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Board of Trustees Endorses Strategic Plan

New 10-year plan to shape UNCW's future

Under Chancellor Aswani K. Volety's leadership, UNCW will launch its Strategic Plan: Soar High, Soar Far, Soar Together, a 10-year blueprint to guide the university’s future that was endorsed by the Board of Trustees on July 27. 
“On behalf of the Board of Trustees, I want to thank the UNCW community for preparing a strategic plan that encourages the university to build on its strengths while also advancing its mission, vision and values,” said Chair H. Carlton Fisher ’83. “As a graduate and Wilmington native, I have personally seen UNCW’s deep commitment to students and this community. This plan supports these essential priorities and inspires UNCW to explore new programs and services that are regionally relevant and globally important.” 
The comprehensive plan reflects the inclusive process used to prepare it. The four pillars and 18 priorities convey the goals and aspirations of UNCW students, faculty, staff, alumni, donors and community partners. Over two years, the Strategic Design and Planning Steering Committee received input at multiple stages from internal and external stakeholders through open forums, online surveys and work groups. After multiple drafts and refinements, in late spring 2023, the process culminated with presentations to and endorsements from Faculty Senate, Staff Senate, student government leadership, various UNCW volunteer boards and community groups. 
“UNCW’s most important asset is its people, and this plan focuses fully on the continued success of our students, faculty and staff,” Chancellor Volety said. “From enhanced academic advising, career readiness opportunities and support for cutting-edge academic programs and research endeavors to elevated investments in workplace services, campus infrastructure and community engagement, this plan outlines our commitment to transforming Seahawks’ lives and this region, now and in the years to come.”  
The board also approved a revised mission statement, reflecting UNCW’s elevation to national research university status, and endorsed a streamlined vision statement. The revised mission statement will be sent to the UNC System for consideration by the Board of Governors. 
“I appreciate the way the strategic plan puts students first,” said SGA President Cody Brandon. “Seahawks already know we attend a great university, and we also know that UNCW wants to do even better in the years ahead. The plan emphasizes many important priorities – including 'one-stop shop services' for students; expanded health, mental health and wellness programs; and efforts to improve the sense of belonging students from all backgrounds, beliefs, income levels and life experiences feel when they attend UNCW. The SGA looks forward to working with Chancellor Volety to put the plan in place.”

Proposed Mission Statement as Approved by Board of Trustees 

The University of North Carolina Wilmington, the state's coastal university, integrates teaching and mentoring with research and service. UNCW’s commitment to student engagement, creative inquiry, critical thinking, thoughtful expression and civic responsibility defines the student experience. Graduates of our undergraduate, master’s and doctoral programs are prepared to serve the needs of local, state and global communities. 

Vision Statement

UNCW transforms lives. 

Strategic Plan Pillars

The pillars highlight significant themes found throughout the plan. Taken together, the first letter of each pillar spells out “UNCW,” a deliberate choice by the committee to reinforce the university’s role in supporting the priorities at a fundamental level. 

Unparalleled Opportunities 

UNCW's most important asset is its people. We provide unparalleled opportunities for faculty, staff and students to succeed. We are a community of learners who all believe in the power of education to make the world a better place. We hire and retain accomplished, hard-working and committed faculty and staff; and we recruit and enroll talented students with extraordinary potential that we help them achieve. As a people-centered organization, investing in priorities that support faculty, staff and students will be key to our future success. 

Nationally Prominent Programs 

UNCW is committed to cultivating an academic environment in which all members of our community can flourish. This environment is driven by the program activity related to: 

  • curriculum 
  • research 
  • creativity 
  • innovation 
  • outreach 
  • engagement 
  • student support 

Our region and its place in the global economy are changing rapidly. UNCW will invest in regionally relevant and globally important programs that are responsive to our campus and community needs.

Community Commitment 

UNCW understands that collaborative partnerships – both internal and external to campus – are critical for achieving our university mission. Simply put, we work better when we work together. We see the future of higher education as one where: 

  • community relationships spur innovation, creativity and problem-solving 
  • authentic engagement with the community leads to new learning opportunities 
  • partners in our mission help achieve our goals in mutually beneficial ways 

World-class Operations and Infrastructure

Living and working on the coast is at the heart of almost everything UNCW does. Therefore, “place” – construed broadly – is a critically important consideration for our future. We think of place not only as our coastal location but also as the physical infrastructure and institutional operations that support our mission as well as our attitudes and approaches to environmental stewardship and sustainability. We will invest in upgrading and modernizing the operational systems and physical structures that align our campus “place” with our long-term goals as a university. 

Next Steps

In 2023-24, the Chancellor and the Cabinet will work with the campus community to begin implementing the strategic plan. As it covers 10 years, the plan will be rolled out carefully and thoughtfully with the support and participation of divisions, departments, offices and individuals across campus. Visit for information about the priorities and forthcoming updates about the plan’s progression this academic year and in the future.