Five-year Goals and Associated Interim Benchmarks

In January 2017, the Board of Governors of the University of North Carolina unanimously approved Higher Expectations, a five-year Strategic Plan for the UNC System. The Plan calls on the UNC System to achieve ambitious goals in access, student success, affordability and efficiency, economic impact and community engagement, and institutional excellence and diversity.

Progress on these goals and metrics will be achieved through the hard work and commitment of institutional leaders, faculty, and staff. In that spirit, University of North Carolina at Asheville has identified these contributions that University of North Carolina at Asheville aspires to make to the UNC Strategic Plan over the next five years.


Rural Enrollments

By fall 2021, UNCA will enroll 861 rural students, a 10.4% increase over 2016 levels (81 additional rural students over a base of 780).

From UNC Asheville: UNC Asheville increased over 100 rural enrollments from 2015 to 2018. The university’s SOAR program, short for Summer Opportunity for Academic Readiness, supports this goal by helping a select group of high school graduates make the transition from high school to college during an intense two-week program in the summer that provides students with an opportunity to experience on-campus living and earn college credit. Jump Start extends these opportunities through students’ fall semester, coupled with specialized guidance, to support the students throughout their baccalaureate academic career.

Rural Completions

By 2021-22, UNCA will produce 187 rural graduates, an increase of 19.9% (31 additional rural completions over a base of 156).

From UNC Asheville: With an increase of 20 rural completions this year, UNC Asheville surpassed the 2018-19 rural completion goal. In addition to the SOAR and Jump Start programs, which help new students transition to college, UNC Asheville also offers support through AVID for Higher Education, a national program geared toward incoming first-year students with high financial need and first-generation students. AVID scholars at UNC Asheville have returned for their second-year at higher rates than a peer comparison group. In addition, upper division students who fall behind can apply for summer school programs, funded through a UNC System grant, to get back on track to graduation by completing required courses.

Undergraduate Degree Efficiency

By 2021-22, UNCA will improve its undergraduate degree efficiency to 23.4 over a base of 22.2.

From UNC Asheville: UNC Asheville surpassed our 2021-22 goal last year and continued to see an increase this year, from 23.4 to 23.8. Our strategic plan focuses on organizational capacity and academic rigor as two strategic directions supporting this goal, and all academic programs, with the exception of the joint engineering degree with NC State, adhere to the UNC System 120-hour credit hour limit. This rate of exception is the lowest in the UNC System.

Achievement Gaps in Undergraduate Degree Efficiency

By 2021-22, UNCA will reduce by 50% the achievement gaps in undergraduate degree efficiency between underrepresented minority and non-underrepresented minority students and between rural and non-rural students.

From UNC Asheville: UNC Asheville is on track to close the achievement gap in undergraduate degree efficiency among rural students and students from under-represented groups by half or more in the next five years—the goal set forth in the UNC System Strategic Plan. Programs such as our First-to-Finish summer accelerator provide select students with financial aid to enroll in specific summer courses that will propel them toward a four-year graduation goal.

The undergraduate degree efficiency of under-represented minority students at UNC Asheville remains on track to achieve the goal of 20.8 by 2022.

Critical Workforces

By 2021-22, UNCA will produce 370 critical workforce credentials, an increase of 22.5% (68 additional critical workforce credentials over a base of 302).

From UNC Asheville: In support of the UNC System Strategic Plan, UNC Asheville significantly increased the number of critical workforce metrics and has surpassed the 2018-19 goal. UNCA is working to increase the number of credentials it awards in the health sciences, STEM disciplines, and K-12 teacher education programs over the next five years.  In recent years, nearly 40 percent of all credentials awarded by the university have been in these fields, and the most recent rate was 41.1%; these areas also account for 40 percent of all declared majors at present. The university also excels in placing its students into graduate and professional programs in these areas.

In addition, the forthcoming joint Master of Public Health (MPH) degree program between UNC Asheville, UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health, and the Mountain Area Health Education Center (MAHEC) will specifically focus on preparing students for careers in the healthcare sector.


Low-income Enrollments

By fall 2021, UNCA will enroll 1,328 low-income students, a 6.8% increase over 2015 levels (85 additional low-income students over a base of 1,243).

From UNC Asheville: Nearly 40% of UNC Asheville undergraduate, degree-seeking students who are NC residents receive a federal Pell Grant because of their low-income status. By matriculating 400 or more new such students each fall, the university seeks to increase this percentage over the next five years and meet the 2021 enrollment target of 1,328 low-income students set for it in the UNC System Strategic Plan.

Incoming first-year students who have high financial need may be selected for AVID, Jump Start, or the Summer Opportunity for Readiness programs described above.

Low-income Completions

By 2021-22, UNCA will produce 406 low-income graduates, an increase of 15.0% (53 additional low-income completions over a base of 353).

From UNC Asheville: Enrollment of low-income students remained essentially constant from 2017 to 2018. However, the proportion of these students within the entire student body increased from 39.1% in 2017 to 39.8% in 2018. In order to meet the 2021 target of 406 low-income graduates set for it in the UNC System Strategic Plan, UNC Asheville will need to significantly exceed the 2021 enrollment target of 1,328 low-income students.

Two UNC System-funded programs support this goal by providing tuition-free summer classes in UNC Asheville’s core curriculum to students who need to get back on track to graduation. An inaugural program in 2017 program helped 19 students, from a cohort of 23, graduate on time in 2018. This pilot program was formally adopted in 2018-19 as First to Finish. The 2018-20 summer program aims to help 100 students a year accelerate their path to graduation.

Five-year Graduation Rates

By 2022, UNCA will improve its five-year graduation rate from any accredited institution to 71.7%. This is an improvement over a base of 69.1% for UNCA’s 2010 cohort.

From UNC Asheville: The university expects a continued increase in graduation rates over the next two years, thereby meeting the 2021 target of a 71.7 percent graduation rate set for it in the UNC System Strategic Plan.


Research Productivity

By 2021-22, UNCA will receive $2,721,060 in in research and development sponsored program awards and licensing income, an increase of 5.0% ($129,574 additional over a base of $2,591,486).

From UNC Asheville: UNC Asheville’s robust undergraduate research program, founded as a national model over 30 years ago, emphasizes the university’s liberal arts and sciences approach to teaching and research. In recent years, faculty have secured multi-million national grants that support chemistry scholars as well as atmospheric and computer science scholars (National Science Foundation), chemistry and biology scholars (N.C. GlaxoSmithKline Foundation), public humanities and the arts (Mellon Foundation), and creative entrepreneurship and STEAM education (Windgate Foundation).

During FY2019, UNC Asheville increased external research dollars by $1.9 million with significant growth in the private foundation sector. The university nurtures continuing partnerships with outside entities and received 25 modifications to and/or continuations of ongoing research accounting for nearly $1.2 million. Service activities are a valuable approach to enhance relationships, increase research funding, utilize university facilities/equipment with excess capacity, and provide student job opportunities. Total support for research engagements grew to over $4.3 million in FY2019.

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