University of North Carolina School of the Arts

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



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Rural Enrollments

By fall 2021, UNCSA will enroll 165 rural students, a 6.5% increase over 2016 levels (10 additional rural students over a base of 155).

From UNC School of the Arts: UNCSA is North Carolina’s only university devoted entirely to training talented students to become professional artists in the fields of dance, design and production, drama, filmmaking, and music. To ensure that the School of the Arts is on the radar of every young artist from Cherokee County to Dare County, UNCSA has instituted new admissions and recruitment strategies. Admissions has hired a new counselor. In addition, UNCSA is participating in the Carolinas Association of Collegiate Registrars and Admissions Officers (CACRAO) recruitment tours and conducting private visits in rural counties. Marketing is utilizing conservatory-specific landing pages to capture leads generated by a new digital ad campaign. And for the first time, UNCSA has  implemented an integrated system of strategic contacts throughout the admissions process. With automated digital acknowledgements, emails, and a calibrated cadence of printed collaterals, we have choreographed an intricate dance with prospective students that keeps the UNCSA at the top of their minds during the enrollment lifecycle.


Rural Completions

By 2021-22, UNCSA will produce 21 rural graduates, an increase of 31.3% (5 additional rural completions over a base of 16).

From UNC School of the Arts: Given the unique aspects of the UNCSA student experience, two of the key areas that drive student success are overall academic preparation and student resiliency. To assist rural students in degree completion, UNCSA has developed a mentoring program to connect students from rural counties with upperclassmen peers. UNCSA also hired five graduate students who were trained in motivational interviewing as coaches for 18 undergraduates; one coach went so far as to meet a charge at the gym every morning to make sure he would get to class on time. Additionally, the Provost’s Office initiated an annual Student Advantage Week, which includes a review of academic skills necessary for student success. UNCSA recently received a UNC System Student Success grant for $61,500, which will provide ongoing training and support for Graduate Student Coaches and which will broaden the invitation to Student Advantage Week to encourage more rural students to participate.


Five-year Graduation Rates

By 2022, UNCSA will improve its five-year graduation rate from any accredited institution to 70.6%. This is an improvement over a base of 67.6% for UNCSA’s 2010 cohort.

From UNC School of the Arts: Every new undergraduate student at UNCSA has applied directly to one of five majors and has undergone an application process that includes an interview with faculty and either an audition or a portfolio review. This is akin to the M.F.A.  application process at other conservatories, including our own. While the four-year graduation rate for first-time, full-time freshmen has increased consistently over the past 15 years, persistent gaps remain among the various schools at UNCSA. During the past five years, the top-ranked School of Drama has averaged an 81-percent four-year graduation rate; two other schools are in the 50-percentile range. To improve educational outcomes, UNCSA has fully implemented the Predictive Analytics Reporting (PAR) framework to help manage the enrollment process and ensure student success. Founded with funding from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, PAR is a national membership collaborative that uses data to improve retention and postsecondary success by delivering actionable intelligence that will keep students progressing toward graduation.


Achievement Gaps in Undergraduate Degree Efficiency

By 2021-22, UNCSA will reduce by 50% the achievement gap in undergraduate degree efficiency between rural and non-rural students.

From UNC School of the Arts: Emotional well-being is critical to closing achievement gaps in undergraduate degree efficiency among rural students, who may not have had access to adequate mental health care growing up, due to geographical challenges. UNCSA has received a UNC System Behavioral Health grant for $29,800, which will pay for the JED Foundation to create a comprehensive strategic plan for mental health and well-being on campus over the next four years. Students have already completed JED’s Healthy Minds Study to determine what issues UNCSA is facing. JED will provide a robust assessment of UNCSA’s mental health, substance abuse, and suicide prevention programs, and it will help create positive, systemic change in the campus community. Only three other campuses in North Carolina have the distinction of being a JED Campus: Appalachian State University, Davidson College, and Wake Forest University. The nonprofit JED Foundation was founded by Donna and Phil Satow, who lost their youngest son, Jed, to suicide in 1998. After accidents, suicide is the second-leading cause of death for college-age adults in the United States.


Critical Workforces

By 2021-22, UNCSA will produce 14 critical workforce credentials (14 additional critical workforce credentials over a base of 0).

From UNC School of the Arts: The latest figures by the National Endowment for the Arts show that the creative economy contributes $760 billion to the U.S. economy. UNCSA is training a highly skilled workforce for a multibillion-dollar global enterprise, which has enormous untapped potential for wealth and job creation in North Carolina. Supported in part by a $10-million private gift directed toward performance innovation, UNCSA is currently developing a new M.F.A. concentration in its School of Filmmaking in immersive technologies (augmented and virtual reality and gaming) and a new M.F.A. concentration in its School of Design and Production (D&P) in animatronics (using robotics to bring inanimate creatures/creations to life on stage, film, television, and in themed entertainment). Other new initiatives include a new M.F.A. in D&P in Production and Project Management, a new pilot program for a minor in arts entrepreneurship, and a new partnership with Wake Forest University for a Master’s in Management.



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Low-income Enrollments

By fall 2021, UNCSA will enroll 182 low-income students, a 7.7% increase over 2015 levels (13 additional low-income students over a base of 169).

From UNC School of the Arts: To ensure that UNCSA is selecting the best and brightest student artists from North Carolina, regardless of their financial resources, the school has implemented admissions visits to more than 90 of the state’s 100 counties. The school’s recruitment marketing strategy includes search-engine optimization to boost organic rankings, a diverse digital advertising campaign that leverages UNCSA’s unique value proposition, and highly selective (and award-winning) print and outdoor placements that foster brand awareness. All of this activity is designed to drive traffic to UNCSA’s award-winning website, which has attracted 39 percent more off-campus visitors and increased admissions inquiries year over year. Finally, School of Dance Dean Susan Jaffe has created a pilot summer outreach program in the historic Happy Hill community near UNCSA that uses alumni to teach ballet, storytelling, and reading to students aged 8 to 12. This program is fostering an ongoing connection with a low-income population that is close to home.


Low-income Completions

By 2021-22, UNCSA will produce 43 low-income graduates, an increase of 30.3% (10 additional low-income completions over a base of 33).

From UNC School of the Arts: Known for its high-performing students and top-caliber performances, UNCSA offers a rigorous training program for student artists who seek to become professional artists. UNCSA has implemented an “early warning program” in each of its five arts schools to engage students who are in danger of failing to make progress in their art or their Liberal Arts requirements. This year, the Case Manager in Student Affairsand the Vice Provost and Dean of Academic Affairs followed up on 68 undergraduates who were identified as needing additional resources. A UNC System Student Success grant for $61,500 has assisted UNCSA in growing its case management team. There is also an early intervention program to identify and assist students at risk due to personal issues. To address one particular need of low-income students – food insecurity – UNCSA has enlisted the aid of its volunteer group, The Associates, to expand the  Pickle Pantry food bank.


Undergraduate Degree Efficiency

By 2021-22, UNCSA will improve its undergraduate degree efficiency to 20.0 over a base of 19.1.

From UNC School of the Arts: Due to the structure of UNCSA curriculum, the four- year graduation rate is highly correlated with degree efficiency.  Efforts to improve graduation rates are provided in Prioritize: Metric 3.






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Research Productivity

By 2021-22, UNCSA will receive $151,018 in research and development sponsored program awards and licensing income, an increase of 5% ($7,171 additional over a five year average base of $143,847).

From UNC School of the Arts: Through its highly ranked schools of Filmmaking and Design & Production, UNCSA has developed partnerships with industry leaders, resulting in guest lectures, internships, and in-kind gifts of hardware for current students. UNCSA is exploring research and development (R&D) opportunities with these corporations, and UNCSA’s filmmaking program has also launched the Media and Emerging Technologies Lab, or METL,as part of its foray into immersive technologies and the Institute for Performance Innovation in Design & Production as part of its venture into animatronics. The potential for building out these programs to supply emerging regional workforce needs is exponential, according to a recent study by Boston Consulting Group, commissioned by UNCSA to examine the role of emerging technologies in the arts and related R&D opportunities. From medicine to national defense, industries are in search of creative content, and UNCSA graduates can provide this content through the perfect marriage of art and engineering.



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