Academic Affairs

Text: Provost's Perspectives, An Update from Provost Sheerer

October 13, 2017                                 NEWSLETTER ARCHIVE

Dear Colleagues,

Lots of positive news has been coming in about UNCW over the last few weeks – from our enrollment numbers, to raises, to rankings and the increased retention rate for Freshmen, to grant acquisitions, and to 70th year celebrations.   We appear to be off to a very productive 2017-18. 

Budget Allocations

Although the enrollment growth money will not be released from General Administration until November, the Cabinet made the decision to get as much money as possible out to the units.  Thus, colleges will be receiving at least 75% of their full allocation now, the remainder of which we will release in November.

In addition, a first wave of one-time money has already been released which should allow units to move forward more quickly with needed projects and renovations.

Very limited resources are being held in the Provost’s Office because we want to get faculty lines and academic support money directly to the colleges so that hiring processes can move forward.

Distance Education Update

I’m pleased to announce that Dr. Peter Nguyen has been named the Interim Associate Vice Chancellor for Distance Education as of October 1, 2017.  Peter has been working as a Faculty Fellow in Academic Affairs for the past year and has done an excellent job on many different projects.  Dr. Nguyen is a professor in the School of Social Work and served recently as the Graduate Coordinator there.

Recently, the UNCW Office of Online & Distance Education has achieved several national accolades. Our Masters in History Program is ranked 1st by Best Colleges and our Bachelor of Science in Nursing program is ranked 4th by Best Degree Programs.  These rankings are joined by multiple top 10 rankings in other publications crediting UNCW with having one of the best online programs in North Carolina and the US.  These achievements would not be possible without the diligence and dedication of the faculty and DE and IT staff in Wilmington and Onslow.  As the Office of Online & Distance Education is continuing to reach new heights its commitment to quality education will never waiver.  Moving forward the Office of Online & Distance Education will emphasize the following areas:  marketing and recruiting for existing programs, working closely with various departments to put more degrees online, continuing to train and provide hands-on support for faculty to create quality online courses, and providing the latest technology that is intuitive and user-friendly for faculty and students. 

One of the main goals of the Office of Online & Distance Education is to develop a close working relationship with faculty. To that end, the E-learning staff is embarking on a campus tour by visiting each department, meeting to talk about the support offered, and most importantly, listening to the what faculty say they need.  Similarly, the office is also seeking input from interested constituents as it is exploring the next Learning Management System.  In addition to the campus tour, each of the colleges at UNCW now has an Instructional Designer physically embedded in their respective buildings to provide faculty with convenient access as they work on their online courses.  The Office of Online & Distance Education believes this hands-on and high touch approach helps facilitate communication between the faculty and DE staff, leading to timely trouble shooting as well as easing the incorporation of new technologies.

Diversity Fellowships

The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine administers a national competition for Predoctoral, Dissertation, and Postdoctoral fellowships on behalf of the Ford Foundation.  The eligible fields of study are not limited to science, engineering and medicine, and I encourage any eligible and interested faculty to seriously consider this opportunity. The 2018 deadlines are in December 2017.  For more information see

Learning Management System Survey

UNC Wilmington is undergoing a review of the current Learning Management System, Blackboard Learn.  The University moved to this system in 2010 and currently hosts Blackboard Learn on site.  The Learning Management System plays a significant role in teaching and learning, so your feedback is very important in this review.  Sheri Conklin and Tom Dorgan, co-chairs of the evaluation effort, request your input via a survey designed to obtain information regarding the current Learning Management System and assess future needs. Please click here to access the survey. 

For more information on the LMS evaluation and committee, please click here.  This website will be updated on a regular basis. We will also be compiling the results from this survey on the website as well with the provost and chancellor on several projects. You will see her in attendance at many different meetings as she learns about UNCW.

Update on Search for Vice Chancellor for Business Affairs

On Monday, October 2, the search committee began reviewing the materials of a number of applicants for the position of VCBA.  On October 11th, the committee’s meeting focused on the selection of candidates to be interviewed.

The search committee is co-chaired by Provost Sheerer and Eddie Stuart, VC for Advancement.  Our goal is to begin interviewing the initial five selected candidates in October and then schedule on campus interviews for the finalists in November.   The Chancellor is desirous of having the new VCBA in place by January 2018, and it is certainly our hope to meet this expectation.expectation.

UNCW's Lab School Gets Underway

UNCW and New Hanover County Schools are partnering to plan for a proposed laboratory school at D.C. Virgo Preparatory Academy in downtown Wilmington.  The lab school initiative is the result of recent legislation designed to provide enhanced learning experiences for students in low performing schools. If approved, the lab school is expected to open at the start of the 2018-19 academic year.

On Aug. 31, UNCW and New Hanover County Schools announced community forums to discuss and gather input about the lab school. Follow progress on this new UNCW initiative on the Lab School website.

Hit Refresh by Satya Nadella

A new book by Satya Nadella, the CEO of Microsoft, is getting rave reviews.  He states the main premise of his book as follows:  “It’s about how people, organizations, and societies can and must transform – hit refresh – in their persistent quest for new energy, new ideas, relevance, and renewal.”

One of the main points underscored by the author is that continuous dialogue needs to occur for creative thinking to flow.  New designs, new structures, new models come from brainstorming alternative ways of doing things.

I would suggest that this same approach is needed in higher education today.  We need to come together to explore possibilities and new ways of meeting the needs of students.  Without such interaction, we are not using all the creative brainpower that is available to us at our institutions.  As academics, we should be the ones to come up with the changes we need to respond to the needs and demands of today’s students and the larger community.

Best wishes to you all and good luck with the rest of your semester!


Marilyn Sheerer signature

Marilyn Sheerer
Provost and Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs

The content of this publication was created by the Office of the Provost, Academic Affairs Division. Questions? Contact Paula Cameron at