CHAPEL HILL – Just one year into implementation of its Higher Expectations strategic plan, the University of North Carolina System has already exceeded its five-year goal for improving graduation rates.
While many who attended the UNC Board of Governors’ meeting last week were focused on machinations over the Silent Sam Confederate monument, UNC President Margaret Spellings announced that the system has exceeded its one-year goals on 11 of 12 metrics so far.
“Our five-year graduation rates are the highest they’ve ever been, at more than 70%,” Spellings said. “For comparison, the national average (for public universities) is just over 62%.
“One year into our strategic plan, and we’ve not only exceeded our first year’s goal – we’ve already met our ambitious five-year target.”
“We’re producing graduates in critical workforce fields like STEM and nursing in record numbers – more than 25,000 last year alone,” Spellings said.
The system also exceeded its goal in enrollment of low-income students by more than 1,200 students, she added, citing four-year fixed tuition and NC Promise – which offers in-state tuition of $500 a semester at three universities – as factors.
Spellings, who will step down Jan. 15 as system president, said she has discussed the strategic plan with Interim President William Roper. “He is ready to build on the progress we are seeing,” she said.
Anna Spangler Nelson, who heads the Board’s Education Planning Committee, noted that the universities have increased graduation rates by 5% – to a rate significantly higher than the national average – in just one year.
“The Education Planning Committee is thrilled with this student progress,” she said, congratulating the chancellors, faculty, staff and students at the state’s 16 universities.