A recent webinar hosted by the UNC Black Pioneers, some of the earliest African American students to attend the University, provided a new mechanism for members of the Carolina Black Issues Forum to stay connected to UNC-Chapel Hill leadership. Anyone who has participated in Black Alumni Reunion activities was invited to participate.
During the September 23, 2019, inaugural webinar, Interim Chancellor Kevin Guskiewicz, Vice Provost for Enrollment and Undergraduate Admissions Stephen Farmer, and Associate Vice Chancellor and Senior University Counsel Steve Keadey discussed the state of the University and efforts to recruit diverse students. Angela Bryant ’73, ’76 (J.D.), North Carolina Parole Commissioner and former member on the boards of visitors, trustees and governors, led the webinar, and Amy Locklear Hertel, chancellor’s chief of staff, was also in attendance.
Among other topics, Guskiewicz provided updates on:
- convocation, welcoming 4,300 first-year students and 800 transfer students — the Michael Jordan class of 2023! — to Carolina;
- important milestones, including 50 years of Project Uplift, 15 years of the Carolina Covenant and eight years of Chancellor’s Science Scholars;
- the expansion of the Carolina Student Transfer Excellence Program (C-STEP) to Richmond Community College, the 14th school to partner with Carolina;
- the launch of the Campus Safety Commission and the hiring of a new chief of police, Assistant Vice Chancellor of Public Safety David Perry;
- progress with the University’s Commission on History, Race and a Way Forward;
- meeting with faculty and staff in diversity forums to reimagine the role of the Office of Diversity and Inclusion; and
- the launch of a new strategic plan, called Carolina Next: Innovations for Public Good, which he will present at the November UNC Board of Governors meeting. Guskiewicz noted that one of the new strategic plan’s eight initiatives, Building Community Together, will guide the other seven initiatives and will help create a more diverse and equitable Carolina community.
Steve Farmer shared 2019 undergraduate admissions numbers and statistics. These numbers were of particular interest to forum attendees; many had questions about Carolina’s recruitment and retention efforts for both students and faculty. Farmer noted that, while there is always room to improve, Carolina is first among its peer-group of 11 universities in recruiting a more diverse student body. He also remarked on several successful recruitment programs, including:
- the Carolina College Advising Corps, which places recent graduates of UNC-Chapel Hill as full-time financial aid and college advisors in 80 high schools across the state, providing college advising to at least 20 to 25% of all African American high school students in North Carolina;
- the UNC Black Student Movement, which has played a critical role in convening admitted black and African American students when they visit campus, a model for other organizations; and
- Project Uplift and the companion program, Uplift Plus, which offers a more intensive, five-week summer academic enrichment and college readiness program for Project Uplift participants.
Steve Keadey also discussed the federal lawsuit Students for Fair Admissions Inc. filed against the UNC System, Board of Governors and UNC-Chapel Hill. The admissions case, ongoing since 2014, challenges the constitutionality of Carolina’s admissions process and seeks to end the University’s consideration of race in admissions. Visit admissionslawsuit.unc.edu for more information about the admissions case.
UNC Black Pioneers plans to hold five forums annually in a variety of formats. Two of the forums have taken place so far: the webinar on Monday, September 23, 2019, and a forum at the Sheraton Imperial during Homecoming weekend, October 27, 2019.