Office of the Chancellor

Alumna Ann Freeman to Retire from the UNCW Chancellor’s Office after 31 Years of Service

With over 34 years of service to UNCW, Somonia “Ann” Freeman ’08, ’17M has announced her retirement, effective April 1, 2023. She has served the university as assistant secretary to the Board of Trustees for the last 31 years and as the Chancellor’s Office Budget Manager for the last 14 years. During her career, Freeman has worked directly with all seven UNCW chancellors.

A campus reception in Freeman’s honor is planned for 3-4:30 p.m., Friday, March 24, at the Madeline Suite.

Freeman joined the Division for University Advancement in 1988 as the executive assistant to former executive director for university relations, Mimi Cunningham. She earned her undergraduate degree in communication studies and a master’s degree in public administration while working at the university. She is a graduate of the College Business Management Institute (CBMI) program sponsored by the Southern Association of College and University Business Officers (SACUBO). She also received a certification from the UNC Wilmington Academy of Strategic Management Program. Freeman, a Wilmington native, holds an associate degree from Cape Fear Community College.

As a student, Freeman studied abroad in Cuernavaca, Mexico, and wrote an article about her experiences for a campus publication. From her graduate research and community partnership networks, she founded and directed the UNCW Learn to Swim Program for three years. Nearly 100 children from historically marginalized communities received survival swim lessons and water safety skills. She secured community and campus sponsorships for the free lessons.

"After decades of dedication and service, Ann Freeman's contributions to UNCW will always be remembered and valued," Chancellor Aswani K. Volety said. "The Learn to Swim program she founded serves as just one example of the many campus and community connections she championed as a student and employee. As a true Seahawk, Ann is ready to soar toward new adventures, and I wish her continued success in the future."

Like her mother-in-law, the late Rachel Freeman, Ann Freeman believes in a quality education for all children that includes offering them an opportunity to learn the life-saving skill of swimming. The program pilot focused on schoolchildren and demonstrated the potential for developing a public-school curriculum. The program also included an educational component with campus visits to highlight higher education opportunities. Based on Freeman’s research, UNCW received a $50,660 grant from the New Hanover County Community Endowment to support the Learn to Swim Program’s efforts.

Freeman, a longtime donor, has a strong family tie to UNCW. Two of her aunts retired from the university, and they introduced her to the campus when she was a little girl. Freeman, a Brunswick County native, moved to Wilmington after graduating from high school.

Through her years of dedicated service to the university, Freeman has received recognitions from the Governor of North Carolina for her logistical oversight of the Governor’s Council of State Meeting and acknowledgements from the UNC System Office of the President for management of numerous UNC Board of Governors campus visits.

She serves as a member of the university Human Resources Liaison Committee. She has served on the university’s Purchasing SciQuest Review Committee, the Travel Card Review Committee, and various university search committees. Freeman is a member of the UNCW Black Faculty and Staff Association (BFSA), Parking and Transportation Committee, the Skin in the Game initiative and the Natural Areas Stewardship Committee.

She was an inaugural member of the university’s Staff Advisory Committee, serving 13 years with the organization now known as the Staff Senate. In this role, she presented the staff advocacy group’s first-ever top 10 goals to the Chancellor’s Cabinet

Freeman, an active volunteer, has created and supported connections between the campus and the community. She currently serves as co-chair of the N.C. Azalea Festival Volunteer Committee. She is also a member of the New Hanover County NAACP, the Greater Wilmington Tennis Association, the Bellamy Mansion Board of Directors Association, and a Board Professional for the UNC System and the Association of Governing Boards (AGB). She previously served as a member of the Cape Fear Museum Associates Board, and the YWCA of the Lower Cape Fear Board of Directors, where she previously served as an officer. She has volunteered with Wilmington Area Rebuilding Ministry (WARM), Habitat for Humanity Women Build Project and other area nonprofits.

Mark Lanier, assistant to the chancellor, who has served with Freeman as assistant secretary of the Board of Trustees for his tenure at UNCW, said, “There are not words that would do justice to Ann’s contributions to the university and the community. Her steadfast support for board members, university leadership and community partnerships, as well as for me personally, will be missed beyond measure.”

“I have had many opportunities as an employee and student at UNCW,” Freeman said. “Although I am looking forward to the next chapter of opportunities that await me, I am proud of my university and the students, faculty, staff, chancellors and trustees who made it special to me. I will always be a Seahawk at heart.”



  Retirement Reception Invitation for Ann Freeman