UNC System President Margaret Spellings Visits UNCW Campus

Friday, April 22, 2016

In her second visit to Wilmington since becoming president of the University of North Carolina system, Margaret Spellings commended UNCW for nurturing creativity, innovation and entrepreneurship. She got a firsthand look at all three during a campus tour following remarks to the Board of Trustees on Friday morning.

“The last time I was here, I heard a lot about what UNCW means to this region,” she told the trustees. “It is an ‘essential engine,’ as Bill Friday would have said, to this area.” Friday, who died in 2012, shepherded the growth of the UNC system and was a passionate advocate for education in North Carolina.

Spellings also observed that Chancellor Jose V. Sartarelli operates “at a whole other level of velocity” and embodies the “on-the-move attitude that is UNCW.”

Spellings first visited UNCW when she spoke at Sartarelli’s March 31 installation ceremony. On this tour, she wanted to get to know UNCW a little better, visiting classrooms and labs and talking with faculty, staff and students.

The tour introduced her to the university’s diverse and integrated approach to instruction, as well as state-of-the art facilities and equipment. Among her stops were the Fisher University Union, the Publishing Laboratory in Kenan Hall, the Computer Information Systems Building and the Watson College of Education.

Offering her impressions via social media as she traveled throughout the campus, Spellings noted the passion and sense of community among students, faculty and staff. “A lot of pride and dedication here,” she tweeted.

“My favorite part of the tours, of course, is visiting with the students,” she said, and was impressed to learn that UNCW students represent 48 states and 45 countries.

Her remarks to the BOT were short and focused on ensuring that UNC General Administration supports universities in their mandate to deliver affordable, accessible, relevant and accountable education to all students.

“I was attracted to this state because of the visionary approach the founders had to higher education,” she told the board. New Hanover County voters shared that vision when they voted in 1947 to tax themselves to establish what eventually became the University of North Carolina Wilmington, she said.

Now, the state’s universities face a new challenge of educating not only the type of students who historically have enrolled in college but also nontraditional students and underserved groups, Spellings observed. “We must be much better at meeting the needs of a changing demographic.”

Referring to a study she has ordered of General Administration (GA) operations, she stressed that it is her job to ensure that the GA operates efficiently and to advocate for the resources the state’s universities need to fulfill their mission.

UNCW was the 13th stop on Spellings’s 100-day tour of the UNC campuses. After leaving UNCW, she spoke Friday afternoon at a meeting of the Wilmington Chamber of Commerce.

--Tricia Vance


Spellings, film studies

Spellings and faculty

Spellings and students