UNCW Celebrates 75 Years Like No Other

Soaring seahawk sculpture

Wilmington’s College: Celebrating UNCW at 75 Years

A lot has changed during UNCW’s nearly 75-year history – including its name – but its commitment to students and the community has never wavered. Established in 1947 as Wilmington College as an educational center for veterans returning from World War II, the institution opened its doors on Sept. 4, 1947 to 238 students.

By 1969, the college had grown significantly and joined the University of North Carolina System, changing its name to the University of North Carolina Wilmington. Today, the Seahawk community includes nearly 2,500 faculty and staff, 17,000 students and 100,000 alumni. The physical campus includes the main campus on S. College Road, an extension campus in Jacksonville, NC, and the Center for Marine Science near Myrtle Grove.

"Our institution opened its doors 75 years ago because the citizens and leaders of our community believed in the value of higher education,” said Chancellor Aswani K. Volety, who became UNCW’s seventh chancellor on July 1. “They understood its potential to inspire students to learn more, grow more, lead more and, ultimately, give back more to others. Generations of students, alumni, faculty and staff have benefited from their commitment. To honor our founders' legacy, UNCW will continue to champion student-centered learning experiences grounded in high-quality teaching, mentoring, research and service for years to come."

Long recognized as a cornerstone of the greater community, the New Hanover County Commissioners adopted a proclamation in recognition of UNCW’s 75th anniversary and officially welcomed Chancellor Volety into his new role on Aug. 22.

In 2020, UNCW named its newest academic building Veterans Hall in honor of its roots and in continued support of those who serve. The 145,000-square-foot facility was supported through the successful passage of the Connect NC Bond in 2016. UNCW will celebrate the building’s grand opening on Sept. 15.