-Chapel Hill: In fall 2018, 40 percent of new first-year undergraduates from North Carolina were from rural counties, and UNC-Chapel Hill is committed to increasing that number even as total undergraduate residential enrollment remains steady. This commitment is consistent with other efforts to increase college access for rural North Carolinians. The Carolina College Advising Corps, founded in 2007, helps thousands of rural North Carolinians find their way to college each year by placing recent UNC-Chapel Hill graduates as college advisers in 78 high schools statewide; click here for a video highlighting the program’s impact during its first decade. The Carolina Student Transfer Excellence Program (C-STEP) partners with 13 North Carolina community colleges, most of them in rural counties, to foster access and success for low- to moderate-income students; the program recently expanded, thanks to a $1.1 million grant from the North Carolina GlaxoSmithKline Foundation.


Low-income Completions

By 2021-22, UNC-CH will produce 1,223 low-income graduates, an increase of 14.4% (155 additional low-income completions over a base of 1,078).

From UNC-Chapel Hill: UNC-Chapel Hill has found that increasing low-income completions requires evidence-based admissions practices, individualized, proactive academic and personal support, and financial aid that meets full demonstrated need. In 2003, UNC-Chapel Hill created the Carolina Covenant, which promises low-income students the opportunity to earn their degrees without debt provided they work part-time. The Covenant also offers mentoring, academic and personal support services, and other resources to help guide students to on-time graduation. Covenant Scholars Marquis Peacock and Naya Tapper reflect the program’s impact on helping low-income students reach their goal of earning diplomas. Since the program started, the completion rate for Covenant Scholars has increased dramatically, from 57% to 78%. In 2017, the Jack Kent Cooke Foundation awarded $1 million to UNC-Chapel Hill – the first public university to be so honored – for “doing an outstanding job of admitting and graduating high-achieving, low-income students.”


Five-year Graduation Rates

By 2022, UNC-CH will improve its five-year graduation rate from any accredited institution to 94.0%. This is an improvement over a base of 91.7% for UNC-CH’s 2010 cohort.

From UNC-Chapel Hill: Although graduation rates at UNC-Chapel Hill are already among the nation’s highest among peer universities, Carolina is fully committed to further improvement. In support of this commitment, and as part of The Blueprint for Next, the strategic framework adopted in 2017 to guide the campus over the next decade, the university is planning and will implement significant improvements in student support services and student-centered systems. In summer 2019, UNC-Chapel Hill will also expand financial support for summer study, which has been proven to foster retention and graduation rates and reduce time to degree.


Critical Workforces

By 2021-22, UNC-CH will produce 3,769 critical workforce credentials, an increase of 11.9% (400 additional critical workforce credentials over a base of 3,369).

From UNC-Chapel Hill: UNC-Chapel Hill is the second largest contributor to the talent pool of professionals with degrees in health sciences, STEM fields, and education, which are vital to meet North Carolina’s workforce requirements. A priority in The Blueprint for Next strategic framework is “preparing our graduates for the new economy.” Since 2010-11, Carolina has increased the number of STEM credentials awarded by over 22%. The university’s Quality Enhancement Plan, “Connecting, Doing, Making,” is improving learning in the sciences by engaging more students in hands-on, faculty-guided research well before they graduate. Over 60% of graduating seniors have performed independent research during college, and many students gain workplace experience serving as apprentices and collaborators in faculty labs. At the graduate and professional level, UNC-Chapel Hill awards a broad range of highly valued and sought-after post-baccalaureate credentials in health sciences, STEM, and education.


Research Productivity

By 2021-22, UNC-CH will receive $905,349,456 in research and development sponsored program awards and licensing income, an increase of 7.4% ($62,700,000 additional over a base of $842,649,456).

From UNC-Chapel Hill: UNC-Chapel Hill is the nation’s 11th largest research university and ranks 5th for federal research dollars awarded. A diverse array of research includes strengths in biomedical, pharmaceutical and health sciences, computer and data science, social sciences, and physical and mathematical sciences. Reflecting a key theme in The Blueprint for Next strategic framework – translating research into professional, commercial and societal benefits – campus research has generated a total of 839 U.S. patents and 220 active North Carolina businesses employing 7,147 state residents. Research activity employs another 10,148 North Carolinians in 87 counties. A 2013 study revealed that UNC-Chapel Hill research and spinout businesses have a $2.6-billion impact annually on North Carolina’s economy. Faculty have included two Nobel laureates and over 150 members of the most distinguished national academies and learned societies. Research at Carolina ranges from ground-breaking cancer treatments developed at the Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center to the $230 million MEASURE Evaluation project, which assesses the global impact of U.S. foreign aid.



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Low-income Enrollments

By fall 2021, UNC-CH will enroll 3,508 low-income students, a 4.2% increase over 2015 levels (140 additional low-income students over a base of 3,368).

From UNC-Chapel Hill: Less than 50% of low-income students who are admitted to a post-secondary institution end up enrolling. The Carolina College Advising Corps reaches 23% of low-income public high school students in North Carolina, offering assistance with admission, financial aid, and scholarship applications. Just as need is the best predictor of college completion, meeting need also is critical to enrolling more low-income students. The Carolina Covenant plays an important role in attracting students from low-income families by promising qualifying students a path to debt-free graduation. As part of the Covenant, scholarships provided through the Red, White and Carolina Blue Challenge, including the recently announced Lt. Col. Bernard Dibbert Scholarships as part of the For All Kind: the Campaign for Carolina, offer financial support to low-income students who are the dependents of veterans of the U.S. Armed Forces. UNC-Chapel Hill also partners with several community colleges across North Carolina through its Carolina Student Transfer Excellence Program (C-STEP) to help community college students from financially challenged families transfer to and graduate from UNC-Chapel Hill. C-STEP currently works with the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians and Southwestern Community College, expanding the program to the most economically distressed counties in southwestern North Carolina. Thanks to a $1.1 million grant from the North Carolina GlaxoSmithKline Foundation, C-STEP also recently expanded to foster more opportunity for low-income North Carolinians who are interested in STEM fields.


Rural Completions

By 2021-22, UNC-CH will produce 1,108 rural graduates, an increase of 9.4% (95 additional rural completions over a base of 1,013).

From UNC-Chapel Hill: UNC-Chapel Hill is committed to enrolling and graduating more rural North Carolinians, using evidence-based admissions practices, individualized academic and personal support, and financial aid that meets students’ full demonstrated need. Proven programs such as Project Uplift, the Carolina Covenant, the Carolina College Advising Corps and C-STEP encourage students to prepare for the academic rigor of a research university and then enroll, perform well while at UNC-Chapel Hill, and graduate on time.


Achievement Gaps in Undergraduate Degree Efficiency

By 2021-22, UNC-CH will reduce by 50% the achievement gap in undergraduate degree efficiency between male students and female students.

From UNC-Chapel Hill: The most remarkable gains among Carolina Covenant Scholars have been made by men, especially black men, whose graduation rates have nearly doubled since the Covenant was established in 2003. The Men of Color Engagement Initiative helps address graduation and retention issues for males from traditionally underrepresented backgrounds in higher education (African-American, Latino, American Indian) and welcomes any individual interested in participating in the initiatives. The Office of Undergraduate Retention supports all students on their path to graduation by encouraging them to identify their individual strengths and to take full advantage of campus resources designed to help them succeed. Click here for a video about Dillon Robinson’s journey to graduate school.



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Undergraduate Degree Efficiency

By 2021-22, UNC-CH will improve its undergraduate degree efficiency to 25.7 over a base of 24.6.

From UNC-Chapel Hill: Through admissions and financial-aid practices, as well as the commitment of faculty and staff, UNC-Chapel Hill encourages students to complete their degrees efficiently, thus reducing expenses to themselves, their families and the people of North Carolina. One measure of this efficiency is UNC-Chapel Hill’s strong graduation rates. Among new first-year students who enrolled in 2014, 85.6% graduated in four years. Another measure is degree efficiency, which is measured by the number of degrees earned per 100 full-time-equivalent students. Higher enrollments of transfer students tend to increase degree efficiency.



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