UNCW Announces Plans for Spring Semester 2021

Monthly Chancellor's Message
Sammy C. Hawk (center) is surrounded by two crouching skateboarders on Chancellor's Walk.

September 2020

Message from Chancellor Jose V. Sartarelli

Dear Seahawk Community,

With nearly half of the fall semester behind us, I want to recognize the enormous effort that faculty, staff and students have invested in making the most of challenging circumstances. Although we have been faced with difficult decisions, we have managed, as a campus community, to shift the university’s Best for the Nest plan as necessary to address numerous situations caused by the pandemic.

Earlier this month, UNCW set in motion a proactive plan to help reduce the spread of COVID-19 on campus by de-densifying residence halls. As we close out September, 99% of our on-campus residents now live in single rooms. UNCW is providing great online, hybrid and in-person courses; exciting virtual community events; advanced research opportunities; internships and other applied learning experiences; and so much more. It hasn’t been easy to adjust to new living and learning environments, but thousands of Seahawks have done exactly that, and I couldn’t be prouder of them and our university.

On Dec. 12, we will honor our spring, summer and fall 2020 graduates with special virtual ceremonies. As much as we wanted to hold these events in person, it just made the most sense, from a health and safety standpoint, to create stellar virtual celebrations. We have also decided to delay the start of the spring semester until Jan. 20 to allow more time between winter break and the first day of classes, a plan designed to help slow the spread of COVID-19. Learn more about our spring semester calendar here. Although it is too soon to determine exactly how our courses may take shape, the university is planning to offer a robust combination of online, hybrid and in-person classes again in the spring. 

Earlier this month, U.S. News and World Report ranked UNCW among the Top 100 Public National Universities for 2021. Within the UNC System, only UNC Chapel Hill and NC State were included on that Top 100 list. UNCW achieved another distinction in September, setting a new enrollment record of 17,915 students, including a record 3,265 total graduate students.

Of course, our plans for 2020-21 hinge on the course the pandemic takes in the months to come. The lessons the UNCW community learned from hurricanes past – to be flexible, collaborative and open to creative problem-solving ideas – have served us well in the storm caused by the coronavirus, and I have no doubt we will continue successfully weathering this situation together.


Jose V. Sartarelli


Top photo: Sammy C. Hawk is masked up and surrounded by two masked skateboarders to set a good example for fellow Seahawks. Students caught wearing their masks properly may receive prizes on "Mask Spotter Mondays" or "Teal Mask Tuesdays."


UNCW's virtual booth at the EdUSA Fair for students in Central and South America. In what looks like a large exhibit hall with a window to a blue and white-cloud sky, the "booth" contains images of the UNCW campus and Wrightsville Beach, as well as the UNCW logo.

Pandemic-related travel restrictions didn't deter the Office of International Programs from reaching out virtually to prospective students in Central and South America through the EducationUSA Fair, sponsored by the U.S. State Department. UNCW had a virtual booth (above) at the event and plans to continue to use virtual tools even after in-person recruiting efforts resume.

Chancellor Sartarelli, at podium. Wilmington Mayor Bill Saffo '83 is seated behind and to the left.

Chancellor Sartarelli offered remarks at the kickoff of the Wilmington Tree Initiative. UNCW is one partner in the initiative and formed the Natural Areas Stewardship Committee to replace trees lost during Hurricane Florence. The committee has already planted 160 longleaf pine seedlings and 15 cypress seedlings. Mayor Bill Saffo '83 (left) also spoke at the event.

Light teal background with some stars. Text: UNCW Employee Appreciation Week, September 28-October2, 2020

WATCH: Chancellor Sartarelli and Associate Vice Chancellor for Human Resources Liz Grimes thanked UNCW faculty and staff for their continued efforts on behalf of the university in this video made for Employee Appreciation Week.


Collage of UNCW faculty who were honored at the annual fall meeting in September. Names are in the story.

UNCW faculty were honored for excellence in teaching, scholarship and service at the annual fall faculty meeting.

Rachel Marthinsen reads a children's storybook via virtutal connection.

Women's Tennis standout and accounting major Rachel Marthinsen (above) and several other UNCW student-athletes are helping local teachers and staying connected to the community through "Storytime with the Seahawks."


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OFFICE OF THE CHANCELLOR | UNC Wilmington | 601 S. College Road, Wilmington, NC 28403 | 910.962.3000