Diversity and Inclusion

UNCW Diversity and Inclusion Statement

In the spirit of collective work and responsibility, the University of North Carolina Wilmington actively fosters, encourages, and promotes inclusiveness, mutual respect, acceptance and open-mindedness among students, faculty, staff, and the broader community. Diversity enhances our academic experience in that it fosters a free exchange of ideas from multiple perspectives. Diversity engenders creativity, expands our collective imagination, and, in so doing, cultivates possibility. As we acknowledge a world with injustice, we seek to create tangible spaces where people with multiple identities live free from harassment, discrimination, and marginalization. 

Guiding Principles

In identifying these guiding principles that shape our strategic planning, we acknowledge that language is inherently bound to cultural belief systems. With that in mind, we acknowledge the continual need to review and edit these guiding principles. 


We believe that all students, staff, and faculty should feel a sense of belonging to the UNCW campus and community.


Belonging implies the existence of opportunities for all members of a community to establish close and safe ties that generate a sense of security, care, and affection [1]. It suggests that an individual feels valued, encouraged, and a sense of within and to a particular group or institution [2]. Our ability to connect with others can be profound, while a lack of connection can impede our ability to self-regulate our responses and increase mortality [3]. Nurturing a sense of belonging represents our need to create community and to strengthen our relationships with each other. 


We believe that institutional leadership should promote and be accountable for lasting diversity, equity, and inclusion efforts.


Accountability suggests a relationship between an individual and a belief, space, or group. The term “account” suggests a compelling narrative that tells the individual’s or institution’s story. These narratives help people feel visible. More recently, accountability denotes the idea that institutions and leaders should listen and be responsive to the needs of their constituents [4]. Equally important, accountability presumes a certain level of integrity. Expectations, processes, and consequences should be clearly and honestly articulated in ways that are transparent for all stakeholders. 


We believe that creating a more equitable, diverse, and inclusive campus is a shared responsibility of every student, staff member, faculty member and leader.


Responsibility includes our ability to respond [5]. In this way, responsibility is not just a matter of personal agency. It is shaped by one’s circumstances as well as the rules, procedures, and belief systems that affect our interactions in the world. This understanding of responsibility connects personal agency with the institutional structures and processes that order and limit our lives. Responsibility thus rests at the intersection of personal agency and structure, the point at which our desire to change demands a creative and often collective response to transcend the limitations of institutional norms.  


We believe that students, staff, faculty and institutional leaders should represent diverse identities and perspectives. 


Representation suggests presence, portrayal, and participation. In a basic sense, it means that people and ideas are here and accessible, historically and currently visible. Representation allows for solidarity-building within communities that have historically been disenfranchised at the same time that it demands engagement across identities and differences. Representing requires voice; it means that we speak. It means that the needs of historically disenfranchised groups are acknowledged and considered in policies and procedures as well as physical and digital space.


Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Definitions

Diversity represents the dimensions of human identity. It includes, but is not limited to, race, sex, age, color, national origin (including ethnicity), creed, religion, disability, sexual orientation, political affiliation, veteran’s status, gender identity, educational disadvantage, socio-economic circumstances, language, ideology, and history of overcoming adversity. 

Equity represents fairness and can lead to justice. While everyone may not experience equal opportunity or access, we can acknowledge that existing relationships of power can create opportunities for some while disenfranchising others. In working for equity, we create differentiated possibilities based on individual or group needs and expand accessibility to ensure inclusion for all. 

Inclusion represents deliberate efforts to create an environment in which differences are welcomed, different perspectives are respectfully heard, and where every individual feels a sense of belonging.[6] Inclusion is reflected in an institution’s curricular offerings, support services, resources, mission and vision statements, marketing, hiring practices, and all other processes that reflect the institution’s commitment towards a diverse learning and workplace culture.

Our Vision

To become a national model for diversity and inclusion services based on research and best practices for an institution with our designation as a doctoral university with high research activity.

Our Mission

To provide diversity and inclusion initiatives and strategies that contribute to UNCW's mission and strategic direction to facilitate a powerful learning experience for all students. The office also has an institutional role in providing guidance related to diversity and inclusion initiatives campus-wide. 

Our Values

In addition to core institutional values of excellence, student-centered focus, community engagement, innovation, diversity and integrity, the Office of Diversity and Inclusion embraces these values:

Professionalism: Providing services with integrity, care, and accountability to benefit all campus constituencies, including students, faculty, staff and visitors.

Collaboration: Partnering with offices and units campus-wide to integrate diversity in all aspects of university life.

Community engagement: Working with representatives from local and regional diverse communities from North Carolina and beyond.

Knowledge dissemination: Disseminating diversity and inclusion knowledge, based on research and best practices.


Units in the Office of Diversity and Inclusion

In addition to the overarching office, the Office of Institutional Diversity and Inclusion has three other units: 

Each unit has a unique role in supporting the diversity, equity and inclusion goals at UNCW. These units allow students to interact with caring and knowledgeable staff to assist them and/or refer them to appropriate resources. 

The units collaborate to provide relevant educational and cultural programs that enrich curricular and co-curricular learning experiences. These may include lectures, film presentations, appearances by national and international performers in art, film, and music, presentations by speakers on various topics, exhibits and much more.  

Campus partners include academic colleges and schools, University Studies, Office of Admissions, Office of Community Engagement and Applied Learning, Office of International Programs, Division of Student Affairs, and Human Resources. The Office of Institutional Research and Planning provides the university's common institutional data.   

UNCW is an equal employment opportunity/affirmative action employer.



[1] Catapan A.H, Peter M.Z., & Peter Jabbar P.F. (2015) Belonging: concept, meaning and commitment. US-China Education Review, 5(2), 95-11. 

[2] Hall, K. (2014). Create a sense of belonging: Finding ways to belong can help ease the pain of loneliness. Psychology Today. Retrieved from https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/pieces-mind/201403/create-sense-belonging

[3] Walton, G. M.; Cohen, G.L.; Cwir, D. & Spencer, S. J. (2011). Mere belonging: The power of social connections. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 102(3), 513-532. 

[4] Bovens, M. (2007). Analyzing and assessing accountability: A conceptual framework. European Law Journal 13(4), 447-468. 

[5] Freire, P. (1970). Pedagogy of the Oppressed. New York: Continuum.  

[6] Inclusion definition inspired by the work at the University of Michigan. Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion. Defining DEI. Retrieved from https://diversity.umich.edu/about/defining-dei